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March travel tips - European city breaks - a cultural spring escape from daily routine

March is the best month to take a quick break - our top 5 picks are not the usual capitals, but cities that will be celebrating their museums, their history and culture throughout 2015!  

What do you know about the title of "European capital of culture"? - "The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one year during which it is given a chance to showcase its cultural life and cultural development. A number of European cities have used the City of Culture year to transform completely their cultural base and, in doing so, the way in which they are viewed internationally. Conceived as a means of bringing citizens of European Union closer together, the European City of Culture was launched on June 13, 1985 by the Council of Ministers on the initiative of the Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri. Since then, the initiative has been more and more successful amongst European citizens and has had a growing cultural and socio-economic impact on the numerous visitors it has attracted." -


The 2 cities that won the title of European capitals of culture for 2015 are:

MONS (Belgium)

Mons Belgium

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 The organisers of Mons 2015 want you to get lost and discover unexpected places, so it is worth exploring the town’s steep cobbled lanes, hidden gardens and secret courtyards. Along the way, you will come across art installations, pop-up bars, street art and a poetry installation on buildings stretching for 10 kilometres called The Phrase.

The biggest event in Mons’ year as cultural capital is the Van Gogh exhibition. It will take place in the newly renovated BAM museum (25 January-17 May, ticket €15), but don’t come expecting starry nights or yellow sunflowers. The focus is on the period Van Gogh spent as a preacher among the poor mining communities of the Borinage, just south of Mons, with many of van Gogh’s early drawings, copies of paintings by other artists, and letters written to his brother, Theo.

To see the full programme of events in Mons for 2015 visit -


PILSEN (Czech Republic)

Czech Republic



The first thing you should do in Pilsen is have a Pilsner Urquell. The Pilsner Urquell brewery, where golden pilsner-style beer first frothed in 1842, is a short walk east of the historic centre through parkland. The brewery is touristy – ride the country’s largest lift, wonder at the rotating auditorium – but there are gems to enjoy, such as the mangled signature of Franz Joseph I of Austria from his brewery visit in 1885.

Pilsen isn’t just famous for its beer, it is also the birth place of the master of animation: Jiří Trnka. Considered to be one of the most important personalities of European animated film, and one whose contribution influenced the history of art, his work has not yet been presented in a complex and suitably representative form. Pilsen pays tribute to this master with the exhibition entitled "Jiří Trnka’s Studio" in two locations: Gallery of the City of Pilsen and Jiří Trnka Gallery  Show on

For a full programme of events in Pilsen for 2015 visit:




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2015 is also the 800th anniversary of the writing of the Magna Carta - meaning ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most famous documents in the world. Originally issued by King John of England as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution.

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To celebrate the 800th birthday of this essential document - Salisbury - where one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta is kept - offers a number of events. Preparations are underway for some truly memorable commemorations from major international conferences and exhibitions to local events and parties and a Magna Carta tour!

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LEIPZIG (Germany)

Staying with the theme of anniversaries, the German city of Leipzig celebrates 1000 years since its foundation in 1015 - 25 years after the German Reunification, Leipzig counts among the most dynamic and popular city destinations in Europe. The East German commercial and cultural city will be commemorating several major anniversaries in 2015: Under the motto "We are the city", Leipzig celebrates the 1000th anniversary of its documented first mentioning. With the double anniversary 850 years St. Nicholas Church and Leipzig trade fairs as well as the 100th birthday of the Leipzig Central Station, there's even more reasons to celebrate!


From 1st March through 25th May 2015, Leipzig's Museum of Fine Arts will present the exhibition "Paul Klee. Special Class - Not for Sale". Klee is counted among the most important representatives of Classical Modern Art. He used the designation "Special Class. Not for Sale" to reserve over 300 of his original works for his legacy collection, removing them from the market. For the first time, more than 100 of these works will be on display in Leipzig.


MALAGA (Spain)


Our last pick for the March city breaks is the city of Malaga - Founded by the Phoenicians, the ancient city of Málaga has far more to offer than the usual Spanish cocktail of sun, sea and sangria – though all of those things are still in plentiful supply. In 2015, a cube-shaped building on the quay will swing open its doors as an offshoot of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, featuring works by Málaga-born Pablo Picasso.

The new museum will borrow works housed in Paris and crown an already impressive tally of art galleries, including the excellent Picasso Museum (, the Carmen Thyssen Museum ( and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo CAC ( in up-and-coming SOHO, or the Barrio de les Artes (

Straddling a triangular area south of the Alameda between the river Guadalmedina and the port it is has become a stage for some of the country’s hottest street artists and small studios. Food is getting a new lease of life too, thanks in part to GastroArte (, a collaboration that brings together the region’s most interesting chefs and producers.


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Date Created: 21/03/2015

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