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Amsterdam Orange Festival

Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) is the national festivity, that takes place in Holland every year on April, 30th, celebrating the birthday of the queen. Amsterdam is the main centre of interest for the about 750,000 visitors every year, who come by train in the city. The Amsterdam Orange Festival celebration takes place in open-air places, such as Dam, Damrak, Rokin, Rembrandtplein, Spui, Leidsestraat and Leidseplein. The orange colour is associated with the colour of the Royal Family and in this day, all the streets, parks and canals are decorated in orange and people wear orange clothes, too. A funny part of Amsterdam Orange Festival are the the sculptures and reproductions of houses, windmills, castles, even the Taj Mahal palace, built from lemons and oranges. During Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen’s Day, it is a good opportunity for the visitors to try free markets or car boot sale on the streets, because shopping is part of this celebration. Some cities also celebrate the night before Queen’s Day, known as the Queen’s Night. It is the free marketwhich attracts the most visitors. Children also give their cast-offs toys for sale and local entrepreneurs sell food and beverages. The prices are negotiable and drop to the end of the day. On the Queen’s Night, clubs and bars throughout the Netherlands, mainly Amsterdam and Hague, organize special all-night-long lasting events.

Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen's Day (Koninginnedag)
Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen

Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen's Day, April, 30th
Amsterdam Orange Festival or Queen

Amsterdam Orange Festival, April, 30th
Amsterdam Orange Festival, April, 30th

Nice, All Year Round

What is the best time to visit Nice? Honestly, you can’t go wrong any time of the year. With luxurious shops and markets, beautiful scenery, good weather all year round (compared to the UK anyway) and events scattered throughout the year there really is no excuse not to visit. Just a two hour flight from London you can be submerged into the good life on the Riviera. During the year, Nice offers many festival and events for all the family to visit. Kicking off with New Year concerts at the Acropolis. Also in January is the opening of Luna Park, a huge fair with something to keep the whole family entertained. February brings the Nice Carnival, sporting fireworks, music and parades. Debatably Europe’s best carnival it is certainly on the ‘have to see’ list.

March is host to the Gourd Festival, celebrating an end to winter. Serving up wholesome vegetable dishes and showcasing Nice’s finest products this is a fantastic way to shake of those winter blues.
The Regattas in Baie des Anges has been taking place in April for almost 50 years and every year plays host to around 40 of Olympic standard crews from all corners of the globe.
In May, La Nuit des Musees (museums open for exhibitions and other events) is held as well as La Fete des Mais (Celebrates Nice’s history with music and folk tales). The events are free.
June brings the Sacred Music festival. Lasting three weeks this festival hosts both large symphony orchestras to solo recitals. Although this is a religious festival, anyone is welcome to experience the spiritual side to Nice. June is also the home to national heritage day, bringing parades, fireworks and celebrations to the city, a great time to visit France to see how the locals like to celebrate their beautiful country.

July contains the Nice Jazz Festival, an 8 daylong celebration of the genre held annually for over 60 years. Undoubtedly the more esteemed jazz festival in Europe. The Tour de France also kicks off in Nice, bringing cyclists from all over the world to compete in this infamous endurance race.
La castellada and Nuits Musicales de Nice, In August, offer a historical and musical exploration of the monastery and castle, making the beautiful surroundings that extra bit special.
September brings the Fete de la San Bertoumieu , a large market exhibiting traditional arts and crafts. September also hosts the Photography festival, a must for any budding photographer.

The Nice tattoo comes to the city in October; a biennial military tattoo spanning the weekend displays military music from all over the globe.
During November, the Festival Manca takes place. This festival presents contemporary performances from world-famous musicians.
December brings Christmas markets to the city, a great opportunity for unique presents for the family and a good excuse to sample France’s finest products. Finally December holds the Christmas Swim, a bracing swim at around 12 degrees Celsius, definitely not for the faint hearted!
So what are you waiting for, Nice really does have something for everyone, no matter what time of the year you decide to head over.
This post has been written by travel blogger Katie Malcolm of; a community of travel enthusiasts, experts and celebrities sharing their thoughts on the best places to visit around the world, ranging from the best hotels in Nice to the cheapest hotels in London .

Venice Carnival 2011 – Ottocento – Da Senso a Sissi

The beginning of Easter fasting is marked in Venice with the magic formula “Carni vale!”, that is “shedding” from the meat “sin”. Or in other words, it’s time for celebration, play and exhuberance, that is it’s time for the Venice Carnival! This year’s Venice Carnival lasts between 26th of February and 8th of March. However, tourists and local people could join the last weekend the “Festa Veneziana”, a kind of  “Carnival of Venice Preview”. This year the carnival will mark 150 years from the unification of Italy and will also celebrate the woman, who will be also celebrated worldwide on the 8th of March. OTTOCENTO – Da Senso a Sissi is the name of 2011′s Carnival of Venice with connection to Luchino Visconti’s film – “Senso”. So, the Carnival will mix togehter this year themes from history, culture, society and cinematography. On the 8th of March, the Carnival of Venice will end with a water parade, silently, along Grand Canale. The feast will take place almost everywhere – in San Marco Square, on the streets, in theatres, public buildings, all will be full of entertainers, such as musicians, dancers, actors and singers.

Inside the Venetian palaces, visitors will watch fancy-balls, where tourists will also join, if they pay an entrance ticket (between 50 Euro to 300-400 Euro/ person) and if they are properly dressed. If you don’t have this dressing code, then don’t worry, because masks and costumes can be found everywhere in Venice for sale or rent. One complete costume can cost up to 200 Euro per day. However, taking part in the Venice Carnival can cost you few Euro if you want to buy only a fancy mask, such as Moretta, Bauta or Gnaga.There are also free entrance shows in Venice, those taking place in San Marco Square, in open air. As a tip, if you live for instance in Maestre, in the neighborhood from Venice, then you’ll pay less for drinks and food. In Venice, everything tends to be more expensive, as you are closer to most important sightseeing.

Venice Carnival 2011 - OTTOCENTO – Da Senso a Sissi
Venice Carnival 2011 - OTTOCENTO – Da Senso a Sissi

For a great accommodation deal click here and you will find the best rates in Venice for the 2011 Carnival. Transportation is based mainly on gondolas or water taxis. However, if you are on a tight budget, don’t take gondolas, because this is the peak season and the ticket is very expensive. But, you can go by Vaporetto and Traghetto in order to reach the surrounding cities. If you want to benefit more from the Venetian atmosphere, it is highly recommended to go by feet. Don’t forget that during the Carnival of Venice there are very many tourists there and it tends to be overcrowded for a peaceful walking.
Carnival of Venice 2011 Costumes
Carnival of Venice 2011 Costumes