From wildflowers to water fights, the best events for solo travel in April
A time of bloom and new beginnings, April is a great month to get out and explore the world. From wildflowers in the valleys of Jordan (hello, bucket-list trekking) to the budding vineyards of Sonoma wine country, nature is all set for a spectacular show.
Spring time also means festivals for many, whether you’re tapping some folk-soul on a farm in Byron Bay or hailing in cherry blossom season in late-night Tokyo. You may also choose to get your dancing shoes on for Old Town Havana’s world-famous salsa festival, or there are water fights to be had with Chiang Mai’s raucous rituals for Thai New Year.
Meanwhile, Easter plays its role with elaborate pageantry for Semana Santa in Guatemala – and who needs an Easter egg when you can eat your body weight in treats in the chocolatiers of downtown Vienna. Get involved with all the action right here:
Average temperature: 18°C / 64°F
Cultural attraction: Peak cherry blossom bloom, known as mankai
Japan’s cherry blossom season is hard to predict exactly, but it tends to hit full bloom (mankai) in early April in Tokyo. It’s a lovely time of year to explore the capital, with pleasant spring temperatures and parks, gardens and riverside promenades framed by a blush-pink canvas of cherry trees (sakura).
Cherry blossom viewings and festivals pop up everywhere, as Tokyo dwellers make the most of nature’s fleeting springtime show with parties and picnics under the trees. With over 1,000 cherry trees, Ueno Park is a popular spot for celebrations that last well into the evening, while Megurogawa River and Chidorigafuchi moat by the Imperial Palace are both illuminated by night for an extra touch of magic.
If you want to take a swerve on the crowds, arrive early in the day or head to quieter spots such as Shinjuku Gyoen garden or Asukayama Park (a local favourite). Inokashira Park is a great place to see “sakura snow”, as pink cherry trees reflected in the surface of a large pond begin to shed their blossom.
Join us in Japan for a chance to see this spectacle.
Average temperature: 25°C / 77°F
Cultural attraction: Ritmo Cuba dance festival
Every day is a party day in downtown Havana, but this evocative city turns up the volume every April for its annual Ritmo Cuba dance festival (running from 20 to 26 April in 2020). Choreographers, dancers and students from all over the world gather in the birthplace of salsa rhythm for a week-long homage to hip-swinging moves.
This is your chance to embrace Havana’s faded grandeur to the max, as its pastel facades come alive to the beat of live bands, nightly shows and riotous pool parties. It’s not just salsa, either: dance enthusiasts can try anything from cha cha cha to hip hop or rumba classes, learning direct from industry greats.
Even if you’ve got two left feet, you can’t fail to enjoy the fiesta atmosphere as Cubans party the night away in iconic clubs lining the Malecón esplanade, which stretches from Havana harbour to the beautiful Vedado neighbourhood.
Don’t miss our escape to Cuba, timed just before the festival to get you in the groove.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Average temperature: 31°C / 88°F
Cultural attraction: Songkran New Year celebrations
If you’re game for the world’s largest water fight, look no further than Songkran Thai New Year celebrations on 13-15 April 2020 in the northern city of Chiang Mai. Thailand’s cultural heartland, Chiang Mai is home to a carefree community of artists and digital nomads. Songkran captures this fun easy-going vibe at its best. This epic event sees the old quarter come alive in a riot of foamy, soap-sodden action.
As well as water fights in almost every area (Thapae Gate, Nimman Road and backstreet neighbourhoods), you’ll also catch DJ sets, live performances and parades with traditional Thai costumes along the way. A more spiritual side to the festival is reflected in Buddha processions around Chiang Mai’s gilded temples, along with alms-giving ceremonies at dawn led by monks in their distinctive saffron-coloured gowns.
Weather-wise, it’s just shy of sweltering summer temperatures in April – a great time to explore the lush jungle scenery around Chiang Mai, as well as street food markets, temples and bazaars in the city itself.
Get involved with our Thailand and Laos getaway, which ends just before Songkran starts (Songkran is also celebrated in the Laotian capital Vientiane).
Average temperature: 12°C / 54°F
Cultural attraction: Easter in the city of chocolate
April means Easter, and few places take chocolate more seriously than the Austrian capital of Vienna. Amid the Baroque and Art Nouveau splendour, you’ll find plenty of boutique chocolatiers and ornate cafés where the good stuff reigns supreme.
We’re not talking cheap supermarket brands here: as the birthplace of the Sachertorte, Vienna prides itself on delivering a new standard in decadent art-worthy treats. What better way to celebrate Easter than with a sweet-toothed ramble from one elegant chocolate bar to the next, feasting on cognac truffles, boxes of violet creams and freshly roasted coffee (another delicacy Vienna just gets right).
Other Easter events in the capital include markets where you can shop for pretty hand-painted eggs and the Vienna Blues Spring festival.
Jump on-board our Central Europe adventure, which runs right over Easter and includes a Viennese cooking class.
Tankwa and Cape Town, South Africa
Average temperature: 18°C / 64°F
Cultural attraction: AfrikaBurn
South Africa’s answer to Burning Man plays out on a private farm in the desert-like landscape of Tankwa Karoo National Park, about a five-hour drive inland from Cape Town. The 2020 action unfolds from 27 April–3 May, and comprises a pop-up city of art, costume, music and performance.
Expect a showcase in creative and community expression, from experimental sculptures to mutant vehicles, art installations, theme camps and open fires by night. It may be temporary, but the event aims to create the kind of utopian-style collective experience that will stay with you for years to come.
April is also a fantastic time of year to visit Cape Town, with crisp, clear days and temperatures nudging into the mid-20°Cs. At the same time, you can enjoy beautiful beaches without the tourist masses of summer months (December to March).
Say hi to Cape Town’s delights – plus beautiful autumnal days on safari – with Flash Pack’s South Africa sojourn.
Sonoma CA, United States
Average temperature: 22°C / 72°F
Cultural attraction: the rolling vineyards of Sonoma
April is shoulder season for North California, with gentle sunshine and a hint of spring in the air. It’s prime time for a mooch around the vineyards of Sonoma, as the valleys light up in blooms of buttercups, wild roses and blue sky lupine.
The vines are just starting to bud, which – along with the wildflowers – make this laid-back corner of wine country especially beguiling. And tourist numbers have yet to spiral, meaning more room for you to enjoy some of the world’s finest vino in hip wineries fringed by beautiful scenery. The cooler weather also makes for brilliant vineyard hopping/hiking.
The same reasoning applies to San Francisco, an hour’s drive south. Revel in America’s most bohemian city without the crowds or sky-high prices.
Grab a taste of the good life on our Sonoma trip, including a stopover in the city by the bay.
Average temperature: 25°C / 77°F
Cultural attraction: Semana Santa
Guatemala’s Holy Week runs from the 5–11 April 2020, and the gorgeous city of Antigua stands at the epicentre of the occasion. Antigua is a UNESCO-protected city full of colonial architecture that sits in the shadow of Pacaya volcano. From Palm Sunday onwards, its cobbled streets are transformed by a string of elaborate parades and spectacles.
Part of this includes striking “alfombras”: carpets of flower petals and colourful sawdust that are handmade by locals months in advance. There are also huge floats (some of which involve over 1,000 carriers) depicting elaborate religious scenes. These, in turn, are unveiled men and boys in silk purple robes, who wield lanterns full of incense and perform on processional drums.
One of the world’s largest Easter celebrations draws thousands of visitors to Antigua, and culminates in raucous parties and firework displays on Easter Sunday. Full of majesty and mystery, this is a great chance to see centuries-old tradition unfold – with some great weather to boot.
Dive right into our Guatemala escape, which takes place soon after Easter celebrations.
Byron Bay, Australia
Average temperature: 21°C / 70°F
Cultural attraction: BluesFest music festival
Bryon Bay’s famously laid-back spirit comes into its own over the Easter weekend in April, starting with BluesFest on 9-13 April 2020. Lenny Kravitz and Patti Smith lead a top billing of international acts for the soulful music fest taking place across many scenic acres of Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm.
Elsewhere, community is at the heart of Easter events such as the Byron Beachside Market, which is brimming with local produce – be that artisan chocolate, pottery bowls or *really* good coffee. This is just one in a string of food festivals and concerts that kick off in the region come April.
With the summer season done, the start of Australia’s autumn spells fewer people, milder weather and cheaper prices in Byron Bay. Yet the sea in this surfer’s paradise hovers around 24°C: easily warm enough for you and your board.
Check out our Australia getaway, which begins a few days after Easter.
Average temperature: 16°C / 61°F
Cultural attraction: the world’s largest salt flats in wet AND dry season
April marks the end of rainy season in Bolivia, but there’s still enough rainfall to catch a glimpse of the mirror-like effect that occurs when the vast plains are covered in water. It’s a breathtaking sight, and the way that it reflects light creates a series of optical illusions.
At the same time, high/dry season is starting to kick in, meaning you can get around the salt desert more easily and explore places such as Isla Incahuasi, a hilly outcrop covered in giant cacti. Clear skies also promise incredible stargazing by night.
Meanwhile, across the border in Peru, Easter celebrations are kicking off in earnest. Watch Inca and Catholic heritage come together Cusco’s unique Lord of Earthquakes (El Señor de Los Temblores) procession on Holy Monday. The Andean city is a great place to see in spring.
Discover Bolivia and Peru with us, with a trip departing a few days after Easter weekend.
Dana Nature Reserve, Jordan
Average temperature: 17°C / 62°F
Cultural attraction: springtime hiking
Dana Biosphere Reserve is a remote area of biodiversity that spans 320 square kilometres of pink-tinted valleys and open plains near Jordan’s border with Israel. In April, hiking trails here are just starting to open up again after winter but the sweltering heat of summer is still some way off. The days are warm and nights are cool, making great conditions for a proper trek.
Even better, the whole region becomes coated in wild flowers in spring, from blooms of rockrose to orchard blossom, orchids and sweet-smelling tulips. There are also natural springs and olive trees coming into bud. Add in the sheer scale of Dana’s magnificent landscapes, and you have yourself the perfect springtime activity.
Stop for a hot mint tea on route, and bed down in a Bedouin village or camp to see the vast, unpolluted Milky Way come ablaze at night.
Join us and be dazzled by springtime Jordan.
Images: Shutterstock, James Hall, Flash Pack, Ash Edmonds, Trent Erwin and Yoann Laheurte on Unsplash