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Giant-Sized Fun in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

In Spain, Barcelona’s biggest street party of the year is La Mercè Festival. Held near the end of September each year in honor of La Mare de Déu de la Mercè (Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of Barcelona), the event heralds the advent of autumn. A major highlight is the giants parade, where oversized effigies of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets to the delight of children. You also won’t want to miss the fire run, the human towers (like a cheerleading squad on steroids), the cathedral illumination and the projection of images on buildings at Plaça Sant Jaume. This year’s festival runs from September 21 through September 24.

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Stone Skimming in Scotland

By Linda Tancs

Are you an ace stone skimmer? There’s a competition just for you on Easdale Island in Argyll, Scotland. The annual World Stone Skimming Championships is open to anyone of any age and any level of skill. To qualify, the stone (no more than 3 inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate) must hit the water three times and sink within the designated lane as marked by the buoys. The event takes place this year on September 23.

Glimpsing Pembrokeshire’s Past

By Linda Tancs

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales is Britain’s only coastal national park, a place full of archaeological icons. One of its most famous attractions is Pentre Ifan, a stone structure marking the entrance into the heart of a burial chamber dating back to the Neolithic Period. Other stone ramparts dating from the Bronze Age encircle the hilltop of Foel Drygarne, dominated by three massive and well-preserved cairns. Excavation at the heart of the park has also revealed Iron Age settlements, like those found at Carew Castle. Covering 240 square miles of spectacular landscape around Wales’ southwestern shore, you’ll find visitor centers in Tenby, Newport and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St. Davids.

Mountain Majesty in Wyoming

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to get lost in the mountain majesty of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. You can view the rugged spires from glacier-fed Jenny Lake or on a float along the Snake River. More magnificent views await at Lunch Tree Hill, an overlook at Jackson Lake Lodge that was used as a picnic stop by John D. Rockefeller Jr. during a Yellowstone vacation. The Teton Mountain Range borders Jackson Hole to the west. Like the valley (which was named for fur trader David Jackson), French fur trappers named the mountains Les Trois Tetons (the three breasts), now known as the Grand, Middle and South Tetons. Grand Teton is the highest peak although Mount Moran (named for landscape artist Thomas Moran) is immortalized in popular sketches and watercolors.

Confectionery Bliss in New York City

By Linda Tancs

Now appearing in New York City, the pop-up exhibition Candytopia is a bit of confectionery bliss in The Big Apple, featuring interactive art installations in over a dozen environments, from flying unicorn pigs to a marshmallow tsunami. Think of it as Pablo Picasso meets Willy Wonka, courtesy of Hollywood “candy queen” Jackie Sorkin and design expert Zac Hartog. Reservations are required; get your tickets before the show moves on after November 15.

Caves and Cowboys in Missouri

By Linda Tancs

Where can you find rides and attractions, dining and shows, festivals, crafts and a show cave? That would be at Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-style theme park in Branson, Missouri, set upon the foundations of a genuine 1800s mining town. The popular Ozarks tourist attraction was built around Marvel Cave, a wet limestone cave boasting the largest entrance room in the United States. A cave tour is included with theme park admission. Today through October 27 the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival takes place, featuring visiting craftsmen and a salute to the American cowboy that includes wild mustangs, an old-fashioned barn dance, chuck wagon cooking and more. This year’s event coincides with the final run of the Wild West Show, inspired by the legendary Buffalo Bill.

All About ABBA

By Linda Tancs

Swedish band ABBA took the pop world by storm in the 70s and 80s, arguably one of the greatest pop bands in musical history. The pride of Stockholm in particular, a museum there is dedicated to the group’s history. ABBA The Museum not only chronicles the band’s development through displays and memorabilia but also gives visitors the chance to feel like a musical icon. You can try on ABBA’s costumes (virtually) or sing, play, mix original music and become the fifth member of ABBA by performing on a large hologram stage together with bandmates Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha. iPad users can also choose different instruments from the studio and listen to how they sound on a recording when all the other instruments have been removed or listen to Frida and Agnetha’s voices without the surrounding music. In some cases, you can record your personal participation and download the results to your computer with your personal ticket number.

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