The spotlight is on Brazil with this summer's World Cup, followed by the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro two years later. Those sporting events may be prohibitively expensive for most, but you can get a full flavour of the country with Chameleon Worldwide's (chameleonworldwide.co.uk) 14-day Natural Brazil tour that sneaks into three host cities: Rio, Cuiaba and Manaus. Other highlights include the Amazon, Pantanal and the powerful Iguacu Falls. The trip costs from £4,710 per person, including international and domestic flights and mixed board from UK.
Make a date with Dylan Thomas
There's a year-long programme of events to mark the centenary of the birth of poet Dylan Thomas (dylanthomas100.org), with the bulk of them, naturally, being in Wales. Celebrities including Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and US President Jimmy Carter have stopped off at Browns Hotel (browns-hotel.co.uk) in Laugharne in search of the Thomas spirit — it played host to many of the Swansea-born poet's legendary drinking sessions — and you can follow suit. Double rooms start at £95, B&B.
Do Vegas like it's 1959
There's a multimillion dollar cast of screen legends appearing in the film Last Vegas. Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline play four 60-somethings on a bachelor party weekend. If you want to party like it's 1959, head to the newly regenerated Downtown area where it all started, and take in the Mob and Neon museums for some Vegas history. Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) is offering seven nights at the Luxor Hotel and Casino from £850 per person, B&B from UK. The price includes international flights.
In with a bullet in Japan
The shinkansen (bullet train) turns 50 in October. These sleek trains can reach speeds of up to 320kph with the route between Tokyo and Osaka being one of the busiest high-speed lines in the world.
The first trains ran in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and this year, Inside Japan Tours (insidejapantours.com) is launching a 15-day tour that takes in all six lines from the top to the bottom of Honshu and Kyushu islands, including a ride on the new red-nosed Super Komachi train. The "Bullet Trains and Temples" trip costs from £1,994 per person from UK, including B&B, transport, a visit to a shinkansen depot and Maglev (magnetic levitation) museum, but not international flights.
Thanks to festivals such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest (SXSW), the state-capital of Texas now bills itself as the Live Music Capital of the World. Getting there gets easier from March when British Airways (ba.com) starts direct flights from Heathrow.
Once in the city, The Austin & Hill Country Tour checks out the urban music scene, hip shopping districts, culture, local art, and Hill Country vistas and lakes. It's offered as part of a four-night package to Austin by America As You Like (americaasyoulikeit.com) which costs from £966 per person from UK including BA flights and room-only at America's Best Value Inn.