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VIP NEWSLETTER MARCH 2012

VIP DESTINATION: 6 TOP EASTER DESTINATIONS

Barcelona, Spain - www.visitedplanet.comChocolate eggs, religious services, colourful festivals, holidays... these are just some of the things we all think about when Easter comes around each year.

So if you do have some time off  here are some destinations to consider this year. Featuring Australia, Italy, France, Spain (above), Canada, the United States and the Philippines with city, artistic, beachside, religious and romantic locations there should be something that appeals to every VIP Backpacker.

Because Easter is a busy time of year we do recommend you book ahead as far in advance as possible to secure your accommodation and travel plans. Check out the VIP Backpackers' database for all your travel needs.

Australia | Italy | Spain | Sweden | Philippines | North America 

AUSTRALIA

It's still warm in Australia at Easter time, but not too hot, and this means you can pretty much travel anywhere on the continent in comfort - this should make some travellers happy.

In central Queensland April is the perfect time for an island holiday. Sailing, sun tanning, snorkelling, diving, late night beach parties, great food and sunshine are all on the menu for a sojourn on South Molle Island in the incredible Whitsunday region. South Molle is a picturesque island and mostly national park with hilly terrain, lush rainforest, coral reefs and secluded bays (it featured on this Coca-Cola commercial). South Molle is also the largest of the Molle island group and is the only one with a resort - Adventure Island Resort, part of the VIP Backpackers network. The resort not only has great activities but the accommodation won't break the bank and they are mainly self sufficient for water and power.

Easter in the Country, Roma, Australia - www.visitedplanet.comIn other parts of the country there are a wealth of Easter festivals. Key events include Easter in the Country in Roma (right) featuring goat and horse races, Uladulla's Blessing of the Fleet, Toowoomba's Christian music event EasterFest, Sydney's Royal Easter Show and the Byron Bay BluesFest to name just a few.

Accommodation: South Molle Island | Byron Bay | Sydney
Tours: Whitsundays | Sydney | Byron Bay

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ITALY

Trapani - www.visitedplanet.com

Wonderful food, beautiful art, amazing buildings, exploding carts, penitent marches, candle lit masses, wooden statues ... they're all part of the attraction of Easter in Italy.

One of the most famous events held over Easter is the Scoppio del Carro (exploding cart) in Florence. And an explosion is what literally what does happen - oxen pull a cart loaded with fireworks to the Duomo escorted by soldiers, musicians and people in period costumes. After an Easter Mass the cardinal lights a fuse that speeds through the church to ignite the cart outside. When it explodes it sends a mechanical dove hurtling into the sky. It's trajectory is supposed to determine the fortunes of the city for the year to come.The explosion is followed by a fireworks show.

Other key destinations for Easter in Italy include the Sicilian towns of Trapani and Enna where some particularly vibrant events occur. In Trapani representatives of the town's trades carry wooden statues (see photo above) through the streets representing scenes from the stages of the cross. The procession of these statues on Good Friday actually takes 24 hours and the groups walk in a sideways rocking motion and are accompanied by bands. In Enna the processions of penitents are done in silence lending them an aura of solemnity and eeriness.

At Easter time Italy comes alive after the winter with budding spring flowers and warm Spring days, so it's worth venturing around the country as much as possible. If you get into the countryside you'll certainly be in for a treat.

Accommodation: Florence | Sicily

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SPAIN

Pic: Lobillo, wikipediaThe other place to go for Easter in Europe would be Seville where Holy Week, Semana Santa, takes on incredible proportions. This is a very important week in the city and is celebrated for the entire week leading up to Easter. Processions are organized by religous brotherhoods and they dress up in penitential robes with hoods that does rather make them look like the Klu Klux Klan (see photo above). About 60 processions take place through the city from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday but the climax is the night of Holy Thursday as processions make their way through the city to arrive at the Cathedral at dawn on Good Friday.

Barcelona and other Andalucian towns such as Granada also have characteristic events. In Santiago de Compostela, where the body of St James is interred, there are processions every day leading up to Easter Sunday.

Accommodation: Seville | Barcelona | Granada

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SWEDEN

Pic: Time MagazineIn Sweden Easter is celebrated with a difference. While there are egg hunts, meals, mass and all the usual religious events, the Swedes also have another another tradition - the Easter Witch. Here instead of bunny rabbits, children across the country dress up in rags and don makeup to go from door to door looking for treats; in some ways it's like Halloween. The story goes that the witches would leave Sweden over Easter and then come back afterwards. To maintain the tradition of lighting fires to scare them away in the days leading up to Sunday, locals still light bonfires and fireworks.

You may also see birch twigs and coloured feathers on dining tables and windows in Swedish homes over Easter. These are though to encourage the arrival of spring.

Accommodation: Stockholm | Hoor | Rostanga
Tours: Stockholm

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PHILIPPINES

Pic: byuIf you're in the Asian part of the world, Manila is an excellent place to start your Easter sojourn, perhaps enroute to the splendid Boracay Island afterwards where we offer some accommodation.

The Philippines has some of the most incredible Easter events in the world thanks to its large Catholic population. These include the flagellations in Pampanga throughout the Holy Week (a little gruesome with real crucifixions and penitent marches), the Moriones Festival on Marinduque Island where people wear Roman medieval masks and costumes, Good Friday processions in numerous provinces, and various masses.

Wherever you are for Easter we highly recommend you travel onto Boracay Island afterwards where you can kayak, snorkel, see the world's smallest primate and relax.

Do remember shops and services can be shut down in the Philippines over Easter. Book your accommodation well ahead of time and make any other arrangements you need in advance.

Accommodation: Boracay Island

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NORTH AMERICA

Pic: www.whitehouse.govThe United States and Canada also have a number of Easter festivals you might like to join or see.

The Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival is one of the signature events in the Big Apple every Easter. Running from about 10am to 4pm it takes place on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th Streets. The great thing about it is you can come anytime and admire the outfits and bonnets.

Another key Easter event is the annual White House egg roll in Washington D.C. 2012 will be the 134th annual celebration of this tradition and the President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle will preside over events which include the egg hunt, storytelling and other family fun activities. To get invited you need to take part in a lottery.

Up in Canada, there's a similar easter egg hunt at the Toronto
 Zoo and the suitably famous Lions Club Easter Parade through the city streets.

Accommodation: Washington | New York | Toronto
Tours: New York | Toronto

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