NetherlandsAt 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes), sail into Amsterdam, officially turning the capital city into “Sinterklaas City” until Dec. 6.

Beginning at noon at the Maritime Museum, the saint leaves the boat, mounts his horse, Amerigo, and with the Pieten, leads the annual St. Nicholas parade through the city center. Accompanied by decorated floats, brass bands, colorful jesters and plenty of pepernoten (spiced biscuits) to toss to spectators, Sinterklaas will ride past the Dam Square and Rembrandtplein to Leidseplein, where he delivers a message to children and parents.

During the weeks before St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6, the saint and his helpers will make appearances throughout the city. Other St. Nicholas Day events are planned as well. For details, go to spotlight/saint_nicholas.

EnglandFor almost 800 years, London’s lord mayor has made his way to Westminster to present himself to the reigning sovereign and swear loyalty to the crown.

The annual tradition began in the days of King John, who granted the city the right to elect its own mayor if the mayor promised his allegiance to the king. Today, the procession is a three-mile pageant with 6,000 participants and Lord Mayor Michael Bear in the elegant 254-year-old lord mayor’s coach. The parade starts at 11 a.m. Fireworks over the Thames begin at 5 p.m. For details, go to

FranceAt midnight Wednesday, casks will be tapped to welcome the new 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau wine. Made from locally picked Gamay grapes, the wine is celebrated by oenophiles throughout the world, with the most famous festival in Beaujeu, the historical capital of the Beaujolais province. It holds the annual Les Sarmentelles, an event filled with wine, song and dance through the weekend. Nearby Lyon also will celebrate the first French wine of the season. For details on Les Sarmentelles, go (in French).

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