Whether you prefer to picnic in the park, attend an arts festival or get fit, now's the time to embrace the new season

Emma Love, Acting Editor

Emma Love, MO Acting Editor

There are many different ways to mark the beginning of spring. In Tokyo, for centuries families have held hanami parties, picnicking under the pretty cherry-blossom trees. In Kuala Lumpur, the three-day My Balloon Fiesta (10 to 12 March) dominates the skyline and offers the perfect excuse to spend time in one of the city's many green spaces. And in Atlanta, locals look forward to the Dogwood Festival (7 to 9 April) – one of the biggest public celebrations in the Deep South and a highlight of the arts calendar – which signifies the changing of the seasons (read all about this and other contemporary art forms in the Georgian capital in our blog post online later this month).

Right now, thousands of athletes are in the final stages of training for April's Boston Marathon but, runner or not, we hope you'll feel inspired by our new guide to the city's hottest fitness-related openings, from boxing clubs to juice bars and health food restaurants. This month, we've also interviewed Michael Ziemer, General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei, on his favourite haunts, recommended sights and pick of street food markets worth stopping by for lunch; and put together our pick of the best shopping in sprawling Guangzhou, from a must-browse bookshop in TaiKoo Hui mall to where to buy locally made art.

Finally, if the thought of a city break with children seems like a daunting prospect, our occasional series offering ways to keep little ones amused might be the answer. In the latest Monthly Insider, we head to the Big Apple to reveal why the city (and Mandarin Oriental, New York) is such a huge hit with families.

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