Ypres, Belgium, will hold its every-three-years cat parade on May 12.

Ypres, Belgium, will hold its every-three-years cat parade on May 12. (iStock)

In 2024, the second month of the year has 29 days in store for us. While it would be nice if our quadrennial bonus day, otherwise known as Leap Year, were to fall during a more temperate month, we shall remain grateful for what feels a bit like a special occasion. A leap year is far from the only event that occurs less frequently than according to an annual cycle.

Let’s take a look at some of the special events defining 2024 in Europe:

Venice Biennale: This longstanding cultural extravaganza celebrates a mix of art, architecture, theater, dance, film and more. The Biennale Arte component of the event, which takes place every two years, is set to roll out April 20-Nov. 24. This year’s edition, the show’s 60th, will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa, the first Latin American to receive the appointment. Its title, “Foreigners everywhere,” can be interpreted in myriad ways— foreigners will always surround us, and who are we ourselves but foreigners too? Against this theme, those in the spotlight include queer, indigenous, folk and outsider artists. The simultaneously running “Nucleo Storico” exhibiion brings together works from 20th century Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Tickets, already available online, go for 25.50 euros for adults and 12.50 euros for those under the age of 26. Online:

Cat parade in Ypres: The Belgian city of Ypres, whose surroundings are forever associated with the horrors of World War I, is also known for a less-weighty occurrence: the staging of a festival honoring the humble domestic cat. Back in the Middle Ages, cats were considered disposable once their duty of keeping mice from the city and the cloth it manufactured had been fulfilled. As if to atone for this former injustice, every three years the city holds a parade in which cats are revered. This year’s edition of the “Kattenstoet” is slated for 3 p.m. May 12; beginning at 6 p.m. the day before, visitors can enjoy acts spread throughout the city center along with a cinematic, light and sound show. Seated tickets to the Cat Parade go for 20-25 euros; or you can stand along the parade route for free. A second event highlight taking place at 6 p.m. May 12 is the tossing of plush toy cats from the city’s belfry. Online:

Bordeaux Wine Festival: Every other summer, around the time of the solstice, wine enthusiasts from around the globe eagerly converge upon one of the great wine capitals. From June 27-30, the city of Bordeaux, France, will welcome its guests with local specialties, entertainment galore and impressive quantities of wine. To sample this bounty, revelers must purchase a tasting pass. A pass inclusive of 11 tastings, a glass with holder and entry to a workshop at the Bordeaux Wine School pavilion goes for 19 euros. Another fun thing to do at the festival is to check out the Tall Ships docked along the quays. Online:

Olympics and Paralympics: The sporting extravaganza that pulls (most) nations of the world together is always a big deal, and with one of the world’s most iconic cities as its backdrop, the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games set for July 26-Aug. 11 in Paris promise to be magnificent in both scale and grandeur. What’s also bound to be larger than life are prices for accommodations and tickets to the most coveted of sporting disciplines. What’s a person of average means to do? To experience sporting excellence at the Games venues, opt to cheer on the equally inspirational and hard-working athletes who will take part in the Paralympics, scheduled from Aug. 28-Sept. 8. To increase accessibility for both its citizens and visitors from around the world, the French government will offer a broad range of cultural experiences for free or at a moderate cost. The Palais de la Porte Dorée retraces the history of the games with a behind-the-scenes, retrospective exhibition, on show April 26-Sept. 8, while the Monnaie de Paris revisits the history of the Olympic medal with its “Gold, Silver and Bronze” exhibition, on view from March 27-Sept. 29. And with plans in place to ensure that the Seine River is clean enough for Olympic swimmers to compete in, swimming in the heart of the city should become a reality for all visitors after the Games. Online:

UEFA European Championships: As part of a competition that’s been held every four years since 1960, the Union of European Football Associations will stage a series of soccer matches better known simply as EURO 2024, set for June 14-July 14. This year’s host nation is three-time series winners Germany, where stadiums in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart will be hosting the matches. Aside for the host nation, which always gets to play no matter its standings, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and three other countries to be determined by play-off games scheduled for March will take to the field. Following the first round of ticket sales, a second batch of them will be put on sale following the final tournament draw. Berlin’s Olympiastadion will stage the final match. Online:

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