31 DEC 2015: It’s that time of year…again. As we celebrate the arrival of the New Year, destinations worldwide are eagerly prepping for some blockbuster events and milestone anniversaries. For those clients who seek one-off celebrations and travel the globe in search of special historic events, here’s your go-to list.

For 2016 expect a lot of Independence Day revelry from a host of countries in the Caribbean and Africa. As Scotland hones in on inventors and influencers dedicating this year to Innovation and Architecture, it’s also a time to celebrate other trailblazing innovations like the centennials of Boeing and the Indianapolis 500, and pay homage to some Grand Dames on the hotel and the magnificent concert hall circuit.

Fictional frontiers get a nod too – Star Trek hails its golden anniversary.

While we couldn’t fit in all the festivals we hopefully piqued some interest to venture to these parts during this leap year when we get to enjoy an extra day in February.

Here’s to a happy, healthy New Year.


Melia Hotels International - 60 years

This Spanish-owned all-inclusive brand is no doubt a hotel chain familiar among your sun seeking clients. Its early days can be traced back to 1956 when a young entrepreneur Gabriel Escarra opened the Hotel Altair in sunny Majorca forever bottling hotel resort vacations for 60 years. Today, Melia Hotels International boasts 350+ hotels worldwide and counting. 


175th anniversary of Wilfred Laurier’s Birth

Canada’s first French-Canadian prime minister is feted this year. Laurier, born in what is present day Saint-Lin-Laurentides in the outdoor playground rich Lanaudiere region, has his nascent home declared a National Historic Site of Canada. Watch for special themed events close to his birthday.

Birth date November 20, 1841


CN Tower: 40 years

The year was 1976. A big time in our nation’s history - not only did Canada host the Summer Olympics in Montreal but earlier in June Toronto took headlines by storm as the gleaming CN Tower was unveiled to huge fanfare. Until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai usurped it, the mighty CN Tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Cool video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONJlsShkWFM

The big date: June 26

Toronto Blue Jays celebrates 40th

In the contest-of-all-contests people were asked to submit catchy baseball team names for a brand new then unnamed baseball team. From over 4,000 names and 30,000 entries in the “Name the Team” contest, the Blue Jays won. It’s been a swinging time ever since.

The Bicentennial of Perth

Idyllic, picture pretty Perth, located southwest from Ottawa, was founded 200 years ago. Back in 1816 the area welcomed the arrival of European settlers and War of 1812 vets. Today five of the original six townships of the Perth Military Settlement survive.



50th anniversary of Whistler Blackcomb

From fishing to free skiing, who knew one day these white powder-rich peaks would transform into a sought after ski hub. Whistler which got a name change from the previously known London Mountain was named after the local alpine marmot that whistles. Whistler Blackcomb boasts a lot of things: the biggest vertical drop in North America and a stretchable ski season. But the most recent biggest boast was as the official alpine skiing venue in the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Expect big fanfare.



100th anniversary of the National Park Service + the Centennial of Acadia National Park

The National Park Service celebrates its grand centennial and parks across the nation will be upping many of their activities incorporating centenary themes with some locations celebrating their own special anniversaries. Consider Acadia National Park. Regarded as America’s first national park created by private donations of land, this national park is closely intertwined with Maine’s surrounding coastal communities. Bowling Green, Kentucky, home of the world's longest-known cave system with over 400 miles of passageways is expected to see increased travel to Mammoth Cave National Park. The 100th anniversary date: August 25





100th anniversary of Boeing

In 1916 people probably thought this was a harebrained idea: flying people around by aircraft. But a guy named Bill Boeing who bought a factory in Seattle, Washington did just that. Since then, the award-winning enterprise whose founder’s philosophy is “Build Something Better” has pushed the innovation envelope numerous times. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the latest. Boeing wants to share your stories in this commemorative look.

For details see https://active.boeing.com/centennial/


The big date: July 15

100th anniversary of BMW

That chi-chi car manufacturer that typified 80s yuppies with its swanky ride first got its big break a century ago when three companies merged to become to first produce aircraft engines. Today racing fans and BMW car buffs are waiting for the upcoming bucket-list milestone anniversary which will have fast torque at the annual Oktoberfest to be held in Monterey, California. O’Fest Dates: August 23-28, 2016



50th anniversary of Star Trek

One of the biggest sci-fi franchises out there, the cult TV classic, Star Trek celebrates 50 years and will no doubt have much fanfare around it. Watch for conventions, the highly anticipated release of Star Trek 3 in July as reported by Variety magazine and lots more. May the force be with you.


125th anniversary of Carnegie Hall

Ever since the biggest musical name of that era, Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky opened the illustrious concert hall in 1891 with Marche Solennelle in a five day musical extravaganza, the red curtain has opened to a slew of record-breaking performances and renowned artists who have graced centre stage. Expect an unforgettable evening on May 5 for the 125th celebrations. Opening: May 5, 1891




Bicentennial of Congress Hall, Cape May For two centuries, this historic seaside resort has rolled out the red carpet to holiday goers who revelled in this unique landmark considered the Summer White House of a few US Presidents. The Grand Dame completed a multi-million dollar makeover in prep for the annual celebrations. Celebrations are to commence starting Memorial Day weekend.




130th Anniversary of Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Chances are you saw the ’93 comedy classic starring Bill Murray in the hilarious film, Groundhog Day. In February you can witness the prognosticating Punxsutawney Phil in action with thousands of others who convene at Gobbler’s Knob. Date: February 2



Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Centennial Celebration The BSO celebrates 100 years of music with the 100th Anniversary Concert to be held at its home turf, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on February 11. Violinist Joshua Bell will perform his adaptation of Bernstein's "West Side Story Suite".




250th anniversary of Omni Homestead Nestled in the quaint town of Hot Springs, lies this iconic property that’s played host to countless vacationers among them over 20 presidents and royalty. Expect year-round celebrations including fireworks and afternoon tea events.




300th anniversary of Natchez Where the river is wide, the history runs deep, that’s Natchez Mississippi. To think it all began when some French completed a wooden fort, Fort Rosalie, high on a bluff located on Natchez tribe land. Today the fort site is part of the Natchez National Historic Park. Key date: August 3, 1716




Flagstaff, 90 years of Route 66 The classic American Road Trip is alive as the rubber tire crowd hits the road making stops at the countless legendary towns and landmarks. Expect a bunch of commemorative celebrations along the famous road which once ran from Chicago to Santa Monica. Home to vintage diners and hotels, the city of Flagstaff Arizona plans on hosting 66 events.

www. flagstaffarizona.org/route66



50th anniversary of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Only 52 people took a tram ride one fine summer day that lasted 10.5 minutes and by winter Olympic gold medalist Stiegler of Austria became the ski school director. That was 1966. Who knew in a 50-year span this white powder paradise, a bonafide skiier’s mountain, often dubbed “The Big One” would evolve into one of America’s finest ski resorts.




Bicentennial Indiana became the 19th state to join the Union one cold winter day in 1816. In this 200 anniversary event, one of the most visible celebrations will be the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. The relay, modeled after the Olympic torch relay, will pass through 92 state counties on a 2,300 mile journey in the fall of 2016. There will be 1,800 torchbearers that are nominated by Hoosiers. Bicentennial: December 11, 2016

http://indianabicentennial.com/ http://www.in.gov/ibc/


The 100th Running of Indianapolis 500

Wanna see what organizers rave as the greatest racetrack in the world? Just in time for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a $30-million upgrade to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, race car fans will experience major infrastructure upgrades like grandstand improvements and track changes. Gentlemen start your engines. Date: May 29, 2016

Tickets: http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/indy500/buy-tickets/



75 years: Mount Rushmore National Memorial In the Black Hills of South Dakota stands this American treasure showcasing the massive 60-foot granite faces of four U.S. Presidents. Carvers under the direction of Gutzon Borglum took 14 years to erect the mountain carving which was completed in 1941. Today over 3 million visitors arrive annually to see this iconic rock art.




San Diego Zoo: 100 It’s been 100 years and zoo staff has featured the stories of 100 animals that have called this landmark zoo home. TripAdvisor recently rated the zoo as Number One Traveller’s Choice for zoos and aquariums. Watch for a year of festivities.




There is a collection of destinations celebrating independence with each preparing unique year-round events. While we won’t list all the countries along with the many reasons, here’s a quick Independence list:

Libya: 65
Botswana: 50
Barbados: 50
Antigua and Barbuda: 35
Belize: 35



Olympics, Rio de Janeiro The world’s largest sporting event descends upon Rio de Janeiro this summer. In 15 days over 300 sporting events will occur, representing 28 different sports in 41 categories. August 5-21




Taipei, World Design Capital “Adaptive City – Design in Motion” is this capital city’s design theme as it reins as the World Design Capital. Local landmarks like Taipei 101, train stations, coffee shops and hotels will be pulling out some sensational designs. 



35th World Cultural Festival Picture 3.5 million visitors from 155 countries descending upon New Delhi to celebrate what’s been dubbed as the largest peace gathering on the globe: the World Cultural Festival. The non-profit group, the Art of Living Foundation, led by founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will showcase one-of-a-kind peace meditation, concerts featuring 10,000 artists and more. March 11-13





Sarpsborg is 1000 years old Flashback to 1016 when this hub was known as “Borg,” meaning castle that was founded by a Viking king, Saint Olav. History saw attacks, mudslides and other disasters unfold but locals didn’t let that get them down as the city continually rebuilt itself. No wonder previous residents like Roald Amundsen, whose determination led him to be the first person to reach the South Pole hailed from here.




150th anniversary of Nestle The cocoa and food and beverage empire a.k.a. Nestle besides creating a big 150th birthday bash in chocolate-loving Switzerland, its original home base, will be transforming the old factory site located in Vevey into a new visitor centre that promises to have ample multimedia displays and exhibitions. http://www.nestle.com/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/nestle-create-visitors-centre-vevey



San Sebastian, European Capital of Culture In the throes of a renaissance, this Spanish city which beat out heavy contender Cordoba for the prized European title is expanding infrastructure to its conference centre, museums, and the aquarium among other civic developments.




500 years of German Beer Purity Law Ever wonder about the ingredients in a good German beer? It’s thanks to this law which has been enforced since 1516. Expect various events such as Fest zum reinen Bier (April 22-24, 2016) in the beer city of Ingolstadt, Bavaria where the law was first declared.



800 Years of Dresden Kreuz Choir

One of the oldest boys’ choirs in the world celebrates a special anniversary that will be marked by concerts and special programmes year-round.




Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture While it shares the prestigious Capital of Culture title with San Sebastien, visitors can expect ample festivals, concerts, special programmes and a host of civic developments. Must-sees include the Love Bridge, the Sky Tower and the central square.




Jorvik Viking Festival The Vikings left their mark in places like York, England, which has become home to the largest Viking festival of its kind in Europe. Known as JORVIK, this city-wide celebration will feature the 1000 year legacy of Canute the Great. Everyone gets involved.



400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death

Shakespeare’s death in 1616 left a huge hole in the literary landscape but this year we can reflect and enjoy the copious exhibitions, retrospectives and tributes that will be made in his honour. Expect major fanfare globally. Death date: April 23, 1616, only 52 years old



200th birthday of Charlotte Bronte

The author of Jayne Eyre and other literary classics is celebrating her bicentennial birthday. Charlotte Bronte who masterfully created the sayings, “Better to be without logic than without feeling” and “give him enough rope and he will hang himself” left behind a treasure chest of literary masterpieces. Now fans can have a special chance to see the many exhibitions and special events in her honour worldwide but especially in Bronte Country of Yorkshire at her birthplace of Thornton. Birth date: April 21, 1816




350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London

PBS viewers are probably familiar with the recent ITV miniseries “The Great Fire” starring Andrew Buchan as Thomas Farriner, whose bakery in Pudding Lane was the flashpoint for the inferno. The Museum of London will mark the pivotal anniversary with a major exhibition titled, Fire! Fire! opening on July 23. Rare artifacts including unfinished embroidery and a look at the causes and how London was rebuilt will be on display. Local tour operators and other major institutions will be planning commemorative programs. If in London, be sure to check out Sir Christopher Wren’s grand Monument to the Great Fire of London near the northern end of London Bridge.



250th anniversary of The Bristol Old Vic

Revered as the oldest working theatre in the English speaking world, The Bristol Old Vic has completed a refurbishment to mark the monumental anniversary. Organizers report visitors will see more original features of the historic building including a new foyer inspired by a Venetian Plaza.





Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Scotland is honing in on its rich design roots as it tips its hat to its strong heritage and modern innovations in architecture, engineering, fashion, textiles, science, technology and more. This theme will also embrace the centenary celebrations planned by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), which raises awareness of the importance of good environmental design.







Ilona Kauremszky

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

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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