Welcome to 2009! We at Agoda hope that this year will bring only the best of what life has to offer. To get you excited about the year ahead, we've highlighted some of the major (and not so major) events and celebrations to help you plan for the year ahead. See anything you like? Whip out that calendar and start making travel plans!
Jan. 1: The NHL Winter Classic will be held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The famous baseball field will be turned into a giant, outdoor ice hockey rink.
Jan. 20: Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, held in Washington, DC.
Jan. 26: Happy Chinese New Year! In celebration for the year of the Ox, the most important date on the Chinese calendar is celebrated throughout China (and in any city's Chinatown). Hong Kong is the ideal place to enjoy performances by the Dragon and Lion, Chinese arts and crafts, huge fireworks displays, great Chinese food and more.
Feb. 1: The Super Bowl XLIII will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. This year's halftime performance will be Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Feb 12: Charles Darwin's bicentennial birthday. Take a Galapagos Cruise to retrace the footsteps on the islands that Charles Darwin first visited back in 1835.
Feb. 22: The 81st Academy Awards will be held at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, California. The host is said to be English comedian, Ricky Gervais.
Feb. 24: Experience the world's wildest party at Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans, with parades, beads, masks and party galore! Where else to enjoy Mardi Gras: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;Venice, Italy; Mazatlan, Mexico.
Mar. 3: Sure to be a spectacle of some sort, Britney Spears' first "comeback concert". This anticipated performance will take place in New Orleans with The Pussy Cat Dolls as the opening act.
Mar. 17: Don't forget to wear green! St. Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide today. The best place to be for this event is Dublin, Ireland, where the celebration starts a whole week before the actual date. Hundreds of thousands of people show up every year to enjoy the music, street theater, dances and of course - the world famous St. Patrick-s Day Parade!
Late March: Millions of Japanese head to public parks with sitting mats and lunchboxes for Hanami, or cherry blossoms viewing. Cherry trees bloom white and pink flowers all at the same time, but last only a few weeks. Ueno Park in Tokyo is a prime spot to experience this age old tradition.
Apr. 13-15: Happy Songkran! Traditionally, Thai people celebrate their New Year by visiting 'wat' or temples and pay respect to elders for blessings and good fortunes.
Songkran is the also the water festival and an excuse to cool down during the hottest time of the year. Thousands of people roam Thailand's streets with buckets of water and water guns in the country-wide water fight. Bangkok's Khao San Road water fights are spectacular.
May 5: People of Mexican descent celebrate Cinco de Mayo Day. The biggest event takes place in the state of Puebla, Mexico in celebration of Mexican heritage (though celebrations are found throughout Mexico and the United States). The whole day is dedicated to music, dancing and delicious Mexican food.
May 13-24: The 62nd Cannes Film Festival will be held at the Palais des Festivals, in Cannes, France.
June 13: Trooping the Colour ceremony (the Queen's Birthday) will take place in London, England in front of the Queen and the royal family. Thousands of British infantry will march from Buckingham Palace to Horseguards Palace, Whitehall and back.
July 4: America turns 233 today! Independence Day celebrations consist of picnics, backyard BBQ's and marching bands. At night, there are elaborate fireworks displays and free concerts nationwide.
July 22: The longest lasting total solar eclipse of the 21st century will occur on this day. The Sun will be completely obscured by the Moon for up to 6 minutes and 39 seconds and is best viewed in Asia.
Aug. 6-8: Sendai Tanabata Festival is held in downtown Sendai, Japan. Millions of visitors flock to Sendai each year to witness the competition of decorating Tanabata bamboo with colorful washi (Japanese paper).
Sept. 19-Oct. 4: Pull out that lederhosen and get ready for Oktoberfest held in Munich, Germany. Six-million people attend this festival and gorge themselves with beer supplied by the 'Big Six breweries'; Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Paulaner, Löwenbräu and Hofbräu.
Late September: The expected completion of the Burj Dubai in Dubai, UAE -the tallest man-made structure in the world. Towering at 818 meters (2,684 ft.), the building houses some 30,000 residences, nine hotels, the Dubai Mall, and a 30-acre man-made Lake.
Oct. 2: The host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics will be announced at the International Olympic Committee to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The four finalists include Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
Late Nov- Jan: Marienplatz place in Munich, Germany hosts the traditional Krampus-Lauf Parade. Dating back over 500 years, the scary looking, wooden-masked 'Krampus' figures, parade around town to banish demons and evil spirits.
Late November: Thailand's Loy Krathong is a beautiful festival dating back hundreds of years. Held on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month of every year, krathong (small rafts) are decorated with a banana leaf, flower petals, incense and lit candles before being floated out onto some body of water. The festival is to show gratitude and ask for forgiveness to the river goddess for the use of water. In Northern Thailand, Loy Krathong celebrations also include Yee Peng, or lantern floating celebrations, where hundreds of lit paper lanterns float up into the night sky.
Dec. 12: The largest passenger ship ever built, the 'Oasis of the Seas,' will make its maiden voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Oasis of the Seas is capable of carrying 5,400 passengers, more than double the capacity of the Titanic's.
December 31:We start all over again.