Balloon Day Parade
Brussels, the Comic Strip capital of the world, is intent on making 2009 go down in the history of the 9th art, and the different authorities here have decided to dedicate this year to the theme of the comic strip. Home to Tintin and Spirou, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs, Brussels has been a breeding ground for an above average number of comic strip talents that have gone on to international stardom. Moreover, Brussels is also home to the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art, housed in a magnificent Art Nouveau building, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2009. With the Balloon Day Parade as its official Opening Event, through exhibitions, events, and even the walls of the city (with both frescoes and exceptional installations), 2009 will showcase the ninth art in the capital of Europe, and Brussels will be the capital of the comic strip more than ever before!
Venice is a magical city, and at no time is this more true than during the week leading up to Mardi Gras, when the Carnival of Venice is celebrated, a tradition first recorded over 700 years ago. Ordinary Venice is exciting, but Venice during the Carnival is spellbinding, with a historically rich mixture of performance and dining, and, of course the magnificent costumes, including the extravagant masks for which Venice is so famous. For the entire Carnival the streets are filled with celebrants dressed in luxurious, festive garb: experiencing Venice during the Carnival is like stepping back in time, with no modern buildings to spoil the illusion! Wander the streets, admiring the costumes and street performances, or attend an evening party, an opera or concert, in one of the palaces or hotels accustomed to hosting royalty. Walk up the stairs of a candlelit palace, expecting Casanova to make his advances; enjoy cocktails over the glimmering Grand Canal, abandon your senses to pleasure − and live the life of your alter ego, revealing your true identity only to a select few!
Feast of St. Agatha
Only Holy Week in Seville, and the Corpus Domini ceremony in Cuzco, Peru, can compare, in terms of popularity, to the festivities that have been held in honour of St. Agatha for the past five centuries. For three whole days, from the 3rd to the 5fth of February, Catanians and tourists swarm in the streets, numbering to almost a million. Specific itineraries and celebrations are dedicated each day to the Patron, though the 4th and 5th stand out as St. Agatha passes through the eight neighbourhoods on her silver carriage (Catanians call it, specifically, «fercolo» or, more commonly, «vara»), and during these intense days, the city turns into one unified flock marching behind the Patron.