Where You Should Be This Holiday Season

Partying in Dubai, gambling in Macau, chilling on a Lankan beach + more—take your pick

SRI LANKA Take the family to the country’s north-east region, which has finally opened up to tourists after the end of the civil war almost three years ago. It now boasts a safe and spectacular coastline as well as incredibly luxurious properties such as The Beach House Pasikudah (www.beachhousecollection.com), which opens in October, and the wonderfully remote Chaaya Blu Trincomalee (www.chaayahotels.com). The former has 32 suites and two beach pavilions; most come with private plunge pools and butlers. The resort also has a water-sports centre, including a PADI dive school. The latter features beach chalets and organises whale-watching trips. Cinnamon Air (www.cinnamonair.com) has launched a seaplane service from Colombo to Trincomalee, so visitors no longer need to endure the arduous six-hour drive from the capital in the south to get to the far-flung beaches in the north. The journey time is now less than an hour on these nine-seater, low-flying planes that afford arresting views of lush hills and rivers along the way. Besides, Indian passport-holders can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) on www.eta.gov.lk, which enables them to get a visa on arrival. Getting there: Sri Lankan Airlines (www.srilankan.com) flies to Colombo from Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai.

MACAU Get visas on arrival and hit the Cotai Strip for a spot of gambling this Diwali. Try your hand at blackjack, baccarat and roulette at the world’s largest casino inside The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel (www.venetianmacao.com), which houses 3,400 slot machines and 800 gaming tables. You can also choose to take in the cultural and historical heritage of the city with the hotel’s half-day Discovery Tour of Macau. Use the complimentary one-way CotaiJet ferry tickets for two to Hong Kong for a quick look at the busy metropolis and to explore its many shopping options. Visitors can also choose to stay at Conrad Macao (www.sandscotaicentral.com) and take advantage of its ‘The House of Dancing Water’ package. Besides accommodation for two in a deluxe category room and breakfast, it includes tickets to The House of Dancing Water show, which is staged in a purpose-built theatre holding water equivalent to five Olympic-sized pools. The HK$2 billion (Rs1,560 crore) production has dancers gliding across the theatre and performing some spectacular leaps and acrobatics. Getting there: Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.com; stopover in Bangkok) flies to Macau from all major Indian cities.

BRUSSELS Start the revelry early this year at the Belgian capital’s all-night arts festival, Nuit Blanche (www.nuitblanchebrussels.be), which shines a light on the city’s creative scene. As part of this event, on 5 October, people will have free access to galleries and museums that will be showcasing works by up-and-coming homegrown artists. The setting promises to be exciting, with plenty of concerts, film screenings, theatre performances, guided tours and open-air parties to enjoy. Audiences can also get creative by enrolling in one of the various workshops taking place across the city. Getting there: Brussels Airlines (www.brusselsairlines.com) and Jet Airways (www.jetairways.comfly to Brussels from Mumbai and New Delhi.

DUBAI Looking for a quick party fix? Head to Dubai for an Alicia Keys concert (www.doneevents.com) on15 November, when she’ll play at the newly expanded Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. The singer will be joined on stage by R&B star Jason Derulo. Her set will include songs from her latest album as well as from her older, Grammy Award-winning works. After the concert, go to one of the bars inside Dubai Media City, such as the Media One Hotel’s pool bar, THE DEK on 8 (+971 4 427 1000). Or make your way to the Cavalli Club (www.cavalliclubdubai.com) inside Fairmont Dubai—just 20 minutes from the concert venue, its three suspended lounge bars are a favourite with A-list celebrities. If your interests lie outside of pop ballads, The Killers will bring their whimsical, high-energy rock anthems to the beach alongside Atlantis The Palm (www.atlantisthepalm.com) as part of the Sandance music festival (http://sandance.ae) on 11 October. On the 15th of the following month (same date as the Alicia Keys concert), acid jazz band Jamiroquai will entertain crowds as part of Sandance, too. Getting there: IndiGo (www.goindigo.in) and Emirates (www.emirates.com) fly direct from Mumbai and New Delhi.

KONARK Home to the Sun Temple—an archaeological marvel that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and miles of uninterrupted coastline, this sleepy town in Odisha comes alive during the prestigious Konark Dance Festival (http://orissatourism.gov.in). Held in the first week of December, patrons of classical Indian dance will get to sample the very best of its kind here. The venue, an open-air auditorium with the Konark temple and the sun setting behind it as its backdrop, certainly adds to the charm of this five-day cultural extravaganza. While this year’s line-up is still under wraps, expect to see some big-name performers. Last year, Odishi dancer and Padma Shri award-winner Madhavi Mudgal took to the stage. Getting there: IndiGo (www.goindigo.in) flies to Bhubaneswar from Kolkata. Konark is a two-hour drive from there.

Visit the small museum near the Sun Temple—it is run by the Archaeological Survey of India and houses fascinating sculptures dating as far back as the 13th century. 

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Sunayana Kumari