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Carnival and St. Patrick’s Day

Don’t miss out on two of Europe’s largest festivals next year, Venice’s Carnevale and Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Interra Reisen has planned two trips leaving from Germany to these events and you can sign up at your local USO.

"Carnival in Venice" runs Feb. 12-15 (Presidents Day weekend). Highlights include a walking tour of Verona, private boat transfer in Venice to the center of carnival activities in St. Mark’s Square, a walking tour of Venice and a free day to enjoy the festivities. The trip also includes a short visit to Lucerne, Switzerland, to experience a Swiss Fasching celebration.

The cost is 349 euros per person, double occupancy, and includes bus transportation, two nights in a four-star hotel, breakfast, boat transportation to St. Mark’s Square and a tour guide. The cost is 299 euros for children ages 3 to 12, and 140 euros for those younger than 3.

Pickup points are in Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, Heidelberg and Böblingen.

The St. Patrick’s Day trip is March 15-18. Highlights include a tour of Dublin, a day to enjoy the parade and a visit to Howth, a small fishing village. An optional tour goes to County Wicklow (the Powerscourt Gardens; Glendalough, former home of the eighth-century hermit St. Kevin; and Avoca, with its traditional woolen works).

The cost is 599 euros per person, double occupancy; save 100 euros if you reserve by Dec. 18. The price includes round-trip flights between Frankfurt and Dublin, transfers and taxes, a Dublin tour, three nights in a three-star hotel, breakfasts and tour guide. The charge is 439 euros for children ages 2 to 12 and 100 euros for children up to 23 months. For more details, contact your local USO. The Interra Reisen Web site is www.interra-reisen.de.

Edinburgh’s tattoo

The Scottish Tourist Board advises reserving hotel rooms and tickets early if you plan to attend next year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which runs Aug. 6-28. Set against the backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle, international military musicians, gymnasts, singers dancers and a motorcycle display team perform in the open air.

Individual tickets have been on sale online since Dec. 1 and go quickly. For more information on those tickets and the tattoo, see www.edintattoo.co.uk.

In addition, many travel agencies and promoters offer packages. The Scottish tourist board, for example, has four, which vary in price depending on the quality of accommodations and tickets. The two low-end packages start at 149 pounds (about $250) and 289 pounds and include two nights’ lodging, breakfasts and tickets in the north stands at the tattoo. The two higher-end packages cost 345 pounds and 369 pounds and include two nights’ accommodations, breakfasts, and premium seating at the evening tattoo performance with fireworks.

For reservations, see www.visitscotland.com/shop/holiday-packages/tattoo10.

Ice Camp igloos

Ski lifts close at 4:30 p.m. at the top of the Kitzsteinhorn in Austria. But why go down the mountain when you can stay overnight on the glacier — in an igloo?

From Jan. 16, it’s possible to sleep in one of seven sleep igloos in the Volvo Ice Camp and enjoy the starry skies along with the ice bar and ice lounges at the 8,200-foot altitude. During the day, visitors to the Ice Camp have free access to sports activities including hikes and ice-climbing workshops at the Ice Tower. Or they can lounge on the sun deck and enjoy places to eat and drink. In the late afternoon, those who wish to can return to the valley to their hotels, while those who want to stay overnight can reserve one of the overnight adventure packages. Participants must be 18 years old. During the week, there is a minimum of five participants required, but on the weekends, the minimum drops to two.

The Standard Package costs 168 euros per person. It includes an evening program with archery, walks, sauna and whirlpool; evening meal; overnight in a three-person igloo on reindeer furs and with polar sleeping bags; luggage service; breakfast; showers at the nearby sports academy; and service from the Igloo Guides.

The Romance Package offers the same program for two people in a two-person igloo and with a bottle of champagne.

For details, pictures and reservations, check the Web site at www.icecamp.at; there is an English-language version.

BEST BETS

GERMANY: Been thinking about getting a tattoo, but not sure what you’d like? Maybe you can find that ideal image at the oldest gathering of tattoo artists and fans in Europe, the International Tattoo Convention. The convention, which will be held Friday through the weekend in the Arena Berlin in the city’s Treptow district, will feature more than 160 artists from around the world showing their individual styles and artwork. The program also includes exhibitors with clothing, accessories, jewelry and piercings; a tattoo show and tattoo contests; an erotic burlesque show; and live music. The convention is open 2 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost 17 euros for one day, 38 euros for the weekend. More details are available at www.tattooconventionberlin.de; there is an English-language version.

ITALY: Beginning Saturday and continuing through Dec. 13, Milan holds one of Europe’s largest crafts fairs, the annual artisan fair in the New Fiera Milano exhibition complex in Rho. More than 2,000 crafts workers will offer an international array of gift possibilities, including ceramics, sculptures, clothing, furniture, silks and ethnic arts and crafts. In addition, 100 workshops will let you express your own creative talents. The fair is open 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday and the following weekend, and 3:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Dec. 9-11. Entry is free. Find details at www.artigianoinfiera.it, which includes a section in English.


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