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Best BetsGERMANY: Cultural night owls will flock to Frankfurt on Saturday for the city’s annual Night of the Museums. About 46 museums and galleries will be open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., admitting visitors not only to view their collections but also to enjoy culinary and cultural events, including live music, films, dance performances and readings. Tickets, available in advance or at the museums, cost 12 euros and include admission to the museums and transportation on shuttle buses and shuttle ships between sites. Find details at www.nacht-der-museen.de/frankfurt/index.php; it has an English version.

NETHERLANDS: "Famous Books" is the theme of Saturday’s Bollenstreek Flower Parade, which rolls out from Noordwijk at 9:30 a.m. along a 25-mile route in this bulb-growing region. The procession made up of 30 cars decorated with flowers, 20 floats and marching bands, is the country’s biggest floral parade. It passes through Noordwijk, Sassenheim, Lisse, Hillegon, Bennebroek and Heemstede before arriving at 9 p.m. in Haarlem. For an illuminated preview, catch the parade as it travels through Noordwijk on Friday evening. More details at www.bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl ; it has an English version.

SPAIN: Catch the flavor of Andalusia at Seville’s annual April Fair, which runs Wednesday through May 3 on the city’s Real de la Feria. Originally a cattle fair, the event has grown to be one of the country’s most popular festivals. Thousands of casetas, small houses with cardboard walls and canvas roofing, are set up and decorated with light bulbs and lanterns to make a temporary city. Many are private, others are open to the public and offer sherry, tapas, flamenco music and Sevillanas (a form of flamenco dancing). Noon processions, Paseo de Caballos, add to the folkloric atmosphere with women in full flamenco costumes riding in decorated carriages pulled by Andalusian horses. Visit the Seville Tourist Board at www.turismosevilla.org.

Let's GoVerne meets da Vinci

In the spirit of author Jules Verne, the Machines de l’Île is an unusual artistic and cultural project in the city of Nantes, France, Verne’s birthplace.

It was the idea of two artists, François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, who wanted to merge the imagination of Verne with the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci. The project is being realized by a team of machine builders in a workshop housed in the warehouse of the city’s former shipyards along the Loire River.

The project is divided into three phases. The first is the Great Elephant, which was created in 2007. The 45-ton mechanical beast is about 40 feet high and 25 feet wide, running on a 450-horsepower engine and moving at 820 feet per hour. It contains an indoor lounge and terrace in which visitors can ride.

The second phase is the Marine Worlds Carrousel, due to be finished in 2010. Visitors can see the finished machines in the Gallery of the Machines exhibition. They include the Lantern of the Depths, Crab Larva, Reverse-Propelling Squid, Manta Ray, Giant Crab, Bus of the Abyss and Storm Boat. In an area called the Workshop, the project’s creative hub, visitors can watch the machine builders at work.

The third phase is the The Heron Tree, projected to be finished in 2014. It will consist of a steel tree about 150 feet in diameter and 90 feet high on which two mechanical herons will sit. Visitors can take a flight o0n the birds’ wings or walk to branches, which will contain hanging gardens. A preview of one of its branches is currently outside the warehouses.

The project is open various days and times throughout the year. During the summer, it’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends now through July 2; from July 3 to Aug. 31, it’s open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

More details, including ticket prices and a full schedule, are on the Web at www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/english.

Sunken treasures exhibition

In ancient times, the coast along Egypt’s Aboukir Bay collapsed, taking with it the cities of Alexandria, Heracleion and Canopus.

In 1992, a team using state-of-the-art technology, excavated their ruins and found an underwater treasure trove that included statues of gods and sphinxes, jewelry, gold coins, stone tablets, ceramics, building fragments and religious objects.

Until May 31, "Egypt’s Sunken Treasures" shows 500 of these findings in the Juvarra’s Scuderie of the Venaria Reale complex in Turin, Italy.

The exhibition covers 1,500 years of ancient Egyptian history from 700 B.C. to 800, in which the archaeological finds are presented in 10 atmospheric settings, each environment created by changing lights, music, size and space.

The exhibition is open 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is 10 euros for adults, 7 euros for those younger than 21 and free for children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult.

Find details at www.lavenaria.it/eng/egitto.shtml

D-Day program

The program for the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 5 to 6 is out. The French Tourist Board notes that because many of its participants are in their 80s and 90s, it might be the last one these veterans will attend.

For more information on the celebrations and the battle of Normandy site, go to www.normandiememoire.com/NM60Anglais/nmeh/html/visite.php.

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