Archive for the ‘special interest travel’ Category

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Offers Best Public Viewing of Atlas V Rocket Launch on July 19

July 12, 2013

Guests at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral, Florida, can experience the amazing sights and sounds of the launch of a 191-foot-tall Atlas V rocket as it lifts off on Friday, July 19. Visitors may view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or a special area at the Visitor Complex. The rocket will blast off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a launch window from 8:51 to 9:35 a.m. ET.

A limited number of Apollo/Saturn V Center launch viewing tickets are available for $20 plus tax, in addition to admission. The Visitor Complex hours for July 19 are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Buses to the Apollo/Saturn V Center will begin boarding at 7:30 a.m. and guests should arrive before 8 a.m. to ensure transportation. Live launch commentary and a beverage station will be available at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

At the Visitor Complex, special launch viewing areas for guests and live launch commentary are included in admission.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch the second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite for the U.S. Navy. Built by Lockheed Martin, this U.S. military spacecraft will provide narrowband tactical communications designed to significantly improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move. The rocket will fly in the 551 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

Launch date and time are subject to change.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 877-313-2610 and visit

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities, including the Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, the new Angry Birds Space Encounter, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits. The new $100 million home for Space Shuttle AtlantisSM opened June 29, 2013. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, which opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season.  Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander’s Club Annual Pass is $63 + tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11.  For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures


Virgin Vacations’ ‘4-Star London-Downton Abbey’ Tour Features Private Champagne Reception at Highclere Castle

May 14, 2013

Following its sold-out summer departure, Virgin Vacations has added two special fall “Four Star London with Downton Abbey” tours, each featuring a private cocktail reception at Highclere Castle, where the hit television series was filmed.

The 7-day tour includes round trip flights on Virgin Atlantic to London, 5 nights’ First Class hotel accommodations, transfers, breakfast daily, one dinner, sightseeing, a private cocktail reception at Highclere Castle, travel by motorcoach, and the services of a tour manager throughout. Three nights are spent in London, with two nights in Bracknell, close to Highclere Castle in the center of Berkshire County, an area favored by the Royals for its scenic countryside.

Departure dates are September 16 and October 31, with per person prices from New York beginning at $2,289 and $2,329 respectively. Miami departures cost $2415 for September 16, $2513 for October 31; while Los Angeles costs $2544 and $2505 respectively, and San Francisco is $2694 and $2529.

Highclere Castle Private Benefit Reception

Highlighting the tour is a private cocktail reception at Highclere, where Virgin Vacations’ travelers will be among guests at a benefit hosted by the castle’s owners, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. During the reception, the castle’s public rooms—including the Main Hall, Saloon, Library, and Sitting Rooms – will be open, and guides will be on hand to answer questions. The cocktail receptions each benefit a different charity: Langalanga Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to needy children in Kenya, on the September 16 departure; and the Newbury Cancer Trust for the October 31 departure.

Oxford, Stonehenge & Bath, and London Tours Included

In addition to the Highclere Castle cocktail event, the tour includes a post-reception dinner, a full day excursion to Bath and Stonehenge; plus a morning in Oxford, visiting Christchurch, the grounds of Oxford College, and the countryside where parts of “Downton Abbey” are filmed. The tour also features a morning sightseeing tour of London via a vintage bus, with the Tower of London and a Thames River Cruise; plus a free day in London for individual pursuits.


Virgin Vacations advises travelers to book early in order to assure a place on the tours. Prices are per person, and based on double occupancy. Airline taxes and fuel charges are included.

For more information and to book the special Downton Abbey fall departures, visit, phone 1-877-740-4302, or see your travel agent.

Virgin Vacations offers a wide selection of escorted tours, river and sea cruises, and independent packages worldwide, available with or without air fare on Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin America, as well as other international airline partners. Virgin Vacations travelers can enroll in Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club or Virgin America’s Elevate frequent flyer programs, and earn points.

For information on other worldwide destinations available through Virgin Vacations, visit As a member of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, Virgin Vacations protects travelers’ payments up to $1 Million through the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program.

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

‘Southern Italy Through Jewish Eyes’ Tour to be Led by Italy’s First Female Rabbi in October

May 3, 2013

Rabbi Barbara Aiello, a first-generation Italian-American who became Italy’s first female rabbi and the founder of the first active synagogue in Calabria in over 500 years, is organizing a Jewish Heritage Tour focusing on Italy’s deep south.

The tour, ‘Southern Italy Through Jewish Eyes,’ is scheduled for October. Participants can choose either Part I — Calabria (Oct. 1-6), or Part II — Sicily (Oct. 5-10), or the full tour of both regions – 9 nights – Oct. 1 – 10.

One true ‘first’ promised on this tour: a Ferramonti Symposium where survivors of that WW II Italian concentration camp will share their emotional stories of conditions and events of the period under Mussolini’s rule. Participants will learn first-hand the incredible story of how nearly 4,000 Jewish inmates were saved by Italian soldiers and villagers.

A second ‘first’ will be the tour of the renovated and expanded synagogue, Ner Tamid del Sud, the first active synagogue in Calabria since Inquisition times, renovated by locals including Rabbi Barbara’s family.

Rabbi Barbara, as she likes to be known, describes herself as ‘a rabbi in two worlds.’ She divides her time between her congregation and a senior adult community in Sarasota, Florida, and officiating at Jewish life cycle events in Calabria. She has also worked in Milan and travels across Italy as a spokesperson for modern, pluralistic Judaism. She has officiated at more than 50 Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for families from the US, Great Britain, Australia and Asia at Calabria’s newly restored synagogue. Rabbi Barbara’s father grew up in Calabria, her mother’s family hails from Sicily and the former Yugoslavia. She traces her roots to when her ancestors were expelled from Sicily during the 16th century Inquisition.

Asked who might want to take part in this historic tour, Rabbi Barbara says, “Jewish participants will learn about lost and isolated Jewish communities, which can strengthen Jewish identity. It’s eye-opening to learn about the tenacity and perseverance of southern Italian Jews who, even though forced into Christian conversion, kept their traditions alive by practicing in secret for centuries.”

Others who will be attracted to the trip are Italian-Americans, many of whom have ancestors who emigrated from Sicily and Calabria, regions that once boasted a 50% Jewish population.

“Few Italian-Americans know that even though Mussolini aligned with Hitler, Italian soldiers and villagers risked their lives to save Jewish neighbors,” The rabbi adds. “The Ferramonti story is a source of pride for Italians who are often embarrassed by the Italian government’s participation as a WW II Axis ally. We need to tell that story, that despite the political climate of the time, local Italians thumbed their noses at the government and refused to allow Jews to be sent to their death. Ours will be the first international group to tour the camp.”

The journey focuses on some of the oldest places of Jewish presence in Italy and the rebirth of modern Jewish life in Calabria – the’ toe’ of the Italian ’boot,’

While the Jewish community of Italy dates back at least to Roman times over 2,100 years ago, their fate changed based on the whims of emperors, popes, kings and dictators.

Highlights of the trip include:
Part 1 (Oct. 1-6)
• Walking tour of ‘Il Timpone’ – medieval Jewish Quarter in Nicastro; Tiriolo villages
• Symposium at Mussolini’s Ferramonti Concentration Camp with optional ‘March to Survival,’ museum tour, meeting with camp survivors
• Visit to Synagogue of Serrastretta; Traditional Calabrese Jewish dishes
• Excursion to Reggio Calabria and Bova Marina archaeological sites; view Jewish artifacts and statues from the ancient Greek period; Reggio’s Old Jewish Quarter

Part 2 (Oct. 6-10)
• Siracusa and Ortigia; walking tour of Jewish Quarter, 6th century mikveh, Greco-Roman Archaeological Zone; harbor cruise
• Mt. Etna by cable car; winery visit; Catania Jewish Quarter; Taormina and amphitheatre tour

Rabbi Aiello says, “Whatever your background, here’s a rare opportunity to see parts of Italy that few tourists visit, and to meet local residents and guest scholars who will share little-known stories and secrets of southern Italy. It truly is a chance of a lifetime – ancient venues that makes for wonderful memories.”

Guest scholars will include Professor Enrico Tromba, first archaeologist for the Bova Marina excavation project, and Professor Vincenzo Villella, historian who wrote the account of the Jews of Calabria. The trip is recommended for people who can keep up with a busy schedule and a good deal of walking. It is open to anyone of college age and older.

The tour is being coordinated by Ellen Paderson of Smiles and Miles Travel, who has worked with the rabbi on many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in Italy and Laurie Weiss Howell of AmalfiLife tours who has organized several southern Italian tours with Rabbi Barbara. For more information, costs and or reservations, contact: Ellen Paderson, Travel Consultant, at / 508-238-4088 or Laurie Weiss Howell, 347-240-1244 /

Rabbi Aiello’s ‘The Radio Rabbi’ can be heard on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. on WLSS 930 AM in Sarasota. Click on Rabbi Barbara’s website, to listen to a podcast of the radio program and to find out more about the tour.

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures


Heart2Heart Hosts Weekend Nature Retreat in Vail, Colorado, Celebrating Mother-Daughter Relationship

May 3, 2013

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Women’s Empowerment Workshop presents Heart2Heart, a weekend retreat for mothers and daughters ages 16 and older.

Created by Susie Kincade and featuring a stellar crew of professional guides, Heart2Heart offers a nurturing, playful experience in nature for mothers and daughters to enrich and deepen their relationship, build trust, and explore the phases of womanhood together. The retreat will be held May 17-19 in Vail, Colorado at the Vail Racquet Club Mountain Resort.

Led by life and spiritual coaches and mothers of six daughters between them, Susie Kincade and Narda Reigel, transitional life coach specialists, the weekend includes developing trust through a rock climbing adventure, communication exploration and deep listening skills, as well as having time to enjoy yoga and spa experiences, restorative reflection, and gather for chef-prepared meals in the nurturing and inspiring setting of Vail in springtime.

“Being attuned to our surroundings, to the natural world, to our family members, offers us so many opportunities to give and to receive,” says Kincade. “It connects us deeply to the wholeness of life. Most importantly, we become more connected to the source within us-to our own capacity for love.”

The weekend package includes:

  • Two nights lodging at the luxurious Vail Racquet Club Mountain Resort (double occupancy)
  • Delicious, healthy meals (Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast)
  • Transportation within Vail to and from activities
  • Rock climbing exploration
  • Women’s Inner Wisdom: Life coaching, communication, emotional discernment skills
  • Spa offering
  • Pool, hot tubs, tennis and other amenities
  • Cost: $595* (*non-lodging rates available)

Formed two years ago, Women’s Empowerment Workshop started with one four-day nature adventure retreat, now called Awaken in NatureTM which combines outer and inner journeys through rafting/kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, healing with horses and other nature-based activities. The retreat drew attendees from as far away as Pakistan and from a dozen U.S. states. Its success led founder, Susie Kincade to create additional retreats and diverse workshops to satisfy the hunger she sees in women of all ages across the world who want to rise to their full potential.

For more information and to register, visit or call 877-595-8622

DuVine Cycling Introduces 4-Day Guided Bike Tour Itineraries to Tuscany, Burgundy, Provence

April 9, 2013

DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. has been designing and leading luxury bike tours around the world since 1996, and they’ll now be extending their expertise to include four-day European tours. They have released these shorter itineraries for guided bike tours in Tuscany, Burgundy, and Provence, making DuVine one of the only mainstream US bike tour operators currently offering four-day guided tours.

Most of DuVine’s European tours include six day, five night itineraries, but with their new product, DuVine hopes to provide another option for those who are strapped for time. “We realize that people going to Europe on business don’t always have an entire week to spend cycling,” says Andy Levine, President and Founder of DuVine. “The four-day tour is a unique offering, exclusive in the marketplace—it’s a product that doesn’t currently exist for cycling vacations,” says Levine.

The new tours are also designed for travelers looking to try out a new way to travel. For those travelers who are new to cycling and may be hesitant to spend an entire week on a bike, DuVine’s four-day tours offer a relaxed alternative. “We want all travelers to learn what we already know—that biking is the very best way to travel,” says Levine. “The four-day tours allow beginning cyclists to experience true DuVine style with no pressure or stress,” says Levine.

In Provence, travelers will cycle through fields of sunflowers and asparagus, climb winding roads to farmers markets in medieval villages, and stroll through charming rural towns and breathtaking ruins. “Our guests will taste some of the best olive oils, truffles, and wine in the world, as well as Provençal specialties prepared by some of the region’s most prominent chefs,” says Levine.

On their four-day Tuscany tour, guests are invited to explore the iconic Tuscan countryside as they ride through gentle green hills and cypress-lined byways, stopping along the way for intimate cooking classes, a wine tasting at one of Italy’s most highly-acclaimed wineries, gourmet dinners, and relaxing at some of the most stunning luxurious villas in Italy. “Our seasoned guides call on their extensive local knowledge to orchestrate engaging and authentic visits, inviting travelers to partake of the best of the best throughout the world,” says Andy. “Welcome to the ride of your life!”

Find out more about DuVine’s new four-day tours as well as their classic, family, private, and couture tours at

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine’s May and June 2013 “Train like a Local” Cycling Tours

April 9, 2013

Ever wonder how top cyclists get ready for a race? (Hint: It doesn’t always involve doping.) From May 26 to June 1 and June 16-22, Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine offers “Train Like a Local,” an immersive, six-night steroid-free bike tour exploring the foothills south of the storied Dolomites, an area widely considered to be the preferred training ground for local and race teams. Focusing on the mid-mountains – climbs ranging between 900 and 1700 meters – the tour is an ideal introduction to riding at higher elevations, preparing cyclists for more challenging ascents. The tour attracts adventurists who share a passion for cycling and culinary pursuits, pairing challenging climbs with opportunities to sample the Germanic/Hungarian-influenced cuisine of Northeastern Italy. The tour is priced $3,695 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes accommodations, all ground transportation, guide services, all breakfasts and three dinners.

Expert cyclist and mountain guide Vernon McClure – recently named one of the “Great Tour Guides in Northern Italy” by Dream of Italy magazine — and cooking instructor and chef Kathy Bechtel ( also an avid biker) lead the tours, which feature cycling routes unknown to mainstream tour companies and introduce guests to magnificent regional cuisine and local wines.

Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine is an owner-operated private guide service, creating and guiding active culinary tours in Northeastern Italy. Unique in their ability to combine active biking, skiing and hiking adventures with world-class culinary programs — including tours with James Beard award-winning chefs — Italiaoutdoors customizes vacations for groups of 4 to 12 people. Italiaoutdoors has more than 15 years of recreational programming experience in the region, plus formal culinary and wine training. For more information or to receive Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine newsletter, recipes and wine information, visit or Chef Kathy Bechtel’s blog at

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures


Stars of ‘Chicago’ to meet Broadway Fantasy Campers During ‘All-Day Broadway: Chicago Session,’ April 13

April 7, 2013


Have an urge to see your name in lights on Broadway? Broadway Fantasy Camp is the ultimate experience for any adult looking to savor the spotlight down center or in the chorus, despite talent or experience level. At Broadway Fantasy Camp, theater lovers will experience the “Razzle Dazzle” as they spend a day immersed in the world of the Broadway musical © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Have an urge to see your name in lights on Broadway? Broadway Fantasy Camp is the ultimate experience for any adult looking to savor the spotlight down center or in the chorus, despite talent or experience level. At Broadway Fantasy Camp, theater lovers will experience the “Razzle Dazzle” as they spend a day immersed in the world of the Broadway musical © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Broadway favorite Amra-Faye Wright, now starring as “Velma Kelly” in CHICAGO at the Ambassador Theatre, will meet with Broadway Fantasy Camp participants during their All-Day Broadway: Chicago Session on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Manhattan.


Joining Wright is Gabriela Garcia, who has played “Hunyak” on Broadway. The Musical Director is Howard Levitsky, Associate Conductor for CHICAGO in North America and abroad.


Broadway Fantasy Camp is the ultimate experience for any adult looking to savor the spotlight down center or in the chorus, despite talent or experience level. At Broadway Fantasy Camp, theater lovers will experience the “Razzle Dazzleas they spend a day immersed in the world of this infectious musical.


From the moment Broadway Fantasy Camp begins, the authenticity is apparent. Participants meet in a Broadway rehearsal studio just like they’ve seen on Smash!   Broadway Fantasy Camp‘s staff of Broadway professionals works with participants to create a customized presentation, to be presented for family and friends. As a bonus, professional headshots will be taken.


To understand the full breadth of the Broadway experience, participants will visit with Amra-Faye Wright, Gabriela Garcia, and additional behind-the-scenes talent who help stage Broadway musicals.


After the Broadway Fantasy Camp presentation is complete, participants will enjoy CHICAGO from their VIP seats, and the celebration continues at Broadway Fantasy Camp’s very own post-show champagne reception at Sardi’s.


Information regarding upcoming 2013 sessions, gift certificates, and booking information may be found at, by emailing, or calling 212-713-0366.


For more travel features, visit:


‘Like’ us on


Twitter: @TravelFeatures


Catholic Pilgrimage Company Offers Five Departures of New Portugal Tour in 2013

March 13, 2013
Jeronimos Monastery in Belem is visited on Regina Tours new tour, Catholic and Cultural Portugal © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Jeronimos Monastery in Belem is visited on Regina Tours new tour, Catholic and Cultural Portugal © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Catholic pilgrimage provider Regina Tours/ 1-800-CATHOLIC announced five 2013 departure dates for its new tour, Catholic and Cultural Portugal. Regina Tours offers travelers a seven night exploration of Portugal, including stays in Fatima, Lisbon and Oporto.

Along the journey, travelers will visit the fishing center of Setúbal; the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Évora, notable for its Cathedral and Sacred Art Museum; and the historical city of Tomar, home of the 12th Century Castle and Convent of the Order of Christ. Throughout the week, tour-goers will visit Portugal’s most sacred sites and learn about the country’s spiritual life and Catholic history, while simultaneously discovering Portugal’s architectural, artistic, musical and culinary treasures.

During their two night stay in Fatima, pilgrimage-goers can join the Rosary Candlelight Procession in the evening and day trip to the hamlet of Aljustrel to see the homes of the three Fatima children. The tour continues with a visit to Valinhos, where the apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared in August of 1917, to the three Fatima children. A visit to the Parish Church, where the Fatima children were baptized is included.

The following day, travelers can enjoy visits to Coimbra, where Mass will be held at the Carmelite Convent where sister Lucia once lived, and the Monastery of St. Clare, the resting place of the patron saint of Portugal, Queen Santa Isabel. The tour continues to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Oporto, where travelers can taste the city’s famous port wines and see the extraordinary wood carvings in the St. Francis Church. Stops along the journey back to Lisbon include the canal city of Aveiro; the town of Batalha, home of a 14th Century monastery; the charming fishing village of Nazaré; the city of Alcobaça’s 12th century monastery; and the beautiful walled town of Óbidos. During the final day in Lisbon, tour-goers will visit the historical area of Belém, home of Jeronimos Monastery and the birthplace of delectable Portuguese pastries, pastel de natas. A visit to Sintra and Cascais, two romantic villages on the outskirts of Lisbon is the final visit before the tour group will enjoy a special farewell dinner in one of Lisbon’s famous fado restaurants, where they can enjoy some of the region’s renowned seafood dishes while listening to extraordinary vocalists sing fado, Portugal’s soulful musical tradition.

Catholic and Cultural Portugal is priced between $2698 to $3198 per person, depending on the season. Price includes round trip airfare from New York City area, five nights’ first class accommodations with breakfast and dinner daily. For more information on Catholic and Cultural Portugal, visit

Founded in 1985, Regina Tours is dedicated to building Catholic community and fellowship through pilgrimage travel. For more information about Regina Tours, visit or call 1-800-CATHOLIC.

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

Sports Tour Operator offers Baseball Tours; Go Free with Group of 10 with Follow the Leader Promotion

March 13, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays at spring training. Sports Travel & Tours operates baseball tours that takes fans to the action. © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Tampa Bay Rays at spring training. Sports Travel & Tours operates baseball tours that takes fans to the action. © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Sports Travel and Tours, a New England based sports tour operator has announced their lineup of baseball tours for 2013 and its new Follow The Leader promotion, whereby if you organize 10 or more people to travel on a Baseball Road Trip, you go for free.

“Our new Follow The Leader promotion adds a new way for fans to share their love of the game (and travel for free).” notes Director of Sales, Teresa Weybrew. “There is no better way to enjoy the game of baseball than with family and best buds! Our customers have friends and family who say, ‘I didn’t know there was such a thing’ when they tell them about Baseball Road Trips, so this should be easy! Fans find 10 or more people to travel on a Baseball Road Trip and they go for free!”

“I’ve visited all 30 big league ballparks and enjoy the camaraderie of baseball fans from all over the world: sharing one common interest – baseball. I plan a trip every year and often coordinate with other travelers whom I’ve met during past trips,” said Stephanie London, a librarian from Milwaukee. The tours bring together an eclectic group of fans, ranging from teenagers bonding with their mothers and fathers, to retirees from all walks of life gathering to spend a few days out in the sun enjoying their favorite sport.

“All of our trips include tickets to incredible baseball games, great hotel accommodations and luxury motor coach transportation to games and between cities. City tours, baseball stadium tours, and leisure time for sightseeing are included whenever possible,” says Jay Smith, president of Sports Travel and Tours.

An experienced tour host accompanies guests to ensure that all participants can simply relax and enjoy themselves. Most trips are scheduled in May, June, July and August, with trips geographically designed to see the East, West, Central and Southern ballparks.

Sports Travel and Tours,, 800-662-4424.

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures


Vicksburg Commemorates 150th Anniversary of Civil War Campaign With Events April-July 4

March 7, 2013
See why a camel is part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration at Vicksburg National Military Park. Vicksburg, named by AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler as one of the top 13 places to visit in 2013, kicks off Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) events in April and continues through July 4, the anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg’s surrender © 2013 Karen Rubin/

See why a camel is part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration at Vicksburg National Military Park. Vicksburg, named by AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler as one of the top 13 places to visit in 2013, kicks off Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) events in April and continues through July 4, the anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg’s surrender © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Vicksburg, named by AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler as one of the top 13 places to visit in 2013, kicks off Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) events in April and continues through July 4, the anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg’s surrender.

President Abraham Lincoln said “Vicksburg is the key”.   Confederate President Jefferson Davis said “Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South’s two halves together”.   Both presidents were aware of the strategic importance of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River in 1863.  Vicksburg National Military Park, named by the National Park Service as a venue for a Civil War sesquicentennial signature events, commemorates this campaign and its significance as a critical turning point of the Civil War 150 years ago.

The Civil war transformed a nation.  Not only was slavery abolished, but citizenship was redefined and the federal union was strengthened.  “Vicksburg National Military Park provides visitors with the opportunity to understand, reflect upon and deepen their appreciation of our shared history and the relevance of this period to society today,” said Superintendent Michael Madell.  Quoting Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Madell continued, “The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is a time to commemorate those who fought and died during this pivotal era in American history. At the same time, it is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the ongoing march for freedom and equality for all people.”

Events begin in April with Tapestry: The Pilgrimage to Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Heritage Fair.  The Heritage Fair, Friday, April 5, through Sunday, April 7, will spotlight downtown attractions such as Confederate General John C. Pemberton’s Headquarters on Crawford Street, the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, and the Old Court House Museum.  Crafts people, musicians, and dancers will participate in the heritage fair telling the story of civilian life during the Civil War.  Part of the fair will involve a debate and discussion of Civil War topics by actors portraying significant persons involved in the war.

Memorial Day Weekend marks the signature event including: free, open air concerts by the U.S. Navy Band, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra with special guest and country music superstar Trace Adkins and Jackson Mass Community Choir; commemorations of the first assault on the city and the second assault of Vicksburg’s defenses; living history presentations that include cannon demonstrations, the Texas Camel Corps and interpretation of soldier everyday life during the Civil War; Shadows of the Past Living History Tours; a display of Special Boat Unit 22, part of the Navy’s modern river forces; a rededication of the Iowa Memorial; special programs on Civil War engineering and siege tactics and on African Americans and the Civil War exploring the roles of freeman, U.S. Colored Troops and enslaved peoples; and Soldiers through the Ages where a timeline of the military will be presented through static displays and programs.

On July 3, to commemorate the date the decision was made to surrender Vicksburg, the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign is working with the Vicksburg National Military Park to create a Grand Illumination.  Approximately 20,000 luminaria will be spread throughout the park to memorialize the 20,000 American lives, both Union and Confederate, which were casualties of the Battle for Vicksburg.  Over 500 volunteers will work to set up the lights at each state memorial to honor that state’s loss, a spectacular memorial never before endeavored.

For more information, visit or

See also:

Staying in Vicksburg bnb is best way to experience Tapestry for Civil War 150th and slideshow

Civil War Sesquicentennial of Vicksburg Campaign marked with special events and slideshow

For more travel features, visit:

‘Like’ us on

Twitter: @TravelFeatures