Germany: There’s plenty of snow this year in Todtmoos in the Black Forest, which means it’s a go this weekend for the annual Alaska-style international sled-dog races. More than 1,000 pumped-up dogs, along with their mushers, will sprint to win the European Sled Dog Racing Association Cup and to qualify for the European championships. The distances range from about three miles for sleds with two dogs to 15 miles for sleds with more than eight dogs. Also on the program are pulka and skijöring races, in which the dogs, attached by ropes, pull a skier to provide him or her with extra power. You also can talk to the mushers and meet the dogs, then watch them as they excitedly hit the trails. Races start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for adults cost 6 euros per day, 10 euros for the weekend; children up to 16 years enter free. Get more details at www.todtmoos.de under Winter Holidays; there is an English-language version for some parts.
Italy: Say "carnavale in Italy," and many will think "Venice." But say the same to seasoned visitors and Italians and many will think "Viareggio." That’s because in addition to the carnival festivities, this town along the coast south of Florence organizes colorful 1½-mile processions featuring its famous floats. They include giant satirical images of public, political and entertainment figures that can measure up to 60 feet high and weigh up to 40 tons. They’re joined by costumed marches and bands that weave through the crowd of spectators. The first parade takes place Sunday along the town’s seaside avenues. Other parades are scheduled for Feb. 7, 14, 16 and 21. Find additional information at the official Web site, www.viareggio.ilcarnevale.com; it has an English version.