Venice Carnevale combines magic and mystery

The Carnival season is upon us, and one of the earliest — and most elaborate — celebrations in Europe takes place in Venice, Italy. Venice’s Carnevale season starts about two weeks before Carnival reaches its climax in the rest of Europe and is celebrated through Feb. 12.

The official program began Jan. 26. Each year’s edition is based on a theme; in 2013, “Live in Color” alludes to the unique pallet of shades associated with the city’s famous lagoon.

It’s a year of anniversaries and openings in Amsterdam

This year promises to be memorable for visitors to Amsterdam as the city celebrates various milestones, including 400 years of the canal ring, 125 years since the opening of its concert hall and the reopening of the Rijksmuseum.

Those planning a visit to the Dutch capital this spring should shoot for an April visit, when the Rijksmuseum re-opens and the Observatorium, a stargazing observatory, allows public access for the first time in 200 years. In May, the Van Gogh Museum reopens, and June’s agenda features Open Garden Days and the broadcast of a live performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra onto the Museumplein.

Beat winter’s chill at a German spa or tropical park

Although the darkest days of the year have passed, there still is plenty of winter to get through. Those without the time or money for a tropical vacation can console themselves with a quick getaway into another world. A visit to a German spa, thermal bath or indoor water park often can feel like a mini-vacation and do wonders to perk up a case of the seasonal blues.

The search for a facility that suits the interests of the entire family might begin by visiting therme-sauna-freizeitbad.de.

New year brings more budget airline routes

A new year calls for new travel destinations, and low-cost carriers can help make the dream of reaching distant shores a reality.

New airlines are springing up and old standbys are constantly fine-tuning their networks. Here are some of the latest new routes offered at airports near U.S. military communities in Europe.

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