"To travel is to live," wrote Danish fairy-tale author Hans Christian Andersen, who made 29 trips abroad in his long life. The son of a poor cobbler and a washer-woman, he was born in Odense in 1805 and lived to the age of 70.
Acclaimed for such familiar stories as "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Little Mermaid," he published the first of his many popular fairy tales 150 years ago this year. Denmark, his birthland, is celebrating the anniversary with a year-long festival of special events. Among the highlights throughout the country: Odense: A permanent Andersen museum, the H.C. Anderson House, has been established in the house where he was born, and his hometown has scheduled a series of performances of his plays. July 16 to Aug. 15.
Visitors to this charming city also will be directed on fairy-tale walks "in H.C. Andersen's footsteps." June 15 to Aug. 15.
*Skaelskor: A mime play of one of his most famous works, "The Nightingale," will be presented at the Town Hall of Skaelskor (just outside Copenhagen). May 31 and July 26.
*Frederiksborg Castle: This spectacular moated castle in Hillerod, north of Copenhagen, is the home of the Museum of National History, which is showing a collection of Andersen portraits, busts and silhouettes. Summer-long.
*Fyn: Three-day fairy-tale tours of the large island of Fyn, where Odense is located, and the smaller surrounding islands will be offered this summer. June 15 to Aug. 15.
*Copenhagen: The Theatre Museum is mounting an exhibition, "Hans Christian Andersen and the Theater." July through August.
There is another opportunity for fairy-tale fans in Copenhagen that shouldn't be missed: A large, welcoming statue of Andersen looks across a busy downtown street toward Tivoli Garden, the city's famed fairy-tale park. Andersen is seated with a book in his hand, as if he's about to read a story aloud. He looks so friendly and so gracious that every day -- and all day -- visitors of all ages hop up onto his left knee and give him a warm hug.