Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

The agency that promotes tourism to the German capital is called Visit Berlin. During 2014 Visit Berlin is promoting the idea that 9 November 2014 is the night when you just must be in Berlin. Just as Notting Hill Festival and Edinburgh Hogmanay have staked their place in the global party circuit, Berlin is using the 25th anniversary of the 'fall of the Wall' to advance its case for inclusion.

article summary —

This year sees a flood of events across Europe to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. In June, there were of course the commemorations of the D-Day landings seventy years ago — a wartime anniversary which was marked with great dignity in a series of ceremonies, many of them well away from the crowds. There was something inspiring about those scenes from French beaches where, in the soft sunshine of a June evening, members of the Normandy Veterans Association marched for the last time. The numbers of surviving veterans dwindle year by year, so the Association says that those memorial events in June marked the end of the road for their now all-too-frail fraternity.

But what of mere mortals, ordinary folk like you and I, who want to be part of the action? Or part of the events that memorialise the action? Last month, many thousands of visitors packed into small towns along the Normandy coast and watched mass parachute jumps, firework displays and parades of vintage military vehicles. There was also a public picnic of biblical proportions on Omaha Beach. The local tourist authorities had gone to great lengths to woo visitors to Normandy but, knowing of course that there would be no opportunity for those visitors to take part in the official ceremonies, they therefore provided alternative diversions.

For tourist authorities, as indeed for individual hoteliers, a key anniversary gives wonderful impetus to marketing campaigns and is thus all the more welcome when the timing of the event extends the normal flow of high-summer visitors into the shoulder season.

Europe is awash with events which pander to the needs of homo touristicus.

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About the authors

hidden europe

and manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 43.