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Love is in the air this month, so it’s a good time to whisk someone away for Valentine’s Day. But grander plans are also afoot with carnival being celebrating from Venice to Rio and opportunities for left-field exploration in Oman and Iceland. Cross your fingers and settle in for the Northern Lights…

Mountains meet the sea at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman

GO WITH THE FLOW
Sure, you could seek winter-sun in Dubai, but curious travellers might also be tempted by Oman in February, when temperatures sit comfortably in the mid-20°Cs. From the mosques and mountains of the coastal capital Muscat (read: beaches) to the vertiginous beauty of the Al Hajar mountains which slope down to the sands of Zighy Bay, this Arabian nation lets you tick off varied landscapes that’ll stay with you well beyond the sunbed. A night or two in the Wahiba Sands is also worth considering, where you can bed down in Bedouin style at luxury camps that gaze up at star-sewn skies.

Things get steamy in Iceland’s geothermal Blue Lagoon

ESCAPE THE CROWDS
In Iceland, ‘crowds’ are an abstract concept, whether you visit during the Midnight Sun of June or in winter for the Northern Lights. It’s a well-versed fact that the majority of Iceland’s 300,000 population lives in the compact-yet-cosmopolitan capital, Reykjavik, giving the rest of the island over to a vast playground of geothermal springs, spouting geysers, mighty volcanoes and fissured fjords patrolled by whales. Rarely does nature converge so dramatically – especially on an island that you can so easily see in a week.

Rio doesn’t really do shy and retiring – especially during carnival

WHAT’S HAPPENING?
In the run-up to abstemious Lent, several countries go buck-wild celebrating carnival. The name derives from the Latin words of ‘carne’ and ‘vale’, together referencing bidding farewell to meat by eating a truck-load of it (along with everything else) while throwing a big party and peacocking at parades. One of the best is Venice – famous for its elaborate masks – which usually starts in mid-February, depending on when Easter falls. Meanwhile, celebrations across Brazil – especially Rio – start on the Friday before Ash Wednesday every year. Don’t expect to rock up and just join the party, though: rooms book out months in advance, so plan ahead.

BOOK NOW FOR…
It’s never too late to show someone you care: book a romantic hotel for Valentine’s Day this month and whisk someone away quicker than Cupid’s arrow.

For more travel inspiration, explore where to go in March

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