ENGLAND: Happy anniversary to London’s New Year’s Day parade. This year the parade celebrates 25 years of marching down the capital city’s streets and has made “silver” its theme to pay tribute to the quarter-century mark.

Look for 10,000 performers from 20 countries to participate in the 2¼-mile procession, one of the largest of its kind. There will be marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns and giant balloons. The parade will begin at noon on Piccadilly outside the Ritz Hotel and end about three hours later at Parliament Street. Get there early for a good view. For tickets and details, including a map of the route, visit

ITALY: Hoping for the best, the country’s children leave out a sock on the evening before the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6 so that La Befana will leave them candy (if they were good) or a lump of coal (if they were bad). This folkloric figure of a smiling old lady with a bag of candy and gifts and riding a broomstick is a popular character for a variety of Epiphany activities throughout the country. In Venice, more than 50 boaters dressed as witches (also known as befana) will participate in the Witches Regatta. They leave the Palazzo Balbi in the Grand Canal at 11 a.m. and race, standing up Venetian style, to reach a giant stocking hanging from the Rialto Bridge.

The Venice tourism website is

SPAIN: Throughout Spain celebrations honoring the arrival of the Three Kings from the Orient (Reyes Magos) — Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior — take place on Jan. 5, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany. The kings are part of a parade during which they and their helpers throw candy to children along the route.

Madrid’s parade is particularly grand. This year’s theme is “The Encounter of Cultures for Peace” and it begins at 6:30 p.m. from the Plaza de San Juan de la Curix, rolling down Paseo de la Castellana to finish at the Plaza de Cibeles at 8:45 p.m.

Some of the highlights of the procession include the Lady of Peace, lifted into the sky by 300 balloons; 15 mechanical giraffes representing Africa; a large elephant puppet representing India; and dragon dancers from China. Festivities end with a fireworks display. To find out more about this parade, go to

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