Ski and concertScherer Tours in Höchberg, Germany, is offering a bus-and-lodging package to May’s Top of the Mountain Concert at Ischgl, Austria, an event it is calling the “ski party of the season.”

The site is known for its late-season skiing — 90 percent of the ski runs are above 6,600 feet — and for this party and concert, which this year features singer Alicia Keys.

Cost of the package, which runs April 30 to May 2, is 275 euros per person, double occupancy, and includes round-trip bus transportation in Germany, two nights in a three-star hotel, transfers to the lifts, two-day skiing pass and concert ticket.

For reservations, contact Scherer Tours at (+49) (0) 931-409046, or by e-mail at Several ski clubs at U.S. military bases in Germany are also offering trips to the concert that weekend.

Chocolate in BerlinYet another reason to visit Berlin, Germany: chocolate.

Ritter Sport has opened the Bunte Schokowelt — or Chocolateworld — on Französische Strasse 24 in the capital city. The 10,800-square-foot attraction has three levels on which you’ll find: a Schokolateria, or cafeteria; Shokoshop and Schokoreaction, where you can buy or make your own chocolate under the direction of a chocolate master; Schokotrail, an information exhibit to learn more about chocolate; a Schokolounge and a Schokowerkstatt, a chocolate workshop for children.

The center is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. And best of all, admission is free.

More information available at

Igloo hotelLooking for an unusual winter break? How about a Nordic vacation that includes an overnight in an ice hotel?

The Igloo Hotel near Alta, Norway, opened Jan. 15 and remains open until mid-April. It’s about 12 miles from the city on the banks of the Alta River.

The 30-room hotel is made entirely of ice, from the walls to the bar glasses. Temperatures ranging between -4 and -7 degrees Centigrade keep the ice chapel, bar, lounges and ice sculptures in a constantly frozen state. A nearby service center includes a restaurant, toilets and showers, sauna, two outdoor hot tubs, meeting facilities, reception and souvenir shop.

Guests sleep on reindeer-hide mattresses in arctic sleeping bags to stay warm at night.

An overnight package costs 2,396 Norwegian kroner (about $425) for adults and 995 Norwegian kroner for children under 12. It includes accommodation, a two-course dinner, morning sauna, breakfast buffet and round-trip bus transportation from the Alta town center. Those who just want to see the hotel can visit between noon and 2 p.m. and 6 and 8 p.m. The entrance fee is 100 Norwegian kroner for adults, 50 for children.

Winter activities in the area include snowmobile safaris and overnights in a lavvo (traditional Sami tent) camp. Then there is the Alta Museum, which includes an outside area showcasing rock carvings, some of which date to 4200 B.C. More details at

The SnowHotel in the Pallas-Yllätunturi National Park in Finland offers similar accommodation.

Best BetsSCOTLAND: If you can sing “Auld Lang Syne” or recite “A Red, Red Rose” — or better, “Address to a Haggis” — you’re already on your way to celebrating Burns Night on Tuesday. The annual event celebrates the birthday of Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, who is credited with restoring the traditions and pride of the “common man” with his works written in the Lowland Scottish dialect. Even if you’re not in Scotland, you can mark Burns’ birthday (he would have been 251 years old this year) by organizing your own Burns dinner with bagpipe music, poetry recitation, singing, ceilidhs, whisky and a dinner with haggis (minced heart, lungs and liver of a sheep or calf with oatmeal and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal). Or you can get by with just whisky and a poem or two. Find more information at the official Burns Web site,

SWITZERLAND: Join the dancing in the Basel streets Wednesday during the city’s annual Vogel Gryff festival, a 16th-century tradition that symbolically unites three of the city’s neighborhoods. In the morning, a raft with two drummers, two flag bearers, two cannoneers and a “wild man” float down the Rhine to the city’s middle bridge to meet up with Vogel Gryff (a griffin) and Leu (a lion). At noon, the three figures — the wild man, griffin and lion, heraldic figures of the three neighborhoods — dance to the beat of drums, an activity the locals take up and continue throughout the day and night. Find more information on the festival at Basel’s Web site,

— Jayne Traendly

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