By Josephine Matyas

Everyone loves a celebration. Did you know that 2012 will be a year-long culinary party in Alabama? How about travel to the southwest – with 2012 being the Arizona’s centennial there’s a lot happening in every corner of the state. And there’s more. Just read on and enjoy the party atmosphere!

manassas.tiffBill Crabtree Jr/Virginia Tourism Corp

Virginia

As home to the largest US Naval Base in the world and the site where many battles of the War of 1812 were fought, Norfolk, Virginia and the ports of Hampton Roads will welcome naval ships and tall ships from around the world to the week-long 200th anniversary celebration, OpSail Virginia 2012 (June 6 to 12). www.opsail2012virginia.com/
In Manassas, Virginia, the Civil War 150th Anniversary Celebrations span a four-year commemoration period (from 2011 to 2015). Special events will be of interest to American Civil War buffs, re-enactors and students studying American History. Highlights in Manassas include the National Battlefield Park, one of those rare places where you can actually visit the site of two Civil War battles at one park (the first land battle of the Civil War and Second Bull Run). www.virginiacivilwar.org/
Many more special events are planned across the country to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois and Texas have re-enactments, museum displays and photographic exhibits planned. There are almost too many to mention, but the website www.civilwar.org has a comprehensive listing and a search engine to narrow down interests by topic.

Alabama

Foodies rejoice! The Year of Alabama is in full swing throughout 2012 and the year will bring new dishes, a spotlight on restaurants, a new 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die brochure and a BBQ Trail. Favourites like Fried Green Tomatoes, Chocolate Lava Cake and the famous Harvey Milkshake are on the list. www.alabama.travel

North Carolina

September11 marks the 25th anniversary of the Linn Cove Viaduct, the crowning achievement of the Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. To celebrate, travellers can stop by the viaduct visitor centre and museum to marvel at the engineering feat and the majestic mountainscape in all its splendour. www.blueridgeparkway.org

Arizona

It’s a big year for the Grand Canyon state. In February, Arizona will celebrate 100 years of statehood. Centennial of Arizona events are happening across the calendar. Details are at www.arizona100.org but we’ve assembled a snapshot of some of the highlights:

• Verde Canyon Railroad commemorates 100 years of railroading in the Verde Valley on February 11 to 12. Activities include in-depth tours with knowledgeable guides offering history and stories on why Verde Canyon Railroad exists, what has been accomplished in 100 years, an introduction to the railroad’s rolling stock, a visit to the mining/railroad museum and a walking tour through the cars of Verde Canyon Railroad.
• In Phoenix, Arizona’s Best Fest centennial festival (February 11 to 14) includes three days of music, food and wine celebrations plus family-friendly entertainment.
• In 2012, Taliesin West, renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus in Scottsdale, will celebrate its 75th anniversary with several activities and events, including an exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum entitled Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century (through April 29). www.franklloydwright.org/fllwf_web_091104/Home.htm.
• The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix commemorates Arizona music with a special exhibit titled, I Am Arizona Music: MIM Celebrates 100 Years of Arizona Music History. www.themim.org
• In Flagstaff, cowboy entertainers will play music, tell stories and read cowboy poetry in celebration of Arizona’s centennial at Traveling the Cowboy Trail: 100 Years of Arizona Tales.
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