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The birth of England’s future king, a high-wire act across the Grand Canyon, and a historic Miss America – see some of 2013’s most remarkable travel moments.

Photography by Reuters

Prince George of Cambridge
Royal baby mania gripped the world, as news crews waited outside London’s St. Mary’s Hospital on July 22 for news of Kate and William’s royal delivery: George Alexander Louis had arrived.

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Winter solstice at Stonehenge

Winter solstice at Stonehenge (Photo: Getty Images)

Welcome to the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice kicks off this Saturday, and with it, thousands of visitors from around the world have gathered at Stonehenge — the mysterious standing set of stones dating between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C., in Wiltshire, England — to mark the grand astronomical event when the monument aligns on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.

Of course, who are we fooling? On Saturday morning, most of us would probably prefer to snuggle up under the covers than brave the gathering crowds at Stonehenge (even if the new $44 million visitors center, which opened this past Wednesday, sounds interesting, with an exhibition that includes a forensic reconstruction of a Neolithic man). We’ll leave it to the druids, pagans and astronomical diehards currently gathered at Stonehenge to fill us in on the grand event, which, on the flip side, ushers in the longest night of the year.

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Brazil will face Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 Word Cup in Sao Paulo on June 12, while the US team battles Ghana in Natal in its first match on June 16. FIFA announced the World Cup draw today determining tournament match ups in 12 host cities across Brazil.

With the announcement of the draw, the Brazilian tourism board, Embratur, will work with airlines to release more domestic flights to World Cup cities to accommodate soccer fans traveling to Brazil to see their favorite teams. Airlines will have 15 days to present their new flight plans to the board and new fares will be determined shortly thereafter.

Throughout the tournament, teams will play in several cities, traveling to a new city as they advance in each round of play, which means plenty of chances for fans to see lots of Brazil. For example, the US team plays its first match in northeastern Brazil in the city of Natal, known for its beaches and surf culture. On June 22, Team USA moves west to Manaus, the capital of the steamy Amazon region, to play Portugal. Then, it’s back to the beach in Recife to face Germany on June 26.

World Cup travelers can find new flights and fares by searching airline booking sites or going directly to some domestic Brazilian airlines like TAM, GOL, Avianca and Azul.

Embratur says air travel will be a must during the World Cup, especially over long distances between places like Manaus in the north and Porto Alegre in the south, the equivalent of traveling between the East and West Coasts in the US.

“It will be a unique opportunity for tourists to discover even more attractions we are so proud of and want to showcase,” says Vincente Neto, Embratur’s special aide for major events.

“The 12 host cities showcase, with great ease, the variety and diversity of our country and I have no doubt that, regardless of which destination is chosen, tourists who visit Brazil will have a unique life-changing experience.”

 

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The holiday season is officially in full swing — now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone (finally), it’s time to break the Christmas boxes out of the attic and get decorating! The National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC, will be lit this Friday, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is set to take place tonight at 8 p.m. — but what about your tree?

Want to show off your decorating skills? Or know someone who goes all-out with their spirited décor? We want to see your photos! Instagram them with the hashtag #TCHolidayLights, and we’ll pick our favorites to feature on the blog.

If you need a little inspiration, check out our photos of Dazzling Holiday Lights, the Travel Channel community’s best holiday lights photos, and our picks for the Most Christmasy Places in America.

Plus, don’t miss Sam Brown and Zak Bagans’ picks for their favorite lights displays:

Photo Courtesy of Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage on Monday, which should draw even more happy couples to the Aloha State. The law also allows couples to register for a license and be married the same day, a move that is sure to appeal to plenty of tourists.

How much of an appeal? Sumner La Croix, an economist at the University of Hawaii -Manoa, tells NPR that the legalization of gay marriage in Hawaii could boost tourism in the state by as much $217 million over the next 3 years.

“Same-sex couples will be attracted to Hawaii for the same reasons that opposite-sex couples are attracted to Hawaii,” said La Croix. “It’s the great weather, it’s the warm water, it’s the beautiful scenery. And it’s also the aloha spirit.”

We couldn’t agree more at Travel Channel. We’ve lauded combining your wedding with your honeymoon on the Hawaiian Islands thanks to the year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets.

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Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark

We’ve got at least one item on your summer 2014 to-do list: Ride Verrückt. If you haven’t heard the latest buzz about Verrückt, allow us to enlighten you. Designed by Jeff Henry, the “Wizard of Water” and co-owner of Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas City, KS, Verrückt, once complete, will be the tallest, fastest and, dare we say — scariest — waterslide in the world!

View from the top of Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark

The 17-story Verrückt waterslide, which requires 4 people to ride it at one time, will be taller than Niagara Falls  and the Statue of Liberty. And Travel Channel is on the ground capturing the entire build — we’ll be there when the first 4 brave souls take the first plunge! The waterslide will be featured in next summer’s Xtreme Waterparks, our hit series about the coolest, most ridiculous and most extreme waterparks in the world.

Stay tuned for more on how Verrückt’s build is progressing. Until summer 2014, wet your appetite with our Xtreme Waterparks pictures.

 

The Zócalo

Photo by Getty Images

Today People Magazine revealed the Sexiest Man Alive … and surprise! It’s Adam Levine, 34, the Maroon 5 singer-turned-The Voice-host-turned actor and entrepreneur. Levine is joined on the “Sexiest” list by some serious eye candy, including Justin Timberlake, David Beckham, and HGTV’s Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott (our personal faves).

But before People Magazine’s 2013’s Sexiest Man Alive was announced, we here at Travel Channel revealed the Sexiest People Alive. Our globetrotting writers and bloggers looked outside of Hollywood to find out where the sexiest locals live. And we’re not going to lie — our experts seem partial to South America. Check out the full list and vote on your top pick below!

 

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From the sexy (Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, anyone?) to the serious (2 solemn anniversaries in Berlin) — see this week in photos around the world. For another dose of sexy (as in hotel rooms) and more, read on for this week’s travel roundup.

Pearl furniture, white linens and bright curtains surprisingly helped a hotel in London recently earn the title of “world’s sexiest bedroom.” Blakes Hotel won the honor from travel publisher Mr. & Mrs. Smith in the announcement of their annual “Smith Hotel Awards.” The “fantasy cocoon” at the Ca Maria Adele Hotel in Venice, and the Secret Cay Resort in Dominica were runners up in the contest.

Imagine sitting on an airplane and hearing the pilot say over the intercom “we’re going down” moments before the plane takes a nose dive. That’s what happened on a recent Southwest Airlines flight where, according to a passenger, the pilot panicked and made the frightening statement over the intercom. The airline says the pilot accidentally broadcast the crisis to the entire plane rather than just his crew. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Not into the stigma that goes with the definition of a “tourist?” The Huffington Post has put together a guide to tell you the difference and help you become less of someone who “plops” themselves into a new area, and more like an explorer seeking new adventures. One of the major tips? Stop posing with statues.

If you’re traveling through Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare International, or one of the other airports expected to top of the busiest passenger list over the Thanksgiving holiday, you might want to check out this list of “10 Ways to Get to Your Gate Faster” from USA Today. Make sure to plan ahead before you head to the gate if you want to get the Grandma’s house on time for dinner.

You may think you heard this debate before, but now it’s finally official: The One World Trade Center building in Manhattan is the tallest building in the US.

The title was under scrutiny after the designers of the tower decided against enclosing the mast on the top of the building for maintenance reasons, which left the argument open as to whether the height of the mast counted in the building’s overall height measurement.

Today, the Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat released its decision, saying that the mast does count in the overall height of the building, and, when finished in January, will enter the organization’s official rankings as the tallest building in the US.

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Photo by Getty

Those traveling to the Philippines for volunteer work or vacation have been faced with the unimaginable – a devastating typhoon that could claim as many as 10,000 lives and left the country in crisis.

Hundreds of volunteers were already working on the popular tourist island of Boho following the massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-October, working on rebuilding homes demolished by the tragedy that killed more than 200 people.

But the devastation hasn’t stopped them from helping. It just changed the mission.

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