Heathrow launches annual Whisky Festival

Heathrow Airport is once again hosting its annual Whisky Festival, running from April 15 to May 14, in collaboration with World Duty Free.

This month-long celebration promises immersive events and exclusive product launches, showcasing the diversity and appeal of whisky to travellers from around the world.

With whisky accounting for a remarkable 70 percent of all spirits sales at Heathrow, the festival is a testament to its popularity among holidaymakers. In 2023, an average of three whisky bottles were sold per minute at the airport, solidifying its position as a global hub for whisky enthusiasts.

Fraser Brown, Retail Director at Heathrow, commented: ‘As the world’s most connected airport, the annual Whisky Festival is an opportunity for us to celebrate the growing number of master-crafted world whiskies, as well as the great British brands creating one of our key exports. Whether picking up a bottle as a gift for a loved one or travel souvenir, Heathrow shoppers choose whisky over any other spirit. We are looking forward to hosting an exciting series of events that will introduce passengers to new ways to serve and enjoy whisky when they reach their destinations.’

This year’s festival will feature expert-led masterclasses and unveilings of exclusive global product launches. Brands like FABLE, Wildmoor, and Bushmills will showcase unique offerings, while The Dalmore will introduce its highly anticipated Luminary No 2 2024 Edition single malt. Beyond whisky tastings, foodies can indulge in whisky-infused delights crafted by Heathrow’s culinary experts. From pulled pork burgers glazed with Monkey Shoulder to smoked salmon infused with Woodford Reserve, the festival aims to be a gastronomic adventure.

Heathrow’s Whisky Ambassadors will be on hand to offer personalized recommendations to travellers seeking the perfect gift or souvenir. Additionally, Pernod Ricard experts will conduct complimentary whisky masterclasses, providing tasting and serving tips to participants. Heathrow Rewards members have the chance to win exclusive festival whiskies or the full range of FABLE whiskies adorned with limited-edition label prints inspired by Scottish folklore.

Missoula Summer festivals to be boosted by grants

Two popular summer festivals in Missoula, Montana, USA, are to be boosted with the issue of grants from the Montana Office of Tourism’s Special Events Grants.

The office provided Missoula’s International Choral Festival with USD10,885. The money is to be used to extend the marketing of the city’s July event. Similarly, the Missoula Celtic Festival was awarded a grant of USD7,800 to help run the annual event in Caras Park. Authorities said that the grant would help the organisers to market the festival to a much larger area.

One of the organising committee’s top official said, ‘It opens up the opportunities to market to a lot of new markets, in Idaho and Washington. We didn’t have that budget in place (for that extended marketing). It’s huge for us because we want to bring in as many audience members as possible. It’s just great to have the ability to market, as this festival should be marketed. We’re a non-profit and we have to raise all the money. Usually (marketing) is focused closer to home, but really this is an international event and people come from all over. It’s just really nice to have that money to do it. We’re not going to be limiting ourselves.’

The new funding is expected to help the event’s organisers to undertake promotions in main markets, including eastern Washington and northern Idaho. In addition, the festival will reach out across Montana.

The Choir festival brings choirs from around the world to Missoula for five days of concerts, and this year it is to be held from July 17 to 21. Choirs from several countries including Argentina and Zimbabwe will be involved. Festival organisers are hopeful that with the funding, even more tourists will visit the event than the usual 25,000.

The Montana Office of Tourism’s Special Events Grant Programme has awarded around USD200,000 worth of grants to 17 different tourism-related events across the state this year.


Tree-Lighting celebration at Partridge Creek, Detroit

The Mall at Partridge Creek, an open-air shopping mall in Clinton Township, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, has announced that it will be launching the holiday season in style with its two-day Tree-Lighting Celebration.

The mall is to make its tree-lighting celebration a weekend affair, and is to offer live music, apple cider and donuts, photos with Santa and more during the celebration from November 10 to November 11. The celebrations will commence with the lighting of thousands of lights, including a 42-foot tree.

This is the sixth year that Partridge Creek has hosted a tree-lighting festival, and as with previous years, it is expected to be a hit with shoppers. The festival is being extended to two days as the authorities are anticipating that this year will see the largest crowds to date.

Seok Chung, marketing and sponsorship director for The Mall at Partridge Creek, said, ‘Because of its popularity, we’re expanding the entire Tree Lighting experience to include the whole weekend. We’re kicking off the holiday season in a big way this year adding more music, free photos, magic and loads of fun for the entire family. Partridge Creek’s tree lighting ceremony has become a beloved community event in its sixth year at our shopping centre. We try to top ourselves each holiday shopping season by providing great music, exciting events and festive holiday surroundings. Our goal is to make shopping and dining at Partridge Creek a memorable experience for each and every patron.’

The authorities said that the festivities would start at 12:30pm local time on Saturday, November 10, and finish by around 8pm local time the next day. Santa Claus is scheduled to make his appearance at 7pm local time on Sunday. The event is being sponsored by Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace, which will serve free apple cider and donuts near the Nordstrom Court, while supplies last. Children are to be given free light wands just before the lighting ceremony begins.



Shanghai sets date for tourism festival

The tourism department of Shanghai has set official dates for a tourist festival to be hosted in the city.

The department said that the annual event is to be launched on September 15 this year, and will continue until October 6. This year, the department is planning to allow more travel companies to take part in the festivities, with the intention of promoting tourism in the city. The authorities are also expecting an increase in domestic as well as international tourism this year. The city administration has smartened up the city for the event, and hotels and business establishments are planning to lure visitors with discounts and special services.

Dao Shuming, the city’s tourism director, said that 42 tourist spots and 16 hotels have committed to offer discounts to tourists during the event. The authorities are also planning to host new attractions and services in order to keep guests entertained. For example, the city administration is planning to organise fishing events in Qingpu and Jinshan, and the events are expected to attract tourists to the two suburban districts.

The city has also made arrangements for transport services to cater to the needs of increased tourist numbers. The administration has commissioned two Pudong-based touring bus lines that will link tourist spots from both sides of the Huangpu River. Various kinds of tourist packages will be on offer during the festival. Depending on their choices, customers may opt for half-day, one-day and two-day tours.

The Chinese city of Shanghai offers various tourist attractions and has been a popular destination for international tourists over the years. One of its most popular attractions is the Huangpu River and its surroundings. Shanghai’s key river divides the city into its eastern and western sectors.

The Nanjing Road is considered to be the top commercial street in China, while the Yuyuan Garden is the largest of Shanghai’s ancient gardens, with Ming and Qing architectural styles. The Jade Buddha Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist shrines in Shanghai, while another popular attraction is Xin Tian Di, famous for its historical and cultural Chinese elements. Over the years it has evolved into a fashionable pedestrian street in the centre of the city.

Figures show that in the first seven months of this year, 3.38 million foreign tourists have visited Shanghai.


Kenya National House Announces Tourism Event in London

The Kenya Tourist Board, the official tourism board for the East African country, will be hosting tourism festivals at Kenya House in London during the 2012 London Olympics.

The agency is hosting a weekend of entertainment and activities for families on August 4 and 5, 2012, which includes cultural performances by Kenyan Masai people, a spa area for guests, safari games for families, and a golf simulator to test the users swing.

Entry to the events is complimentary and, while there, visitors can also watch Kenyan athletes participate in the 2012 Olympic games, to further enhance the Kenyan cultural experience.

On August 6, 2012, the agency will be hosting a Tourism Business Day to discuss the future of tourism in Kenya, as well as the funding of tourism initiatives, and it will be organising themed tours. The day will include guest speakers and presentations by the Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Tourist Board, and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, with debates on various tourism issues, to include investments, trade ideas, and how best to promote the country’s heritage.

Kenya House is located near the Olympic Stadium and is offering visitors an opportunity to learn more about the country, in addition to supporting Team Kenya at the London Games.

Kenya House is open to the public until August 12, 2012, and the board is hosting a private media and trade event on each day until then. Visitors are welcome to bring their family, friends, and guests, and the house is also providing a creche facility for children, which will host Kenya-themed play activities.


Head to Devon for Exeter Festival

Devon will be playing host to the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink once again from April 13th to 15th this year.

To be held at Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle Courtyard, the annual event is designed to showcase the quality and variety of produce in south-west England, allowing visitors to meet and buy from local growers and sellers.

High-profile chefs, led by master cook Michael Caines, will be showing off tips and tricks at the festival’s cookery theatre, with the likes of James Nathan, Mat Follas and Jackie Kearney to be in attendance.

After Dark Parties will take place on both the Friday and Saturday, offering live music performances, food stalls and real ale and cider to drink, while Little Cookies events will also be available to help children learn some basic culinary skills.

The festivities run from 10:00 to 18:00 BST on the Friday and Saturday, with Sunday’s events wrapping up an hour earlier.

Day tickets cost £7.50 for adults, £1 for those under 16 and are free for under-fives, while entry to the After Dark parties requires a separate payment of £7 at the door or £5 if booked in advance.

Gourmands can find all manner of last minute hotels in the area at LateRooms.com, including the Acorn Lodge in Torquay.

Further details on the event can be found at www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

World Shakespeare Festival begins in April

With just 26 days to go until the launch of the World Shakespeare Festival, which begins on Monday 23rd April and runs until November 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival, audiences can look forward to the biggest celebration of the world famous playwright ever staged. Thousands of artists from around the world will take part and anyone who wants to stay in London for the festival can book one of the London hotels on the website LondonTown.com.

It’s an ambitious project on a scale never seen before featuring collaborations with leading UK and international arts organisations and over a million tickets available for a programme which includes 23 brand new productions – 21 of which were commissioned specially for the festival. With almost 70 productions, events and exhibitions taking place across the UK, including London, the World Shakespeare Festival has something of interest for all ages and all nationalities.

In London, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is staging Globe to Globe in which 37 of Shakespeare’s plays are performed in 37 languages in six weeks. Further highlights include Nicholas Hytner directing Simon Russell Beale in Timon of Athens at the National Theatre, Michael Attenborough directing Jonathan Pryce in King Lear at the Almeida Theatre, and Gregory Doran – who will succeed Michael Boyd as Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, it has recently been announced – who stages a production of Julius Caesar at the Roundhouse.

Doran’s Julius Caesar is one of two Royal Shakespeare Company productions which will premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon during the summer and then transfer to London’s West End. Iqbal Khan’s Much Ado About Nothing, with Meera Syal in the leading role of Beatrice, will also transfer to the Noel Coward Theatre from August.

From 19th July, visitors to the British Museum will be treated to Staging the World, a major exhibition – complemented by a 20-part BBC Radio 4 series to be broadcast in April – which illustrates the emerging role of London as a world city 400 years ago through the perspective of Shakespeare’s plays.

There’s a grass roots aspect to the festival with over 260 amateur groups involving 7200 people (aged from 6 to 90) taking part in Open Stages, a project coordinated by the Royal Shakespeare Company and nine partner theatres. These amateur productions will be staged in castles, churches, parks and pubs, and some will perform at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home.

Thousands of teachers and young people will take also part in the festival which will create a legacy for young people through a number of projects including Worlds Together, an international conference that explores the influence of Shakespeare who is already studied by 50% of the world’s school children.

World Shakespeare Festival events are taking place across the UK, not only in London but also in Shakespeare’s home of Stratford-upon-Avon as well as Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Brighton, Wales and Scotland. For the full festival guide visit www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk and for more information on planning a trip to London visit LondonTown.com, a useful resource for visitors and local residents with listings on everything from Shakespeare to shopping. Find and book hotels and restaurants, and discover the best festivals and events happening in London this spring and summer.

The power of films – Tokyo’s international film festival

Agoda.com, Asia’s global hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group, today announced hotel specials for the Tokyo International Film Festival.


Taking place from October 22 to 30, TIFF is held annually in several venues across Tokyo, most events staged within Roppongi Hills in the Minato area. Roppongi Hills is a multi-function urban development comprising boutiques, cinemas, restaurants, art spaces and sculptured gardens, providing a cosmopolitan backdrop to this glamorous international event.


This year, two opening films kick off the event: Hollywood action ‘The Three Musketeers’, and Jackie Chan’s ‘1911’. The latter is Chan’s 100th film and is both directed by and starring the Hong Kong superstar. Other highlights include a retrospective of iconic Japanese actress Kyoko Kagawa, a presentation of Yasujiro Ozo’s 1953 masterpiece ‘Tokyo Story’, and a screening of ‘Moneyball’ with Brad Pitt, which will officially close the festival. Aside from movie screenings, TIFF includes special appearances by actors and industry-related seminars and symposiums.


The theme of this year’s TIFF is “Believe! The Power of Films”, which promotes Japan’s recovery from the tsunami by uniting people through a love of film. TIFF’s main fund-raising project is the ‘ARIGATO’ wristband campaign, with all donations send to the Japan Red Cross. The project recently raised funds and awareness at Cannes Film Festival, where film people from around the world showed their support through donations and well wishes.


As a travel destination, Tokyo is as vibrant in real life as it is onscreen. The nightlife of Shibuya, the shopping of Ginza and the costumed kids of Harajuku are even more exciting in person than they are in pictures, and travelers are assured an unforgettable experience in Tokyo at any time of year.


agoda.com has secured a selection of special rates just for the Tokyo Film Festival. Rates are for a limited time only, so book early!


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Latvia gets festival fever

For travelers, the best thing about Latvia is that it is so compact. Its 500 km of sandy beaches are easily reached from historical towns, where medieval Hanseatic foundations support baroque and art nouveau buildings that become venues for cultural festivals during the summer.

Here, there is always something to celebrate. In July alone, there are 8 festivals during the month, two that are featured here, reveal this Baltic country’s lively, captivating energy.

Sea and Fishermen Festival
The Sea and Fishermen Festival is one of the oldest traditional festivals, celebrated since 1936. The festival is always held along the entire Latvia`s seashore the second weekend of July, this year from July 9-10, 2011. The festival is dedicated to powerful nature and people, whose daily life is closely connected to the sea – fishermen, seamen, and those involved in fish processing. A great variety of activities, concerts, exhibitions, movies, dances, games, sports competitions, attractions for kids, fish fairs, and boating are offered to visitors during these days. Special seafood and local beer are an integral part of the festival.

Positivus Festival 2011
The Positivus music and art festival, July 15-16, 2011, is the largest of its kind in the emerging Baltic states and delivers an eclectic mix of musical genres and an inimitable atmosphere to the 20,000+ festival goers passing through its gates each day. Positivus Festival is a budding attraction to locals and Europeans alike. The festival site in Salacgriva, Northern Latvia, is accessible from all Europe via Riga International Airport, only 120 km away. The breathtaking scenery of the festival’s location, set in the woods next to the beach of a beautiful coastal town, together with a friendly and open crowd, makes it a different experience even for experienced festival-goers. Positivus Festival 2009 was voted into the finals of UK Festival Awards as the Best Overseas Festival.

Latvia has been a trading hub for over 800 years, and the country is well versed in providing a warm welcome. The people of Latvia are hospitable and cheerful, friendly and open towards visitors, and able to get on with anyone, as throughout the centuries they have gained a vast culture heritage. Latvian people treat the cultures of other people with understanding, and being a European Union state, it is a safe country.

At the same time Latvia is a contemporary European country, and its capital city of Riga – a modern metropolis, in which historical architecture, unique in Europe, alternates with the modern; one can feel the breeze of a centuries-old history and relax in modern night clubs, restaurants and comfortable hotels. In addition to Riga, its spectacular gateway, there are 6 other UNESCO World Heritage sites.

29 killed on the first day of Songkran

On the first day of the Songkran festival in Thailand 29 people were killed in road accidents while another 400 were injured.

And a man was shot by a teenage gang following a fight in a snooker club.

The incidents occurred at the start of The Thai festival, which celebrates the traditional Thai New Year.

The festival, which lasts a week, is known as the seven dangerous days of Songkran.

The 29 deaths were caused by drunken driving and speeding, common during the celebrations.
But the figures are down on the 2010 festival.

During the same period last year there were 557 road accidents, this has dropped to 365 for this year.
And the number of deaths decreased by 35.5 percent.

Thailand’s road safety centre, who will release accident figures each day, said the provinces of Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and Prachuap Khiri Khan were leading in the number of fatalities.

The Thai man who was shot in the hip by ten youths, who followed him after the snooker hall dispute, was visiting relatives in Pattaya during the national festival.

He is in a stable condition.

This year’s seven days of Songkran started on Monday and will run until Sunday.

Each year Songkran is marred by road accidents and deaths, but it is also famous for the throwing of water.

During the festival Thais roam the streets armed with water pistols, hoses and buckets ready to drench each other with the water.

The throwing of water originated as a way of showing respect, and symbolises the washing away of all the bad.
The tradition has evolved amongst the young as a way of soaking themselves and others as relief from the summer heat.

The Songkran festival is also a time when people pay respect to their elders and visit Buddhist monasteries.
Songkran is also celebrated in Laos, Cambodia, and by the Dai people in Yunnan, China.

Sarah Taylor