Category Archives: Events in Europe

There are lots of interesting events in Europe on a variety of themes from sport to ceremonies to food, wine and music. We’ve written about some of these European events to give you a flavour of their diversity.

‘The Nether’ is One of the Best Plays I’ve Seen

When I was in London last week, I went to see  ‘The Nether‘ at the Duke of York’s theatre in St Martin’s Lane. I paid £11, including all fees and credit card payment charges, for a third price ticket with restricted view, booked on the website.

The Nether ticket

Now the issue with my seat, in the front row of the Upper Circle, wasn’t the restricted view, which was easily remedied by leaning forward, but the restricted leg and foot room.

That discomfort was soon forgotten when the performance started, This is an amazing, gripping, chilling portrayal of virtual reality in 2050, which allows you to act out your desires with (supposedly) no consequences.

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Now with some plays, you could argue that a TV or movie production might be superior to being limited to a stage. However, with ‘The Nether’ the 3D dreamy sets give an eerie fairytale-like feel to the grotesque tale.

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I’d recommend that you go to see ‘The Nether’ as its run at the Duke of Yorks is due to finish on 25 April 2015.

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Why You Should Spend New Year’s Eve in Dublin, Ireland

There’s plenty going on for Dublin New Year’s Eve. NYF Dublin is a three day festival running from 30 December 2014 to 1 January 2015.

The Procession of Light starts at Dublin Castle at 6.30pm on 31 January.

procession of light

It then winds its way through Temple Bar with the finale at St Stephen’s Green.


Dublin based rock band Kodaline and Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow are the headline acts at the Countdown Concert at College Green on 31 December.


Kodaline by Mary

The NYF Music Trail features gigs such as La Galaxie at Meeting House Square and Dublin Gospel Choir at Christ Church, as well as Pop Up Live Music sessions at various venues.

If you’re feeling peckish, there’s the NYF Food Village at Dublin Castle.

Several of Dublin’s landmarks, including Trinity College and the Sir John Grey Statue, will act as screens for 3D light projections, during the Luminosity event.


The NYF Art Trail offers talks, guided tours and showcases the work of both new and established artists, at venues including the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Green on Red Gallery.

Irish museum of modern art

Irish Museum of Modern Art by William Murphy

You can get special NYF discounts for the attractions along the recently launched Dublin Discovery Trails. You can choose between self guided walking tours, such as ‘The Story of Dublin’ and ‘Rebellion’, which is about the 1916 Easter Uprising (the General Post Office building pictured below was the HQ for the leaders of the Uprising).

Main post office Dublin

On 1 January 2015, you can join in Resolution Day activities. There’s a Fun Run starting from Dublin Castle at 12 noon and exercise classes in parks around the city.

The Borders Book Festival in Melrose

The Borders Book Festival was held in the Harmony Gardens in Melrose from the 12 – 15 June 2014. It was free to enter, but you did have to pay for most of the talks and presentations, with adult tickets costing an average of  £10 – £14.

borders book festival sign

We had a look around the Festival before going for a walk along the River Tweed. The backdrop of Melrose Abbey afforded a unique setting.

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Andy Stanton, author of the ‘Mr Gum’ series, was signing his books.

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There was a good selection of children’s books, including the Scottish favourite ‘Oor Wullie’, a comic strip character from the Sunday Post, who’s usually portrayed sitting on an upside down bucket.

borders book festival book selection

There was some free kid’s entertainment. Free WiFi was advertised, but I didn’t try it.

borders book festival kids entertainment

The beer tent wasn’t doing much trade, but it was before 1pm.

borders book festival beer tent

The portaloos at the Borders Book Festival were the poshest I’ve ever seen.

borders book festival portaloos

WW1 Events in Ireland

With the centenary of the First World War approaching, the nations that fought in the war are commemorating the event in different ways, from special museum exhibits, new monuments and services of commemoration. Although the Republic of Ireland didn’t exist at the time, many Irish soldiers fought in the British army during the conflict. Around 200,000 Irishmen fought in the conflict, with over 30,000 casualties.

Irish WW1 Recruitment Poster

Irish WW1 Recruitment Poster

Events commemorating the nation’s involvement in WW1 include a centenary commemorative event at the Athy Heritage Centre, with special exhibits of wartime artefacts, contemporary film, lectures on local involvement in the war and a living history display. In Dublin, the Dublin City Archives, together with the Dublin and Irish Collections, are staging a large exhibition of letters and postcards from the Great War. These events will focus in particular on the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which took part in some of war’s fiercest battles.

Irish War Memorial Gardens

Irish National War Memorial Gardens

Another Dublin event will be the unveiling of a “Cross of Sacrifice” at Glasnevin Cemetery. Erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cross will be an addition to the cemetery’s existing memorial walls, which honour the Irish soldiers who died in the Great War. The unveiling of the Cross will take place on July 31st with both Irish and British representatives participating.

The main events will be in Dublin, only a short ferry journey from Britain, either direct or via Dun Laoghaire, making this an ideal opportunity to learn about a different side of First World War history, while staying within easy reach of home. Travelling by ship is a good way to relax, offering competitive prices for the trip to Ireland, either as a foot passenger or taking over your own car.

For many Irish people, and Dubliners in particular, the war years are associated not only with the European conflict but with Ireland’s struggle for independence from Britain. The Easter Rising of 1916 was a short-lived revolt against British rule that has become a symbol of Irish national history. The Georgian General Post Office Building in O’Connell Street was the centre of the fighting, and is now a must-see for history lovers visiting Dublin.


General Post Office Building in O’Connell Street Dublin

Compared to other countries, Ireland’s commemorations of the Great War will be fairly low-key. Ireland was not a scene of fighting, and some ambivalence remains about the nation’s role in the conflict. However, Ireland’s wartime history is no less interesting for being little-known, and the new centenary exhibits and events will give viewers the chance to see the period from a new perspective.

Perth Chocolate Festival 22-24 November 2013

The Perth Chocolate Festival was held from 22-24 November 2013. I headed to Perth, in central Scotland, on Sunday 24 to attend the interactive talks and workshops and have a browse at the Chocolate Market.

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Chocolate Fountain at the Perth Chocolate Festival

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Lush Spa chocolate facial at Perth Chocolate Festival

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A selection from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, at Perth Chocolate Festival

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Stalls at the Perth Chocolate Festival

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Cupcakes at the Perth Chocolate Festival

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Don’t Miss the Spectacular Lord Mayor’s Show in London

I attended the Lord Mayor’s Show in London for the first time in November 2013. It’s an annual parade, dating back to the 16th century. which celebrates the inauguration of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. It’s a hybrid of traditional British ceremony and a global themed carnival.

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I watched the Lord Mayor’s Flotilla along the River Thames earlier that morning.

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Unfortunately, heavy rain was forecast from 11am that day, the time that the parade through the City of London was due to begin. I arrived prepared wearing my waterproof jacket and trousers. I managed to find a spot at the edge of the pavement in Cheapside between Bank Station and St Paul’s Cathedral. Despite the wet conditions everyone was in good spirits. I did get a bit fed up avoiding the points of umbrella spokes, but that’s a hazard of being in pole position for taking photos, plus being tall.

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Do try to attend the Lord Mayor’s Show in London and cross your fingers for a dry, sunny day.

The Lord Mayor’s Flotilla in London

I was in position on London’s Waterloo Bridge on Saturday 9 November 2013 to take photos of the Lord Mayor’s Flotilla which was due to pass soon after 8.30am. I thought that the bridge would be mobbed with spectators, but there were only about ten of us.

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The Lord Mayor’s Flotilla approaches with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background

I assumed that I’d have loads of time to take photos and videos as all the vessels in the Lord Mayor’s Flotilla were being powered by oars. However, due to the outgoing tide and the muscle power of the oarspersons, the Flotilla passed all too quickly.

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The Lord Mayor’s Flotilla crosses under the Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges

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The Lord Mayor’s Flotilla approaches Waterloo Bridge

The Lord Mayor was in the Queen’s Rowbarge Gloriana which was constructed for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

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Close up of the Gloriana

Lord Mayor's Flotilla heads for Tower Bridge

 The Lord Mayor’s Flotilla heads east towards the City

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

We visited some of the Doors Open Days venues in Edinburgh during the last weekend of September 2013. It was really hard to draw up an intinerary as there were so many interesting venues, predominantly open between 10am – 4pm.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

My priority was to see the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, as I’d never been there. We planned to arrive soon after the 10am opening time to find parking outside the Observatory and secure tickets for the Starlab Planetarium.

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East Tower of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The views over Edinburgh from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre are wonderful.

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View of Arthur’s Seat from the Rooftop at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

We then headed in the city centre. I reckoned that it was too time-consuming to visit more venues on the periphery of Edinburgh. It was easy to find free parking in the city centre on Sunday. We parked close to the Fire Museum and walked around the rest of the venues.

Museum of Fire Edinburgh

The Museum of Fire  has a collection of fire engines from all over the UK.

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Fire engine from Fraserburgh in the Museum of Fire

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1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire

Edinburgh College of Art

The Edinburgh College of Art has been located in Lauriston Place since 1906. I’ve been in the modern wing during the Degree Show. There were guided tours of the college, but we had a wander around on our own.

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 Exterior of the Edinburgh College of Art

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The 1960s Boardroom at the Edinburgh College of Art

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Cupola at the Edinburgh College of Art

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Exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art

B+B Edinburgh

B+B Edinburgh is a boutique Bed & Breakfast hotel in the fomer home of John Richtie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman newspaper.

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Stained glass window at B+B Edinburgh

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View towards Dean Village from B+B Edinburgh

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Cloud lampshade in the foyer of B+B Edinburgh

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Embellished ceiling at B+B Edinburgh

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Another unusual lampshade in the Breakfast Room

All in all, we had a really interesting time on the Doors Open Days in Edinburgh. Next year I’m planning to book a hotel room in Edinburgh on the Saturday night, so I can get around more of the venues.

Read more of our articles on what to do in Edinburgh.

The Tango Festival in Majorca

From Friday 17th to Sunday 20th October 2013, the Tango Festival returns for its sixth year of spectacular Balearic music and dancing in the heart of the city. With participants from over 40 countries, the festival takes place at the Blue Bay Hotel and the Belvedere Hotel, both of which are offering special package deals to those attending the festival. Whether you’re a Tango novice or an experienced dancer, this is your opportunity to participate, as the festival’s dance classes cater to all levels – children are welcome! Or you could just sit back and relax as you take in a live dance show or enjoy a bite to eat at the traditional Argentinian BBQ.

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photo by Prayitno

Getting There

Getting to Majorca from the UK is a breeze, with a flight time of just under 2.5 hours from London. Fly with easyJet, Ryanair or Monarch if you’re on a tight budget, or book a flight with British Airways from a range of UK locations. It might be worth looking into First Choice too. Majorca in October is somewhat cooler than the summer months, but compared to the UK it’s still sunny and warm, if a little wet, with average temperatures of around 25 degrees centigrade.

Festival Highlights

The Tango Festival is the largest festival of its kind in Spain, and if you’re going to be in Majorca this October, you simply can’t afford to miss it. With plenty of events happening for all ages, there are a few festival highlights this year, including afternoon Milonga and a live orchestra as well as the deliciously tempting Argentine barbecue which closes the festival. With more than 60 dance classes to choose from, the only problem you’ll have is deciding which ones to attend – some of the world’s most renowned Tango teachers are here teaching unique styles and themes to enhance your dancing. The flexible schedule gives you plenty of time to explore the beauty and culture of Majorca, so it’s the ideal event to fit into your autumn break this year.

Video Highlights from a Previous Tango Festival

What to See and Do

There are plenty of beautiful areas to explore on this Spanish island, but no trip to Majorca is complete without heading into Palma, the capital city. Visit the stunning cathedral – the mix of medieval and modernist architecture in the city is amazing. Don’t miss the Fundacio La Caixa – this was once the Gran Hotel (opened in 1903) but today it is a gallery of ever-changing exhibitions, with a design bookshop and trendy café on the ground floor.

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Palma Cathedral

Make sure you sample some delicious Mallorcan cuisine such as ensaimada (a spiral bun dusted with icing sugar that’s traditionally served for breakfast), pa’amb oli (Majorcan bread with olive oil, garlic and tomato) and of course fideua; this is the special local version of paella, and it’s served with noodles rather than rice. Tapas are a great option for an afternoon snack or evening meal, and you’ll find plenty of cosy tapas restaurants and bars throughout the city. Head for a night out along Ruta Martiana where you’ll find bars serving tapas and pinxos (mini open sandwiches) with wine or beer for just a couple of Euros – a very enjoyable evening out.

Watching the Gladiator Show in Tarragona’s Roman Amphitheatre

I was a spectator at a Gladiator Show in Tarragona in Catalonia, Spain. The show was part of the Terraco Viva Festival which takes place over a two week period every May in Tarragona. I received complimentary entry.

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The Gladiators enter the ring

I thought that the amphitheatre was very well preserved and in a beautiful location close to the sea. It was pretty sunny during the show and it became very hot in the ampiteatre. There’s no shade, so I recommend you wear a hat and sunscreen.

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The well preserved Roman amphitheatre in Tarragona

The commentary was in Spanish, so I didn’t understand a word.

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The gladiator line-up

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