FranceOn Sept. 8, 1852, the townspeople of Lyon planned to inaugurate a statue of the Virgin Mary, who the city fathers believed saved the city from a plague 200 years earlier, but the flooding waters of the Saône River postponed the event. It was rescheduled for Dec. 8, but the celebrations were again threatened by bad weather. The townspeople remained hopeful and set lit candles in their windows as was the tradition for major celebrations. By evening, the weather improved, and with the city aflame in candlelight, the people took to the streets to celebrate.

Today, the candlelight has been transformed into modern lighting, with professional companies conducting illuminations throughout the city through Saturday. This year’s theme is “Water and Light.”

For more details and photos of past illuminations, go to; it has an English version.

Czech RepublicIn December 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte’s army beat the allied forces of Austria, Portugal, Russia and others on a battlefield near Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna), about six miles southeast of Brno. The battle is considered one of the French emperor’s greatest tactical achievements.

To commemorate the event, Friday through the weekend, the town will celebrate. On Saturday, a free battle re-enactment with more than 1,000 soldiers, 80 horses and 20 cannons takes place between 2 and 3:30 p.m. on Santon Hill. At 7:30 p.m., the troops march into Austerlitz, and fireworks begin at 8 p.m. Other highlights include a military camp and visits to the Austerlitz castle and its Christmas market.

For more details, go to; it includes an English version.

ItalyShowing the latest designs and upgrades for cars from around the world, the Motor Show in Bologna ’s fairgrounds is open to the public Saturday though Dec. 12. Not only can visitors view many of the new models, but they also can test drive them in eight outdoor arenas. In addition to the exhibitors, the Mobil 1 Arena has scheduled events on its high-tech track, ranging from a high-speed driving competition to drivers showing off skilled control over skids and counter-steers in the Drift Battle.

The show is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost 22.50 euros for adults and are free for children up to age 6. Find more details at

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