Pól Ó Conghaile: Here's the reason savvy travellers are thinking about Easter 2016
Forget Christmas. Easter is the holiday period savvy travellers are poring over this month, says Pól Ó Conghaile.
It sounds insane, but there's a good reason. Next year's school holidays extend from St Patrick's Day through April 4. That's almost three weeks.
The calendrical quirk comes because Easter Sunday falls on March 27, and the official school timetable uses the previous Monday (March 21) as the start of the traditional fortnight off. Friday, March 18 is a bonus day that schools will make up elsewhere in the year.
Combined with a rebound in travel bookings (up for 76pc of Irish travel agents, according to the ITAA), you can expect this to be a peak period - given an additional squeeze as holidaymakers look for alternatives to North Africa following tragedies in Egypt and Tunisia.
Where to go? With lots of connections from Ireland, the Canaries and Algarve will be popular ports of call, as will Morocco (the DFA currently advises visitors to 'exercise caution'). Don't forget you can package city breaks, too. Temperatures can be cool in March, which may not suit a pool, but could suit Prague, Madrid or Amsterdam for example. Three days in a three-star for around €200pp? Not a bad break for the family.
One more note for your diary. If you're looking to escape without kids, chalk April down as a sweet spot for travel in 2016. With schools back in session, and airline summer schedules kicking in after the Easter holidays, it's shaping up as the perfect window to bag a holiday bargain... for whatever type of trip.
With Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, outlet shopping and spring sunshine, it's little wonder Orlando is Ireland's favourite family destination in the US.
American Holidays (americanholidays.com) has seven-night packages from €769pp, with two-week packages departing March 15 from €945pp.
ITAA member Navan Travel (travalue.ie; itaa.ie/offers) has a 10-night package from €769pp - although flights are two-stop via Heathrow and Houston.
Prices are rising for the Canaries, but there are some fab family deals to the Algarve next Easter. GoHop.ie has a six-night package departing Dublin on March 27 with prices from €204pp, for example. Clickandgo.com has seven nights at the three-star Topazio Apartments in Albufeira from €1,199 for a family of four, departing March 27 (the holiday can be booked with a €1 deposit). Expect temperatures of 13-16 degrees, slightly lower than the Canaries.
NB. Prices subject to availability.