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St. Patrick’s Trail
Most people associate St. Patrick with parades, green beer and shamrocks. It’s not often they think of Northern Ireland. But it’s the northern part of the island — now part of the U.K. — where the saint spent his life doing missionary work in the area of Downpatrick, where he was buried in 461.
To acquaint visitors with the saint’s heritage, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has put together a 92-mile self-drive St. Patrick’s Trail. It goes through sites linked to the saint at Bangor, Newtownards, Strangford Lough, Portaffery, Downpatrick, Newry and Armagh.
The suggested one-day "Footsteps of St. Patrick" itinerary, for example, takes in sites in Downpatrick. It includes the Down Cathedral (with the saint’s grave), Down County Museum (with a St. Patrick exhibition), St. Patrick Centre, Saul Church (erected on what was believed to be St. Patrick’s first church in Ireland) and Slieve Patrick, a hill with a huge statue of the saint overlooking Strangford Lough.
Fashion center show
Fashionistas interested in Austrian designs might want to make plans to attend the Modepalast in Vienna’s MAK (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art) April 23-25.
The trade fair will present the collections of 100 Austrian and international designers of women’s and men’s fashions, jewelry and accessories. The program includes daily fashion shows, late-night shopping, presentations and parties.
Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is 7 euros; a three-day pass is 12 euros. See www.modepalast.com.
According to its tourist board, there are nearly three square miles of vineyards in and around Vienna, including the areas of Kahlenberg, Nussberg, Bisamberg and Mauer. The conditions for growing the grapes, provided by the Danube and nearby Vienna Woods, make it the only major city with more than 1 million inhabitants to have a wine industry. Some 320 vintners produce wine in the area.
Each fall, the city holds Vienna Wine Hiking Day. However, you don’t have to wait until then to wander through the vineyards. The board has established Vienna Wine Trails, which not only wind through the vineyards with their scenic views but also pass several wineries and Heuriger taverns (small vintner restaurants) for rest breaks.
The Vienna Tourist Center Web site suggests two trails: the seven-mile Neustift to Nussdorf route and the 7½-mile Strebersdorf to Stammersdorf. A preview map of each shows the route, distances, rest stops, bus connections and scenic points. See more at www.wien.info/en/shopping-wining-dining/wine/wine-trail.
Best betsBelgium: The carnival season is over in Belgium but the fun continues. From Friday to Monday, the village of Herve celebrates spring with its annual Herve Cavalcade. The festival highlight is the grand parade on Monday with a procession of floats pulled by draught horses. It starts at 2:30 p.m. from the Place Albert. Sunday is horse day with a local market and horse events, including horse competitions and a children’s parade. Get details at www.cavalcadeherve.be.
France: Paris isn’t just a city of museums, good food and love. The French capital also likes to sponsor some good old family fun, so for two months each year, the Foire du Trone is held in the city. The fair, which was originally a market fair and dates to 957, is one of the largest in the country. Until June 31, it’s located in the Pelouse de Reuilly in the Bois de Vincennes, a large wooded area on Paris’ east side. The fair offers 350 attractions, including amusement rides, games and carnival entertainers, such as fire-eaters and acrobats. It’s open noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday and noon to 1 a.m. Saturday. For more information, see the fair’s Web site, www.foiredutrone.com (in French).
Luxembourg: Looking for something different? Then check out the annual Eimaischen pottery festival on Easter Monday. There, among the pottery being sold by the village’s potters are vendors selling peckvillercher, or bird-shaped whistles, which are traditionally given to children by their parents each year. In addition to the pottery stalls, the Pottery Museum, site of the last kiln that closed in 1914, will be open for the day. The festival begins at 10 a.m. For a history of the whistles in Luxembourg, go to www.sifflets-en-terre cuite.org/HtmlE/Eur/Luxtxt.html.
Scotland: This year’s Edinburgh Science Festival, one of Europe’s largest science and technology fairs, will feature 220 events in 35 venues, including the city’s zoo, Royal Botanic Gardens, museums, theaters, university halls and even a shopping mall. Running Saturday through April 17, the festival promises fascinating topics for all ages. Children can build a monster or create a plant for an "evolving landscape." Young adults can design a video game. Adults can attend discussions with various scientists, writers and educators. And everyone can enjoy an exhibit called "Sonic Dreams," a fusion of art and science through a realistic 3-D system.
For details and tickets, got to www.sciencefestival.co.uk.