When The Sound of Music was released in 1965 not only did it take the world by storm but its box office success saved 20th Century Fox studios from bankruptcy. The story of the former nun-turned-governess for the children of a wealthy widower only to have their happy lives changed by the Nazi invasion into Austria has now become a cultural phenomenon, with a week-long festival to be held in Salzburg in June to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary. UTracks offers a Salzburg to Vienna Cycle trip (8 days), visiting some of the stunning locations that featured in the film, such as Mondsee, famous for being the location of the church where the wedding scene takes place. From £730 per person, including bike hire (April-October).
The adventures of Mowgli in the Indian jungle are getting a big screen makeover in 2015 as a 3D combination of live action and computer-generated animation. Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba and Giancarlo Esposito are involved in the project developed by Disney – although Warner Bros is also working on its own version of The Jungle Book, to be released a year later. Home to the endangered Bengal tiger, Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places to see these majestic predators in the jungle. World Expeditions' Tigers and the Taj Mahal trip (9 days) explores the very heart of India and takes in the imperial capital of Delhi, Agra and the 'pink city' of Jaipur (from £1,090 per person).
Teeming with historical insights and natural wonders, Colombia has made huge strides in terms of security in the past decade. The country of Gabriel García Márquez is set to become even more accessible in 2015. In addition to direct flights from Heathrow to Bogota launched by Avianca in July 2014, travellers across the UK will have even greater choice thanks to KLM, which is resuming its service to the Colombian capital after 20 years in March 2015. W Hotels makes its debut in Colombia in November 2014 and is set to bring luxury and cutting-edge design to the capital when W Bogota opens. Adventure enthusiasts yearning for an emerging, un-crowded destination can book a Colombian Cultural Adventure (15 days) with World Expeditions, which takes in Bogota and concludes two weeks later in Cartagena, on the shores of the Caribbean (from £2,190 per person).
29 July 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death, with the Netherlands leading an international programme that will see 30 European organisations honouring the Dutch artist under the theme '125 years of inspiration'. Earlier in July, the 102nd edition of the Tour de France is scheduled to start in the country for a record sixth time in the city of Utrecht, which is currently building an impressive garage with a capacity of more than 20,000 bicycles. Specially designed for kids from seven years old, UTracks' eight-day Holland Family Bike & Barge is relaxed and ensures that all members of the family are able to fully participate in each day’s cycle (from £570 per adult/£380 per child, including bike rental, departs in July and August).
Canada is synonymous with the outdoors and the country’s vast network of recreational trails is currently getting a £5million boost. Entering its second phase in 2015, the National Trails Coalition initiative aims to help build and renew multi-purpose trails for walking and biking, as well as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Between 150 and 200 projects are expected to be supported across Canada. Following the Niagara Escarpment, the Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. World Expeditions' new Bruce Trail Peninsula - Wiarton to Tobermory itinerary (10 days) extends across what many hikers describe as its most spectacular part, covering the Bruce Peninsula from end to end (from £1,190 per person, May to October).
Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence next year when huge celebrations will take place across the country to reflect on the tremendous journey the country has taken over the past 50 years. Highlights for visitors include the SEA Games (5-16 June) and the National Day Parade (9 August). Singaporeans and visitors can also go on the Jubilee Walk (November 2015), a walking trail that covers historic locations. The Patina Capitol is set to open in April 2015 as the hottest new hotel in Singapore.
The iconic Matterhorn, famous for its four steep faces rising above the surrounding glaciers, was not climbed until 1865 by British climber Edward Whymper. 150 years later, a series of festivities are planned to mark the first ascent of the last 4,000m peak in the Alps, led by Zermatt, the village at its base. Coinciding with the anniversary, the much loved Hörnlihütte, often used as the starting point for the ascent of the Matterhorn, will re-open in July 2015 after two years of renovations. Gain incomparable views of the Matterhorn on Sherpa Expeditions’ Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (8 days). A stunning region of rock and ice, it is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps, following classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges (from £780 per person, June to September).
2015 marks the would-be 80th birthday of Elvis Presley and the spotlight is on Memphis, with Graceland set to be a site of pilgrimage for fans looking to celebrate the King's milestone birthday. In autumn 2015, The Guest House at Graceland will open and the 450-room unique hotel will be one of the largest in the city. Spring sees the opening of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in downtown Memphis on Beale Street and will be the only Memphis museum to focus specifically on the heroes of Memphis music. For fans of Elvis Presley, new store Lansky Brothers on Beale Street, was where Elvis Presley purchased all of his clothes when it was run by the late Bernard Lansky. The Blues Hall of Fame also opens in downtown Memphis next spring and will pay tribute to the great blues men and women including B.B. King, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Insight Vacations' Rhythms & Flavours of America itinerary visits Elvis Presley's iconic Memphis home as well as discovering the musical history of the Deep South. The 14-day tour begins in the windy city of Chicago before heading in to the Midwest, taking in Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Vicksburg Military Park and New Orleans (from £3,650 per person including return flights, 13 nights' accommodation and airport transfers).
New non-stop British Airways flights from Gatwick to Punta Cana put this Caribbean island firmly on the map for 2015. With a wave of hotels recently opening plus the largest water park in the Caribbean landing in the Dominican Republic, it's THE island to explore next year. Whether you want to practise your golf swing, go bird watching in the forest or spend your days reading by the glittering ocean, it's the place to be. The wildlife is amazing, the festivals are fascinating and the beaches are glorious!