Frankfurt’s Dippemess is just one of the spring fun fairs now open or coming soon on the Continent.

Frankfurt’s Dippemess is just one of the spring fun fairs now open or coming soon on the Continent. (iStock)

Three cheers for school vacation week! If you haven’t made any plans yet, fear not. A wealth of family-friendly outings and activities await those seeking diversion not too far from home.

Theme parks are open: It may still be jacket weather, but that’s never stopped a European amusement park from opening (if indeed it even did close for the winter season). A word of warning to parents — many kids throughout Europe are also out of school at this time, so waiting times to get on rides might not be as short as one might wish. Legoland in Günzburg, which is already open daily, offers new this season a 4D movie titled “Alien Invasion.” Holiday Park in Hassloch opens its doors for the season on March 23; from that date through April 1, thousands of chocolate eggs will be hidden throughout the park. Europa-Park in Rust will also be open daily as of March 23; there, a new multi-launch coaster, the Voltron Nevera, awaits its first riders. Phantasialand in Brühl, near Cologne, throws its doors open for the 2024 season on March 28.

Fun fairs are up and running: Many beloved fun fests offering the usual assortment of scary rides, traditional foods, market stalls, games of chance and perhaps even a beer tent for the grown-ups reappear for a spring session. German cities in which spring volkfests are up and running or will be soon include the Dippemess in Frankfurt (now through April 14); the Rheinfrühling in Mainz (March 23-April 7, closed Good Friday); the Fruehjahrsmesse in Speyer (March 28-April 14) and the Frühlingsfest in Nuremberg (March 30-April 14). At Nuremberg’s event, the Easter bunny will be on hand to greet visitors at the Bayernstrasse entrance starting at 2 p.m. March 30-April 1.

Open-air museums welcome visitors: For an outing that combines fun, discovery and learning about times gone by, step into one of Germany’s open-air museums, show villages created from real old homes from the region. Such places include the Rheinland-Pfälzische Freilichtmuseum in Bad Sobernheim; here, young visitors can enjoy a hunt for Easter Egg goodie bags from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 31 if their parents call and register them in advance. Hessenpark in Neu-Anspach offers an Easter program full of arts and crafts projects from March-April 1. The Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof in Gutach Schwarzwaldbahn will open its doors for the season on March 24; this beloved Black Forest destination offers an Easter vacation program filled with hands-on activities through April 7.

A special-edition Easter market awaits: Spring décor and tasty treats greet visitors to Nuremberg’s Easter Market, which runs daily through April 1. This year the market marks its 600th anniversary with an event recalling its first edition back in 1424, when royal regalia including the crown and scepter were displayed to the people for the first time. From 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on March 23 and March 30, a larger-than-life costumed bunny will be on hand for photo ops. Online:

Italy’s cultural heritage is on display: Those presently calling Italy home have the chance to learn more about the buildings and institutions in their midst during the annual event titled Giornate FAI di Primavera, or FAI Spring Days. Over the weekend of March 23-24, more than 750 sites across Italy will welcome guests with tours and special programs, oftentimes at reduced or free entry. The FAI website’s interactive map of Italy helps prospective visitors find the participating institutions in their area. Online:

New Year in Tuscany comes around a second time: If 2024 didn’t start off optimally, at least two communities in Italy offer the chance to fast-forward into 2025. Florence, Italy, celebrates il Capodanno Fiorentino, or Florentine New Year, on March 25 with a historical costume parade. The date, which falls nine months prior to the birth of Jesus, corresponds to the time when the church celebrates the announcement of the incarnation of the Virgin Mary. In the Middle Ages, this date was adopted by the city as the beginning of its civil calendar. Online:

The city of Pisa also celebrates its traditional New Year on March 25 for the same reason. Here, festivities stretching over three days include Medieval-themed spectacles on the Piazza dei Cavalieri from 9:30 p.m. March 23 and from 4:30 p.m. March 24, as well as historical parades which set out from 3:15 p.m. March 24 and from 11 a.m. March 25. Online:

Folklore comes to the fore in Mons: The city of Mons in Belgium celebrates its annual Ducasse of Messines March 23-24. The event is a present-day reincarnation of a religious festival that first took place more than 400 years ago. Highlights of this folkloric event include a flea market on March 23 and a flower market on March 24. Parades of giant effigies and other folkloric objects take place from 2 p.m. both days. Online:

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