February might be the month of romance, so why not brighten the mood with a rejuvenating escape – after all, it’s summer in many parts of the world including South America and Australia. Carnival season brings feasts and festivities, with parties popping everywhere.
Here are our few chosen destinations for February.
ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
A city of palaces and poets, wellspring of art and philosophy, St Petersburg is the very image of wintry romance. It was here that Pushkin died in a duel defending his honour; where Dostoevsky was first welcomed into the literati; and Tchaikovsky crafted his early symphonies. And although the White Nights of summer put a rare spring in the step of locals, winter is when St Petersburg is at its most classically Russian: with frozen canals and brooding, snow-draped streets. Braving frigid winds to root out modern St Petersburg is worth the frostbite: in Loft Project Etagi, formerly a bread factory, vintage-fashion stalls huddle for warmth alongside vegan street-food and art galleries.
Often regarded as a little sterile culturally, Singapore is finally forging an identity a little more than 50 years after its founding. Melting-pot hawker centres serve some of the world’s best street food – just ask Michelin, which in 2016 awarded a star to Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. The stall’s eponymous dish will set you back about a pound. Chinese New Year in February sees the city at its most exuberant: handily, it also marks the wane of the monsoon.
It’s carnival time in Brazil – but it’s not only Rio de Janeiro that brings the party. Salvador, capital of Bahia – the north-eastern state and birthplace of Afro-Brazilian culture – hosts bigger, longer and louder festivities. Drumming troupes thunder through the streets playing the region’s signature music: a rousing fusion of reggae, merengue and salsa. And while the Sambadrome is the base for carnival activities in Rio, in Salvador it’s the whole city.
The City of Love should be an obvious pick in February, but potential suitors are all-too-often put off by the weather. All the best stuff is indoors anyway: cute, candle-lit bistros; echoey art museums; bo-bo (bourgeois-boho) bars. South Pigalle – or SoPo – still sizzles as Pari’s hottest spot. Because tourism is in a low ebb compared to the spring or summer, visiting in February also provides great opportunities for getting a closer look at some of Paris’ most beloved attraction, such as Notre Dame Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower. You’ll finally be able to take as much time as you want to contemplate your favorite monuments or fine art collections.
February is carnival time in Venice, which makes it either the very best time to come, or the worst. Noblemen clink swords in St Mark’s Square, courtesans cloaked in red silk drift down the Grand Canal on plumed gondolas, and gilded masks allow royalty to walk freely among the commoners. What seems like a Canaletto painting comes to life every year when revellers gather for three weeks of masked debauchery. Those seeking the quiet charms of the floating city will be disappointed, but if you dare to join the huddled masses you’ll be rewarded with an otherworldly experience.