Escape (or embrace!) the oncoming autumn by exploring further afield this September
New flight to panda city
Why go? Take advantage of new direct flights to visit Chengdu’s cuddliest locals at the Panda Research Base. While you’re there, chill out in the autumn sunshine at one of Chendu’s many teahouses before exploring more of Sichuan. Jiuzhai Valley NP is a stunner, with lakes, waterfalls, traditional villages and wildlife aplenty including over 220 bird species, wild pandas, golden monkeys and lumbering takin.
Where to stay: Traffic Inn Hostel is well located; en suite doubles available from RMB180 (£19).
Getting there: British Airways launches new direct Heathrow-Chengdu flights from 22 Sept; from £508 rtn.
Fly away to an Italian isle
Why go? There’s a new way to get to Sicily’s south-east corner: Ryanair is launching flights to Comiso, 10km west of Ragusa. This is prime exploring territory – between Ragusa and Syracuse, there are hilltop villages, baroque palazzi, ancient ruins, gorges, caves and grottoes carved into mountains, and a craggy coast with both sandy and pebbly beaches. It’s now grape-picking season, so the island’s awash with wine festivals too.
Where to stay: Palazzo Castro al Duomo is located in central Ragusa; rooms from €40pppn (£34).
Getting there: Ryanair launches a new flight from Stansted to Comiso on 18 September; singles from around €31 (£26).
See the stars in the city
Why go? To celebrate its tenth birthday, the Lake of Stars project (which is behind the acclaimed music event on the shores of Lake Malawi) is launching City of Stars, a new arts festival in capital Lilongwe. Delve into Malawian culture and creativity via the eclectic programme of music, film, theatre, speakers and exhibitions. The best emerging and acclaimed talent from Malawi and beyond will be there, including Auntie Flo, George the Poet and The Very Best. (27-28 Sept; lakeofstars.org).
Where to stay: Homely Cluny Lodge B&B has doubles from US$125 (£80).
Getting there: Kenya Airways flies from London to Lilongwe, via Nairobi, from around £700rtn.
Say cheers to beers
Why go? Raise a toast to Oktoberfest’s 180th birthday. Europe’s most iconic beer festival runs from 21 September to 6 October this year, with 14 big and 21 small tents in which to sample some of Bavaria’s finest. It’s not just beer and schnitzel though, the festival also includes parades and concerts. If you want to work off your excesses, the Alps are only a couple of hours’ drive south.
Where to stay: Hotel Laimer Hof, in Nymphenburg district, is close (but not too close) to the action; doubles from €85 (£72).
Getting there: Lufthansa flies London/Birmingham/Manchester to Munich from £169rtn.