Medieval days & knights

"Das Schicksal der Gefährtin," or "The Fate of the Companions," is the story behind this year’s jousting tournaments at Kaltenberg castle in Germany. Located 30 miles west of Munich, the castle holds the largest knights tournament in the world, one that includes a medieval market of about 100 stalls and eight hours of entertainment on seven stages.

This year’s guests include cult-band Corvus Corax playing medieval rock music and Feuervogel, a fantasy theater group (

Events are scheduled for Fridays and weekends in July. The grounds open at 11 a.m. with tournaments at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. A children’s knights tournament is scheduled for 5 p.m. July 18 is Gauklernacht (Jesters Night), an evening of medieval entertainment and parades.

Tickets for adults cost 17 euros with seating in the arena, and 22 to 49 euros for reserved seating. Children ages 6-15 receive a 5-euro discount and those under 6 are admitted free (no seating in the arena). July 6 is family day, with children 6-15 receiving a 10-euro discount.

Reservations are recommended as tickets sell out quickly. Find details on the Web at

Cruise Days offers

Maybe you won’t be taking a cruise anytime soon, but if you’dlike to see some of these giant cruise ships, head to Hamburg, Germany, between July 30 and Aug. 3. During the city’s Cruise Days festival, seven of the largest and most elegant cruise ships will dock in the harbor to join the party: the AIDAaura, MS Astor, Cap San Diego, Columbus, Deutschland, Sedov (a Russian windjammer) and Queen Mary II. Events include illuminations, a parade on Aug. 2, fireworks and rides aboard the Cap San Diego and Sedov.

Several hotels in the city are offering specials. The Novotel Hamburg Alster, for example, has a two-night package Aug. 1-2 that includes room, breakfasts, a trip on a launch to the cruise ship parade and a Hamburg Card, which provides three days of free travel on public transportation. Prices begin at 209 euros per person. The Holiday Inn offers a two-night package beginning at 179 euros per person that includes room, tour of the harbor with a view of the Queen Mary II, a 20-euro dining voucher for selected restaurants and a Hamburg Card.

Other offers, as well as information, are available at

Scuba trout safaris

You might have gone swimming with dolphins and maybe even whales and sharks. Now is the time to head to Norway and go swimming with the trout.

Norske Opplevelser (Norwegian Adventures Company) organizes scuba-diving trout safaris in the Hemsil River. The Web site explains that trout is the country’s most common fish and comes to the Hemsil to spawn. The river is thus filled with both small and big fish among which you can swim.

The two- to three-hour trip costs 595 Norwegian kroner (about $115) per person (minimum of four) and includes all equipment. The company also offers rock-climbing trips and winter activities.

Get more details at

Best BetsFRANCE: She was only 13 years old when, in 1423, she started hearing God’s voice telling her to go to the French court and help it free France from the English. In the following years, under God’s guidance and with visits from St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, Jeanne, a simple peasant girl, became the French people’s national heroine. During the Hundred Years’ War, she led the French army to a key victory against the English at Orléans, reviving their spirits and courage. Captured by the English, she was burned at the stake as a heretic but it did not stop her fame from spreading.

Today the French honor their beloved St. Joan of Arc (as she is known in English) in a variety of ways, including this weekend’s celebration in Reims. Highlights of the annual Les Fêtes Johanniques include a medieval market at the Place des Martyrs de la Résistance and a medieval camp with archers, music and food at the Place du Forum. Folklore groups from Zimbabwe and Venezuela add an exotic touch. At 3:20 p.m. Sunday, a grand parade begins with St. Joan and King Charles VII escorted by 2,000 figures in period costumes. Find more details at (in French).

ITALY: "The Divine Comedy in Bloom" is the theme of this year’s Flower Parade and Battle in Ventimiglia, during which colorful floats based on Dante Alighieri’s famous allegory are the highlights.

On Friday, you can enjoy music and visit the floats as they’re being decorated. On Saturday, a preview evening parade starts at 9:30 p.m. with fireworks at 11 p.m. Sunday starts with music and folklore groups 10 a.m. to noon, with the grand parade and flower battle at 4 p.m. Get more details at (in Italian).

SPAIN: Saturday sees the opening of this year’s international expo in Zaragoza, running until Sept. 14. "Water and Sustainable Development" is its theme. About 140 pavilions will explore the topic under the categories of "Rain," "Mountains," "Wind," "Sun" and "Rivers," and regions including "Sub-Saharan Africa," "Latin America," "Caribbean Community," "Mediterranean Balcony" and "Oasis."

Three large-scale shows will take place daily: "Iceberg, Poetic Symphony"; "Hombre Vertiente"; and "The Awakening of the Serpent." The Water Tribune will feature debates, talks and other activities organized under weekly themes. One-day adult tickets cost 35 euros, three-day tickets are 70 euros. Children’s and family discounts are available. Find more details at

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