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Highlights & Hotspots

Some of this year's noteworthy European events

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Bruges, Belgium
In Belgium, chocolate is an art. No, really. At the Chocolate Festival (April 6 through 10), master chocolatiers whip up not only plenty of sweets but also chocolate sculptures and paintings. Connoisseurs can dip into history at the city's Chocolate Museum.

Valencia, Spain
Yachts set sail June 23 for the 156-year-old America's Cup (named after the original winning boat, not the USA). Seasick? Check out the architecture, including native son Santiago Calatrava's futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.

Sibiu, Romania
Throughout 2007, coinciding with Romania's induction this past January into the European Union, medieval Sibiu is offering special concerts, films, art exhibits and other facets of life in Transylvania (except Dracula's Castle, 96 miles away near Brasov).

Lisse, The Netherlands
From March 22 to May 20, the 80-acre Keukenhof Gardens opens to the public. Seven million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and crocuses are planted in the soil in different layers to ensure that the grounds are abloom all season.

Venice, Italy
The 52nd Biennale di Venezia arts festival floods the city from June 10 to November 21. Drawing artists from all over (French painter Bernard Frize's Néoha, detail, shown in 2005), the exhibition defines art's leading edge—at least until 2009.

France
An international sport since 1871, rugby is still played with little padding. This year, France hosts the quadrennial Rugby World Cup from September 7 to October 20. Twenty national teams will compete in 48 matches to determine which country has the hardest heads.

Westman Islands, Iceland
One of the world's largest colonies of puffins lives here. In August, chartered boats take "clown of the sea" fans around Heimaey (pop. 4,300) to witness millions of pufflings emerge from cliff-side burrows and head out to sea for the first time.

About Amy Crawford
Amy Crawford

Amy Crawford is a Boston-based freelance journalist writing about government, education and ideas. Her writing has appeared in Smithsonian, Slate, Boston Magazine and the Boston Globe.

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