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Archive for January, 2012

Europe’s Largest Fire Festival

By Linda Tancs

Since the 1880s the folks in Lerwick, Shetland have celebrated Up Helly Aa, Europe’s largest fire festival.  Taking place on the last Tuesday in January each year, the event involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession, the burning of a galley and dancing in various halls throughout Lerwick.  At least 11 halls will host revelers until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a public holiday.  Thank goodness.

A Haven of Peace

By Linda Tancs

Amongst the hustle and bustle of cruise ships negotiating exotic ports of call in Tanzania, it’s easy to forget that its largest city, Dar es Salaam, means “haven of peace.”  You’ll likely experience that in the city centre at the botanical gardens.  Or perhaps during a stroll through the adjacent National Museum, home to antique tribal artefacts and World War One memorabilia.  And what better time to go than January and February, the short dry season.  Your haven is waiting.


Oldest Botanic Gardens in Western Hemisphere

By Linda Tancs

One hundred miles west of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean lies a chain of 32 islands and cays making up St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Some of the most fertile soil in the world can be found there, but perhaps its biggest claim to fame are the botanic gardens, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere founded in 1763. Among its many distinctions is the sucker from one of the 630 breadfruit plants brought to St. Vincent in 1793 by Captain Bligh. Perhaps not surprisingly, roasted breadfruit (along with fried jackfish) is the country’s national dish.

British Invasion in Vegas

By Linda Tancs

The Beatles aren’t the only British import lighting up Vegas.  Queen Victoria is alive and well on the Strip, too.  That is, the Queen Victoria Pub, located inside the Riviera Hotel and Casino.  The only British-owned and operated establishment boasts 24 draught beers and over 40 bottled varieties from around the world.  Needless to say, you can savor such island favorites as toad in the hole, shepherds pie and fish and chips.  Cheers!

The Year of Klimt

By Linda Tancs

2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt, an Austrian painter and illustrator.  Ten Viennese museums will herald the event with special exhibitions throughout the year, featuring his paintings, drawings and designs.  The Belvedere has the world’s largest collection of Klimt paintings, where a special exhibition is already underway highlighting his collaboration with Josef Hoffmann.  Later, in May, don’t miss the first public viewing of the Wien Museum’s collection of 400 Klimt drawings.  In the meanwhile, don’t miss the Art History Museum event beginning next month, or the spectacular events scheduled for Albertina, the Theatre Museum, Kuenstlerhaus, Folklore Museum, Leopold or the Museum of Applied Art.

Mum’s the Word

By Linda Tancs

You’ve heard it before:  talk is cheap.  Actions speak louder than words.  In London they celebrate action–visual theatre–at the International Mime Festival.  Until 29 January you can experience the circus athletes of Sugar Beast Circus, mask theatre of Kulunka Teatro, the light and shadow of Fleur Elise Noble, acrobat-dancer and magician Claudio Stellato and object theatre of Théâtre Tête de Pioche.  In short, a feast for the senses.

Leapfrogging in Samoa

By Linda Tancs

In Samoa, time really did stand still. The Pacific island lost a day (30 December, to be precise) when it shifted its international dateline on 29 December to be in sync with that of its major trading partners, Australia and New Zealand. The dateline, which runs through the middle of the Pacific, now runs to the east of the island nation rather than to its west.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Peru

By Linda Tancs

Lake Titicaca, located between Bolivia and Peru, is the highest navigable lake in the world.  Conveniently accessed from Juliaca airport, take the bus or a taxi to Puno, Peru’s capital of folklore.  Your midsummer adventure there should include the cylindrical Sillustani burial towers, one of the world’s most important necropolises just outside Puno.  The cathedral in Puno, built in 1757, is warm and inviting against a frosty midsummer night sky.  After all, the city is located over 3000 meters above sea level.

Slovenian Capital of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, is a 2012 European Capital of Culture.  The festivities began this past weekend with music, theatre and dance performances. The year’s events will encompass events as varied as carnival and contemporary dance.   Youth art is a particular highlight, quite fitting as Maribor will follow on this year’s cultural award as the European Youth Capital in 2013.

Portuguese Capital of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Inland from Porto, Portugal, Guimarães is a 2012 European Capital of Culture.  The city is known as the “cradle of Portugal” as it’s the birthplace of the nation’s first king, Afonso Henriques.  The area is well known for its linens and embroidery, too.  In the vicinity is Mateus Palace, whose picture graces the wine label of the same name.  The kick-off for festivities is 21 January with a theatre and multimedia open-air show.  The year’s events focus on four themes:  City, Community, Thought and Arts.

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