Every country around the world is offering a wealth of fun things to see and do this year. There are music and art festivals, carnivals, birthday celebrations, fairs, games, historical recountings, religious observances and sporting events.
As a result, an increasing number of Americans will be seeking out smaller cities, open spaces, off-the-beaten-path countryside hideaways, lower prices, hearty food and comfortable, quiet accommodations. Many will visit big cities, mountains, lakes, hidden coves and bays, castles, forests, villages, deserts, islands and exotic resorts in search of that "perfect" vacation.
To get there, visitors will travel by plane, boat, ship, automobile, bus, train, balloon and barge. What follows is an outline of 10 premiere events expected to be most frequented by travelers this year:
Dublin will present exhibitions of art, literature, music, sports, architecture, science and technology, plus street festivals and pageants highlighting the history of Dublin's Jewish and Italian communities.
St. Patrick's Day is being extended to St. Patrick's Week, with the traditional parade March 17. On the same day is the Lord Mayor's Ball at the Burlington Hotel and the Royal Dublin Society dog show. May 8-17, an international piano competition is scheduled; on May 15 a series of Dublin Millennium walking tours will begin. June 10-24 is the city's Liberties Festival, with open-air concerts, pageants, exhibitions and poetry readings; June 13-26 a writers' conference will include public readings celebrating Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, Wilde, Behan and others.
A citywide birthday party will be held July 9-10 in Phoenix Park, featuring what is expected to be the world's largest birthday cake and the release of 100,000 balloons. Antiques, the fine arts, design, every form of craft, music and the theater will take turns in the spotlight during the rest of the year.
Sporting events will be almost continuous, from sailing regattas and the famed Dublin Horse Show to bowling, road racing and cycling. A college football game on Nov. 19 will match two American universities--Boston College and Army.
For more information, contact the Irish Tourist Board, 757 3rd Ave., 19th Floor, New York 10017, phone (212) 418-0800.
Beyond the Olympics
Playing second fiddle to the Summer Olympics (Sept. 17-Oct. 2) in South Korea are numerous tourist attractions that begin with Seoul's ancient Namdaemun Gate, the nation's greatest national treasure. The gate sits in the middle of a traffic circle and is passed daily by hundreds of drivers.
Beyond the gate a tranquil countryside awaits visitors. Some of the more popular destinations within the nation are Popchusa Temple; Mt. Songnisan National Park, famous for its "skyscraper" Buddha; Sokkuram Grotto, home of the serene statue of a seated Buddha facing east; Pulguksa Temple in Kyongju, one of South Korea's greatest Buddhist temples, and Songkwangsa and Haeinsa, two prominent temples in the southern provinces.
However, visitors will discover that although South Korea has more than 7,000 temples, few Buddhist temples are in Seoul. Other popular temples are Chogyesa, in downtown Seoul; Pongwonsa, in western Seoul; Popchusa, northeast of Taejon in Mt. Songnisan National Park; Songkwangsa, 1 1/2 hours from Kwangju by bus, and T'ongdosa, half an hour north of Pomosa.
For more information about tourist attractions and the Summer Olympics in South Korea, contact Korea National Tourism Corp., 510 West 6th St., Suite 323, Los Angeles 90014, phone (213) 623-1226.
Outdoor Opera in Israel
Israel's observance of its 40th birthday will include the outdoor staging of Verdi's opera, "Nabucco," to be held against a backdrop of the old walls of Jerusalem, a site in the original story. The $11.5-million production will run for 12 performances, May 15-29. Special package tours have been created for the event, combining six days of sightseeing in Israel.
Other events and celebrations during the anniversary year include the Ein Gev Festival of classical and popular music and dance, plus local artists, musical ensembles and soloists from abroad Saturday through Tuesday beginning April 2 in Ein-Gev; Jerusalem's Israel Festival of music, dance and theater May 14 to June 11; an international hot-air balloon contest in the Negev, with 50 to 150 contestants July 5-13, and the Zimriya festival for Jewish choirs from around the world on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem Aug. 7-14.
For more information, contact the Israel Government Tourist Office, 6380 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1700, Los Angeles 90048, phone (213) 658-7462.
England's Great Victory
The 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada off the coast of England in 1588 and an exhibition highlighting Wales' medieval heritage will be among events held in Britain this year.