3 European Anniversaries to Celebrate this Summer

  • A Battle of Waterloo reenactor in costume as a soldier of the British Foot Guard.

    A Battle of Waterloo reenactor in costume as a soldier of the British Foot Guard.

  • Zermatt in autumn colors, with the Matterhorn rising above (right). © Pascal Gertschen

    Zermatt in autumn colors, with the Matterhorn rising above (right). © Pascal Gertschen

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In Britain, Belgium, and Switzerland this summer, three major anniversaries will be affairs worth stepping out for.
By Gabrielle Lipton

Remembering the Magna Carta
When England’s King John begrudgingly signed the Magna Carta 800 years ago, little did he know it would become an enduring symbol of freedom under the law. This June, Britons will celebrate the Great Charter’s octocentenary with a gamut of concerts, lectures, festivals, and a commemoration in its birthplace of Runnymede on June 15. As well, six Magna Carta Trails have been devised to guide travelers through sites and cities linked to the document, including the British Library, whose exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy (through September 1) also displays Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence.

All Eyes On Waterloo
A three-day celebration of the Battle of Waterloo’s bicentenary is set to be the biggest spectacle this Belgian town has seen since Napoleon was defeated here by Britain and its allies in 1815. Proceedings kick off on June 18 with Inferno, a theatrical interpretation of the battle complete with pyrotechnic fire artists, while historical reenactments will be staged over the following two days by 5,000 actors, 300 horses, and 100 canons. In town, the Wellington Museum—once an inn that housed the Duke of Wellington, commander-in-chief of the allied armies—is exhibiting “Napoleon Wellington: Shared Destinies,” comparing the lives of the French and British leaders.

Matterhorn Matters
Rising nearly 4,500 meters over the Swiss-Italian border, the pyramidal peak of the Matterhorn is notoriously one of the highest, most perilous climbs in the Alps. Honoring the 150th anniversary of its first ascent by British climber Edward Whymper on July 14, the mountain’s base town of Zermatt has planned a summer full of festivities. On the program are performances of The Matterhorn Story (July 29–August 29) in a special open-air theater; three-course sunset dinners on Europe’s highest viewing platform (Saturdays, June 20–August 15); and, on the anniversary eve of Whymper’s ascent, an illumination of his route up the mountain followed by parties in town.

This article originally appeared in the June/July print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Time Travel”)

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