This year holds special anniversaries and events
Tourism means business, so it’s not unusual for cities, regions or even national tourist boards to promote a variety of events designed to entice, entertain and educate visitors.
In many cases, an entire year is set aside to commemorate the anniversary of a historical event or culturally significant person.
Here is a preview of some of the events destined to make 2013 yet another standout year for travel in Europe.
England is taking note of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s beloved “Pride and Prejudice.” Austen’s house in Chawton, Hampshire, now a museum, is hosting an exhibition that explores the history of the novel. The spa city of Bath’s annual Jane Austen Festival, Sept. 13-21, promises special activities to mark the book’s birthday. Learn more at www.janeausten.co.uk.
The United Kingdom recently launched an initiative in which exceptional places are awarded the designation of UK City of Culture for a year. The first city to hold the title will be Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and its program is packed with culture. Other noteworthy events include a June 23 triathlon and Lumiere, a festival of illuminations, Nov. 28-Dec. 1. See the city’s program of events at www.cityofculture2013.com.
With the goal of bringing the collective population of Europe closer together, the European Union nominates two cities as European Capitals of Culture annually. In 2013, tourists are invited to discover Košice, a city in eastern Slovakia with a remarkably well-preserved historical core. The other city to bear this designation is Marseille, France, where events will focus on the city’s relationship with the Mediterranean shores of Africa and the Middle East. Details at www.kosice2013.sk and www.marseillecityofculture.eu.
Amsterdam plans to celebrate a slew of birthdays and milestones, including 400 years of the city’s canal ring, 75 years of the Artis Zoo, and 125 years of the city’s concert hall, or Concertgebouw. Other big events include the reopening of the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. To learn more, see www.iamsterdam.com/2013.
Ireland has launched a major tourism initiative titled “The Gathering” for the new year. Everyone with ties to the country, be it blood or affinity, is invited to come to Ireland and connect with its people. A great opportunity for a visit to the country occurs in just three weeks, when Dublin’s Tradfest, a celebration of traditional Irish music and culture, kicks off. Find more upcoming events at www.thegatheringireland.com.
In Germany, it will be Wagner Year. To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner and the 130th anniversary of his death, Leipzig and Bayreuth will offer commemorative events including the staging of some of his earliest works. A highlight will be birthday celebrations in Bayreuth on May 22, which will spill over from the city’s Festspielhaus into the city center. Read more at www.wagnerstadt.de.
Elsewhere in Germany, Heidelberg celebrates the 400th anniversary of the wedding of the daughter of James I of England and Prince Elector Frederick V of the Palatine. Queen Elizabeth II is slated to attend the commemorative events.
The city is also taking note of the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, a Protestant confessional publication that influenced Protestant thought in Europe and the United States. An exhibition titled “Power of Faith” runs May 12-Sept. 15 at the Kurpfälzisches Museum. For details, visit www.heidelberg-marketing.de.
Berlin has given the new year a theme: “Diversity Destroyed — Berlin during National Socialism,” marking 80 years since the National Socialists seized power and 75 years since Kristallnacht, when a surge of anti-Jewish attacks occurred. In addition to an exhibition at the Museum of German History, temporary memorials will be erected throughout the city center through Nov. 9. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/bllaufn.
Events that happen infrequently but are scheduled in 2013 include the Latvian Song and Dance Festival, to be held in Riga June 30 through July 7. More than 30,000 singers, dancers, musicians, folklore groups and other artists participate in this weeklong festival that has been included in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The festival is held once every five years. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/cytoxyx.
To witness something truly unusual, make your way to Mechelen, Belgium, to see the Hanswijk Cavalcade, a historical and religious parade featuring horses and floats, livestock and thousands of participants. The procession passes through the city streets Aug. 25 and Sept. 1.
Those who miss it will need to wait another 25 years for the next opportunity. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/bueo497.