03 JAN 2011: You heard it here. 2011 is the year of big anniversaries, gonzo (re)openings, parties, and special events. There’s an ongoing party theme in 2011 among some nations. Cars are big, so are weddings and birthdays among the world’s celebrated icons. Here’s a sneak peek at some of what’s planned for the world stage.


World Wildlife Fund’s 50th anniversary

Why it’s a big deal: Fifty years ago a small group of animal lovers decided it was time to save the world’s animals from extinction. The NPO’s symbol: the endangered panda Chi-Chi which once inhabited the London Zoo. Be sure to check out the World Wildlife Fund’s five trips for five decades:

Dates: Classic Galapagos August 5 – 15, 2011; Wild India December 9 – 22, 2011; Wild and Ancient China May 15 – 26, 2011; Namibia July 22 – August 2, 2011; Churchill Manitoba October/November 2011 dates TBA

For more trip info call WWF Travel at 888-WWF-TOUR (993-8687) or visit www.worldwildlife.org

North America


British Columbia: Vancouver

Double whammy as Cultural Capital of Canada 2011 and the 125th Anniversary

Why it’s a big deal: a creative tonic to the post-Olympics hangover

Dates: Year round and April 6, 2011 for the big 125th


Alberta: St. Albert’s 150th Anniversary Celebration

Why it’s a big deal: Alberta’s oldest and first parish is pegged to join the Guinness Book of World Records with a huge family picnic that will attempt to break the world record of 22,232 people. The picnic will take place along the Sturgeon Valley, within the city limits, stretching from Kinsmen Park to Kingswood Park. Plans include an Artists’ Walk, First Nations and Métis heritage celebration, BMX and martial arts demonstrations, and plenty more.

Date: August 28, 2011


Toronto: 40th Juno Awards Anniversary

Why it’s a big deal: Canadians get to celebrate acclaimed Canadian musical artists, and to boot, hip-hop sensation Drake is hosting the show. What started as a small ceremony at Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Hall has turned into a blockbuster event returning to Toronto where it will bring down the house at the Air Canada Centre.

Dates: March 27, 2011


Quebec: Three big parties for St. Lawrence River’s South Shore

Why it’s a big deal: You get the 375th anniversary of the Lordship of Lauzon, the 150th anniversary of Lévis and the 10th anniversary of the new city of Lévis.

Dates: July 28 2011 - September 5 2011

bonjourquebec.com; www.celebrationslevis2011.com

Quebec: Ice Hotel celebrates 10th anniversary

Why it’s a big deal: Who knew the ice hotel on the outskirts of Quebec City would become a popular winter abode. Organizers say this year the luxe ice-made property shifts closer to the capital (try 10 minutes from downtown) and guests can expect more surprises.

Dates: January 7-March 27, 2011


Newfoundland: Targa’s 10th anniversary

Why it’s a big deal: Competitors challenge themselves along 2,000km of windy twisty roads through God’s country.

Dates: September 10, 2011-September 17, 2011


United States

Indianapolis: 100th anniversary of the 1st Indy 500

Why it’s a big deal: Car racing has never looked back and the grand daddy of this infamous race continues to pack in the crowds. Watch as the Indy Racing Experience, a local tour operator, offers special two-seater ride experiences helmed by three IndyCar icons (Andretti, Luyendyk and Rutherford) in this once in a lifetime opportunity known as Legends Day.

Dates: The 2-seater experience is scheduled for May 23, 2011; the Indy 500 motors on May 29, 2011.



New York City: Take a big bite out of the Big Apple with mega blockbuster parties.

Why it’s a big deal: Try the 350th anniversary of Staten Island’s founding, the 80th anniversary of the Empire State Building (May 1, 2011), the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 (October 28, 2011). Carnegie Hall celebrates 120 years and the New York Public Library turns 100.

http://www.nycgo.com; http://www.si350.org/350th-welcome

Virginia: 75th anniversary of Shenandoah National Park

Why it’s a big deal: One of America’s beloved natural treasures has been a longtime favourite destination for generations. Interesting how visionaries saw this chunk of land, once privately owned, as an area worth preserving back then. Today there’s a vast array of youth programs, and naturalists who enjoy the critters, vistas and awesome landscapes mixed of course with plenty of lore and legend.

Dates: year-round plus June 25, 2011 for the park’s rededication


Virginia: 75th anniversary of the state parks

Why it’s a big deal: Another fine example on how a federal work project called the Civilian Conservation Corps laid the foundations down in the Dirty Thirties for what we have today: 35 state parks. Today visitors can explore Civil War battlefields, overnight in a yurt, tube down a river, bike ride on abandoned rail beds and much more.

Dates: TBA


Las Vegas: 45th anniversary of the Star Trek Convention

Why it’s a big deal: Watch as the world’s largest Star Trek convention moves to its new digs, the Rio Suites just off the Strip touted for its carnival atmosphere.

Dates: August 11-14, 2011



London: Double Royal Wedding Whammy

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials in addition to Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

The date: April 29, 2011 and TBA

Why it’s a big deal: London hopes to tourism will take off with these royal weddings.

London: 400th anniversary of the King James Bible

Why it’s a big deal: King James the first king of England and Scotland had scholars work on a new translation of the bible that changed English society and culture forever. London Mayor Boris Johnson among others revere that the King James Bible is “the book that changed the world.”

The dates: May 2, 2011 and year round

kingjamesbibletrust.org; kjv400.co.uk

Ireland: 100th anniversary of the Titanic launch

Why it’s a big deal: The devastating sinking of the Belfast-built ship was a life changer with global repercussions. Expect Belfast to step up to the plate with tours and exhibits. “She was fine when she left here,” recall the locals.

Dates: from April 2011 to the 100-year anniversary of her tragic sinking on April 14-15, 2012.


Italy: 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy in 1861

Why it’s a big deal: Sure, Italy is as ancient as those Roman ruins but after fighting what seems like endless battles, a parliament was finally assembled. Expect to see lots of parties. Turin and the Piedmont region have been preparing for the big party for a few years now.

Dates: March 17, 2011 through November 2011

http://eng.italia150.it/; www.turismotorino.org; www.torinopiupiemonte.com

Monte Carlo: 100th anniversary of the first Monte Carlo rally

Why it’s a big deal: The historic rally which originally showcased cars like the Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang looking Turcat-Méry was the brain child of Prince Albert I who wanted to attract business to his casino. The circuit made its debut from Glasgow to the picturesque kingdom made famous by the fairytale wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. Luxe properties around Glasgow will have Monte Carlo rally-themed packages along with plenty of events scheduled and leading up to the great race.

Date: Jan 21-22 1911


Belgium: Knokke

The event: The DART 18 35th birthday

Why it’s a big deal: One of the oldest sailing clubs in the world, The Royal Belgian Sailing Club around since 1863, is hosting this frenzied sailing regatta that has slick catamarans vie for the world champion title.

Dates: July 23-29, 2011


France: Lyon

The event: World veterinary year aka the 250th anniversary of the world’s first vet school

Why it’s a big deal: The first vet school opened in Lyon in 1761. The tribute is big among the pet friendly set. This event debuts in Versailles Paris followed by events scheduled throughout the year.

Dates: January 24, 2011


Crete: 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete

Why it’s a big deal: Battlefield tours continue to be big. The impact of this bloody battle still resonates in Crete’s landscape today. Companies like Insight Vacations are supporting this historic battlefields project through its new conservation foundation established in 2008.



Germany: Leipzig

International Mahler Festival 2011

Why it’s a big deal: Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler, the Leipzig Gewandhaus will present all ten of his symphonies in under two weeks.

Dates: May 17 to 29 May 2011


Germany: 125th anniversary of the first automobile

Why it’s a big deal: The country spawning the adrenaline seething Autobahn and its love of Volkswagens has also a penchant for the Mercedes which was invented by Carl Benz. Watch for high-speed tours among a slew of automotive attractions across Germany. One talked about event is the Summer of Cars in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the state where Mr. Benz patented his invention.

Dates: year-round

www.germany.travel; www.daimler.com

Germany: Thuringia

Ferenc/Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday with a special “Franz Liszt – a European in Thuringia” event

Why it’s a big deal: While Liszt was Hungarian (he died in the Bavarian town, Bayreuth), Germans feel the Maestro had a close relationship particularly with this region that seemed to have been the base for much of his lauded work. Watch for some 200 concerts, competitions, exhibitions and installations and visit his home Altenburg in Weimar and the Liszt-Haus, his summer residence.

Dates: year round plus 18th June - 10th July 2011 and 24th June to 31st October 2011.


Estonia: Tallin becomes the European Capital of Culture in 2011

Why it’s a big deal: Two cities from two member countries are awarded this special title each year by the European Union. As Estonia makes its foray using the EU currency this year, the accolades for this northern country just keep coming. Watch this destination with its bike love called the Cyclicious Estonia project and hear great stories. Event organizers say be prepared for the largest storytelling event to hit Europe with performances planned every day.


Finland: Turku becomes European Capital of Culture in 2011

Why it’s a big deal: One of the twins of the Baltic Sea (the other is Tallin) Turku was once Finland’s capital and is studded in exquisite medieval architecture. Today it’s considered a huge creative center. Big plans for the opening night when stark darkness descends on January 15th at 20.11 followed by bursts of fireworks setting the harbor ablaze in a fantastic lightshow accompanied with dancers, and artists performing under this cavalcade of fire. The city marks the year with re-openings and new developments. There’s a new congress and concert hall and redo of Market Square.

Dates: January 15, 2011 and year-round


Hungary: Budapest celebrates Liszt’s 200th birthday

Why it’s a big deal: The city’s airport might get a big rename from Ferihegy to the Liszt Ferenc / Franz airport in October 2011. Expect concerts, symposiums and special exhibitions across the country with the big highlight being World Liszt Day on October 22, 2011 when orchestras from Paris to Seoul will play Ferenc Liszt's largely unknown Christus Oratorio.


South America

Peru: Machu Picchu

The 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham re-discovering Machu Picchu

Why it’s a big deal: Before the holidays, it was reported that in early 2011 a delegation from Yale University will return more than 4,000 pieces taken from the Inca citadel. The university kept these priceless relics for nearly one hundred years. Expect plenty of tours from tour operators and cruise companies like Princess Cruises. Check out Princess’ Machu Picchu Explorer.

Date: July 24 2011




Taiwan’s centennial

Why it’s a big deal: The Republic of China is hoping to net 6 million tourists with a series of gonzo big shows scheduled throughout the year.

Dates: Oct. 10, 2011 and year round

http://sinotour.com/tourguide/taiwan-100th-anniversary; http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/w1.aspx

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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