Saturday snippets: 14th of July 2018

By | Category: Travel news


the reed dance in Eswatini

Jamaica says that tourism growth rose 5.4% in the first six months of the year. For the period January to June 2018, Jamaica over 1,253,236 million visitors were stopover arrivals and 1,025,782 were cruise arrivals. This means over 100,000 more tourists for the period and a sizeable increase in foreign exchange earnings.

In Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) the biggest event of the tourist –and heritage year – is the reed dance celebrations. This year it will run between 28th of August and 3rd of September.  Umhlanga or reed is a centuries-old tradition where the kingdom’s unmarried and childless females present their newly cut reed to the Queen Mother to protect her residence. When the main day arrives, young women from all over Eswatini and beyond her borders converge on the royal residence in Ludzidzini for this momentous occasion as Natasha showed when she visited Eswatini during a previous festival period.

The airport in Athens saw more than 10 million passengers in the first six months of the year, a rise of 11.1% over the same period last year. Importantly for the country, the number of international passengers rose by 15.7% in the same period which is about a million extra overseas visitors for the country.  This suggests that 2018 will be a significant year for tourism in Greece.

model of how Jerusalem once might have been

the model of old Jerusalem in the Israel Museum.

In the first half of this year, Israel has seen 2 million visitor arrivals for the very first time. This amounts to a 19% increase over the same period last year. Just in June there were 310,200 overseas visitors. Last year 3.6 million tourists visited the country so it looks as though Israel will beat that target this year. Jerusalem is the most visited city and the Western wall in the city is the biggest visitor attraction. The UK is the fifth largest source of visitor numbers

Over the next eight days or so, Malta will be hosting two of the major festivals of the month. The first is the Malta International Food Festival (19-22ND of July) which is held in Mdina and which offers three days of alfresco eating and drinking is offered from 10 international cuisines, as well as fun family entertainment and the second is the Jazz Festival. The Malta Jazz Festival is held over six days in various venues across Valletta. This year four of the biggest names in jazz today – Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Nasheet Waits and John Patitucci – are appearing.

bachstage at the Ekhof Theatre showing the anually operated machinery © Schloss Friedenstein

On Thursday the Proms began; today sees the opening of the Liverpool Biennial. This contemporary art Festival will have 305 new artworks on display in seventeen of the city’s public places, unused buildings and galleries from. Founded in 1998 the Biennial has commissioned 450 artists from around the world. Just as the Royal Academy’ Summer Exhibition has become part of the summer landscape in London, every two years the art world looks at Liverpool. The Biennial runs until October 28th.

One other feature which typifies summer, this time in Germany, is the Ekhof Festival which began last week and runs until the 25th of August. Held at the Friedenstein Palace in Gotha, the Ekhof Theatre is the oldest baroque theatre in the world with its original stage machinery still intact requiring muscles rather than gizmos to make it work! It was built in the western tower of the palace at the end of the seventeenth century and every summer, the festival combines plays, operas and concerts with readings. As usual, the festival closes with an open-air concert on the grounds of Friedenstein Palace and a baroque party.

Image © The Isokon Gallery Trust

Next year in Germany will be a year-long celebration of Bauhaus. Founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius, this influential art school had a significant impact on architecture. Despised by the Nazis, Gropius and two colleagues, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy worked in the UK in the 1930’s. Now a blue plaque has been unveiled on the Isokon Building in London’s Belsize Park where the three of them worked. The building became a hub for locals who dined at the Isobar restaurant there and they included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Agatha Christie and Naum Slutzky. Expect to hear a lot about Bauhaus over the next eighteen months. You can learn more about the Bauhaus movement by visiting the Isokon Gallery in the Isokon building.

Finally, to all those planning to fly out of Aberdeen airport during the summer, be prepared!  Ground staff there are threatening three 24-hour strikes scheduled for July 20 followed by strikes on August 2 and August 16. Check with the airport’s website for up-to-date information. And at Luton next week there will strike action by those who help disabiled paeengers on both Tuesday and Wednesday.The airport says that there will be mimimal discuption; the union says otherwise so until the strike starts none of us will know the effects! UPDATE: 19th July. A settlement has been reached and the strikes will not now go ahead.

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