By Pat Richardson

From festivals to flower fairs, sporting contests to carnivals and commemorations to national celebrations, special events across the globe can all be included in a cruise.

It’s an ideal formula if you’re looking for a celebratory holiday or want to indulge a hobby or interest. Cruise itineraries often include transport and tickets – so you can avoid the hassle of booking.

Bookended by the Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans and the unparalleled spectacle of a world cruise in 2018, here are some events to inspire you for the year ahead.

May: Cannes Film Festival

Intended to encourage the development of the art of film-making, Cannes has grown to accommodate the number of countries participating, becoming the world’s leading international marketplace for film professionals. For filmgoers, the main attraction is the chance to see stars of the silver screen in person on the red carpet leading to the Palace of Festivals and Conferences. Once the French Riviera’s most stylish port, the glamour of yesteryear is best evoked on a stroll along the palm-lined Boulevard de la Croisette.

How to do it

Norwegian Cruise Line’s one-week Western Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian Epic’s round-trip from Civitavecchia (for Rome) spends a day in Cannes during the festival – an opportunity to go star-spotting. From $1,154 per person, departing May 17 and 24 (

Also happening this month

The 300th anniversary of the birth of Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Habsburg empire, is on May 13. Uniworld’s eight-day Enchanting Danube cruise on the aptly named Maria Theresa features a private royal anniversary concert in a Viennese palace. Some departures from Budapest to Passau will feature an exclusive visit to the residence of Princess Anita von Hohenberg, a direct descendant of Maria Theresa (

June: The America’s Cup, Bermuda

The 35th battle for the oldest trophy in international sport will be hosted this year by Bermuda. June 17-27 is provisionally set for the main event, the America’s Cup Match. Round-robin qualifiers will be held from late May, followed by challenger races in the first half of June. For these events, the setting is Bermuda’s Great Sound, blessed with crystal-clear blue water and pink sand beaches. For spectators, the America’s Cup Village, at the island’s Royal Naval Dockyard is the place to be for food and drinks, entertainment and live music.

How to do it

Norwegian Cruise Line has a seven-day Bermuda cruise on Norwegian Breakaway, round-trip from New York and the ship will be in the Royal Naval Dockyard for three days during the America’s Cup. From $1,090 per person, departing June 18 (

Also happening this month

The French Open tennis tournament takes place from May 28 to June 11. Celebrity Cruises’ 14-night British Isles and French Open cruise on Celebrity Eclipse round-trip from Southampton offers optional excursions to the women’s final on June 10 and men’s final on June 11, including Category 1 seats at the Stade Roland Garros and a three-course lunch. Departs on June 4.

July: The Open Championship

This year’s Open, in which the world’s greatest golf players compete for the famous Claret Jug, will be held at Royal Birkdale in Southport from July 17 to 23. And that’s a good reason for choosing a cruise of the British Isles. The luxury ship Azamara Journey will be docked in Liverpool in the United Kingdom on July 23, from where there is an optional excursion to the final day’s play.

How to do it

Azamara Club Cruises has a 13-night British Open voyage from Southampton to Leith from $4,495 per person, departing July 19 2017 (

Also happening this month

The Verona Opera Festival. Regent Seven Seas Concierge Collection offers two cruises on Seven Seas Voyager each with two pre- or post-cruise hotel nights in Verona and included tickets. The 12-night Classical Masterpieces cruise from Rome to Venice departing June 28, includes tickets to Madame Butterfly on July 8 (02380 682280;

August: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

With Edinburgh Castle as its backdrop, this event – which features highly disciplined bands and performers – has an even more dramatic impact. The annual gathering of musical, dance, theatrical and ceremonial performers from almost 50 countries attracts visitors in their thousands not to mention a global television audience of 100 million. This year’s Tattoo takes place from August 4 to 26 and, with beds in the city at a premium, a cruise makes sense.

How to do it

Saga offers a 12-night Highland Fling round-trip from Dover on Saga Sapphire, which will be in Edinburgh overnight on August 9. A ticket to the Royal Military Tattoo is included. From $5,315 per person, departing July 31 2017.

Also happening this month

Tall Ships Races in the Baltic. There’s no place more exhilarating to be when watching a race at sea from a ship. Fred Olsen’s 10-night Cultural Trip and Tall Ships Races in the Baltic cruise on Braemar round-trip from Southampton will spend August 1 in Klaipeda, Lithuania, for the race there. The dates are June 30 to August 8, with races in different cities over four successive weekends starting on July 13.

September: The Rhine in Flames

The Rhine in Flames Festival is repeated on five occasions between early May on the Rhine Gorge stretch of the river and is a must for river cruisers. Firework displays illuminate the castles, crags, towns and villages along the river. The best time to see this spectacular sight is against September’s darker skies, and the best viewpoint is from a ship permitted to sail with the flotilla.

How to do it

The River Cruise Line’s Lady Anne is one of the ships allowed to sail with the flotilla and has an eight-day Rhine in Flames cruise offering this unique experience. From $1,488 per person, departing September 9 2017 (0844 544 6437;

Also happening this month

More than 300 classic and modern yachts gather in the Bay of St Tropez for Les Voiles de St Tropez, an annual regatta which runs from September 30 to October 8. Watch the race from the deck of the five-masted Royal Clipper on a seven-night Les Voiles de St Tropez cruise round-trip from Cannes. The ship will spend three days in St Tropez including a day at sea to watch the regatta.  Departing September 30 (

October: Centenary of the Russian Revolution

At 9.45pm on October 25 1917 a blank shot fired from the battle cruiser Aurora, at anchor in the Neva river in St Petersburg, was the signal for Russian revolutionaries to storm the Winter Palace. Although Romanov rule began unravelling at the beginning of the 20th century, the so-called October Revolution marked the beginning of the end of autocratic rule. The Tsar had abdicated in February 1917 (according to Russia’s Julian calendar); he and his family were executed in July of the following year. Aurora today is a museum and the former Winter Palace is one of four buildings comprising the Hermitage Museum. Cruise passengers will see both during visits to Russia’s cultural capital. Choose a river cruise for a comprehensive view of this fascinating country.

How to do it

Uniworld’s 13-day Imperial Waterways of Russia cruise on River Victoria sails from Moscow to St Petersburg, via Uglich and Yaroslavl. From $8,278 per person, with departures from May 2017 (


Also happening this month

Throughout 2017 Canada celebrates 150 years as a nation. October is the best month for a cruise if you want to see eastern Canada’s autumn foliage; itineraries include a port call at Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, where the Confederation story started in 1864. Seabourn has a 10-day New England and Canada’s Maritimes cruise between Montreal and Boston, calling at six ports,  departing October 2 and 12 (

November: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

This Formula One event being held on November 26 will be the season finale for the third consecutive year, making the route a more popular choice than Monaco’s. Held at twilight on the yacht-filled Yas Island circuit, the race is a visual spectacle; additionally, ticketholders benefit from exclusive access to post-race concerts, Ferrari World Theme Park and Yas Waterworld on Yas Island. And, of course, you’ll catch some winter sun.

How to do it

Celebrity Cruises’ 15-night Arabian Sea and Suez Canal cruise on Celebrity Constellation Eclipse from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Abu Dhabi will be docked in Yas Marina, beside the course’s tightest hairpin bend, on November 25, 26 and 27. From $3,862 per person departing on June 4 (

December: New Year’s Eve in Funchal

The best-known of all the festivals on Madeira attracts thousands of spectators year after year. Crowds begin to gather in the streets and smaller boats sail out to join visiting cruise ships in Funchal’s harbour as midnight approaches. When it strikes, ships’ sirens and car horns herald the start of one of the most famous fireworks display in the world, which is spread over an area of five square miles.

How to do it

Fred Olsen’s 16-night Canaries Christmas and Funchal Fireworks cruise on Balmoral from Southampton on December 21 will reach Funchal on December 30 and provide grandstand views of the New Year’s Eve fireworks  (

Also happening this month

River cruises to Europe’s Christmas markets – and in warmer climes, the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Choose a cruise that gets you to Sydney in time to spend Christmas there, with a Boxing Day walk to see the breathtaking spectacle of thousands of vessels of all shapes and sizes – including cutters, maxi-yachts and sloops – heading out of Sydney Harbour at the start of one of yachting’s toughest races.

Extend your stay and you could also watch the city’s spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks, centred on the famous Harbour Bridge. Holland America Line’s 15-night Australia and New Zealand cruise on Noordam starts in Auckland and ends in Sydney on December 21. From $2,390 per person, departing December 6 (