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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.

Mons, Belgium, welcomes tanks

To this day, the city of Mons, Belgium celebrates its 1944 liberation by the 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Armored Division with a peaceful gathering of armored vehicles. This weekend, an exceptional edition of Tanks in Town will commemorate the 70th anniversary of this date in history.

The event opens Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8 a.m. with the opening of a period military camp and an international flea market for militaria along the route de Wallonie. Find also an expo of armored vehicles and tank rides offered in the Bois Brûlé (15 euros, or about $19.80; space is limited). At 3 p.m., the nearby Grand Large will serve as a launch pad for amphibious vehicles.

Street performers to gather in Ferrara, Italy

 
Both this weekend and the next, the streets of Ferrara, Italy, will bustle as the UNESCO-listed city known for its Renaissance palaces welcomes performing artists from around the world. 
 
The Ferrara Buskers Festival was launched in 1988 to raise the profile of street musicians and attract tourists to this medieval walled city by the Po River. This year’s edition will welcome some 1,000 artists from more than 30 countries: aerialists, clowns, dancers, jugglers, tightrope walkers and a host of other original acts will take to the streets in what’s billed as the biggest event dedicated to street artists in the world. 
 
Every year sees one designated country welcomed as special guest; this year, Mongolia’s artists are honored. Other acts hail from Algeria, Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Japan, Senegal and other far-flung corners of the world. 
 
The festival opens Friday, Aug. 22, in Comacchio and moves to Ferrara for the weekend; on Monday the artists perform in Lugo. They then return to Ferrara and remain there through Aug. 31. 
 
Festival opening hours are 6 p.m. to midnight except on Sundays, when the action runs from 5-8 p.m. Admission is free. Learn more at www.ferrarabuskers.com.

Hip-hop fans head to the Czech Republic

The Czech town of Hradec Kralove, located about 70 miles east of Prague, is sure to attract hip-hop fans in droves through Saturday with its annual lineup of artists from Europe, Britain, the United States and other parts of the world. One of the largest festivals for this genre of music in all Europe, this music-and-dance event traditionally attracts a young crowd some 20,000 strong. 
 
Hip Hop Kemp sprawls across six venues, including a live stage and several platforms for those who want to dance; alternatively, watch battles of dancing crews, catch the open-mic shows or take in a workshop. Performers hailing from the U.S. include Black Milk, Dilated Peoples, KRS One, Bizarre Ride 2, the Pharcyde and Dillon Cooper. 
 
Revelers can grab some sleep in a camping area that has showers and safe-deposit facilities available at additional cost. The camping fee is 250 crowns (about $12) per person, and the area remains open until noon on Sunday. On-site parking costs an additional 200 crowns. 
 
At press time, adult tickets were selling for 64 euros (about $85.50) via a website linked to the event’s home page, www.4tix.de.
 
The event is open to all ages. Those under age 10 and 130 centimeters get in for free in the company of a parent.  Visit the festival’s website at www.Hiphopkemp.cz.
 
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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