Stripes European Travel, Thursday, June 18, 2009

BELGIUM: On June 18,1815, Napoleon met his downfall near Waterloo against a coalition of armies including troops from Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia. This weekend, you can experience the drama and atmosphere of the battle at the annual Napoleonic Bivouac and Battle of Waterloo re-enactment at the village of Plancenoit, southeast of Waterloo, and the nearby Hougoumont farm. More than 1,200 participants from 12 countries in period costume will join to reconstruct the times and battle. This year, two bivouac sites are planned: the French at the provincial museum Dernier Quartier-Général de Napoléon in Genappe near Plancenoit; and the English-speaking Dutch and the Prussians at the Hougoumont farm. On Saturday, the battle at Plancenoit will take place at 8 p.m. On Sunday, the battle will be situated in the fields near the Hougoumont farm and start at 10 a.m. Find more details at

FRANCE: The country will be filled with music Sunday during the annual Fête de la Musique, a series of free concerts given by amateur and professional musicians both outdoors and in public buildings. All genres will be played to celebrate music’s diversity. Each French city has its own program. For details, see

GERMANY: Mainz, the city of printer Johannes Gutenberg, celebrates the midsummer days with its Johannisnacht Fest (St. John’s Night Festival) Friday through Monday. In the city center, there will be a program of music, folklore groups and artists on various stages. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through Monday, out-of-print book editions will be sold at a book fair at Ballplatz and Schillerplatz, and from 2 p.m. daily there will be a crafts market along the Rhine River. In addition, printing apprentices will be initiated into the trade after training by being dunked in water near the Gutenberg Museum. Get details at; see "Tourism," then "Events, Festivals."

HUNGARY: Budapest’s Chain Bridge, the suspension bridge between Pest and Buda over the Danube River, was considered a great engineering feat in 1849 and later became the symbol of Hungarian liberty after freedom demonstrations took place there in 1989. Sunday it takes on another role, when it changes to a summer entertainment strip open only to pedestrians and cyclists. Every weekend until Aug. 12, the 1,230-foot-long bridge will be turned into a festival with Hungarian artists and crafts workers, street entertainers and food and drink stalls.

NETHERLANDS: Friday and through the weekend, explore the hidden greenery of Amsterdam during the city’s annual Open Garden Days. Thirty private canal-side gardens will be open to the public. The gardens will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Three-day passes cost 15 euros and are available at the starting points of the Bijbels Museum, Huis Marseille, Museum Van Loon and Museum Willet-Holthuysen. The addresses of the open gardens are printed on the ticket. More details can be found at, in English.

Lets GoFestival of History 2009

Experience 200 years of history at The English Heritage’s Festival of History July 25 and 26 at Kelmarsh Hall in Northampton. Its organizers say it’s the largest historical event in Europe.

Stars of this re-enactment festival, with more than 1,000 participants, include King Henry VIII, St. George and the dragon, gladiators and court jesters. There will be some 50 shows a day with such events as historic battles, jousting, chariot racing, an aerial display and life at a Victorian seaside resort. There will also be plenty of hands-on activities for children.

Tickets are available online. A day ticket costs 18 pounds (about $30) for adults and 10 pounds for children. A weekend ticket costs 28.50 pounds for adults, 14.50 pounds for children. Family tickets also are available. Members of The English Heritage receive an almost 50 percent discount.

Find more information at the English Heritage site,

Dali exhibition

The 18th-century Château de Pommard, set in a 50-acre vineyard outside Beaune, France, is the largest private vineyard in the area. This year, the castle is holding a special exhibition of Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s works through Nov. 15.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the artist’s death. The castle owns two of his sculptures, "Saint George Striking Down the Dragon" and "The Unicorn." Original etchings will also be on display.

The chateau is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and the exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. See

Impressionism museum

In May, the Museum of American Art in Giverny, France, officially opened as the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, dedicated to the impressionist movement in art. Gardening and Claude Monet fans will be interested in its first exhibition, "Inventing the Landscape," which continues until Aug. 15.

The exhibit includes 30 paintings by Monet as well as works from other artists in the Giverny colony. It also gives a look into how Monet formed his garden. The works come from the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Marmottan-Monet and from other collections.

The museum is next to Monet’s house, and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until Oct. 31. Tickets cost 5.50 euros for adults and 3.50 euros for children 12-18; children younger than 12 get in free. Its Web site is (in French).

The museum, which opened 15 years ago under its former name, had been dedicated to promoting the understanding of American art and the trans-Atlantic influences between Europe and the United States. The new museum focuses on impressionism, its history, its impact on the world’s art. The role played by American impressionism will be an important part of that story.

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