2016 travel destinations to check off your bucket list

With a new year comes travel planning and, for 2016, here are some destinations that will put a √ by some of those bucket list items and get you packing.

Get out & celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service

When: All year in 2016
Where: United States National Parks

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The U.S. National Parks Service is celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2016 with free admission on 16 days at 127 parks that normally charge entrance fees and the other 409 parks are free every day of the year! So, get out there and take a hike at parks coast to coast and see the beauty of the United States. Learn more and find a National Park near you »

Join the pilgrimage to Rome in 2016 for the Jubilee of Mercy

When: December 2015 to November 20, 2016
Where: Rome, Italy

St Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy
St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Back in May of 2015, Pope Francis declared 2016 as the Holy Year of Mercy, calling on the global Roman Catholic communuty to take up his mission of compassion and pardon. The Jubilee of Mercy began on December 8th of 2015, with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and will run throughout 2016 with events until the 20th of November, the day celebrated as the feast of Christ the King. Visit the Vatican’s Jubilee of Mercy website for more information & an events calendar.

Of course, a trip to the Vatican also means a visit to Rome, one of the most beautiful, historical places on the earth.

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Photo Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Catch the best in snow sports action at the Winter X-games 2016 in Aspen

When: January 28 – January 31, 2016
Where: Aspen, Colorado

X Games, Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
X Games, Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Winter X Games returns to Aspen, Colorado at Buttermilk Mountain in January 2016. Along with high flying snow sports competitions, a visit to Aspen for the X games means concerts, entertainment, attractions, food, and of course, skiing at the four beautiful mountains of Aspen Snowmass and all that Aspen has to offer.

The event is free to the public – dress warm, it gets very cold at the night events. Additional information and platinum ticket information is available on the ESPN Winter X-games website.

Laissez les bon temps roulez at Carnival / Mardis Gras 2016 in St Barths

When: February 9, 2016
Where: St Barths

Mardi Gras in St Barths
Mardi Gras in St Barths
© Chasing Light Media

While it may not be the biggest Mardi Gras celebration, St Barths’ Carnival is near the top of the list for coolest. The yachts arrive in the harbor and the island gathers in the afternoon for a costume parade through Gustavia. The next day on Ash Wednesday, a ceremonial burning of a straw statue of Vaval – King of Carnival is held at Shell Beach.

Gustavia, St Barths
Gustavia, St Barths
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Warm weather and baseball at spring training 2016

When: February – March 2016
Where: Cactus League in Arizona, Grapefruit League in Florida

Spring Training
Spring Training 2013, Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, Starling Marte, Pittsburg Pirates
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Each spring professional baseball teams head to warm weather climates for spring training to practice and play exhibition games before the start of the new season. Spring training offers fans a chance to watch their favorite team in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy the warm weather in either Arizona, where the Cactus League holds their games, or in Florida, where the Grapefruit League teams play.

Where will your favorite team be? Cactus League Teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers. Grapefruit League Teams: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals. Find out more on the MLB website.

Catch the best of college hoops at a Conference Championship or NCAA March Madness 2016

When: March 2016 to April 4, 2016
Where: United States

Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City
Big 12 Tournament 2015, Kansas City
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The month of March is all about college basketball, with conference championships occurring in early March quickly followed by March Madness. The road to the Final Four travels through Dayton, Ohio; Providence, Rhode Island; Des Moines, Iowa; Raleigh, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Brooklyn, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Spokane, Washington; Anaheim, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ending with the 2016 NCAA National Championship on April 4th in Houston. Check the schedules and cities on the NCAA website.

Glitz and glamour near the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival

When: May 11 – 22, 2016
Where: Cannes, France

Cannes Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The 69th Festival de Cannes, or Cannes Film Festival, showcases films from around the world during a glitzy twelve days each May in the small southern France city of Cannes. From black tie to beach screenings, the Cannes Film Festival is where anyone and everyone in the film industry comes to see and be seen. Can anyone attend? Official screenings are invitation-only events, but everyone can watch for their favorite star, bask in the Festival environment and, since 2011, view the opening film, which is released in French cinemas on the same day it screens at the Festival. Additionally, daily beach screenings at the Cinéma de la Plage are open to everyone. More information is available on the Festival de Cannes website.

Partegeons la passsion / share the passion at the Tour de France 2016

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21
Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The 103rd edition of the Tour de France begins on the 2nd of July at Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy and ends 3,519 kilometers later on the ChampsÉlysées in Paris on the 24th of July.  The 2016 race includes 9 flat stages, 1 hilly stage, 2 individual time trials and 9 mountain stages, with summit finishes at Andorre Arcalis, Mont Ventoux, Finhaut-Emosson and Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Visit our sister site, Cycling Perspective®, for a preview of the 2016 race and a look back at the 2015 edition.

Head to Brazil for the Summer Olympics 2016

When: August 5 – 21, 2o16
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio Olympics 2016The eyes of the world will be on Rio in August of 2016, as 10,500 athletes from 206 countries compete in the first Olympic games held in South America. Over the 17 days of the games, the athletes will compete in 306 medal events in 42 different sports. 7.5 million tickets will be available and sales have already begun. Learn more on the Rio Olympics website.

Up, up and away at Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2016

When: October 1 – 9, 2016
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The largest gathering of balloons and balloonists in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place every October in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Each morning, thousands of onlookers watch and photograph the launch activities, hundreds of balloons are filled with hot air before gently lifting off into the sky in two consecutive waves.

Visit your favorite place on earth

When: Sometime in 2016
Where: ?

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Do you find yourself day dreaming about a certain destination? Maybe you were there years ago – perhaps it has been on your “things to do” list since before they were called a bucket lists. Venice? Paris? The Galapagos? Wherever it is – plan it and make 2016 the year you go do it.