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The Annual Folklore Parade of Zermatt, Switzerland


zermatt Annual Folklore Parade

Every year on the second weekend in August, at the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland, a grand Swiss tradition, the Folklore Festival, takes place. What started out as a small parade over 40 years ago had evolved into one of the largest cultural events of the summer season in Zermatt.

The Folklore Festival parade features over fifty different folklore groups. Through Zermatt’s red geranium filled high street called The Bahnofstrasse, over one thousand two hundred participants make their way from the main village square outside the main railway station. The participants are able to show off their colorful costumes from stories and times long ago, while others prefer to don their Swiss traditional folklore dress. Everyone in the parade participants in a whirl of dance and color.

Different groups and clubs branch off after the parade to perform songs, live music and dance presentations near Oberan Matten and on the Kirchplatz. The Swiss atmosphere is undeniable among the yodellers, alphorn players, Swiss accordian players, dining and food stands, children’s activities and other enthusiastic and friendly gatherings.

The parade lasts about an hour and half. Young and old participants and viewers enjoy this yearly tribute to Swiss culture. After the parade has concluded, the festivities continue with lots of folk music and dancing, games, children’s activities, Swiss foods, wines, beers and good cheer.

If you are able to be in Zermatt in August, be sure to check with your hotel and get the lates details of the Swiss Folklore Festival. For some of the best accommodations in Zermatt, Switzerland, we highly recommend the beautiful Hotel Monte Rosa.

The LUMINA Light Festival of Cascais, Portugal

For the past four years, The LUMINA Light Festival has lit up the seaside community of Cascais, Portugal. This free, international event dedicated to the art of light in Cascais, Portugal has light up the night skies, gardens and pathways while delighting the senses and entertaining through experiences of incandescence, radiance and brilliance.

The LUMINA Light Festival usually takes place in Cascais for 3 days towards the end of summer, so make your plans accordingly. Known to attract upwards of 500,000 visitors, this free art program shows light artworks by renowned international creators in the art of light and involves every spectator, offering them moments of discovery, magic and thrill. You will find many international and national light art installations, video mapping, sculptures and performances transforming the town of Cascais into a giant light art gallery. Light shows, luminous sculptures, installations that interact with visitors and multimedia projections are linked as a route through the city, and reflect the motto of their creators: “sharing light art with people”.

Previous themes of the LUMINA Light Festival has included The Four Seasons of Light, where visitors were encouraged to follow four paths with installations corresponding to the moods of the Rite of Spring, a Summer Night, the Fall Leaves and the Winter Trip. This year promises to be no different in terms of wonder and amazement.

If you plan on joining the LUMINA Light Festival this year, we highly recommend you stay at one of Cascais’ finest hotels, The Oitavos. Be sure to ask the hotel about specific dates of the LUMINA Light Festival and transportation.

Roman City of Nimes

arena-of-nimes-galleryFound in the south east of France, Provence has been called one of the most beautiful regions of France.  It is here that visitors will find almost anything their heart desires, from snow-capped mountains of the Alps, to lavender fields of the Verdon gorge, to the endless delights of the Mediterranean Sea, to the beautiful and historic towns such as the Roman Town of Nimes.

Nimes has a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire.  At that time, the city was home to 50,000 – 60,000 people.  Nimes is often referred to as the “French Rome” due to several famous monuments located there, such as the Nimes Arena and the Maison Carrée.  The two storied Arena once housed crowds of up to 20,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators fight and charioteers race.  Today, Roman games and bull fighting takes place in the Arena on a May weekend.

For those who prefer buildings with a more modern look, Nimes has some famous recent buildings like the glass,concrete and steel Carrée d’Art designed by British architect Norman Foster.  This modern architectural wonder currently houses the Musée d’Art Contemporain which contains a large collection of French and Western European art from 1960 to today.

Nîmes today is a thriving town of eclectic shops and modern businesses set among world-class Roman monuments and traffic-free lanes. Today Nîmes is officially in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  However, historically the town has been a key player in the evolution of Provence.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the South of France, take some time to rest and unwind at the luxurious Hostellerie de L’Abbaye de la Celle.  This intimate Five Star inn is waiting for you here.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Cape Town Jazz FestivalEver since its inception, the Cape Town Jazz Festival, also referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, has grown into a wildly successful international event. The first Cape Town Jazz Festival was held in 2000. Since then, it has grown to become the fourth largest jazz festival in the world, and it is recognized as the largest festival on the continent of Africa.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival began in 2000 as part of the North Sea Jazz Festival. The festival occurred ever year until 2005 as the North Sea Jazz Festival. From 2005 onwards, the festival was renamed to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival due to the partnership between espAfrika (a South African events management company) and Mojo Concerts BV (the founders of the Dutch North Sea Jazz Festival) falling apart. It was this partnership that first brought about the Jazz Festival.

Attendance at the festival has grown since it first started in 2000, from 14,000 concert goers in 2000 to 34,000 concert goers in 2013. The Festival has earned it the status of being the most prestigious event on the African continent due in part to its winning formula of bringing more than 40 International and Local artists to perform over two days on five stages.

The festival’s winning formula of bringing more than 40 International and Local artists to perform over two days on five stages has earned it the status of being the most prestigious event on the African continent. Today, the festival boasts 5 stages and over 40 artists performing over 2 nights, and is made up of a 50/50 split between South African artists and international artists.

If you happen to be in town for the Cape Town Jazz Festival, be sure to explore more than just the music scene. Here in Cape Town you’ll also find amazing beaches, stunning Table Mountain, great seafood, shark diving eco-tours, shopping and museums. Be sure to check with your hotel to find out the latest dates of the Cape Town Jazz Festival. We recommend that you check out The Table Bay Hotel, a Five Star luxury hotel with unrivaled views of Table Bay.

The St. Moritz Concours Hippique

The St. Moritz Concours HippiqueShow-jumping has been a long-standing tradition in St. Moritz.  It is here at the The St. Moritz Concours Hippique where spectators enjoy being unusually close to the horses and their riders. The St. Moritz Concours Hippique is particularly popular among equestrians who like to enjoy their sport in a festive and friendly holiday atmosphere.

The St. Moritz Concours Hippique is, of course, a horse show, but it is also an equestrian competition. It usually consists of several different divisions, such as jumping, dressage and competitions or shows with harness horses.  At times, trotting races and other tests are given to the horses and their riders.  Public demonstrations of various other aspects of working with horses in general are also given.

St. Moritz is one of the most famous holiday resort destinations in the world. The sun shines an average of 322 days a year – more than anywhere else in Switzerland. Skiers, snowboarders and cross country enthusiasts are drawn to St. Moritz by its natural beauty and quality, so it’s no wonder that equestrian fans and professionals are also drawn to this wonderful locale to practice their craft and enjoy the sites.  You can experience the St. Moritz Concours Hippique usually in January and February.  Check with your hotel to find out the exact dates.  If you’re planning on being in St. Moritz during this equestrian competition, it is recommended that you experience the 5 Star luxury hotel Grand Hotel Kronenhof.

The Bologna Jazz Festival

bologna jazz festivalBologna, Italy is known for its rich musical heritage. In 2006, UNESCO declared Bologna a City of Music. One of the deep musical traditions of Bologna is their Jazz Festival. The Bologna Jazz Festival has a long and rich history. Those who are familiar with the Jazz Festival of the past ten years may not be familiar with just how long the Bologna Jazz Festival has been happening.

The first ever Bologna Jazz Festival took place in 1958 and was organized by Alberto Alberti. Alberti was a fan of jazz. He enjoyed jazz so much that he founded a store called Disclub, which was devoted exclusively to jazz records. Another gentleman, Antonio Foresti, also participated in the organization of the first Jazz Festival. Foresti had organized concerts of the Bolognese Doctor Dixie Jazz Band. The first jazz gathering put on by the two was called Jazz Festival Emiliano. The next year, it was simply called Jazz Festival. By the third year, the even was officially named the International Jazz Festival. The Jazz Festival was becoming very well known, with artists from around the world wanting to contribute. Special guests from the jazz world were invited to delight the crowds that started paying attention.

After many versions of the Jazz Festival over the decades, in 2006, the festival resumed (after a four year hiatus) with the name Bologna Jazz Festival. Alberto Alberti was still involved, but was not able to attend the new version of the jazz festival due to illness.

Today, the Bologna Jazz Festival, which usually takes place from the end of October through the end of November, has become an event cherished by jazz lovers and jazz artists alike. Any visit to Bologna, Italy during the autumn should include a visit to the Bologna Jazz Festival. While you’re there enjoying the site and sounds, be sure to make yourself comfortable in a five star luxury hotel close to the festival. You can find that when you stay at the Grand Hotel Majestic in Bologna, Italy.

The International Exhibition of Christmas Cribs in Art and Tradition

Christmas Crib ExhibitIn many cultures, December brings with it the celebration of Christmas among other things. And for those who enjoying immersing themselves in the Christmas spirit, Verona, Italy in December is a perfect destination. The city itself is magical, steeped in history, full of sites to explore, things to see, foods and wine to taste. But it is the International Exhibition of Christmas Cribs in December that delights tens of thousands with its hundreds of displays of nativity and cribs.

The International Exhibition of Christmas Cribs in Art and Tradition happens each year at the Arena. This exhibit includes over 400 cribs coming from all over Europe, including Italy, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and other European countries. Many of the Christmas cribs on display will come from private collections, crib makers, craftsmen and museums. Visitors delight in seeing the similarities and differences in the way the Christmas cribs are viewed in each country.

Every year, a highlight of the Christmas Cribs exhibit known as the “Stella Cometa”, or “steel comet” is put on display in the center of the festivities. This steel sculpture is an architectural wonder. Weighing in at 78 tons and standing 70 meters high, the Stella Cometa is attached to the Arena and has become a symbol of the crib exhibition. This symbol of the star that foretold the birth of Jesus now helps draw tens of thousands of visitors to the crib exhibition.

If you have the good fortune to experience Verona, Italy during the Christmas festivities, do make plans to visit the International Exhibition of Christmas Cribs. And while you’re there, make sure you find a place to relax and unwind. Our recommendation is that you stay at the Due Torri Hotel, a 5 Star luxury hotel in Verona, very close to the very Arena where the Christmas Cribs exhibition takes place. See the Due Torri Hotel up close!

The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival

The St. Moritz Gourmet FestivalThe St. Moritz Gourmet Festival is a weeklong celebration of all that is gastronomically exciting and unique. Taking place in St. Moritz, Switzerland, between the altitudes of 1800 and 2500 meters above sea level, about 3500 guests descend (and ascend) to partake of this joyous celebration of all things food.

This gourmet festival welcomes non-resident master chefs for an entire week. These chefs as well as the entire festival are supported by local partner hotels and restaurants. These hotels and restaurants not only sponsor the chefs and festival, but they also become venues for the various events during the weeklong festival. The international chefs along with local chefs from some of the most celebrated restaurants of the area come together over stoves, fun and conversation to exchange tips, techniques and to delight all of those lucky enough to taste their magnificent creations.

Upper Engadin Lake in St. Moritz serves as the hub for this celebration of gourmet food. Already known as one of the most chic and cosmopolitan world destinations, this area becomes transformed into a food lover’s paradise. Fans of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival will have a chance to partake in special activities that are seen nowhere else, including the Gourmet Safaris, in which five special guest chefs spoil visitors with a specially prepared dish from each, and the Gourmet Dinner, which gives fans the chance to enjoy the individual cooking of eight star-crowned guest master chefs.

The St. Mortiz Gourmet Festival usually happens at the end of January. Since it is sponsored by the hotels and restaurants of the area, it’s highly recommended that you check in with one of the 5 Star luxury resorts to get all the local details. One such hotel that is highly recommended is the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz.

The Onion Market of Bern, Switzerland

Onion Market BernZibelemärit. You may not be familiar with that word, but if you find yourself in Bern, Switzerland during the last part of any November, you’ll be hearing it quite a bit. It means “Onion Market”, and it’s been happening in Bern, Switzerland since the 1850’s.

The Swiss Onion Market is a favorite autumn festival in Bern. With crowds flooding in from around Switzerland and beyond starting at 5AM, it celebrates all things having to do with onions and garlic. You’ll find tons of onions, crafts, artfully woven braids, wreaths, breads, soups, flower arrangements, decorations, figures, wines and more. Other stands setup during the festival provide seasonal vegetables, ceramics and other famous peasant-style pottery. Restaurants in the area serve the traditional onion tart, cheese tart and onion soup.

The origins of the Zibelemärit, or Onion Market differ according to who you speak to. Some believe that the Onion Market originated in the 1850’s with farmer’s wives from around the town of Murten coming to Bern to sell their produce around St. Martin’s Day. However, there is another local legend that tells of a fire destroying much of Bern in 1405. During this time of crisis, people from the nearby city of Fribourg came to the aid of the Bernese people. Because of their acts of bravery, people from the city of Fribourg were allowed to sell their onions in the city of Bern as a reward.

While the origins of Zibelemärit may remain open to interpretation, many generations of Swiss agree that the Onion Market, from it’s early morning 5 AM bustle, to it’s closing with children engaging in confetti battles, is a traditional that warms the hearts of many, and will continue for many generations to come.

If you find yourself in Bern during the end of November, make sure you plan to stay for the Zibelemärit. As long as you’re staying for the festival, you can do so in luxury accommodations, like those of the Swiss luxury hotel here.

5 Things You Can Learn From Traveling

5 Things You Learn From TravelingTravel can be fun, especially when your travel is for a vacation, possibly using a luxury travel package.  And while safe stays in luxury hotels while using all the wonderful amenities can be exciting, relaxing and fulfilling, there are a other things you can learn about yourself when you travel, other areas of fulfillment you can find.

Here are 5 things you can learn from traveling:

1. Learn Who You REALLY Are

We all have these ideas in our heads about how our trip is going to go.  We imagine good conversation while traveling, we imagine getting to our destinations on time, we imagine all the fun we’re going to have.  But rarely do we imagine all the things that could go wrong.  Travel isn’t perfect.  Even the most detailed travel planning cannot account for every single unexpected occurrence that may pop up in your travel plans.  Sometimes the travel route you chose is closed and you have to detour.  Sometimes your plane is late, or even cancelled.  Sometimes the hotel is overbooked.  These things happen to all of us at some point.  But how do you react when these things happen?  Do you lose your temper and wish that you had never left the house?  Do you curl up in a ball and wait for someone else to solve the problem, or for it to blow over on its own?  Or do you go to work finding a solution, realizing that while things may not always go perfectly according to travel plans, there are many different ways of overcoming any travel related obstacle?  You can’t stop unexpected things from happening on your travels.  But you CAN control how you react to these things, and how you solve the issues.

2.  Get a New Perspective

We all have a set way of doing things and a way of thinking that we’re used to.  Sometimes that way of thinking and doing things needs to be challenged to help us grow.  Traveling to foreign lands and exotic cultures can provide just such a challenge.  All the problems we think we may face at home may seem small in comparison to the day to day struggles that some of the people we meet face to face while traveling.  Learning new customs while traveling can provide a tremendous amount of perspective alteration.  For example, are you doing something while eating, or using hand gestures that people around you in other countries find insulting?  Be willing to let go of a strict way of thinking, and allow the perspectives of others to expand your view of the world.

3. Learn to Overcome Challenges

While traveling to other countries, you can expect challenges that are outside of your daily life.  Going to the corner market for a gallon of milk, or finding a public restroom is easy to do at home.  But when you’re in a foreign land, you might find that what was easy before, is a little more difficult.  Take time to learn your surroundings and familiarize yourself with the customs of the country you’re in.  Realize that communication may not always be easy, but that you CAN bridge these gaps with a little patience and forethought.

4. Learn the REAL Value of Travel

The cost of your luxury vacation isn’t always going to equate to the value you gain from your travels.  While it’s nice being able to eat at the finest restaurants and stay in the most luxurious beds, you may find that overcoming the challenges of travel, changing your perspective, learning a new culture and growing into a more creative, capable person provides a value that you weren’t even expecting.  The journey of self growth that you can achieve through travel can provide a value that far exceeds any cost of a luxury travel package.

5. Variety Makes Life Rich

Sometimes you get bored.  We all do.  Same people, same setting, same routine…it can really begin to feel like a boring, monotonous merry-go-round.  Travel changes all that.  Travel gives you a new place, new surroundings, new people and an opportunity to find your bearings all over again.  Just imagine seeing brand new landscapes, new architecture, new foods, meeting new people, learning new customs.  While some people may shy away from this kind disruption in their daily routine, true travelers understand and even crave this kind of variety.

Travel isn’t just for fun or relaxation.  If you’re open to it, you will find that travel can allow you to experience a type of self growth that you never knew was possible.  Every time you travel, you will learn something new, see something new.  So take some time and start planning a break from your routine life now, pick a destination, and just go!