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Ben Hur Live

In 1959, the film adaptation of Lew Wallace’s book "Ben Hur" became an international success. The story of the Jewish prince Judah Ben Hur, set in the Roman Empire of the first century A.D., is a dramatic one of a man whose life is transformed from one of revenge to one of forgiveness through the love of both Esther and Jesus.

The excitement of this time more than 2,000 years ago has once again been captured in a new production. "Ben Hur Live" is a major performance set in some of Europe’s biggest 360-degree arenas for the experience of Roman games. It features 400 performers, 100 animals and a musical score by Stewart Copeland (founder of the rock group Police) and Shaun McKenna (composer of the musical version of "Lord of the Rings").

The two-hour show, against an authentic backdrop, includes scenes from a naval battle, Arabian market, gladiator fights and the highlight, a high-speed chariot race.

"Ben Hur Live" opens Sept. 17 in London’s O2 stadium and runs through Sept. 20 before going to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, France and Spain, with dates scheduled throughout the year.

Tickets in England run 35 to 115 pounds (about $60 to $190) and on the Continent, generally 35 to 128 euros (about $50 to $180).

Get more details and ticket reservations at www.benhurlive.com .

West End tickets

Theatergoers in London’s West End know one way to get a cheaper ticket is to buy it on the day of the performance — and now up to a week in advance for several shows — at a "tkts" booth, run by the Society of London Theatre. The booths are located in the Clocktower Building in Leicester Square or in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre in northwest London.

The Society’s official Web site also offers information for buying London theater tickets. The site www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk includes show listings, tips, special offers, theater news and events.

Aztec ruler exhibit

From 1502 to 1520, the Aztec leader Moctezuma II (Montezuma to most Americans) ruled over what is today much of modern highland Mexico, from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean. His city capital in Tenochtitlan was renowned for its architecture, as were the stories of ritual sacrifices to the gods. It wasn’t until the adventurer Hernán Cortés and a Spanish fleet arrived in 1519 that his power was challenged and lost.

From Sept. 24 to Jan. 24, 2010, the British Museum in London is showing an exhibit on this legendary ruler. "Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler" is the fourth in the museum’s series of great leaders. Among the objects on display are Aztec stone sculptures and works commissioned by Moctezuma, ceramics and pottery and gold and turquoise artwork.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with late hours on Friday and Saturday. Tickets to this special showing are 12 pounds (about $20) for adults, 10 for those ages 16 to 18. Children younger than 16 get in free when accompanied by a paying adult.

See www.britishmuseum.org .

Best BetsENGLAND: Sample more than 340 ales, ciders and international beers in pint, half-pint or third-pint measures at Britain’s biggest beer bash Aug. 4-8 in London’s Earls Court. Entertainment, beer tour auctions, tastings and food are also on the program. The festival is open 5-10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, noon to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets cost 10 pounds (about $15). Find more details at http://gbbf.camra.org.uk.

GERMANY: Beautiful women and cars — the pairing is standard in automobile ads. Ever imagine yourself in the picture as well? This year’s Custom Car and Harley Fair at Sinsheim’s Auto & Technik Museum has a special deal for those who do: For 100 euros, you get a picture taken of yourself and a Penthouse model in your car and have it made into a 70-by-40-centimeter poster.

The museum’s annual show features luxury, custom-made and "dream" cars as well as motorcycle favorites. Body painting airbrush tattoos, music and a Saturday night convoy make up the entertainment.

Tickets to the car show alone cost 2.50 euros, while admission to the museum (13 euros for adults, 11 euros for children ages 7 to 14 and free for those 6 and younger) gets you into both.

The car show Web site is www.mm-customs.de (in German). The museum Web site is www.technik-museum.de/museum_sinsheim_english.html

LUXEMBOURG: The grounds of Vianden’s castle, considered one of the largest and most beautiful from the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe, are an ideal setting for the annual International Historical Festival, which begins Saturday and runs until Aug. 9.

Medieval troubadours, jugglers, flag bearers, archers, soldiers, crafts persons, falconers, knights, snake dancers and musicians are all part to the cast who make up this historical experience.

Troops of soldiers will march to military music, and professionally trained knights will show off their fighting skills in their campgrounds as well as conduct classes in sword fighting and archery for youngsters.

The festival runs daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is 7 euros for adults, 6 euros for children 13 to 24 years, 2 euros for those 6 to 12 years and free for those 5 and younger. Family tickets also are available. The castle Web site is www.castle-vianden.lu (information specifically on the festival in is in German and French).


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