'Dancetour' coming to the Netherlands

Love to dance? So does much of the Netherlands, or so it seems: A “Dancetour” will be making its way through the country in the months to come.

The tour features 12 dancing events organized in public, open-air venues, kicking off with an event Sunday, April 20, in Arnem and concluding Sept. 4 in Doetinchem. Other host cities include Apeldoorn, Breda, Dordrecht, Goes, Leeuwarden, Lelystad, Maastricht, Roosendaal, Tilburg and Zwolle.

Organizers note the tour is expected to attract more than 175,000 visitors during its run. Attendees are typically youthful, and students are well-represented.

The Dancetour will see some of the country’s best DJs take to the stage to bring hours of music to the crowd. The dancing, not to mention the love, harmony and friendship that come along with it, is absolutely free.

Learn more at http://dancetoursite.livewall.nl/events.

Volunteer at events and everybody wins

Ever want to go to an event but are put off by having no one to go with? Consider volunteering.

A huge variety of events, from marathons and film festivals to multiday rock shows, function on the power of individuals who volunteer time and effort purely for the chance to be part of something.

Although it would help to know the language of the country in which the event is held, organizers are often happy to have the services of English speakers, too. If you have expertise in a certain area, or are fluent in other languages, your efforts would be particularly sought after.

Events also require a lot of pure muscle, from set-up and tending the snack bar to escorting VIPs. While you won’t get rich, you’ll often get a pass to events across the board, and it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests.

Organizers prefer to line up their helpers early, so check out an event’s official website, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a link to instructions on volunteering. If not, and if your heart’s really set on being there, drop an email to the contact address or just call. Things could work out beautifully for both of you.

Creepy events to accompany fantasy, thriller and sci-fi film fest in Brussels

The Brussels International Festival of Fantasy, Thriller and Science Fiction Film brings to the heart of the European Union not only the screening of more than 130 films from around the globe but an equally fantastic selection of side events.

Through April 20 at the Palais des Beaux Arts, BIFFF’s movies will feature aliens, demons, poltergeists, sadists, vampires and any number of other creepy and otherworldly characters.

Side events include an international body painting contest in which artists transform their human models into living works of art inspired by famous paintings (5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily through April 17); a fantasy/sci-fi/horror makeup competition open to the public (5:30 to 10:30 p.m. daily through April 18); Zombifff Day, in which a legion of zombies takes to the city streets (Parc Royale on April 12; arrive at noon to be made up by a team of professional makeup artists); Zombifff Night, a night of costumed dance and live music (Cafe Central from 9 p.m. April 12); a cosplay event (April 13), Vampires Ball (April 19) and more. Most of the above events are free; however, tickets to the Vampires Ball cost 15 euros (about $20.68).

Single-entry tickets to screenings are either 6.50 or 9 euros; passes for five showings are 38 euros; a pass allowing entry to all events except the Vampires Ball and Cinematek costs 230 euros.

Pisa, Italy, celebrates the new year in March

In Pisa, Italy, citizens and visitors will step forward in time when a series of events spread across several days marks the start of New Year 2015.

Up until 1749, Pisa, along with other communities in Tuscany, used a calendar that recognized the Annunciation, or the time when the Virgin Mary was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she would become the mother of Christ, as the beginning of the new year. The date of March 25 corresponds to nine months before Jesus’ birth.

Celebrations kick off Saturday, March 22, when a smaller version of one of the city’s signature events, the Luminara, will see some 2,000 small candles lit along the Ponte di Mezzo and the Arno River. The city squares will be host to shows and events that conclude with fireworks set to music.

Sunday, March 23, will see historical demonstrations in communities across the province, where it will also be possible to sample foods typical to the region. On Tuesday Pisa will have a historical parade of costumed characters that ends at noon at the piazza dei Miracoli in front of the Duomo.

The start of the new year is measured by means of a simple solar clock, when, at midday, sunlight shines through a window in the nave of the Duomo and lands on a marble egg.
Read more at http://tinyurl.com/okot62j.

Get ready to peep at pink almond blossoms

As spring progresses, Bad Dürkheim could also serve as the starting point for a scenic drive along the German Wine Road. From there, a 50-mile marked route meandering toward the French border is referred to as the Mandelpfad, or Almond Path.

In the weeks to come, day trippers will delight at the sight of tender pink spring blossoms, visible even before the first big bursts of green come out to brighten the tired landscape.
A well-timed afternoon outing would allow for viewing the spring blooms, perhaps best enjoyed by a stroll through one of the groves.

Valencia, Spain, welcomes spring with a bash

Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain’s grand bash to celebrate the arrival of spring, involves plenty to stimulate the senses. The annual festivities grow ever more raucous as the event reaches its climax March 16-19.
A visual highlight of the festival are the giant papier-mâché figures, some towering more than 20 feet, known as ninots. They often are inspired by politics, popular culture or sport, particularly public figures who have fallen from the public’s grace. The statues go on display throughout the city from noon March 15.
Don’t-miss events include ceremonies to honor the city’s patroness March 17 and 18, in which residents from throughout the state of Valencia dress in colorful costumes and offer floral tributes to a giant image of the Virgen de los Desamparados. March 18 is known as the Nit del Foc, with its giant fireworks display.
Festivities draw to a close March 19 with La Crema, in which the effigies are set on fire, banishing the evils of the past. The official program is available at www.fallas.com (Spanish only).

Mozart Week in Salzburg

Musical genius and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, on Jan. 27, 1756. For more than 50 years, his native city has celebrated the date with a festival of classical music including solo, ensemble and orchestral performances.

The program is conceived with the aim of presenting his works from continuously evolving perspectives, allowing an international audience to hear them anew.

The city, often blanketed in snow at this time of year, adds a cozy charm to the event.
Mozart Week runs through Feb. 2, and, as usual, the program is bound to delight fans of this musical great. This year marks the 300th birthday of Christoph Willibald Gluck, a renowned composer of the pre-classical era; his “Orfeo ed Euridice” will be presented as the operatic highlight of Mozart Week.

Other not-to-be-missed performances include those by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soloists Anja Harteros, Kristian Bezuidenhout and many others. The works of Richard Strauss, whose 150th birthday occurs this year, figure into the program as well.

A special Mozart Week package available at press time includes a chance to meet Vienna Philharmonic musicians before watching their performance at the Grossen Festspielhaus on Jan. 29, along with entry tickets to the houses where Mozart was born and lived, both now museums, for 99 euros.

For details on all performances and buying tickets, visit the website of the event organizer, the Mozarteum Foundation, at www.mozarteum.at.

Great weekend outings in Germany

Between Christmas and New Year's, the kids are off from school, friends or family are visiting, and the gang’s itching to get out of the house. Where can everyone enjoy a good day out? Here are some ideas for those based in Germany.

• Garmisch-Partenkirchen: The favorite Alpine playground of many Americans hosts the International Jura City-Biathlon Friday, an event that takes the competitors through the middle of town, to the delight of the crowds that will gather to watch them pass. This free event kicks off at 5 p.m. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/l8r58ql.

Plan your tip with Rome2rio.com

Ever need to get from Point A to Point B on public transportation but have no idea whether a bus, train, plane, boat or a combination is the best option?
A multimodal travel search engine that’s generating a lot of buzz is www.rome2rio.com, which contains more than 3,200 transportation operators in its database and continues to grow steadily. It’s also available as a mobile app.
Rome2rio is easy to use. Simply plug in your starting point and destination, and it will supply potential itineraries involving a combination of air, rail, coach or ferry, along with a rough cost estimate for the travel options.
Suppose, for example, you are based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and want to visit Aviano, Italy. In just one click, you learn the cheapest option may be the train to Ludwigshafen, Germany; the 140 Hahn-Express bus to the Frankfurt Hahn Airport; a Ryanair flight to Venice Treviso; a bus to the Treviso Centrale train station; and bus 13 to Pordenone.
The site also provides the websites of all the transportation providers you would need to book a trip.

See extreme outdoor sports from the comfort of a theater

Enjoy extreme outdoor endeavors without fear of loss of life or limb by checking out the collection of films showcased in the European Outdoor Film Tour, being screened in various German venues through late January.
Nine short films and documentaries complete the program, which includes some 120 minutes of film viewing, punctuated by a half hour break, host commentary and a sweepstakes.
Activities to enjoy vicariously include whitewater kayaking in the jungles of Mexico, tackling mountain summits by bike in Kyrgyzstan, surviving the winter in a homemade hut above the Polar Circle, off-width climbing in Utah, and other hair-raising pursuits.
Tickets to the shows cost 14 euros and tend to sell out very quickly. A sporting goods store in each locality serves as the ticket seller; purchase them well in advance to avoid disappointment.
 Venues hosting the tour near U.S. military communities include:
• Nuremberg, Meistersingerhalle, Nov. 25, 8 p.m.
• Bamberg, Konzerthalle, Nov. 30, 5 and 8:30 p.m.
• Regensburg, University-Audimax, Dec. 6, 5 and 8:30 p.m.
• Mannheim, Capitol, Dec. 18, 8 p.m.
• Wiesbaden, Thalia, Jan. 28, 8:00 p.m.
• Karlsruhe, Konzerthalle, Jan. 31, 8 p.m.
For the complete list of cities hosting the festival, tickets sales and more about the films, see www.eoft.eu.



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