Use Miles To Attend These Bucket List Events in 2024 – Forbes Advisor

Forbes Advisor Staff

Published: Jan 24, 2024, 1:45pm

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Adding an event to your travel plans can make a trip one to remember, but it often comes at a cost. Not only can tickets be pricey, but airfare and hotel rates soar with higher demand. In some cases, these costs may put an event out of reach. However, with miles, points and credit card rewards, you can help offset the price of travel and plan an experience you’ll never forget.

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Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Event dates: February 9–17, 2024

When most people think of Carnival, their mind instantly travels to Rio (though heading to Salvador, Brazil, is another great place for street parties). But regardless of which city you incorporate into your plans, this is the year to go. U.S. citizens arriving before April 10, 2024 visiting for tourism won’t need a visa to enter Brazil, letting you focus all your attention on travel plans rather than paperwork.

Book your trip with miles: Finding award flights to Brazil can be a frustrating endeavor. However, holding United MileagePlus elite status or being a cardholder of select United credit cards can lead to expanded award availability at the saver price level. Make sure you’re logged into your account while searching: If you’re eligible for reduced price awards, they’ll show automatically in your search results.

Sakura Cherry Blossom Festivals throughout Japan

Event dates: Peak blooms expected in early April

Cherry blossoms make early spring a popular time to visit Japan, and forecasts are starting to roll in for when the flowers may make their appearances. While timelines can’t be guaranteed, there’s a good chance you’ll find blooms somewhere in the country any time between mid-March and early May, meaning you have some wiggle room to plan a trip at a time that works for you.

Book your trip with miles: With dynamic award pricing, many hotel rewards no longer represent good value during busy periods like Sakura. World of Hyatt, though, standardizes pricing more than other programs, which can lead to top redemption values. For example, the Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo can be booked for 29,000 points during cherry blossom season despite paid rates of more than $800 per night.

Total Solar Eclipse in Mazatlan, Mexico

Event date: April 8, 2024

If you missed the last total solar eclipse in North America (2017), this is your chance to try again. The moon will block the entirety of the sun for a large swath of North America, bringing darkness to the skies for nearly four and a half minutes. And while many hotels in the U.S.’ path of totality are already sold out, you can still find availability in Mexico at a reasonable price.

Book your trip with miles: There are still some beachfront hotels available if you act quickly: Use flexible points or booking credits from your travel rewards cards to cover the cost. Or, if you’re willing to be a taxi ride away from the ocean—but still in the path of totality—book the Sleep Inn Mazatlan for 12,000 Choice Privileges Rewards points per night. Citi Premier® Card members can transfer just 6,000 ThankYou Points per night, thanks to a 1:2 conversion ratio, making this a screaming deal.

Upfest in Bristol, England

Event dates: May 28–29, 2024

Banksy fans, take note. Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival is returning to the United Kingdom this spring after taking a hiatus in 2023. This year will be better than ever, too. In addition to the official festival events in late May, artists will be at work in the city beginning May 6, giving visitors a chance to witness every stage of the creation process.

Book your trip with miles: Pull out your Flying Blue miles (or transfer some in from credit card programs like American Express Membership Rewards) to book an award flight with an easy connection through Amsterdam. Alternatively, Bristol is only about an hour and a half by train from London. Look for awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. May is still considered an off-peak travel period, so economy awards start at 10,000 points one way and premium economy is priced as low as 17,500 points each way.

Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco

Event begins: June 19, 2024

Though you may not have heard of it, the Mawazine music festival draws big talent. In past years, Jennifer Lopez, The Weeknd and David Guetta have performed—among hundreds of others. In fact, it’s one of the largest music festivals in the world. After pausing the festival a few years for Covid-19 precautions, this year is expected to come back with a fervor.

Book your trip with miles: One of the most popular ways to get to Morocco using miles is by flying Royal Air Maroc. Award space is hit or miss in its comfortable business class, but economy awards are relatively easy to stumble upon. Search for nonstop flights from New York (JFK), Washington D.C. (IAD) and Miami (MIA) to Casablanca or add connections when redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles for no extra charge. Economy tickets can be booked for 22,500 AA miles, or business class is a fair 57,500 point redemption each way.

Montreal Completement Cirque in Montreal, Canada

Event dates: July 4–14, 2024

July is festival season in Montreal, in addition to bringing glorious weather for more traditional sightseeing. Join in this summer with an expansive list of circus acts throughout the city. There are free performances streetside as well as shows requiring paid tickets to entertain you during your visit. Considering Cirque du Soleil was founded in Quebec and is still headquartered in Montreal, you can expect high-caliber shows no matter which you attend.

Book your trip with miles: Save your miles and fly economy for this trip, given that most routes from the U.S. to Montreal are reasonably short. Tickets through most programs will cost between 10,000 to 15,000 miles per person each way, but if you’re a short hop away, booking through Air Canada Aeroplan may be the way to go. Flights with a distance of under 500 miles (like those from Boston) cost as few as 6,000 miles one way.

Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Event dates: August 21–September 1, 2024

You can see tango year-round in Buenos Aires, but for two weeks each year, more than a thousand dancers—including some of the world’s best—gather for an incredible festival and competition. Casual visitors will have plenty of opportunities to observe, while those who want to get more involved should contact local tango schools for specialty classes or field trips.

Book your trip with miles: Since Buenos Aires is a major city, visitors should be able to find hotel award stays with any chain of their choosing. Tango, though, is especially prevalent in southern neighborhoods, making the Anselmo Buenos Aires in San Telmo a fantastic choice. Rooms at this Curio by Hilton property are priced around 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night during the event. Compare this with cash rates to ensure you’re getting a fair redemption value.

Paralympics in Paris, France

Event dates: August 28–September 8, 2024

All eyes will be on the Olympics this summer, but you can watch equally amazing feats at the Paralympics—with lower ticket prices, hotels that aren’t sold out well in advance and a city that isn’t entirely packed to the brim. Road cycling, swimming and wheelchair basketball are just a few of the competitions that will take place this year.

Book your trip with miles: Events for different sports are all held at different venues, so it’s worth checking locations before reserving a hotel. The Molitor Hotel & Spa is just across the street from the Roland-Garros Stadium, where all wheelchair tennis meets will take place. As an Accor property, you can transfer Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou Points to your ALL-Accor Live Limitless account to book a reward stay.

The Impressionist Moment in Washington, D.C.

Event dates: September 8, 2024–January 19, 2025

In celebration of 150 years since the first impressionist exhibition, the National Gallery of Art is staging a blockbuster showcase featuring incredible works by Monet, Renoir, Degas and more. Art aficionados won’t want to miss this chance to see some pieces that have recently been rediscovered while other classic favorites will be reunited in a new context.

Book your trip with miles: Though the Washington, D.C. area has three airports, Washington Reagan is especially convenient. Pop in for a quick weekend using American Airlines miles: The airline has a strong presence here. American Airlines awards can frequently be found for under 10,000 miles each way in economy.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

Event date: November 28, 2024

This year marks 100 years since the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, giving you even more reason to attend the parade in person. While no announcements have been made yet of any special festivities to commemorate this milestone, even the standard parade is one worth showing up for. Expect marching bands, balloons, floats and celebrity performers—and a big kickoff to the holiday season.

Book your trip with miles: If you can, choose a hotel near Central Park West or South in order to walk to your viewing spot and avoid street closures or heavy traffic. Both the JW Marriott Essex House and Ritz-Carlton Central Park are right on the parade route so you can roll out of bed and right to the main event. While points rates are high, cash rates can be even higher, making it a fair deal.

Fyre Festival in the Caribbean

Event date: December 6, 2024

After the first Fyre Festival turned into a complete disaster, it’s yet to be determined whether the second one—allegedly occurring in December—will be an epic event or the punchline of a bad joke. If you’re willing to risk it for a chance to attend a luxury music festival, you’ll want to keep an eye out for details. Neither specific acts nor an exact venue have yet been announced.

Book your trip with miles: British Airways Avios are a cost-effective way to fly to the Caribbean if you can find short, nonstop flights. For example, Miami to most Caribbean islands start at under 10,000 Avios one way. Last-minute availability doesn’t have any surcharges and points can be transferred in from most credit card currencies, allowing you to wait and see if the festival is a go. Better yet, British Airways awards have low cancellation fees if you end up not going.

Bottom Line

Traveling for an event can add a little pizazz to your plans but it can also jack prices up due to higher demand. By planning ahead and taking advantage of miles and points, your favorite events might be back in your budget.

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With more than 50 million redeemed miles under her belt, Becky Pokora is a rewards travel expert. She’s been writing about credit cards and reward travel since 2011 with articles on Forbes Advisor, BoardingArea, The Points Guy and more. Her redemptions have helped her travel to more than 50 countries and all seven continents.

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