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VOL. 133 | NO. 4 | Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Celebrating 2018 Around the World

By LANCE WIEDOWER

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Best-destination travel lists often are random with no real rhyme or reason other than a particular destination doing a fantastic job marketing itself to travel writers. And yes, I’ve written a few of these lists through the years.

But to kick off 2018, I want to take a different approach to the “Best Travel Destinations of 2018” list. This year marks special moments in a handful of destinations, so I’d like to highlight spots that actually have a special reason to visit this year.

New Orleans: The Crescent City celebrates its 300th year in 2018. The idea of a tricentennial celebration is pretty cool, and considering it’s in one of the more enjoyable cities I can think of, New Orleans should be a blast this year. The carnival season kicks off this weekend, gearing up for what’s sure to be a big Mardi Gras celebration. Special concerts, art exhibits, opera performances and festivals dot the calendar throughout the year to celebrate everything that makes New Orleans what it is.

San Antonio: San Antonio also celebrates its tricentennial year with unveilings of public artworks, special museum exhibitions and new parks. Events go throughout the year, but Tricentennial Commemorative Week takes place May 1-6 and will feature educational, artistic and entertaining events that feature San Antonio’s diversity and history.

Illinois: The Prairie State celebrates its bicentennial this year, culminating with a gala party in December at Chicago’s United Center. Dedication of a new Bicentennial Plaza, a pedestrian walkway that connects Lincoln’s home site and the state Capitol building, takes place in August in Springfield. It’s an excuse to visit an underrated Midwestern city, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and grab a horseshoe sandwich at Darcy’s Pint.

Malta: This Mediterranean island is the European Capital of Culture for 2018, meaning the island will have festivals and events run throughout the year to celebrate its role as a backdrop for several “Game of Throne” scenes. Well, not exactly, but the HBO series does use Malta for several scenes. The capital city of Valletta is the center of the celebrations, but individual feasts take place in villages across the country during the summer to honor patron saints.

Estonia: This Northern European country sits across the Baltic Sea from Finland and is dotted with rocky beaches, forests, castles and hilltop fortresses. It declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but it was established as the Republic of Estonia in 1918 and this year is a time to celebrate that founding with concerts, festivals and more.

South Africa: The late Nelson Mandela would’ve turned 100 in 2018. The Nelson Mandela Foundation last year launched the two-year program, “Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018 Be the Legacy.” Events include Mandela Concerts on July 18, which date back to 1988 at London’s Wembley Stadium. I haven’t been to South Africa, but I know people who have and say it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Celebrating the legacy of Mandela seems like a good time to visit.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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