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Top Festivals Around the World in January

Published in World Festivals

Top Festivals Around the World in January

Edinburgh Hogmanay looney dook

Edinburgh, Scotland: 1st January 2019
The Loony Dook takes place on the first day of each new year. Were thousands of brave people dress up in fancy dress and throw themselves into the freezing cold water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just a few miles out of the Scottish capital. This wonderful event brings an end to the amazing Edinburgh Hogmanay.
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Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Harbin, Heilongjiang, China: January 5, 2019 (February 5, 2018)
People build incredible things out of ice and snow, decorating them with lights and lasers. Come experience the world's largest ice festival in beautiful Harbin city. where sculptures and ice works of chilly art—all made from ice—are scattered throughout Harbin during this colourful two-month ice and snow sculpture festival each January and February. Find out more.

Sundance Film Festival

Park City, Utah, USA: January 24th - 3rd Feb 2019
The largest independent film festival in the US and a must for any film fan to Watch both feature-length films and shorts. Find out more.

Up Helly Aa Fire Festival

Lerwick, Scotland: January 29th, 2019
Torches, tar barreling, parties, flamboyant costumes, and the burning of a replica Viking ship make this an exciting festival. Find out more.

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Top Festivals Around the World in February

Published in World Festivals

Top Festivals Around the World in February

Chinese New Year 

Beijing, China: February 5th, 2019
(February 16th, 2018) The biggest Chinese holiday, with dragons, fireworks, symbolic clothing, flowers, lanterns, and celebration, everywhere in China. Although Beijing isn’t the only place to celebrate the Chinese New Year it can be celebrated all over Asia. Find out more.


Carnival of Venice

Venice, Italy: February 16th, 2019
(February 13, 2018) One of the most beautiful festivals in the world, people wear masks and elaborate costumes to hide differences among classes, and there are contests for the best costumes. Find out more.


Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, India: February 17th-19th, 2019
(January 29th, 2018) A cultured festival of events such as camel racing, turban tying, and the longest moustache competition, this quirky Indian festival showcases the cultural wonders of Rajasthan. Find out more.

Pingxi Lantern Festival

Pingxi, Taiwan: February 19th, 2019
(March 2nd, 2018). People write their wishes on fire lanterns and release them into the sky together, creating a beautiful spectacle of floating lights. Find out more.

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The Titanic Hotel - A Historic Hotel in the Heart of Belfast

Published in Hotel Reviews

The Titanic Hotel - A Historic Hotel in the Heart of Belfast

The Titanic Hotel Belfast is located in the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, builders of the Titanic, and provides the perfect destination for anyone travelling to the Titanic Quarter on business or for pleasure. 

The hotel's location really is exceptional, located just 10 metres from the Titanic Exhibition, 50 metres away from the HMS Caroline and 5 minutes walk from the exciting SSE Arena and W5. The location of the Titanic Hotel was a real drawing point for us as it was close enough to walk to Belfast City Centre, yet far enough away to relax and not have to worry about the hustle and bustle of the city. 

On arrival, we were greeted with the sheer beauty of the exceptionally historic building, almost like a museum than a hotel. It’s certainly a very aesthetically pleasing hotel with a clean open reception and open bar/ restaurant area.

Check in was a breeze, with the very kind lobby staff offering to show us to our room, on arrival to the room we were welcomed by a lovely array of macaroons, which really was the icing on the cake.

The room itself was very spacious and had a real historic feel to it, from the high ceilings to the old light fixtures and notable mirrors. Both the room and the hotel are very dark, although we like the relaxing dim lighting it may be an issue for some.

In the room were two large TV’s playing enjoyable documentaries and related videos of the Titanic, which was a lovely touch. Also, provided was all the important amenities; hair dryer, ironing board, air conditioning, complimentary bottled water, tea/coffee facilities, refrigerator on request, safe, bespoke bathrobes and slippers & very good WiFi.

The bathroom was very spacious for a city hotel with both a shower and a bath and two large couple sinks (although this differs from room to room), even the simplest of rooms have everything you need. In the bathroom, you'll also find a handful of Paul Costelloe toiletries, which we ended up taking for travelling (sorry Titanic Hotel).

The Titanic doesn’t just have amazing rooms though, it also offers some of the best food options we have seen in any hotel. We had both dinner and two days of breakfast and I couldn’t fault it. The Breakfast was plentiful with a wide variety of options ranging from cereals, pastries, yoghourts and a wide range of traditional Irish breakfast options, we recommended the Irish fry.

After you’ve tickled your taste buds with the plentiful breakfast options and have explored the tremendous titanic quarter, the Titanic’s Wolff Grill or the drawing office dinner will certainly make your trip that little bit more special. We aren’t what you would call ‘fine dining’ type of people but the Titanic really changed our opinion on ‘fine dining’ with large portions & flavours that we can’t really put into words how incredible they are. If you want something a bit more casual the Drawing-office lunch or dinner menu is prepared by the same kitchen so you will still be in for a treat.

Rating
Overall the Titanic Hotel is an excellent hotel experience with a brilliant location to the Titanic Quarter, set in history and with some incredible top class food options. It really could be a brilliant city getaway or if your coming to Belfast to visit the culture and history this hotel is perfect. Staff were extremely intentive and went above and beyond to get us extra amenities and when we left the room we arrived with the bed pre-made and chocolates on the pillows. Although not exactly a budget Hotel, keep an eye their website and social media as they run packages with breakfast/stay/dinner and for the perfect price this hotel could be the perfect getaway.

Rating:
Price: £120-180 a night
Address: 8 Queens Rd, Belfast BT3 9DT
More Info: Click Here

Understanding our rating class.
We rate our Travel Accommodation ranging from First class being the best and Last class being the worst.

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How to book cheap flights

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

How to get cheap flights

Whether it's your first time booking your own trip or you’ve experienced the tiresome repeat flight searching to get the best possible flights, finding affordable flights can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Here are some tips that will save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next flight.
Be flexible

It may sound simple but one of the main ways to reduce costs on flights is by having flexible travel plans, you can change your hotel/accommodation options to suit your budget but with flights its a very limited choice, you need to work around the airlines and find that perfect flight. Broaden your spectrum of dates/destinations/airports/flight times can really save you a lot of money. If you start with the mindset of; I want to travel to New York from the 3rd December- 6th December on an early direct flight in to JFK Airport more than likely it’s going to get expensive, but if you broaden your search to travel to New York in the first two weeks of December flying anytime during the day to any accessible airport with a maximum of 1 stop over you open a wide variety of prices for many different airports/dates/times/airlines. Flexibility is key with flights & can be the difference of saving hundreds of pounds.

Use the best flight search engines

So where do you start? your dates or travel plans are flexible, you're ready to start getting those cheap flights. Unfortunately, no search engine is consistently perfect although we find sky scanner to be the #1 choice, we would advise trying a combination of search engines to make sure you're not missing any results. 
- Skyscanner (or download the app) - your starting point & first choice.
-Kiwi.com (combines all airlines to create routes that are cheaper than booking with just one airline & is our next go to after skyscanner)
- Momondo (a broad search engine that sometimes shows cheaper fares) check out our new TripFinder helper that makes it a little more user-friendly
-JetRadar (includes budget airlines, which many search engines don’t)
-AirWander (lets you extend layovers into stopovers to visit 2 destinations with 1 trip)
-Google Flights (good tool to quickly compare flights, also brilliant for free flight price tracking see more info below)

Track your flights & book at the right time

So when is the right time to book? To not sound cliche but the right time to book is when you're comfortable with the price before you plan on going away, set yourself a budget of what your willing to spend. There's no point in adding an extra stopover or flying with a budget airline if it's only going to save you a minimal amount. REMEMBER the hidden extras of flying; baggage fees, transport to that airport vs another, meals when travelling and of course time which sometimes can be the most important. All that said though, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right time to book, if you have set dates & your fixed with your travel plans and destination we advice to book as soon as possible, but if you have flexibility we would say the best time to book is 6-8 weeks before your flight (off-peak) and 3 months peak times such as holidays/main months in summer.

One of the main ways we know when its the right time to book is through google flights, they offer a free flight trends overview of prices and let you track your flights free of charge. They will email you updates on a particular flight or route and the change in prices to your email, which has certainly saved us a fair few pounds for other holiday activites.

Befriend budget airlines

One of the best ways to get significantly cheaper tickets is through budget airlines but of course, this can come at a value of compromised leg room, no complimentary food/drinks & most importantly strict rules and regulations that you need to be careful of. Overall if it's for a short haul flight this may be your best option. We fly budget airlines regularly for trips under 4 hours & can't complain. In the day and age were you can get flights from the UK to Europe for half the price of a train ticket from London to Newcastle, you have to half a certain bit of flexibility with what you're expecting for your money. Not all budget airlines are on Search engines so here's a comprehensive list of some of the best budget airlines per region, check out their websites for prices & check whats included/excluded.

Top tips for booking with budget airlines
-Check where the airport location is (some budget airlines fly to airports further out of town).
-Ensure you’ve booked & paid for your luggage allowance. Adhere to restrictions on weight, height, and the number of bags allowed. Some airlines (e.g. Ryanair) will charge a hefty fee if you’re over.
-Print your own ticket- some airlines have printout fees which can sometimes be more than the flight.
In a nutshell, always read and follow instructions! & Tweet us @beattravelagent if you have any questions.

Discover nearby airports

Do you know what airports are near you? You’d be surprised how easy it is to get buses/trains to nearby main airports. Many budget airlines only operate out of the larger main airports so be sure to check. When on Skyscanner or other search engines click the add nearby airports button and see your nearby options.

Clear those cookies

Unfortunately, in this day and age flight companies save all our details so the more you look at that flight with certain travel booking companies and flight companies the price will go up. Use a browser such as google chrome or safari to go into Incognito mode to look like your a new customer.

Embrace the single life

Now don’t go leaving your other half at home, it seems some airlines, especially budget airlines seem to have tickets cheaper for single purchasers and seem to hike the price when you buy multiple tickets. So check the price first for your group then check it singularly and make sure it isn’t cheaper to book singly. Afterwards, in the checkout process, you can pick your seats so you and your family are sitting together.

Locate those airlines errors

Yes that's right, everyone makes mistakes and when it comes to flight companies this seems to also be the case, whether it be a system error, human error or a wrong currency conversion, airlines do make mistakes and there are websites out there to take advantage of them. Sites like Airfarewatchdog has a dedicated team of deal hunters, who frequently post to their deals blog and keep you in the loop, also check out SecretFlying & Fly4Free.

Use Air miles

If you thinking of getting a credit card or looking to get that free upgrade or free flight (minus taxes) Air Miles could be the next step to lying on that beach. There are many different companies such as AMEX, Chase, Flybe & MBNA who are providing Cards that both come with free air miles when you join & Air miles when you spend. Check out our article here to find the best card; as you may need to research what airline you plan on using or provides the most routes so you can spend those earned points.

Make an airline buddy

No, we don’t mean making friends with that passenger next to you on the plane (although why not), but rather make friends with the airlines. Subscribe to their email newsletters, join there reward schemes, follow them on Facebook/Twitter and keep track of the voucher code and deals. As many times a year airlines will have discounts and sales and their followers will have first notice of the deals. What we do is have a separate email address just for tracked flights & flight and hotel newsletters to make sure we keep on top of the latest offers. Also, make sure to check out HotUKDeals and Vouchercodes to see what deals and promo codes are out there before you book your trip.

If you can’t beat them join them

That's right, sometimes the travel agent is the best place to book a flight package, due to a lot of flight companies like Thomas Cook/Thomson Airways etc. owning their own airlines. They can offer undercut rates & run services to the busy destinations around the holiday times at a slight discount that other airlines providers, although that doesn’t make them the cheapest if your booking an all-inclusive or package holiday your cheapest option is probably going to the travel agents themselves. Still, price check the flight without accommodation and with it and see if they can beat or match your own quote.

Check back and track

So you’ve got yourself a good deal, your flights are booked but your a bit worried the price might change today or tomorrow morning, its not over yet though any ticket sold in the US, for flights from the US, even if they’re on a foreign carrier must allow for one of two things: a 24 hour hold guaranteeing your fare before purchase OR a 24 hour risk free cancellation entitling you to a full refund. This isn’t the full case in the UK but many airlines such as BMI, British Airways, Virgin & some easyJet tickets offer this service so that you can cancel within 24 hours. So what we normally do is set an alarm to check in 23 hours or so to see if there was any price change. Just make sure to protect yourself when booking anything for a holiday over £100 on a credit card to protect yourself under section 75.

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