Whether you're whale-watching in South Africa, admiring the leaf turn in New England or Japan, here are the best places to visit from September to March.
September to March
Aurora Borealis is one of the most vivid and extraordinary natural phenomena on the planet. Caused by the earth's magnetic field making contact with charged particles from the sun, the Northern Lights appear to streak across the night sky, creating luminous flashes of colour.
The best time to see this magnificent event is between September and March, when the skies are at their darkest. You'll need to be far north - Iceland, Arctic Scandinavia, Canada and the Yukon are all great places to try.
August to November
What better season to take a culinary tour of Italy than during harvest time? Combine rustic gastronomy with days in the cities to make the most of this uncrowded window, when you'll have more space to linger over the best sights without feeling like a sardine.
September to November
If you love autumn in Europe, New England in the fall should be up there with your travel ambitions. Its blazing showcase of scarlets, gold, bronze, purple and orange leaves put the UK's trusty yellows, browns and copper in the shade. It's the kind of idealised autumn you see in children's books.
New England's arboreal splendour is centred around lakes, fields and mountains. Not far from here, New York City's autumn colour is concentrated in Central Park. An oasis in a cityscape of grey high-rise blocks, the park gives New Yorkers somewhere to meet, wander and kick up leaves - a romantic backdrop in films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Annie Hall. Any visit to the eastern states of the USA is only complete with a trip to the city - and there's no better time than during fall.
Sunday 27 October 2019
Diwali is a magical time to be in India. The biggest celebration in the Indian calendar, the 'Festival of Light' lasts for five days and symbolises the triumph of light over darkness. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains throughout the country decorate their houses with candles and colourful lights, and exchange gifts, prayers and homemade sweets. Spectacular firework displays fill the skies, and ornate rangoli motifs (Hindu folk art) made with dyed rice and candles fill the floors of many homes and temples. The festival ends on the fifth day with much feasting.
October is the ideal time to visit South Africa, with temperatures pleasantly rising but the northern rains yet to arrive. Hermanus, on the south coast, offers the best land-based whale watching in the world now, as the Southern Right Whale population peaks during this month. Playful and curious, these remarkable creatures number just 3,000 due to overhunting - however, thanks to hunting bans and conservation efforts, numbers are slowly on the rise.
This month is also the start of hatching season for South Africa's native ostriches. You may well see the birds in the wild, but to get up close and personal, visit one of Oudtshoorn's many ostrich farms.
Old Japan may have been and gone, but in Kyoto, you can be transported back to the time of the empire. This beautifully preserved city escaped the bombs of World War II, and is characterised by its exquisite gardens, calm temples, red-lipped geishas, and 2,000 vivid Buddhist and Shinto shrines. If you miss cherry blossom season, consider visiting at maple leaf season between October and November, when its stunning parks, temple gardens and boulevards turn many shades of crimson.