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This Week in Photos

India celebrates Makar Sankranti, an International Kite Festival, and more in this week in photos. From a panda selfie to YOLO vacations, this week in travel brings you the best of the internet.

CNTraveler shared photos of stunning bodies of water around the world.

According to Today, The National Zoo launched its Instagram account with a panda cub selfie you just have to see.

Gadling brought to our attention a Singapore-based photographer who artfully depicts the passage of time.

Refinery29 presented 13 Tips for Taking a YOLO vacations. #nuffsaid

And while the NYT’s 52 Places to Go in 2014 caused much debate among travelers (including those in this office), Skift narrowed done the list to just one.

At Travel Channel, of course, we think Spain and Morocco should top your list — and we’re even giving away $100,000 trip there.

 

This Week in Photos

Winter was in full force in this week in photos with a Polar Vortex in much of the US, China’s 15th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, and an Igloo Village in Germany. See Niagara Falls on ice and more of the week’s best posts in our travel news roundup.

CN Traveler unearthed these winter wonderland photos of Niagara Falls’ “ice-crusted cascades.”

Gadling shared the top 5 family travel destinations for 2014 — and possibly beyond.

According to Gothamist, former Travel Channel star Anthony Bourdain is opening an international food market in NYC.

Check out 5 of the most awesome star-gazing spots on Earth thanks to The Huffington Post.

Skift has the scoop on New York City’s tallest hotel (753 feet!) opened by … Marriott.

 

 

This Week in Photos

The New Year was greeted by Vikings with torches, a massive flour fight, midnight kisses and more in this week in photos. A slow news week, 2014′s first travel blog roundup highlights what will be (or should be) overtaking your social media feeds this year.

What’s that clogging up your Instagram feed? Next to the -2 degree weather forecasts and Champagne glasses, Skift discovered an unexpected hit: Disney’s giant turkey legs.

JohnnyJet shares 14 travel tweeters to follow in the new year, including our favorite @ThePointsGuy and a flight attendant,  @Heather_Poole.

Off Track Planet’s favorite travel apps of 2013 included the likes of RoadTrippers, WeHostels and Kurrency.

Our own Andrew Zimmern, and James Beard-nominated Executive Chef of Chicago’s Sepia Restaurant, describes the perfect foodie day in the Windy City over on JetSetter.

Finally, Adventurous Kate, one of our favorite solo female travelers, brings us 9 more entertaining travel blogs to follow.

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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