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Destinations to Watch in 2010

Poised to claim their time in the spotlight, destinations around the world are taking center stage with big festivals or anniversaries, massive new developments, or just particularly good deals. If you’re looking to be where the action is in 2010, consider a trip to:

Germany

Been waiting for the right time to visit Germany? Then dust off your passport and practice your “Guten Tag!” 2010 stands out as a year chock-full of memorable, unique, and rare events. And increased air service from the U.S. puts it all closer.

For something a little different, how about coal mining complexes turned art and cultural centers? That’s what you’ll find in the Ruhr, a region once known primarily for coal and steel, which has transformed itself and earned the European Capital of Culture designation for 2010. The 53 cities comprising the region will host more than 300 projects and 2,500 events during the year. The extravaganzas include “!Sing,” a day of song with 65,000 performers; the “Still Life A40,” during which a 60-kilometer long banqueting table will be set up along a closed highway and the public invited; and “ExtraShift,” an art and performance festival in 40 venues on June 19.

Once a decade for the last 375 years, villagers in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau put on a play reenacting the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The five-hour Passion Play has a cast of more than 2,000 villagers, and attracts an audience from around the world. Tickets to the play, which will be staged 102 times between May and October, are already sold out, but a number of tour operators are still offering accommodations-and-tickets packages.

More anniversaries and festivals round out Germany’s 2010 offerings. September marks the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest in Munich. Leipzig and other cities will celebrate the 200th birthday of composer Robert Schumann (this website is in German only) with concerts. And Nuremburg’s Railway Year (in German only), complete with train-themed art, a locomotive parade, and special exhibitions, will honor the 175th anniversary of the country’s first train.

Germany will be easier to get to in 2010. Starting on March 27, Continental will begin daily nonstop service between Newark and Munich. And in May, Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest airline, will begin nonstop service between San Francisco and Dusseldorf.

Worried about the cost of a Germany vacation? The German National Tourist Board offers tips for keeping costs down on accommodations, transportation, and more.

Know another reason to visit Germany next year? Share it with other travelers below.

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