April Cultural Travel Guide

Times Square
Times Square offers cultural events in the form of theater and world renowned performances (Medio Images)

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Top-notch bands play the clubs of New Orleans year-round, but it's hard to beat the line-up and festivities surrounding the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, held late-April to early-May. Performers have included Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, and hometown favorites Harry Connick, Jr., Ivan Neville, Herbie Hancock, and Keb Mo. “N'awlins" food specialties served on the grounds feature crawfish, andouille gumbo, and alligator pie.

Virginia's Historic Garden Week
Billed as “America's Largest Open House," Virginia's Historic Garden Week, usually in late April, boasts the oldest garden tour program in the country. More than 250 of the state's most beautiful and historic homes and gardens open to the public during the peak week of Virginia's springtime color. Many of the homes have family histories related to the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Victorian Era, and will appeal to both architecture and history buffs. Locations include Tuckahoe Plantation, a boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, and Gunston Hall in Alexandria.

Branson, Missouri
Every year, the entertainment hub of Branson celebrates a new season with five full days of music, food, and Ozark Mountain arts. Dubbed BransonFest, the celebration kicks off in April and includes performances by the folks who put Branson on the map—Andy Williams, Meg and Pam Tillis, Yakov Smirnoff, Tony Orlando, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Nantucket's Daffodil Festival
Off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket celebrates the winter thaw with its annual Daffodil Festival in April. Events include the Children's Daffodil Parade and Dafft Hat Pageant, but the highlight of the festival is always the Antique Car Parade, where more than 100 cars covered in yellow, orange, white, and pink daffodils caravan down the cobblestone streets of historic Old Town. Afterwards, folks have elaborate picnics on the lush lawns leading into the village.

Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art
Hugging the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Boston has never fully taken advantage of its waterfront setting. That is, until now. When the Institute of Contemporary Art opened in December 2006, it became the first of many buildings to occupy the burgeoning Fan Pier section of the city. Architects Diller, Scofido, and Renfro built a gem on the water, where each floor offers a slightly different vantage point. The highlight for most will be the glass-enclosed fourth floor galleries that extend over the Atlantic, offering views of sailboats gliding by and the city skyline on the opposite shores.

Times Square, New York City
Let the crowds come to Times Square to watch the ball drop in the cold New Years Eve night. The wise tourist visits New York in the spring. Times Square is enjoying something of a renaissance: Disney invested $34 million to restore the old Ziegfield Follies haunt, the New Amsterdam Theater, to stage The Lion King in 1997. It's still playing to packed audiences. Down the block, the Apollo and Lyric theaters were combined to form the Hilton Theatre, the current home of such performances as The Pirate Queen. Across the street, get a good look at the 200 or so lifelike wax figures of celebrities and world leaders at Madame Tussaud's.

Scottsdale Culinary Festival
Happy hour cocktail tastings, dinner served by James Beard award winning chefs, Carnivale de Cuisine, which celebrates the food and dance of the Caribbean, and entrees from 50 restaurants at the Great Arizona Picnic, are all part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival in Arizona. On tap in mid-April, Food & Wine magazine sponsors the event.

Cologne, Germany
Cologne, Germany plays host to the world's longest established fair for modern and contemporary art. Art Cologne features hundreds of internationally renowned galleries, including “Open Space," an outdoor venue of contemporary art. The New Talents area contains the work of up-and-coming artists, while New Contemporaries takes a look at the most cutting edge art galleries.

Kawasaki, Japan
It's not everyday that you get to see a large penis as the main float in a parade. But the Kanamara Matsuri, a yearly fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan, is not your run-of-the-mill occurrence. Created back in Japan's Edo period, to pray for sexual safety among Kawasaki's prostitutes, the gathering now draws Japanese couples hoping to get pregnant, and scores of intrigued foreigners who've come to lick phallic-shaped lollipops. This year, plan on being in Kawasaki in April.

Antigua's Sailing Week
The number one regatta in the Caribbean, Antigua's Sailing Week boasts good boating, miles of white sandy beach, and a great island on which to throw a week-long party. You don't have to race to take part in the festivities. Most folks rent sailboats or power boats to catch the races.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 6 Mar 2007 | Last Updated: 22 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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