Holidays! Parades, Fun Events, and Getaway Ideas for Holidays Through the Year

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    Holidays in Jan.-Feb: Chinese New Year

    Holidays - Chinese New Year Parade. Photo © Teresa Plowright.
    Chinese New Year Parade. Photo © Teresa Plowright.

    Throughout the year, holidays offer opportunities for family trips. Some holidays are celebrations, with parades and festivities in many cities; but even less showy holidays can provide a welcome chance for a long-weekend getaway.

    Holidays Through the Year

    Several weeks after January 1st, Chinese New Year arrives with colorful celebrations in many cities. The date is different every year, ranging from late January to mid-February, and festivities can span several weeks before or after the big day.

    New York, San Francisco, Vancouver BC -- these are just a few of the cities that celebrate Chinese New Year big-time, with parades, Lion Dances, festivals, and more.

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    February; Family Getaway Ideas for Valentine's Day

    Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Amelia Island.
    Resort combines both "ritz" and kids: photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Amelia Island.

    Yes, it is possible -- at least theoretically-- to combine romance and a family trip, thanks to the magic of the kids' clubs offered at nearly all resorts.

    Check out the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton brands; Hershey PA; all-inclusive Club Med Sandpiper in Florida (with great kids programs, and Baby Club Med); Disney World luxury resorts; and more--

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  • 03 of 13

    February Holidays: President's Day / Week

    February holidays - President's Week ideas for families - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
    Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom; photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

    President's Day is a national holiday in the US, observed on the third Monday in February; many schools extend the long weekend into a "President's Week" break.

    Family destinations can be crowded, during President's Week: book early, for popular resorts! President's Week is also one of the busiest times to visit Disney World, pictured above.

    If you find that your fave resort is booked, consider going somewhere different from the most popular US destinations. How about London, England, at bargain rates?

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  • 04 of 13

    February Holidays: Family-Friendly Mardi Gras

    Photo courtesy of Louisiana Tourism.
    Photo courtesy of Louisiana Tourism.

    Mardi Gras and related Carnivals are centuries-old traditions, with origins in the Catholic religious year: "Mardi Gras" -- meaning "fat Tuesday"-- was the last chance to live large and indulge before Ash Wednesday started the weeks of Lent, a time of fasting and sacrifice.

    "Mardi Gras" these days is synonymous with "crazy parades and partying" in cities such as Rio and New Orleans, but there are many places where families can enjoy festivities.

    The vote for most accessible Mardi Gras festivities for families would have to go to the multiple Mardi Gras weekends at Universal Orlando, which have parades, live music, and more on multiple nights from mid-Feb. to mid-April.

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    March Holidays: St. Patrick's Day Parades and Festivities

    Holidays - St. Patrick's Day - Photo courtesy of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
    Photo courtesy of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

    They say that "everybody's Irish" on March 17, meaning that St. Patrick's Day celebrations are open to all.

    Certain cities celebrate St. Patrick's Day big-time, which makes a great opportunity for a getaway, especially if March 17 falls during your child's Spring Break or March Break week. You can also find festivities in unexpected places-- such as ski resorts.

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    March - April Holidays: Easter (Egg Hunts, Parades, Bunny Trains, More)

    Holidays - Easter train - photo courtesy of Green Mountain Railroad.
    Easter train - photo courtesy of Green Mountain Railroad.

    Many families have a long weekend or longer to do a trip at Easter. Dates vary from late March to mid-April; and in some years, Easter Sunday may fall during a school's Spring Break.

    Countless destinations now offer special fun at Easter. Some events are traditional, such as the White House Egg Roll, or New York City's Easter Parade. But many events are new: at zoos, at children's museums... The Easter Bunny even turns up on the ski slopes. "Easter Bunny Express" train rides, on tourist trains, are another trend.

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    May Holidays: Memorial Day Weekend

    Holidays- Memorial Day fireworks - Photo courtesy of Sandestin Resort.
    Memorial Day fireworks - Photo courtesy of Sandestin Resort.

    Memorial Day in the US has a serious purpose: to honor those who've lost their lives in military service. However, as a holiday observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day weekend has come to be celebrated as the unofficial start of summertime.

    Memorial Day means special commemorative events in many parts of the US: Fleet Week, in New York City; a giant parade in Chicago; outdoor concerts and fireworks... See Memorial Day Events for families.

    Meanwhile, to kickstart summer, dozens of resorts and destinations have packages-- check out some sample Memorial Day Weekend Getaways.

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  • 08 of 13

    July Holidays - Fourth of July Celebrations

    Holidays - July 4th fireworks - photo courtesy of Disney World.
    July 4th fireworks - photo courtesy of Disney World.

    In the US, the Fourth of July -- Independence Day, commemorating the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776-- is a sweet spot of summer, a day for family fun, parades, fireworks...

    Towns big and small celebrate. And family travelers can find some very big celebrations, indeed... In New York City, Macy's stupendous Fourth of July Fireworks are a highlight, set off from barges in the East River. In Washington DC, a giant National Independence Day Parade starts the festivities and much more follows.

    And the list goes on... See Fourth of July Celebrations.

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  • 09 of 13

    October Holidays: Halloween

    Holidays - Halloween - Photo © Teresa Plowright.
    Photo © Teresa Plowright.

    Halloween's become a full holiday season, through all of October, with countless fun events for families: Boos at Zoos, Haunted Houses, spooky fun staged everywhere from science museums to corn mazes.

    Theme parks deserve special note: even if a theme park is closed during the fall months, it will open the gates for Halloween weekends. Disney has "not so scary" parties; Universal Studios gets seriously spooky; Legoland, Sesame Place, Hersheypark all have their themed fun.

    Halloween Train Rides are another fun trend for families.

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    November Holidays: Thanksgiving Fun Events for Families

    Holidays - Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, in NYC. Photo courtesy of NYC & Co.
    Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, in NYC. Photo courtesy of NYC & Co.

    Thanksgiving in the US -- celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November-- is one of the year's major holidays. (Canadian Thanksgiving, in October, is much more low-key.) Legions of people fly home to be with their families for turkey dinner or fly to popular places to spend the holiday together.

    Thanksgiving weekend also starts the "Holiday Season" that continues to New Year's: Christmas decorations go up, and often Santa makes an appearance at the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

    A standout Thanksgiving holiday event is the giant Macy's Parade, an annual tradition dating back to the 1920's, and famous for giant inflated balloon figures. (Some of these balloons migrate to Universal Orlando theme park, for daily Macy's Thanksgiving Parades during the Holiday Season.)

    See Thanksgiving Events and Thanksgiving Weekend Getaways.

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  • 11 of 13

    The Holiday Season

    Photo courtesy of Santa's Village, NH.
    Photo courtesy of Santa's Village, NH.

    In many countries and for many cultures, the last weeks of the year build in a crescendo leading up to Christmas; and many people from different religions embrace Santa Claus and other aspects of the Christmas season.

    Families have a super-abundance of holiday events to enjoy: tree lightings, Christmas markets, Christmas festivals, train rides (including the popular Polar Express), holiday lights, great places to see Santa including North Pole NY, Bethlehem CT...

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    New Year's Eve

    Holidays - New Year's Eve - Photo by Susan Cole Kelley, courtesy of First Night Boston.
    Photo by Susan Cole Kelley, courtesy of First Night Boston.

    At the end of the Holiday Season comes New Year's Eve, December 31, with more and more family-friendly celebrations to ring in the New Year.

    In Boston, St. Louis, Boulder City, and many more cities celebrate "First Night", a low-cost family-friendly New Year's Eve, with parades, fireworks, and, most of all, performances-- by musicians, dancers, acrobats.

    Many other places offer a family New Year's Eve: at Panama City Beach, Hershey PA, Disney World, a family camp in Vermont...

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    More Holidays...

    • Mother's Day in the US and Canada falls on the second Sunday in May, and -- while not a long weekend-- is often a time when resorts offer special packages. For example, the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in New Mexico, (above, a unique resort on 500 acres on a Native American Pueblo) typically has packages that give Mom extra perks. Check out Mother's Day Getaway Ideas.
    • Like Mother's Day, Father's Day is a great opportunity for some quality family together-time - check out ideas for Father's Day Getaways.
    • Labor Day in the US brings a number of events, honoring the purpose of the holiday as a tribute to workers: a big parade in New York City, for instance. Other events celebrate Labor Day as the last blast of summer. See more about Labor Day Weekend.