On 1 July, assuming the ratification process is completed, Croatia will become the 28th member state of the European Union and the second former Yugoslav state to join, following Slovenia. However, Croatia won't be part of the eurozone immediately, so don't worry about your old kune suddenly becoming worthless.
Tourism plays a significant role in the Croatian economy, contributing around 20 per cent of GDP. In the summer months, crowds flock to its Adriatic coast and islands and of course to the culture-rich old town of Dubrovnik. However, the lively capital of Zagreb is also worth a look, with its stunning Austro-Hungarian architecture and buzzing café culture.
This year's two European Capitals of Culture are Marseille and the Slovakian city of Kosice. The charms of Marseille are well documented but to be honest we don't know too much about Kosice. Having looked at the city's website we can tell you that water polo is very popular, a new zoning plan is going to help local development, there's a zoo, and apparently local bigwigs believe that the place is not fulfilling its potential as a tourist destination. So why not have a look for yourself and take a BA fly-drive to Kosice via Budapest? Plenty of interesting events are planned for the year ahead.
Following Sweden's victory last year, Malmo will host the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, with the final taking place at the Malmo Arena on 18 May. This is Sweden's fifth time as host country and Malmo's second as host town. The venue is somewhat smaller
than those of recent years, but the magnitude of eastern European solidarity and British humiliation should remain unchanged.
On a more highbrow note, the operatic world will celebrate the 200th anniversaries of the births of Wagner and Verdi, with special bicentennial performances and recordings across the world. Head to the nonstop-Wagner Bayreuth Festival in July and August, which promises a new 20th-century take on Der Ring des Nibelungen. Or visit Milan's Teatro alla Scala, whose 2013 season is all about Verdi (with a bit of Wagner thrown in), with new productions of Falstaff, Nabucco, Macbeth, Oberto and Un Ballo in Maschera Don Carlo, culminating with Aida in October and November with Hui He and Liudmyla Monastyrska.
In Paris, the cathedral of Nôtre-Dame, made famous by Victor Hugo (and more recently Dan Brown), celebrates its 850th
year with a new set of bells. Specially commissioned to recreate the sound of the 18th-century bells that made the fictional Quasimodo deaf, they will be unveiled next month.
British Airways flies to Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Marseille, Budapest, Copenhagen, Nuremburg, Milan and Paris.
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