Hop to it! Easter market season begins

In Germany, the post-carnival dust barely has time to settle before Easter markets begin to pop up. Grabbing center stage at such events are the far from humble eggs: painted, enameled, filigreed, perforated or otherwise fancied up, some truly exquisite creations will soon be displayed before admiring crowds.

The chance to examine these works of art in miniature awaits visitors to the Seligenstadt Monastery, some 20 miles southeast of Frankfurt, over this weekend (Feb. 21-22) and the next (Feb. 28-March 1). Each weekend sees a different group of artists from throughout Germany and neighboring lands present their works. In addition to the real eggs, other decorative items are displayed and sold, including wooden carvings, floral arrangements, traditional baked goods, hand-made fashions and more.

May 3: Global run for a good cause

Runners might wish to mark the date of May 3 on their calendars, when they can take part in a run like no other. These races have no finish line, and there’s no set distance to run. And it’s all done for a worthy cause: raising awareness and funding for the cure of spinal cord injuries.

The Wings for Life World Run is a race made up of over 30 locally staged runs which  begin at precisely the same time across the globe. Thirty minutes after the participants have set off, “catcher cars” will slowly set off in pursuit of the racers. Once a car passes a runner, his or her personal race has come to an end. The car continues on its way, catching up with and thus eliminating the runners, up until the very last male and female athletes have been caught. Last year’s inaugural edition of the race, which drew 35,397 participants, came to a close when Lemawork Ketema was overtaken after having run over 78 kilometers in Austria. The female victor, Elise Molvik, covered a 54 km distance in Norway.

Quick guide to the big Carnival events in Germany

Carnival, Fasching, Fastnacht: by any name, celebrations of what’s hailed as “The Fifth Season” reach their climax in Germany over the coming weekend and through Monday, Feb. 15. 

An ideal way to experience the revelry firsthand is by attending one of the many parades scheduled in the days to come. The largest and most famous are the Rose Monday parades of Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz, but many cities will stage full-blown affairs on Sunday as well. 

Feel the Valentine's Day love in Verona, Italy

Through Sunday, Feb. 15, Romeo and Juliet’s fair city puts on a program designed to inspire couples to get their romance on. 

“Verona in Love,” an event held annually around Valentine’s Day, draws starry eyed lovers to the Italian city with a variety of activities, performances and special offers.   

Feb. 8: German town takes on Venetian Carnival flair

On Sunday, Feb. 8, the former free imperial city of Schwäbisch Hall in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, hosts festivities inspired by the mystery and elegance of Venice’s costumed characters at Carnival time.

About 100 masked figures in elaborate dress will make their way through the town’s streets and alleys, stopping at the marketplace, the steps of St. Michael Church and other public spaces to allow onlookers to admire their finery. Much of what these fanciful and mute characters will be wearing has been lovingly created by their own hands.

Taste chocolate in Brussels and Florence

Craving a chocolate treat? Either of two great European cit­ies, Brussels and Florence, might offer a fix for that this weekend.

The Salon du Chocolat, billed as the world’s largest event dedi­cated to chocolate, holds shows worldwide. Brussels’ second edition of the event opens Fri., Feb. 6, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 8, at the city’s Expo. More than 150 Bel­gian and international partici­pants will offer tastings, demos, hands-on activities for children, pastry courses, sculptures and a fashion show of dresses made of chocolate.

Alps craft fair, Jan. 30-31

Aosta, an Italian city nestled in the Alps close to the French and Swiss borders, hosts its traditional crafts market on the same date each year: Jan. 30 and 31.

The traditional Sant’Orso fair, named after a benevolent sixth century saint, dates back more than a millennium. More than 1,000 artists and craftsmen from the surrounding valley come to town to display their handiworks, which include sculpture and carvings, wrought iron wares, leather goods, lace, weavings and more. L’Atelier, open through Sunday, is an exhibition space where visitors can observe craftsmen at work.

Dublin hosts Tradfest through Feb. 1

Dublin’s Temple Bar district, the buzzing city quarter known for its culture and night life, makes a fitting backdrop for Ireland’s largest festival of traditional music.

The TradFest Temple Bar, which opened Jan. 28, offers five days of live performances from traditional and folk artists, nu-folk and rock bands.

Motorcycle expo in Verona, Jan. 23-25

 Many of the lovers flocking to Verona, Italy, this weekend (Jan. 23-25) will be those with a passion for the open road as the city hosts its annual Motor Bike Expo.

This massive exposition is particularly geared to motorcyclists looking to customize their bikes.

Snow sculptures in the Dolomites

In a pair of off-the-beaten track villages in the Dolomites, masters of their trade are taking out spades and pick-axes and getting to work. Their canvases are the nearly 10-by-10-foot blocks of ice and snow that they will shape into imaginative figures.

The 25th edition of the International Snow-Sculpture Festival opened Wednesday, Jan. 7, in Inninchen, a village in Italy’s South Tyrol, or Alto Aldige in Italian. Ten international teams of three artists were given three days to complete their sculptures, working without benefit of any power tools.



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