Europe Celebrates Historic Anniversaries With Big Parties

Sunday, April 5, 2009

People, places and events of historical note are celebrating significant anniversaries in Europe this year. Here is a snapshot of the birthdays. (Note: Many of the festivities stretch through the year and are countrywide.)

* Austria honors composer Joseph Haydn, who died 200 years ago, with performances, exhibits, lectures and other activities. Haydn Year 2009 crescendos on the anniversary of his death, May 31, with concerts held worldwide. Info:

* Belarus's Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, one of the oldest nature reserves in the world, celebrates its 600th birthday Sept. 19-20. Party favors include the unveiling of four trails and a museum. Info:

* LADO, the national folk-dance ensemble of Croatia founded 60 years ago, sings and whirls its way around the nation with special performances. Info:

* Finland celebrates 200 years of autonomy (no more being part of Sweden) with "Year 1809 Building a Nation." Celebrations will also be held in Sweden and St. Petersburg, Russia ( Info: or

* On June 6, 1944, Allied forces swept the shores of Normandy and changed the course of World War II. Some tour operators are offering special tours to the region. In addition, there are events for the 65th anniversary of D-Day at French landings, cemeteries and other locations; the main commemorations occur in June. Other 65th anniversaries for World War II battles include Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. Info:

* Germany, along with Switzerland ( and France, honors the birth 500 years ago of Protestant theologian John Calvin with Calvin 2009, a series of exhibits, lectures, etc. The special activities culminate in 2017, five centuries after church reformer Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door. Info:

* Bauhaus, the influential art and architecture style, turns 90 this year, with events from Weimar to Berlin. Info:

* The 100th anniversary of the Futurism art movement is celebrated at museums across Italy, including Milan's Palazzo Reale (, Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale ( and Rovereto's Mart Gallery (

* From April 13-19, Dublin's annual Handel Festival commemorates 250 years since the death of the German-born composer. The "Messiah" will be performed near the location of the oratorio's premiere in 1742. Info:

* On the 1,000th anniversary of the first mention of Lithuania in a historical document, the city of Vilnius becomes a European Capital of Culture, sharing this year's title with Linz, Austria. Info:

* The Keukenhof park in the Netherlands celebrates its 60th anniversary through May 21 with music, parades and special exhibits commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival in New York. Info:

* Events will be held in Warsaw and elsewhere in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the first democratic elections in postwar Poland. Info:

* For the 200th anniversary of the birth of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, the city of St. Petersburg is holding multiple events and exhibitions. Festivities are also taking place in Ukraine. Info:

* Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of poet Robert Burns and all things Scottish. Info:

* Vatican City marks the 80th anniversary of its establishment as a city-state with exhibits and events. Info:

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