BelgiumSince the 14th century, Brussels has been celebrating the city’s victory over the town of Leuven with the planting of a Meyboom (May tree) on Aug. 9 to honor their savior, St. Laurence. Crossbowmen were allowed to plant this "tree of joy," a tradition that has continued to this day. Saturday’s celebration will include a grand parade featuring the Giants of Brussels, the Roue de la fortune ("wheel of fortune") and re-enactors as Charles V and his cavalcade. They leave from the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée on the rue des Sables at 2 p.m., march to the Grand-Place and return before 5 p.m. to Rue des Sables for the tree planting. The planting must be done before 5 or the honor of the planting is given to the people of Leuven. For more information on the event, see www.meyboom.be/UK/uk.html
FranceAccording to the Alsace Tourist Board, Sélestat is often considered the birthplace of the Christmas tree since a 1521 record of the decorated tree is the oldest written reference to Christmas trees. But in the summer, the town honors its flowers with colorful dahlia parades, this year honoring the 100th anniversary of the renovation of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. More than 500 musicians, dancers, folk groups and floral floats will participate in the medieval-themed procession at 6 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. Various events are scheduled throughout the weekend. Tickets to view the parade cost 6 euros for adults and are free for children under 12 years. Sélestat’s Web site is www.selestat-tourisme.com or www.villeselestat.fr The parade Web site is www.corso-selestat.fr (in French).
NetherlandsRotterdam’s "Fit for Free Dance Parade," which claims to be the largest techno parade in Europe, celebrates the Olympic year with the motto "Many records will be broken." The procession will include 40 floats and hundreds of international DJs. It will leave from Rochussenstraat in the city center at 2 p.m. and party with the audience until its final destination at Willemsbrug. At 9 p.m. the clubs take over the show. Rotterdam’s Web site is www.rotterdam.com The parade Web site is www.fitforfreedanceparade.nl
SwitzerlandThe streets of Zurich also will be hopping Saturday during the city’s techno street parade. This year’s motto is "Friendship" and it promotes responsible treatment of the world and its people. The procession, complete with "lovemobiles," begins at 3:15 p.m. at the Utoquai and travels across Bellevue, the Quaibrücke and Bürkliplatz, ending at about 10 p.m. at the harbor in the Enge quarter. From then, partiers can hit the city’s clubs until midnight. Find more details at www.streetparade.ch
Let's GoTapas tourIf someone asks you to "go out for tapas" in Spain, be prepared for small plates of foods with drinks at several bars throughout the night. These can serve as appetizers or as the entire meal. Anything can be served as a tapa — cheese, ham, vegetables, breads — as long as it’s on the small plate.
For an introduction to this way of eating when in Madrid, consider the Madrid Walking Tapas Tour at www.gomadrid.com.
Led by members of the Unión Española de Catadores, the Spanish Wine Tasters’ Association, the trip takes you through old Madrid. It includes stops at a historical tavern for a Manchego cheese dish made from sheep’s milk and a Valdepeñas chilled red wine, and at the first wine bar in Old Madrid for cecina, thin dried slices of smoked, cured beef, and Manzanilla, a dry, pale fortified sherry wine.
It concludes with a stop at a traditional restaurant situated in a 17th-century aristocratic mansion for three tastings: cava (Spanish champagne) with freshly made paella; Altos de Luzón 2003, a fine red Jumilla wine, with Carne a la Piedra, pieces of meat you cook on heated stone slabs; and Don PX 1975, a sweet sherry aged in oak barrels with fig bonbons.
The price per person is 59 euros. The tour leaves at 8:15 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Get more details at www.gomadrid.com/tapas/tapas-tour.html