Highlights & Hot Spots

The European Fine Art Fair
The Netherlands—March 10-19
Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands, turns into a vast museum—except just about everything is for sale. This year, 218 dealers from 14 countries will showcase 25,000 objets d'art, from an illuminated medieval Bible to Art Deco jewelry to a Roy Lichtenstein painting. If you can afford the price tag, you can even take home a Matisse. www.tefaf.com

Shakespeare’s Complete Works
Stratford-upon-Avon—April 2006-April 2007
Judi Dench and Patrick Stewart are among the players scheduled to strut and fret their hours upon three stages in the dramatist's hometown in what the Royal Shakespeare Company says is the first ever complete cycle of all 37 of his plays. www.rsc.org.uk

The Chelsea Flower Show
London—May 23-27
It’s one of the world’s largest gardening competitions. England's Hillier Nurseries holds the record for 60 consecutive gold medals, but one of 600 challengers—from as far away as Hong Kong and Zimbabwe—might take the pruning shears to 2005's winner, Hillier's "Glowing Ambers" rhododendron. www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea

European Union Capital of Culture
Patras, Greece—Throughout 2006
The Peloponnesian port, known in Hellenic times for its cults of Dionysus, god of wine, offers a slightly more sober menu of Sophoclean tragedy, folk concerts, cabaret and commedia dell'arte. www.patras2006.gr/en

The Year of Rembrandt
Amsterdam—Throughout 2006
If you need an excuse to ogle Rembrandt, here goes: this year marks the 400th anniversary of the original old master's birth, and the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum are mounting blockbuster shows. The Rembrandt House Museum—the artist's home for 19 years—will host exhibitions about his work and 63-year-long life. www.rembrandt400.com

Jewish Culture Festival
Krakow, Poland—July 1-9
In the old Jewish quarter, tragically emptied in World War II, hora lessons, Hebrew calligraphy and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars underscore the community's revival. www.jewishfestival.pl

The World Cup
Germany—June 9-July 9
World domination? At least bragging rights for the next four years. The quadrennial tournament, the most important in football, will be held in 12 German cities hosting 32 international teams in 64 matches. Just don't call it soccer. www.fifaworldcup.com

Festival of Two Worlds
Spoleto, Italy—June 30-July 16
The Umbrian town turns into a giant stage for its annual commingling of the classical and contemporary. Last year's program included Handel's opera Ferdinand, King of Castile, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake—and the American movie Kindergarten Cop, starring "the Governator" in a less taxing role. This year promises to be no less eclectic. www.spoletofestival.it

The Year of Cézanne
France—Throughout 2006
The Musée D'Orsay in Paris and the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence mark the 100 years since Paul Cézanne's death, at 67, with major shows. In Aix, visit his studio, Les Lauves. www.cezanne-2006.com

Fringe Festival
Edinburgh, Scotland—August 6-28
Events occur round-the-clock at the world's largest open arts festival, with 10,000 performers. Expect Brecht, Bach, nude comedy and even a rap version of The Canterbury Tales. www.edfringe.com

La Tomatina
Buñol, Spain—August 30
The streets of the medieval town near Valencia will run red as thousands of gastronomic warriors go ballistic with surplus tomatoes. A mecca for the messy since 1945. www.spain-info.com

The Year of Mozart
Prague, Salzburg and Vienna—Throughout 2006
Too many notes? Three cities with important ties to the prototypical music star will undoubtedly prove otherwise as they celebrate his 250th birthday. There'll be 15 operas, 56 symphonies, all-star musicians and enough Mozartkugeln—Salzburg's signature sweet—to satisfy Wolfgang's legions of fans. www.wienmozart2006.at; www.mozartprague2006.com

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