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Festival Vibe - Where to Celebrate Your Love In February

 Image by Silentpilot

Festivals are known for bringing parts of the world to life; the streets are full of revellers, the architecture – both modern and ancient – is decorated, and the entire event is overflowing with excitement and joy. With an atmosphere that’s almost always more splendid around festival time, there’s no better time than to honeymoon. February offers so many wonderful festivals around the world, celebrating everything from a new year to love. To start a marriage with the festival spirit, consider one of these three.

Chun Jie

Incredible China comes alive several times a year for its biggest and most spectacular cultural holidays, but it’s nothing like the magic of the Spring Festival (or Chun Jie, as it’s known locally) to celebrate the beginning of the new Chinese year. For 15 blissfully exotic days, China becomes a new world, animated by the excitement of the celebration. For a lucky start to the year, and a honeymoon to mark the beginning of the rest of your lives, consider planning your holiday in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in early February as the country welcomes the Year of the Rooster.

Image by Silentpilot

For someplace close to stay during the festivities, check out the Beijing Hotel NUO for celebrations around the city of Beijing, the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai and The Langham in Hong Kong. Each hotel offers world class facilities with luxury accommodation and immediate access to the most vibrant parts of the cities. Either explore the cities for somewhere to eat, or dine in one of the hotels’ exquisite restaurants, all of which offer a variety of delicious Asian cuisine.

Image via Mandarin Oriental Pundong

During the festival, indulge in China’s New Year traditions. Start by eating lucky foods – fish is a must for bringing in money and good luck for the coming year! Make sure you also walk through the streets of your chosen city and marvel at the red decorations and take as many photos with your newlywed as possible. At night, seek out the best place in the city for the fireworks display – and start all over again the next day!

Image by Lisa Redfern

St Valentine’s Day

February is the month to celebrate love in almost every part of the world, but it’s nothing quite like the magic of Italy. The romantic vibe that settles over the city of Terni is unlike anything you will have ever experienced, and there is no better place or time to celebrate love and a new marriage than here. The festivities are embraced throughout all of February, but it’s February 14th when the city becomes the most beautiful. To make the most of the holiday, join in the St Valentine’s Day feast with the rest of the ‘loved up’ couples of Italy at the Umbrian hometown.

Image via Rellini Art Studio

For somewhere to stay in Terni, consider the gorgeous Relais Parco Dei Cavalieri where luxury and comfort meet the charming feel of Italy. Dine at the hotel’s own restaurant and take in the incredible views of the gardens, all while feeling a little bit like royalty in the renovated medieval residence. The nearby Santa Serena and Poggio Degli Olivi offer just as much charm and beauty, as does La Trota, the Michelin star restaurant that’s renowned for its superb menu and luxury location.

Images via Relais Parco Dei Cavalieri

The Valentine’s celebrations in Terni are spread over six weeks, typically starting on the 1st of February – and what better way to start celebrating love than with chocolate? Cioccolentino has been a staple of Terni for a decade, tempting couples with chocolate and sweets to last the festivities. For a tour and tastings, visit their website. Once you have indulged yourself in the sweets, take a seat at the feast where you can either partake in the renewal or sharing of vows or watch as love takes over the city. And if you’re feeling like a little exercise to burn off the chocolate, run for love in the Marathon of St Valentine through the Valnerina.

Image via Cioccolentino

Rio Carnival

Although carnivals are celebrated throughout the world, there is nothing quite like this celebration that brings the city of Rio to life. If you have been lucky enough to be in Rio de Janeiro during the artistically creative and exciting event of the year, then you know just how incredible the experience is. Celebrate love and new beginnings surrounded by the euphoria of living that only comes from being in the carnival capital of the world and embrace the fun-loving soul of the city for a passionate affair of the heart. Typically, Carnival starts near the end of February and lasts for four days.

Image by Alberto Brazil

For the best place to stay during the Carnival have a look at hotels around Ipanema and Leblon. The Praia Ipanema Hotel and Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro and the Hotel Marina Palace and Promenade Palladium in Leblon are luxurious options that are close to the celebrations without being overly crowded and noisy. They are also close to the best sights of Rio, including the beach, and are only minutes away from restaurants like Zaza Bistro and Zuka.

Image via Praia Ipanema Hotel

Apart from going to the Carnival itself, visitors to Rio can settle into the party nature at a ‘bloco’ – a samba-led street party across different areas of Rio. If that’s not your style, there’s always the beach! And not to mention the incredible sights of Rio. For something more Carnival-exclusive, immerse yourself in the Sambadrome, the world-famous competition where schools from Rio showcase colourfully exotic parades. Or look out for a Carnival Ball to dance the night away and watch as the people of Rio swap out costumes for the beach to costumes for the party. Whatever you decide, you’re to find something exciting and new to do during your Carnival honeymoon.

Image by Lubomir Mihalik

Ms Chinoiserie Says: What a fabulous way to celebrate your marriage – festivals bring the cities to life! The Rio Carnival would be an incredible experience!

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

Captain Cook may not have been known as much of a wordsmith, but he did a pretty good job naming that part of the Queensland coast the locals affectionately call the “Whitsunnydays”. If ever there was a place that offered a million and one vantage points to capture the perfect sunrise, this is it.

There’s something about sunrises that makes climbing out of bed in the dark and fumbling for the iphone simply worth it. So peaceful, calm and removed from all those crowds that clamber to catch a sunset, perhaps the best thing about a sunrise is you generally have it all to yourself. Whether it involves hiking up a mountain top or just strolling out onto your balcony, there’s no better way to start the day than with those first sprays of pink light bursting from behind a mountain.

So where are the best Whitsunday spots to enjoy the ultimate communion with nature? At Botanica Weddings, here are our Top Five, in no particular order.

Image via Pinnacles

Your balcony at Pinnacles, Airlie Beach

Although it’s situated on Australia’s east coast, the lively tourist mecca known as Airlie Beach is a bit of an anomaly in that the town itself swings around to face north. So every day it offers up both a sunrise and a sunset. But what really sets it apart is its elevation. While it’s named after its beach, only the esplanade and main street occupy flat land. Most of the town climbs pretty quickly from there offering a huge range of accommodation that by and large all boast spectacular views. The panorama to the east is framed by the Conway Ranges and where ever you stay you can be assured of catching the sun popping over the mountains at any time of the year.

TIP : Best vantage point? The choices are endless but it’s hard to go past the aptly named Pinnacles. It’s a climb (so make sure you take their complimentary buggy) but worth every step once you get there.

Image via Botanica Weddings

Off the deck of your own catamaran

The tropical waters of the Whitsundays are well up on the short list of best cruising grounds anywhere. Justifiably so. Dramatically mountainous looking islands, clear skies and water with spectacular coral and fish. Daily glimpses of turtles, dugongs and the occasional whale and, if you look up, sea eagles and brahminy kites. But the other great instagram-worthy moment of course is the sunrise which can be enjoyed on any morning from just about any tranquil anchorage point.

TIP : Best time to catch it is during the drier months from April through to December when there’s less chance of it being shrouded in cloud.

Image by Paul Tadday Photography

Passage Peak, Hamilton Island

The Whitsundays is famous for its 74 islands, but most of those are uninhabited nature reserves, with the exception of a handful of island resorts, the best known being Hayman, South Molle, Daydream and Hamilton Island. So which one to experience the sunniest rise ? It would have to be Hamilton, or Hammo as the locals call it. And yes, you’ll probably want to rename your hamstrings, “hammo-strings” after the two and a half kilometre climb up Passage Peak but for the ultimate start-at-dark sunrise pilgramage! Yes, it’s a hike, but that’s exactly the point, you have to make an effort to enjoy the ultimate reward. And by conquering the highest vantage point on the island – 200 metres above sea level – you are guaranteeing yourself a moment that is definitely soul-stirring.

TIP : Make sure you’re wearing comfortable exercise shoes!

Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

Cape Hillsborough Resort

An hour and a half drive from Airlie Beach but worth every minute of the detour is Cape Hillsborough, an affordable beachfront resort and the ultimate place for lovers of peace and tranquility. The sunrise experience here comes with the added bonus of a furry foreground in the form of very friendly skippies.

TIP : Bring your camera ! The local kangaroos don’t seem to mind you taking some happy snaps while they do their marsupial yoga on the beach.

Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

The Sea Deck, Villa Botanica

The Sea Deck at our exquisite wedding venue is renowned for its sunset cocktails (anyone for a Blushing Bride martini ?) …but in truth, this east facing deck is even better situated to enjoy the ultimate sunrise. With a foreground framed by spikey succulents, and beyond that the dramatic black granite boulders fronting the calm waters of Pioneer Bay, the stage is set for an early morning show of nature at her magnificent best.

TIP : The only hitch is you have to get hitched here to enjoy it, but some would say that’s a small price to pay!

Image via Botanica Weddings

Ms Chinoiserie Says: I love the Whitsundays! Absolutely one of the most beautiful “picture postcard” places to watch the sunrise with your beloved….

About Botanica Weddings: Perched on the edge of the Coral Sea in the glorious Whitsundays, Villa Botanica’s superb gardens and architecture make for a destination wedding venue simply unmatched anywhere in Australia. Only minutes from Airlie Beach, yet totally private and exclusively yours for the day.

Windswept peninsulas, ancient forests, secluded bays and breathtaking vistas – the Great Southern region of Western Australia exudes wild romance.

Just a few hours drive south of Perth, this scenic region is the perfect place for loved up newlyweds to unplug and enjoy a few blissful days reconnecting with nature.

Book an Airbnb in the seaside towns of Albany or Denmark and set off to wine, dine and explore!

Discover

From the fury of a surging tide, to the mega power of the southern winds, Albany is all about natural wonders.

Be sure to visit ‘The Gap’, a rugged channel formed by the relentless power of the Southern Ocean. Venture out onto the cantilevered viewing platform and dare to look down to the waves roaring below! Don’t miss the ‘natural bridge’ a little further on – another spectacular ocean-carved artwork.

For fantastic walking trails and a truly eco experience, take a trip to the Albany Wind Farm. Arguably one of the world’s most picturesque power stations, you will soon discover the wind farm is perfectly positioned – so hold onto your hat! Poised around 80 metres above sea level, the twelve turbines have a commanding view of the Southern Ocean, and are particularly striking when viewed in the morning or at sunset. Grab your love’s hand and follow one of the scenic trails – you will be absolutely captivated by this jaw-dropping location!

A favourite with locals and blow-ins alike, Greens Pool is the emerald gem in Denmark’s crown. Punctuated with striking boulders and fringed by a sweeping headland, this protected swimming spot is ideal for sunbathing, beachcombing and snorkelling.

After a refreshing dip, wander over to the aptly named Elephant Rocks within Elephant Cove. This intimate cove is the perfect place to unwind and recharge with your love. Tuck into a beach novel and enjoy whiling away a few hours in your own piece of paradise.

The Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk is another must-do on your Great Southern sojourn. Hit the road early and journey to neighbouring town Walpole to walk through towering forests and see the trees from above. Once you’ve completed the 600 metre tree top walk, return to ground level and discover the Ancient Empire – a stunning forest trail of 400-year-old tingle trees.

Drink

With an ever growing inventory of distilleries, wineries, breweries and drinking holes, the Great Southern region is the perfect place to enjoy a celebratory beverage or two!

If you or your love is partial to a stiff drink, head to Limeburners distillery to sample an impressive line-up of hand crafted Australian whisky, vodka and gin, plus other spirits and liqueurs. While you’re here, be sure to try the Karri Honey Whisky Liqueur – a small batch malt whisky infused with luscious honey and aromatic spices. Even if you’re not normally a whisky drinker, you’re bound to love this intoxicating tipple.

For a leisurely afternoon in the sunshine, settle in at the Boston Brewing Co and order a tasting paddle to test the best of the brews. Here you can also sample Willoughby Park wines at the cellar door and graze on share plates, burgers, slow cooked meats and more!

Adventurous wine drinkers should put Yilgarnia Wines on the ‘to drink’ list – but be prepared to deviate off the beaten track to find it. This small family owned vineyard makes a variety of white and red wines, handcrafted ‘method champenoise’ sparkling red, white and pink wines, and the very first estate grown Denmark Port – a must try. Tucked off the side of a gravel road in the midst of the Denmark region, Yilgarnia Wines is a true hidden gem and you will find it difficult to depart without a few purchases!

For your honeymoon caffeine hit, stop by the Naked Bean Coffee Roasters and be wooed by that ‘just roasted’ aroma as soon as you enter the door! This Albany mainstay has been sourcing the best beans from around the globe for more than 15 years and roasting them onsite to create their own signature blends. While you’re here, pop into the adjoining store – a treasure trove of covetable gadgets and accessories for the caffeine connoisseur.

Dine

Garrison is a gorgeous all-day dining option perched on the crest of Mt Clarence, Albany. This café-bar-restaurant is located next to the outstanding National Anzac Centre (another must-do), and is furnished with a distinctive nod to Australian wartime history. Pop in for a leisurely brunch (don’t miss the maple bacon banana bread!), stop by for sunset drinks or enjoy an intimate dinner during the summer months.

Surrounded by sprawling gardens, The Lakehouse is a charming winery just a few minutes out of Denmark. After sampling the varieties at the cellar door, enjoy a leisurely ploughman’s style lunch on the lakeside deck or picnic rug! Choose from a menu of delicious platters brimming with local produce including house-made relishes, chutneys and pickles – the perfect alfresco fare.

All images by Anika Reynolds

Ms Chinoiserie Says: A swim at Elephant Rocks followed by a walk through the tree tops – what could be more romantic! 

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!