From Switzerland to San Bernardino, travelers who want to be where it's at in 1991 can take their pick of a multitude of great events that promise to be really big and plenty boisterous.
In South Dakota, revelry will mark the 50th anniversary of stony-faced Mount Rushmore. And masterpieces of music will fill the air nearly year-round in Austria as the country commemorates the 200th anniversary of the composer's death.Following, on a global scale, are some of the highlights of the coming year.
- Switzerland, 1291-1991: This year marks Switzerland's 700th as a democracy, and events are planned countrywide. Bright lights and music will kick off the festivities as Bellizona hosts a "fire-and-light show and concert for the youth" Jan. 10.
Beginning May 3, the Festival of the Four Cultures will be held in the French-speaking cantons, with musical events in Geneva, theater and dance in canton Vaud and painting and architecture in Neuchatel.
About 3 1/2 thousand children, each representing a Swiss commune, will gather in Rutli meadow, above Lake Lucerne, on Youth Day, July 31. ("Legend has it that was the meadow where Switzerland was founded," said Eric Buhlmann, director of the Swiss National Tourist Office in El Segundo.) The young people will hear a presidential "birthday" message.
Probably the highlight of the year will be Aug. 1, Swiss National Day - "That's when every Swiss' heart beats a little faster," said Buhlmann. There will be events around the country, with a parade and official ceremony in Schwyz, Buhlmann said.
For a free calendar of '91 events, call (213) 335-5980.
- Dublin, Ireland: Dublin has plenty to brag about this year. The city was named European City of Culture for 1991 by the European Economic Community, and Dublin will tout its new title with festivities throughout the year.
Bands will play and bells will ring for midnight revelers at City Hall Tuesday, the first day of the new - highly cultural - year.
The Dublin Literary Festival, June 16-28, will include exhibitions, walks, tours and re-enactments. On Bloomsday, June 16, Dubliners will celebrate the day on which Leopold Bloom, in James Joyce's novel "Ulysses," took his trip around the city.
Call (800) 223-6470 for information on the many other events.
- Austria: Mozart, the man and his music, are the focus of 1991 in Austria.
The major Mozart Year festivals will occur in Vienna and Salzburg. All Mozart operas will be performed, in the original language, by the Vienna State Opera during performances May 10-June 8 and Sept. 1-Dec. 31. The Salzburg Festival, July 26-Aug. 31, pays homage to the composer with six major Mozart operas.
At the Museum of the History of Vienna, "Mozart and His Age" will have exhibitions on not only Mozart but the customs and lifestyle of the Mozart era. "There will even be a computer section where you can compose your own Mozart music," said Peter Katz, director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Los Angeles.
Five open-air performances of "Don Giovanni" and "Figaro" will be performed in front of Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace in July 1991.
On Dec. 5, Mozart's "Requiem" will be performed for the first time in massive, Gothic St. Stephan's Cathedral ("the landmark of the city of Vienna," said Katz, "like Notre Dame is to Paris").
For more information, call (213) 477-3332.
- Korea: "It happened in the Bible, and it happens in Korea."
They call it the Moses Miracle, said spokeswoman Christina Sebulius of the Korea National Tourism Corporation. In the Chollanamdo province, in the southwest corner of the peninsula, the East China Sea parts. "The movement of the moon and low tides expose a natural land bridge between two islands," said Sebulius.
Thousands will come to witness the natural, yearly phenomenon, and walk over the exposed land, which will occur this year on May 14, 15, 16 and 17 and June 12, 13, 14 and 15. In conjunction with the event, local people have "mass dances and carnival activity," Sebulius said.
For information, call (213) 382-3435.
- U.S. big events: While the clan gathering was chosen as the top Canadian event of '91 by the American Bus Association, the group named South Dakota's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mount Rushmore the big event of the year in the United States.
(The national trade organization names the top 100 events in North America every year. For a copy, contact ABA at 1015 15th St. NW, Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20005; 202-842-1645. The brochure is $3, including shipping.)
- South Dakota: The centerpiece of the Mount Rushmore Golden Anniversary Celebration is the July Fourth formal dedication. Radio City Music Hall will produce the celebration, said spokesman Tom Griffith of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society. "President Bush has indicated he will attend and give the dedication address."
The memorial was never dedicated. Planned for 1941, the death of Gutzon Borglum, the monument's sculptor - then Pearl Harbor - interfered. The National Park Service, which maintains the memorial, has events planned from Feb. 18 to Oct. 31, the 50th anniversary of the final day of work on the memorial. And Aug. 10 is Gutzon Borglum Day.
For information on events, contact the park service at (605) 574-2523.
- Hawaii: Shortly after dawn on July 11, a dramatic total solar eclipse will occur, and the best seats in the house may be on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. The event will last about two hours from beginning to end, and about 50,000 visitors from around the world are expected to be on hand, according to the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
As a kickoff to the eclipse - the longest total eclipse until the year 2132, according to the visitors bureau - a solar car race will be held July 7 in Waikoloa. Vehicles will be built and driven by 20 international university teams.
For information on the events, call (213) 385-5301.
- California: Closer to home, arguably the biggest event of the coming year will be Railfair, a gathering of working steam locomotives that should interest non-rail buffs and send railroad fans into a tizzy.
"It should be pretty spectacular," said spokesman Fred Sater of the California Office of Tourism. Railfair '91, May 3-12 at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, will showcase as many as 30 working steam locomotives from around the world. About 300,000 people are expected to attend, according to museum officials.
Sater said the downturn in the economy could have a positive effect on attendance at California events.
"People will be looking for things (to do) in their own back yard," he said.
Regional "vegetable festivals" are growing in popularity, Sater said.
One festival - popular to the point of being "maxed out," Sater said - is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The annual tribute to the aromatic food will be held July 26-28. (Call 408-842-1625.)
Other notable California events:
- The Toyota Grand Prix, April 12-14, is an Indy car race through the streets of downtown Long Beach. (Call 213-436-9953 or 0341.)
- The 29th annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire in San Bernardino will include 1,000 costumed performers and events on six outdoor stages. It will be held weekends from April 20 to June 9. (Call 800-523-2473.)
- The Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, July 10-Aug. 30, will display the work of 160 artisans. The Pageant of the Masters is a re-creation of art works using live models. (Call 714-494-1145.)
- The California State Fair, Sept. 1-2, in Sacramento includes a carnival, exhibits and entertainment. (Call 916-924-2000 or 2032.)
- The Monterey Jazz Festival, Sept. 20-22, is the oldest continuous jazz fest in the nation, according to the California tourism office, and includes five concerts this year. (Call 408-373-3366.)