January–March: The prime whale-watching season begins in the waters off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Blue, gray, sperm and humpback whales migrate to the warm seas around Baja to mate and give birth.
January 3-31: To make space for new collections, designer stores in Europe feature some of the best sales of the year. Milan and Paris are perhaps most famous for their well-priced fashion, but shoppers can find excellent values all over the continent.
January 5–February 5: One of the best times to visit Dubai is during the annual Shopping Festival, when shops selling everything from major clothing brands to exclusive jewelry offer substantial discounts. The event has grown to include a range of musical and cultural events.
January 6: Teams of fearless Bavarians board traditional peasant sleighs and careen down an icy slope for the annual Hornschlittenrennen in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Spectators and surviving participants celebrate afterwards at the Hornschlittenball.
January 13-15: South Beach celebrates its architectural heritage during Miami’s Art Deco Weekend. A parade at 11 a.m. on Saturday features antique cars, giant puppets, bagpipers and a host of other colorful participants. Restaurants along Ocean Drive (pictured above) offer a range of tasty take-away foods, and visitors can also enjoy live music and a fashion show.
January 15-17: Bor Sang, Thailand, explodes with color during the annual Umbrella Festival. Shops in this village near Chiang Mai display paper parasols in an array of colors and sizes, many with ornately painted decorations.
January 23–February 5: Foodies descend on Madrid, Spain, for the annual Gastrofestival, a 15-day city-wide event with special tasting menus at top restaurants, culinary walks and cooking classes. In between meals, gourmands can attend some of the food-themed art shows and films.
January 26: Celebrate Australia Day, Australia’s biggest national holiday, in proper style in Sydney. At 11 a.m., watch brightly decorated ferry boats race from Circular Quay to Shark Island. A sailing regatta extends into the early evening, followed by an impressive pyrotechnics display over the harbor.
January 28: Flames engulf a small mountain outside Nara, Japan, when dry grasses covering the 342-meter volcano are set ablaze during Wakakusayama Yamayaki. More than 100,000 spectators converge on this small city near Kyoto to view the unique conflagration and accompanying fireworks.