Late-night fun in Munich and Stuttgart

Its biggest bash of the year has come and gone, but the Bavarian capital has yet more fun in store for visitors on Saturday, Oct. 18, as The Long Night of Munich Museums brings enlightenment and entertainment to those seeking nightlife with a cultural flair.

About 90 museums, galleries, churches, foundations and other venues will keep the lights on late to offer guests glimpses of their treasure troves. Guided tours, lectures, concerts and interactive installations figure into the night’s activities.

Belgium's Jenever Festival, Oct. 18-19

Those who have been in Europe for a while might have attended a beer or wine fest or two. Something to which far fewer people have bragging rights is having feted the beverage known as Jenever. A visit to the Jenever Festival in Hasselt, Belgium, over the weekend can remedy that.

Jenever, a juniper-flavored spirit created by the marriage of neutral alcohol and a malt wine mash, was the precursor to gin. As a Protected Product of Origin, like Champagne or Parmesan cheese, the real deal can only be produced in Belgium, the Netherlands and just a few areas within France and Germany. Jenever is bottled in handcrafted clay jugs.

Paris Motor Show, through Oct. 14

Those who choose to attend The Paris Mondial de L’Automobile, or Paris Motor Show, shouldn’t anticipate a solitary experience: the 2012 edition of this biannual event attracted well over a million visitors, marking it as the best-attended motor show in the world.

This vast show stretching across nine pavilions is the place where the world’s foremost auto manufacturers show off what’s been rolling off their production lines and preview the models of the future. Over 100 models premiered at the show’s previous edition, which featured 270 brands from 21 countries. Scheduled debuts generating buzz in the trade press include Bentley’s high-torque Mulsanne Speed; the high-tech, lightweight Jaguar XE; and Land Rover’s laser-powered head-up display technology.

Ludwigsburg festival packs in pumpkins through Nov. 2

For many, October is synonymous with pumpkins. Those whose autumns aren’t complete without the lord of the gourds should head to an exhibit running through Nov. 2 on the castle grounds known as Blühendes Barock in Ludwigsburg, Germany, some 10 miles north of Stuttgart.

This impressive display is billed as the world’s largest of its type. Pumpkins are used as building blocks to create works around a certain theme; this year the concept of royalty is explored, with images of “kings” such as Robin Hood (King of Thieves) and Elvis Presley appearing in squash. Over 450,000 pumpkins in 500 varieties are used in the creation of these sculptures.

German fall markets

Autumn is welcomed to the uni city by the Neckar on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, when the annual event known as Heidelberger Herbst brings an artsy and creative flair to the old town.

Daytime offers endless shopping possibilities, with flea, crafts, and photography markets and numerous stands offering local fare. Musical entertainment offers a journey through cultures, from Arabian drums to French chansons to Irish folk.

Human chess game in Italy

Ever feel like a pawn in someone else’s game? The participants in Marostica’s human chess game, playing out on four occasions through Sunday, can relate to that.

Marostica, a community located some 20 miles north of Vicenza, Italy,holds this unusual match on even-numbered years only. The event is based on a 20th-century play whose action takes place in about the year 1454. It tells the tale of two suitors who fall in love with the same woman, a daughter of the town’s governor. The governor, who is against violence, suggests the two settle their rivalry through a game of chess.

Swiss wrestling in high places

It’s hard to get more Swiss  than this: watching Schwingen, the country’s particular style of wrestling, in the highest venue it’s ever been staged.

The first edition of the Gornergrat Swingfest takes place this weekend on a mountaintop just east of Zermatt in a part of the Pennine Alps offering stunning vistas of 4,000-meter peaks, including the Matterhorn. Schwingen is a form of wrestling performed in a sawdust ring, usually outdoors. Competitors wear over their outer garments burlap shorts with a slit that allows an opponent to grasp the belt. Matches are won by pinning the opponent’s shoulder blades to the ground without losing a grip on the shorts.

Dutch flower parades grace next 2 weekends

As northern Europe transitions into autumn, the Dutch have a nice way of bidding farewell to the season of nature in bloom. Over the next couple of weekends, flower parades, known as bloemencorso, will bring color and festivities to their respective communities.

Zundert, a village between Breda and Antwerp close to the Belgian border, is the location of the Corso Zundert on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 7. The parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and ends around 6 p.m. On Monday, Sept. 8, the floats decorated in dahlias remain in town in a static display.

Lantern festival in Florence

Florence celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary this Sunday, Aug. 31, with the Festa della Rificolona, or festival of paper lanterns. While the religious component of the fest is no longer celebrated as fervently as it once was, the annual pilgrimage into the city once made by the region's peasants and farmers left a distinct mark on the celebrations.

As the country dwellers, traveling from afar, often set off from their homes before the dawn, they would carry paper lanterns lit with candles to guide their way. Showing up in town in their modest best dress, the city dwellers would often mock and laugh at them, and the children would attempt to hit their lanterns with pea shooters and spitballs. As the country folk didn't make the long journey into town empty-handed, the tradition of holding a market followed upon their heels. Today this takes the form of an organic produce fair which will take place both Saturday and Sunday.



About the Author

Karen Bradbury has lived and worked in Europe for more than fifteen years. She has called Moscow, Copenhagen, Rome and now a small wine-producing village along the Rhine in Germany home. When she's not working, whatever the season, she's probably traveling.

Email: bradburyk@estripes.osd.mil