Ahhh, April. With Spring in full swing and the weather just beckoning you to go outdoors and enjoy nature, it’s the ideal time to take part in an outdoor festival, or even jet set halfway around the world for a one-of-a-kind volunteering vacation. If you’re an eco-tourist, movie buff, music lover or cocktail connoisseur, this is the perfect month for you to get going.
Theme parks may be the top attraction in Orlando and its surrounding areas, but for 10 days this April, this cinematic celebration will be a main reason to make central Florida your focus. In its 23rd season, this Oscar-qualifying festival, which will feature 170 films across all genres, has become known as “the festival with a heart” for its intimate setting and themed, food-focused fun. Hosted by the arthouse Enzian Theater, the soirees include the Opening Night Party, Italian Cinema Night and Filmmaker Welcome Party, culminating with the Awards Bash on the second-to-last evening. Red carpet events and celebrity meet-and-greets will occur throughout, including a Q&A session with actor Giancarlo Esposito (Do The Right Thing), and an afternoon with the great Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas). To make the most out of your trip, take advantage of the “Intrigue You” package, offered by nearby Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, which includes a complimentary fourth night’s stay and daily breakfast buffet for two. April 4-13
Think Vegas is just for gambling? Well, in addition to being home to some of the finest spas and dining in the country, it’s also the place where you can literally jam like a rock star. Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp is what makes that all possible. A truly immersive experience, Blues Fantasy Camp is a four-day adventure that starts with two days of practice sessions with industry pros such as Grammy Award winner Jonny Lang, international blues guitarist Ana Popovic and former Blues Traveler front man John Popper. Once rehearsals are over, you’ll be taking the stage at the House of Blues Las Vegas inside Mandalay Bay for two sets during the Friday and Saturday night shows. When you finish rocking it out onstage, celebrate your accomplishment at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant Mix at Mandalay Bay, where you can take in fantastic views of The Strip (it’s located on the 64th floor) while having drinks at the bar or indulging in a feast — menu highlights include roasted Maine lobster “au curry” and pepper-roasted bison tenderloin — fit for a chart-topping music star. April 10-13
For an environmentally conscious excursion, plan your vacation around Earth Day this month. A worldwide phenomenon, more than 190 countries and over a billion people annually participate in pro-green activities around the world. For this year’s celebration of global good, consider making Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam your destination of choice. Students from 50 area schools will gather to put on a huge flash mob to raise environmental awareness and engage in tree-planting exercises around the city. Once the day of service comes to a close, consider retiring to the luxurious Park Hyatt Saigon, where you can relax with a locally inspired tropical coconut scrub at Xuan Spa or indulge in delicate southern Vietnamese cuisine at Square One. April 22
New Orleans is always a magical city to visit, but during this yearly extravaganza that takes place over the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May each year, it becomes a haven for those who love music, culture and food. Marquee acts for NOLA’s biggest annual get-together include Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Phish, Arcade Fire, Robin Thicke and Santana. First-time appearances by Eric Clapton and Christina Aguilera, as well as hundreds of other acts spanning genres from classic blues and R&B, to zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, bluegrass, country, rap and more round out the revelry. In all, more than 500 bands — 90 percent of whom are from Louisiana — will play on 12 stages during the festival. For the gourmand, regional foods such as alligator po’boys, cochon de lait (suckling pig) sandwiches, soft-shell crab and elaborately prepared crawfish will be plentiful. Likewise, cultural exhibits (this year’s focus is on Brazil), as well as contemporary arts in the form of jewelry and other fine crafts, will be on display and for sale. April 25-27, May 1-4
Cocktail and spirit lovers, this one’s for you: A luxury first-class trip to Paris for a personal, in-depth tour, guided by none other than Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker and James Beard Foundation Award-winning mixologist Dale DeGroff. Don’t think it’s possible? Luxury concierge travel service IfOnly.com specializes in making dreams come true, and its French Bitters Distillery Experience promises to deliver with first-class air from anywhere in the continental U.S., a train ride to the town of Saumur (about three hours from Paris), dinner and accommodations at the charming Hôtel Saint-Pierre, a private tour of the Combier Distillery with Jade Liqueurs’ master distiller, Ted Breaux, and two days in French wine country in the company of “King Cocktail” (DeGroff) himself. April dates subject to availability
Photos Courtesy of Florida Film Festival, Pierre Monetta and iStock-Holger Mette