LONDON: Learn to make the perfect chocolate truffle, try a chocolate cocktail and sample a variety of chocolate candy at Southbank Centre’s first Chocolate Festival, which runs through the weekend. The event features workshops and demonstrations by master chocolatiers as well as stands from 33 chocolate firms where you can try the candy alone or on a variety of foods. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Find details at

FRANKFURT: The world’s top music trade fair ( ) runs through the weekend at Frankfurt’s fairgrounds, with doors open to the public Sunday. One of the biggest expos for the musical instrument industry, it presents a variety of innovative music products from more than 1,500 exhibitors, from classical to electronic instruments and sheet music to music computer hardware and software. Workshops, discussions and concerts are also on the program. The fair is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is 27 euros for adults, 7 euros for ages 6 to 12 and free for 5 and younger. Organizers ask visitors not to take any instruments with them (including drumsticks) in order to keep the noise down.

• Running at the same time at the fairgrounds is the Prolight + Sound trade fair for Event and Communication Technology, AV Production and Entertainment. International exhibitors will present the latest in media technology and systems integration as well as demonstrate the products. The fair is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free with a ticket to the Music Fair.

• In the mood for an old-fashioned German carnival? Then head to Frankfurt’s fairgrounds on the Ratsweg for the annual spring Dippemess, which starts Saturday and runs until April 18. Originally a household crafts and ceramics (dippe) market, the event today features amusement rides, food and drink stands and market stalls. Lose your stomach on the Drop Zone free-fall ride or catch the view from the giant Ferris wheel. Tents offer a variety of musical entertainment. Every Thursday is Family Day with prices cut in half. A fireworks finale finishes the fair on the last day. The carnival is open 2-11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed Good Friday and open noon to midnight Easter and noon to 11 p.m. on Easter Monday. The Dippemess Web site is (in German).

Cycle Europe

Those who want to cycle through Europe and beyond might consider a good place to start.

Direct Tours offers information on European bike tours with 200 routes in 30 countries. The company works with European tour operators to offer reasonably priced cycle trips, both guided and self-guided, at a variety of levels.

Some of its more unusual tours include the eight-day Castles of Transylvania trip through Romania. The tour, which costs 499 euros self-guided and 699 euros guided, begins in Brasov and ends in Sibiu. The self-guided tour includes accommodations, breakfasts, luggage transfer, information on the route, villages and castles. The guided tour includes the above plus transfers, a guide and entrance tickets.

Other offbeat options include visiting the Holy Land on the eight-day Israel Classic tour (1,200 euros guided) or the 10-day Moscow to St. Petersburg trip (1,200 euros guided).

Other trips closer to home include those such as the four-day Taste of Tuscany (685 euros self-guided, 975 euros guided) or the eight-day Highlights of Holland by bike and barge (635 euros guided).

Art history in Berlin

Explore Berlin’s rich art heritage and the highlights of Dresden and Potsdam on a tour July 4-10 organized by Dr. Andrew Laurie Stangel, former director of the Art History Tours program for U.S. Armed Forces in Europe.

Highlights include a full-day walking tour of historic Berlin led by a member of the city’s Center for Political Development, a visit to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, a visit to the Pergamon Museum and the Islamic galleries, a full-day excursion to Dresden and the Green Vaults and Picture Gallery, and a full-day excursion to Potsdam and the Palace of Sanssouci and the Cecilienhof Castle.

The cost is $1,690 per person, double occupancy, and includes seven nights of accommodations in a four-star hotel, breakfasts and admission to sites on the itinerary.

For more information, contact Stangel by telephone at (603) 774-7303 in the States or by e-mail at

‘Millennium’ tour

Fans of the “Millennium” series by author Stieg Larsson can take a two-hour walk in Stockholm based on the books and organized by the Stockholm City Museum. The English-language tour is at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

The popular trilogy — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” — has also been made into two films, and the tour visits sites associated with both the books and the movies.

Much of the Stockholm action takes place in the area of Södermalm, the southern part of the inner city, where the characters Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker, lived and worked. The tour also includes information on historical and contemporary Stockholm.

The cost is 120 Swedish kroner (about $17) per person. For those who prefer to do the walk alone, a “Millennium” map is available from the museum or city tourist office for 40 Swedish kroner.

Find details at

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now