When night falls on your getaway, there’s more going on than the antics in your suite… In honour of the total eclipse on 2 July, we’ve found more excuses to stay up late: twinkling art installations, neon-flecked shores and skies awash with stars. Here’s where to find simply brilliant nighttime spectacles to lure you from your bed.
YOU STOLE THE SUN
On 2 July the sun will disappear… for around four minutes. It’ll just be chilling behind the moon as they cross paths in the first total eclipse since the US-sighted one two years ago. And, they couldn’t have chosen a better meeting point, colliding over Chile and Argentina’s scenic north, making this an excellent excuse to book a South American break. For the best chance of spotting the black-out, stay at a design-led desert lodge in the Atacama region – say, Tierra Atacama Hotel, with its Licancabur volcano views and dive-right-in pool – looking to the sky at around 6pm. Alternatively, check into Santiago stay the Singular and look skywards from the rooftop pool, or toast the moon from Hotel Pulitzer’s Sky Bar. Don’t forget your eclipse glasses.
ILLUMINATING ART INSTALLATIONS
Or, see the moon on your own time: take one small step to the Natural History Museum to see Luke Jerram’s eerily beautiful Museum of the Moon, where he’s captured the sky’s nightlight in Hintze Hall. A 1:500,000-scale recreation, with detailing by Nasa, it’s accompanied by composer Dan Jones’ haunting compositions. Chic retreat the Franklin is a short walk away. Or, take one giant leap to Australia’s Uluru, where artist Bruce Munro has planted thousands of light-up ‘flowers’ by the sacred red rock. Luxury camp Longitude 131° has tricked-out tents, all with Uluru views, and they’ll take guests for a meal, then let them frolic in the light field and Instagram their hearts out (until December 2020). US art aficionados, check in at Post Ranch Inn to see the installation at nearby Paso Robles. Or for a neon-flecked city break, book into music-inspired hangout Sir Adam and hit the Amsterdam Light Festival (November until January) on foot, by boat or bike for rainbow brights, ethereal projections and sparkling social commentary.
MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF STARS
Get a whole load of twinkles in your eyes: turn your gaze upwards at dark-sky reserves and vast undisturbed plains where nature’s gone nuts with the glitter. At family-run farm estate São Lourenço do Barrocal, in Portugal’s fertile interior, you can see a cosmic ballet in the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve: the world’s first ‘starlight tourism destination’. Trot to the best vantage point on a horseback night ride for a truly stellar experience, or call in an astrologer to learn a thing or two. Or, Wales is home to two official International Dark-Sky Reserves. Bijou boutique stay Escape in Llandudno is close to Snowdonia, for climbing, canyoning and canoeing before post-sundown pageantry; Powys’ dainty den the Drawing Room lies an hour’s drive north of the sparkliest spots in Brecon Beacons. And, if you’re feeling flash, book a Desert Pool Suite or above at Utah’s Amangiri to watch the scrawl of shooting stars across the astral plains as coyotes howl in the mesa below.
RADIANT BAYS AND BEACHES
Why should the firmament have all the fun? Lower your gaze to marvel at the bioluminescent dazzle of the seas and oceans. Clouds of plankton make the Maldives’ shoreline a flamboyant sight, emitting a blue glow intended to disorientate predators, but more often delighting tourists. Sightings are more common on Vaadhoo, close to just-launched isle of luxury Joali, and Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll has occasionally been privy to the shiny sea critters. And, the coastlines in Cambodia’s Koh Rong islands are glamorous and glowing – check in at Song Saa Private Island to witness the planktons’ underwater rave. Fluoro lights flutter across San Diego’s Mission Bay, too. Book a room at close-to-the-(refr)action beachside stay Tower23.
THIS SH*T IS BOREAL
Possibly the most famous ambient lighting in the world, the Northern Lights are slippery customers when it comes to glimpsing them streak ethereally through space. But, position yourself correctly and you may be rewarded with flickers of otherworldly green (and pink, white and violet if you’re very lucky). The Arctic Circle is where the magic happens: choose from a mind-boggling treehouse in Swedish Lapland, the cosiest stilted cabins with a picture-wall view in Santa’s Finnish hometown Rovaniemi, or a striking architectural anomaly on a rugged Newfoundland isle. Set a dead-of-winter date for your trip, keep your expectations low and your camera close, and hope for the perfect solar storm.
ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT
More terrestrial than celestial, annual White Night festivals take place all over the world to stem winter blues. On 5 October, from 7pm to 7am, Parisian creatives will use the city as their stage for works in all mediums over the Nuit Blanche; former years have seen a Jules Verne takeover at the zoo, fashion shows in City Hall, Metro trains turned into moving jungles and singers, dancers, artists and more entertaining past-their-bedtime punters. Recover at trendsetter Le Roch Hotel. Transport runs throughout the night, too. Tel Aviv’s Laila Lavan in May is similarly jubilant, with live music, DJs till dawn, street eats and rooftop parties; you won’t get much sleep, but the Norman is an elegant base for disco naps. Down under, Ballarat’s White Night (21 September) runs until 2am, with lavish projections on the city’s historic buildings, grand-scale puppetry, extravagantly costumed performers, music and partying; snooze off the excess at boutique bolthole the Provincial Ballarat.
Where daytime temperatures thunder up the thermometer, socialising and shopping are best done after-dark, where griots spin fantastical yarns by firelight, the hungry float on wafts of deliciously scented steam, and kitschy souvenirs are scooped up. Bangkok has several night markets, but with vintage stalls and hip street-food peddlers, we like Ratchada Train Market (open Thursday to Sunday, 5pm to midnight). Crash at oh-so chic riverside stay the Siam. Bring your bartering chutzpah to Hong Kong’s Temple Street Market (open all week, 5pm to 11pm), to bag jade jewellery, boho bags and delicate teaware. Pause for fresh seafood, to have your fortune told and hear a Canton aria before bed at minimalist hideout Tuve. Zanzibar’s Forodhani Gardens is heavily weighted with food offerings: try mango-and-tamarind soup urojo, monstrous lobster claws, fried cassava and coconut bread washed down with sugar-cane juice, before waddling back to Zanzibar White Sand resort. And, for fire-eaters, acrobats, myth-makers and the unexpected, Marrakech’s Djemaa-el-Fna delivers. Stay at Conran-styled crashpad L’Hôtel to be close by, but still enjoy calm surrounds.