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Anniversaries and Festivals

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Edinburgh, Scotland
For a rollicking good time, ring in the New Year in Scotland at Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival, which dates back to the mid-winter celebrations of the Vikings, Celts, and Romans. The party starts on December 29 with a torchlight procession and goes through New Year's Day, with events including an arts carnival, concerts, and fireworks. The most popular event, however, may be the street party held on the big day itself, December 31. Party passes cost £5 and can be purchased online or at Tickets Scotland vendors. For more information, visit the official Hogmanay website.

(Photo: Porter Novelli)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 8, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Alaska Airlines, Christine Sarkis, destination, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, festival, Four Seasons Hotels, Kansas City, museum, Peru, Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita, San Blas, Sayulita, Southwest, Spirit, Vancouver, Vilnius, Volaris.

Big anniversaries and festivals offer yet another reason to travel in 2009. And, since many such celebrations include free events, it's a great way to get more for your money. Just remember to book accommodations early, since the events are likely to draw crowds.

Major Anniversaries in 2009 Include:

  • 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's ascension to the throne. Expect major festivities at Hampton Court Palace and beyond.
  • 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens. Special exhibitions will commemorate the event.
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  • 20th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany. There will be special exhibitions, memorials, tours, and walks. The Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in 2009.
  • Alaska's 50th anniversary of Statehood. The Alaska Railroad is offering a free one-day pass anywhere the train travels to anyone who will turn 50 in 2009.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden's 150th anniversary. One of the top botanical gardens in the world, it's also the oldest public garden in the U.S.
  • 400th anniversary of Bermuda. The island will celebrate with special events.
  • 200th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe's birth. Baltimore is celebrating with Nevermore 2009, a yearlong citywide festival.

Major Festivals in 2009 Include:

  • Manchester International Festival 2009: The second biannual festival features original and new works of performing, music, and visual art.
  • Homecoming Scotland 2009: Scotland is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth and Scotland's contributions to the world, including golf, whiskey, and Scottish heritage. Events take place all year.
  • July 2009 XXV Song Celebration in Tallinn, Estonia: Estonia has a proud heritage of massive singing festivals, the next of which takes place from July 2 to 5.
  • Holland Art Cities: Boasting more art and culture per square mile than anywhere else on earth, the two-year Holland Art Cities is an event hosted by ten of the top museums in four of Holland's largest cities. Two museums (including the Hermitage Amsterdam) will open as well.

Around the world, demand is down and destinations are pushing hard for more visitors, so unusually good deals should be easy to find, at least through the first half of 2009. These and other emerging destinations provide added value since they tend to be even more affordable than more popular, established destinations. If you're looking for an affordable vacation in the coming year, an up-and-comer could be just the ticket.

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