Explore Norway by air

Feeling a bit wilted by the summer heat? The regional airline Widerøe’s “Explore Norway” ticket enables its bearer to see a good chunk of this Nordic land with plenty of territory lying above the Arctic Circle. When you consider the driving distance from the capital city of Oslo to the North Cape is around 1300 miles, a flight pass starts to make all the more sense.

Widerøe flies to over 40 destinations within the country, making it possible to explore the nation’s rugged coastline, fjords, mountains, forests and historical sites in a single trip.

Enjoy open-air opera

Summer vacation plans looking a bit paltry in terms of culture? Perhaps some opera or classical music performances would lend that necessary touch of refinement to one’s upcoming travel agenda. The following list of open-air options is but a tiny sampling of all the summer has to offer.  



July 15-19: Street artists in Tuscany

The Tuscan town of Certaldo, located about 20 miles southwest of Florence, is the site of an annual festival of street arts known as Mercantia. The festival, now in its 28th year, is widely considered to be one of the best festivals of its kind in Europe.

July 15-19, dancers, mimes, musicians, jugglers, street bands, circus acts, human statues, stilt walkers, puppeteers, cabaret artists and other entertainers from around the world will show off their considerable skills in the streets and courtyards of this medieval walled town. Some 100 performances take place each evening in Certaldo Alto, the ancient section of town perched high on a hill. Mercantia means art too; look out for exhibitions and installations crafted of wood, leather, metals and other materials by over 40 artists. The newer, low part of town bursts with an array of stalls selling a hodgepodge of goods, from crafts to herbal remedies.

July 4: Rhine in Flames in Bingen, Germany

So it's no Fourth without fireworks? Pyrotechnics can be enjoyed off base too, as the event known as Rhine in Flames takes place in and around Bingen and Rüdesheim on July 4.

From May through September, five Rhine in Flames events attract tens of thousands of spectators to various stretches of the Rhine River between Bingen and Bonn. While it’s traditional to enjoy the illuminations and fireworks from aboard the brightly illuminated passenger ships plying the river on these evenings, it’s possible to take in a more limited but still impressive view of the spectacle from land too.

Outdoor performing arts in London

The streets, parks and other open spaces of Greenwich and East London will double as venues for dance, circus, theater and other open-air performances at The Greenwich + Docklands International Festival June 26 through July 5.

National and international troupes and companies take the spotlight, with many performances marking their London or U.K. debuts. Highlights include Kori Kori, in which a French theater company leads the audience on a musical walk through Greenwich (departing at 8 p.m.  June 26 from Cutty Sark Gardens); 451, a performance based on the Ray Bradbury novel in which books are set alight (10 p.m., June 27, Bethnal Green Gardens, Tower Hamlets); and The Four Fridas, a spectacular of dance, music, video projections and aerial performances inspired by the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (10 p.m. July 1-4, Royal Artillery Barracks Woolrich, with free standing room along the promenade).

Open Gardens in Amsterdam

The gates are open to hidden oases of green June 19-21 as Amsterdam’s Open Garden Days sees some 25 properties scattered throughout the city allow access to what are normally private spaces. Some of the venues are participating in this initiative for the first time. The theme for 2015 is “Art in the Canal House Garden.”

Visitors can stroll through and admire the flowering plants and greenery of both classical and contemporary gardens, along with works of art spanning three centuries.



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