What to explore, where to celebrate, and which countries to visit in 1996

A month-by-month travel calendar for the coming year.
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The Independent Travel
JANUARY Climb...... to 60,000ft for the 20th anniversary of the first commercial flight of Concorde on 21 January. You won't be able to replicate the maiden journey from Heathrow to Bahrain, but a return to New York is available at pounds 4,633 through British Airways (0345-222111). If you can't afford the fare, it's only pounds 6 to climb the steps to one of the prototype Concordes at the Imperial War Museum's branch at Duxford near Cambridge (01223 835000).

FEBUARY Celebrate... the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting by day. You could take a holiday as far east as Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. Take a train ride through Java, stopping to explore Yogjakarta (complete with Sultan's palace) and to climb the smoking volcano Mount Bromo just beyond Surabaya in the east. Get there with an enticing new ticket innovation: British Airways' Navigator fares, which give you maximum flexibility on round-the-world itineraries, both in terms of destinations and airlines. BA is selling these tickets only through specialist operators such as Trailfinders (0171-937 5400) and Bridge the World (0171-911 0900).

MARCH Play...... with the bricks at the new Legoland, opening this month in Windsor. This is one place where you shouldn't end up searching fruitlessly under the sofa for the missing piece to finish your model. There are millions of bricks on the 150-acre site, along with theatres, rides and "playscapes", set in woods and parkland in sight of Windsor Castle. You can learn to drive a car or a boat, hunt for pirate treasure in the treetops or design a building that can withstand an earthquake. Oh, and if you can't find someone to look after the kids, just bring them along - they'll probably enjoy it as well. Information: 0990 626375.

APRIL Explore...... the legend of Dr Livingstone, I presume. All this month, and through to 7 July, London's National Portrait Gallery (0171-306 0055) is staging an exhibition entitled David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa. The doctor's home in the Clyde Valley near Glasgow is open daily for exploration (01698 823140).

MAY Sail...... from the new cruise terminal at Dover Docks, which aims to compensate for the likely reduction in ferry traffic lost to the Channel Tunnel. These days, you can get considerably further than Calais. Consider dancing aboard the Bolero on its British Isles and Norway cruise starting on 25 May. The itinerary goes from Dover by way of Beachy Head to Scilly, Dublin, Greenock, Norway, Shetland, Leith and Harwich; a part-trip, up to Greenock in three nights, costs pounds 275. Return rail travel from any British Rail station in mainland UK is included in the price. Page and Moy Holidays: 0116-252 4411.

JUNE Walk...... the Empire Way to Wembley Stadium for the kick-off in the European Soccer Championships, at 3pm on 8 June. England (who take on Switzerland in the opening match) and Scotland are among the contenders. Well, it's not the winning, it's the taking part.

JULY Win...... at the Atlanta Olympics: after St Louis 1904, Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984, the Games return to the United States in 1996. The Georgian capital is already media capital of the South, headquarters of CNN and other broadcasting giants, and the place will go into journalistic hyperdrive for the two-week Olympiad. Smart tourists will avoid the hacks and go with the wind to Savannah, on the Atlantic coast: the sailing events are taking place at this elegant, historic port. Atlanta '96 Committee: 00 404 224 1996.

AUGUST Eat...... oysters at the Galway Oyster Festival. Irish Tourist Board: 0171-493 3201.

SEPTEMBER Drink...... Guinness at the Rose of Tralee Festival in the west of Ireland. Festival Office 00 353 66 21 322

OCTOBER Listen... ... if you are a student, to your lecturers on the return to college. Then start to plan your escape. BUNAC (0171-251 3472) can fill you in on the employment prospects for 1997, while STA Travel and Campus Holidays (branches in most university towns) will be offering travel deals that are the envy of less studious travellers.

NOVEMBER DRIVE ... the fairways of southern Europe, where winter golfers do not have to contend with inclement weather as well as ineptitude. Meanwhile in Chepstow, the Solheim Cup takes place with the women golfers of Great Britain facing up to their Continental counterparts.

DECEMBER Buy...... your Christmas gifts in the US - in New York for style, Boston for convenience, or in the huge Mall of America in Minneapolis for real excess baggage. The savings on designer goods can help to pay for your holiday. New York is shoppers' paradise in December. Boston is ideal for sightseeing, compact enough to get to know intimately. Minneapolis is simply extreme. US specialist Waltham Abbey Travel (01992 716444) has plenty more ideas for disposing of dollars.