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Archive for european union

Capitals of Culture in 2019

By Linda Tancs

Happy New Year! And you know what that means—another set of European Capitals of Culture! This year’s honorees are Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria). Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with a history dating back to 4,000 B.C. During Roman times, it was a thriving industrial center and remains so today. Its annual International Fair is an epicenter for international business, conducted on fairgrounds representing one of the largest exhibition venues in southeastern Europe. Matera is a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata in southern Italy. It includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Many of the caves are now hotels, bars, restaurants and homes. Take the train from Bari to Matera and explore the area on foot.

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The 2018 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Malta and Leeuwarden (Netherlands) share strong agricultural ties in the nature of potatoes. Maltese farmers grow potatoes from Leeuwarden seeds and send those crops to Leeuwarden. How appropriate, then, that Leeuwarden and Valletta (Malta) are the European Union’s 2018 Capitals of Culture. In a unique display of solidarity, the locales have joined in an effort called Poetry in Potato Bags. This initiative involves the sending of local poetry with the exchange of seeds and potatoes, enriching poetic dialogue between the two cultures. Look for many events to be held throughout the year in each city highlighting their social, cultural and economic assets.

Crossing at the Meuse

By Linda Tancs

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in Holland. The city’s name, derived from Latin, means “crossing at the Meuse.” Indeed, the ancient city is located on both sides of the Meuse River. It might be better known as the birthplace of the European Union: a treaty was signed there in 1992, establishing the European Union and its currency, the Euro. The capital of Holland’s southernmost region, Limburg, it’s prized for the local delicacy—a pie (vlaai) filled with marmalade.

The 2017 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

For over 30 years now, the European Union has designated a couplet of cities as cultural capitals for the calendar year. This year’s honorees are Aarhus in Denmark and Pafos in Cyprus. The Danes are celebrating their heritage and what it means for the future of tourism in Central Denmark in a campaign titled “Let’s Rethink.” They’ll be examining their contributions to art and culture and strengthening the identity of their region. Highlights include a unique collaboration with the Royal Danish Theatre and Moesgaard Museum to present Red Serpent – a spectacular outdoor performance of a captivating tale of a hero from the Viking Age. The year will also feature the Danish National Opera’s premiere of Janne Teller’s prize-winning Danish novel for young people, “Nothing.” The ambitious agenda in Pafos (birthplace of Aphrodite) is to open every nook and cranny of the ancient coastal city into an outdoor cultural hall—an open-air exhibition of sorts. But that’s not to diminish the indoor venues, especially in the cooler months. Look for a variety of activities in the archaeological museum, the old Othello cinema, the Markideio Theatre and the art gallery.

The 2016 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

New year, new cultural pursuits. The European Union’s honorees for 2016 Capitals of Culture are the Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastian and Wroclaw, Poland’s fourth largest city. San Sebastian, the third largest city in the Basque Country, is focusing their agenda on a community of culture to foster peaceful coexistence. Seeking to link the two cultural capitals, Wroclaw’s opera director is planning a massive Spanish folk musical at the local stadium, featuring 50 dance groups and 80 choirs performing under the direction of a Spaniard. What a perfect way to promote understanding through culture and the arts.

The 2015 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Welcome to a new year and two new European Union capitals of culture:  Mons in Belgium and Pilsen in the Czech Republic.  The major exhibitions in Mons feature Van Gogh’s emergence as an artist in the Borinage, the poetic metamorphosis of Paul Verlaine, and the Battle of Lumecon in the main square where St. George slays the dragon.  The opening ceremony for Mons 2015 will be held on 24 January.  Like Mons, Pilsen will promote great personalities associated with the city, like Jiří Trnka (the Walt Disney of the East), Ladislav Sutnar (a pioneer in information graphics) and the architecture of Adolf Loos.  The festivities officially launch in Pilsen on 17 January.

Europe’s Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

The European Commission’s picks for this year’s capitals of culture are Riga and Umeå.  Riga, the Latvian capital, is the largest city in the Baltic region.  Its covered market is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  Umeå, in northern Sweden, is the northernmost city selected by the EU for this annual honor.  During the weekend of 31 January to 2 February, Umeå will inaugurate the year with a spectacular Burning Snow music and dance recital on and around Umeälven River.  Riga promises 365 days of enjoyment of Latvian music, fine arts, cinema and pop culture.  The cities are also planning several joint projects to celebrate their capital of culture year.

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