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March 15, 2014
CELEBRATING THE COLOUR GREEN
If you think that St. Patricks Day is only a big deal in Ireland and a select few American cities, think again. These days, there are green-themed parades, parties and other happenings pretty much everywhere, including some of the furthest flung corners of the planet. This year's events even include the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. The World Heritage Site will be joining such icons as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Egypt and Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa in turning green for the day.
Thanks to the time difference, the first of 2014's St. Patrick's Day celebrations won't be in Ireland
, though - they'll be in Australia
. St. Patrick's Day has been marked in some way in Australia since the beginning of the 19th century, when it was first designated an official day of celebration. Over the years, the day's events have become more and more imaginative. This year, the usual parades will be supplemented by The Paddy Factor, a talent competition to be staged in Sydney
, in front of a 20,000-strong crowd of spectators.
Perhaps the most exotic - and warmest - place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is Montserrat. It is also one of the most prolonged, with festivities extending over a whole week. That is quite a long time to indulge in the likes of Irish-style story telling and kite flying. Alternatively, revellers can relax on the beach with a glass of Guinness, served from one of its many seaside bars. Montserrat's links with Ireland go long and deep. A group of Irish settlers set up home here in the 17th century, giving the island its nickname of 'the Emerald Isle'.
This year, Tokyo
stakes its claim that it will be holding the biggest celebration of Ireland's patron saint in Asia. An anticipated cast of hundreds will march down its famous shopping street in the Omotesando area of the city before heading off to join spectators at themed parties in bar and pubs all over Tokyo.
It is clear that, wherever you happen to be in the world, there'll always be a little part of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day - usually in the form of at least one large and colourful parade, a multitude of Irish bands and a great deal of Irish dancing. And, of course, an awful lot of the colour green.
Posted by Sue at 16:21:08 on 15/3/2014
March 7, 2014
REMEMBERING THE FALL OF THE WALL
If you are hoping to visit Berlin
anytime soon, you would better start booking. This year, the German capital is going to be busier than usual. In fact, hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to flood into the city during the course of the coming months. It is all because 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that brought to an end the division between East Germany and its western neighbour.
To commemorate the occasion, a whole year of Wall-related activities and events will take place. The end of March sees the opening of a new exhibition of colour photographs that show life in the former GDR as never before, from the life of children at school to the daily grind of those who worked on the country's agricultural collectives. In August, hundreds of runners will set off on the Berlin Wall Trail Run, a challenge that involves running along the course of the inner city Berlin Wall. Along the way, there'll be plenty of time to reflect on the extent of the division and those who fell victim to it.
Other opportunities to experience what it meant to live behind the Iron Curtain will certainly have added appeal this year: they include the GDR Museum, which tells of life behind the Iron Curtain, and the STASI Museum, housed within the former Ministry of State Security complex. Lovers of East Germany's most iconic form of transport won't want to miss out on a trip to the TRABI Museum or, indeed, the Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie, which features exhibits related to the Cold War and the Wall's construction.
Events will culminate on 9th November with the unveiling of a permanent exhibition at the Berlin Wall Memorial. A new 'temporary wall' made from thousands of illuminated white balloons will also be built along a stretch of the line that formerly divided East from West. Rumour has it that it may even be visible from space - weather permitting, of course.
Posted by Sue at 15:26:19 on 7/3/2014