Whether you fancy a pacific islanders' festival, a literary break in England or sake and sakura in Japan, March is an excellent month to travel. Spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, while riotous festivals take place everywhere from Ireland to Brazil. Here's our pick of the best places to visit in March.
Experience cherry blossom season in Japan
Japan blushes at the start of each year when its cherry trees bloom. The subtropical province of Okinawa takes the lead, turning pinkish-white like candyfloss at some point in early January. It usually takes until the end of March for cities like Tokyo and Kyoto to follow suit. Take your camera with you for some seriously kawaii ("cute") photos. Make the most of the sweet-smelling air; within a few short weeks, the blossoms will have disappeared altogether.
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Himeji Castle in spring surrounded by cherry blossom © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Learn the ropes on quiet slopes in Åre, Sweden
For downhill thrills, there’s nowhere in Europe that can compete with the Alps. But if you’re just getting to grips with skiing or snowboarding, why not try Sweden? Avoid the crowds in Åre, a top-class resort tucked away near Norway on the edge of an ice-white lake. The weather will have warmed up slightly by March, and there’s plenty of short runs to get you progressing quickly. If you want a break, there are off-piste activities like ice fishing and dogsledding to keep you entertained.
View from the slopes in Åre, Sweden © BMJ/Shutterstock
Meet the Pacific in Auckland, New Zealand
Each March, islanders from across the Pacific converge on Auckland for the Pasifika Festival. At the huge two-day cultural extravaganza, held in Western Springs, you can wander through markets selling local crafts, watch live bands, or eat pork that’s been roasted over hot rocks, Samoan style. Visitors wanting a lasting reminder of the event wont be disappointed, either; traditional Polynesian tattoos are also available.
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Learn about the Pacific Islander way of life at the Pasifika festival © Chameleons Eye/Shutterstock
Head south (by southwest) to Austin, USA
If you’ve never been to the Austin then SXSW – a ten-day celebration of music, film and interactive arts – provides the perfect excuse to give it a try. Buying a pass for the mid-March festival isn't cheap (even the cheapest music pass costs more than $600). On the plus side, there are literally hundreds of unofficial events taking part on the festival’s periphery. Enjoy everything from impromptu gigs in bars to free parties run by rebellious local record labels. The only difficult part is choosing which ones to go to.
The Texas state flag flying at the State Capitol building in Austin © CrackerClips Stock Media/Shutterstock
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland
New York does St Patrick’s Day bigger, but Dublin will always be the event's spiritual home. Apart from drinking Guinness and wearing silly leprechaun hats (both considered noble pursuits on the day), there’s plenty to get involved with. Take a guided walking tour of the city to can learn more about the life and legacy of the fifth-century bishop Patrick who, legend has it, banished all of the serpents from Ireland. Dozens of historic landmarks are bathed in green light for the party that’s held in his honour, and as with New York, a musical parade snakes its way through the city.
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Irish setters get in on the action in Dublin © Svetlana.ls/Shutterstock
Top image: Himeji Castle in spring with visitors for the cherry blossom season © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock