All things scientific in Edinburgh

TRAVEL SMARTS

Festival includes exhibits and fun for both adults and children

March 30, 2003

The Edinburgh Science Festival, a 12-day series of more than 100 interactive exhibits, workshops and tours designed to be educational and fun, takes place in Scotland beginning April 11.

Topics include everything from veterinary science to space travel and gemology. Visitors are encouraged to explore the diverse ecology of southern Scotland, from marine wildlife at the Scottish Seabird Center east of the city to soil structure at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Tropical forest and arid desert habitats can be sampled in the botanic garden's Glasshouse Experience.

Hands-on experiences for children, at the Assembly Rooms and the Royal Museum of Scotland, include writing in invisible ink, building a mini-robot and programming it to run a maze, and designing a dinosaur capable of surviving in a hostile environment. A chemist will perform experiments that fizz, freeze and blow up, and robot competitors will play a game of rugby.

In the Walking on Water challenge at the Commonwealth Pool, 15- to 26-year-olds will stride across the water without motors or external support in self-propelled buoyancy shoes of their own design.

Programs geared to adults include tours of ancient lava flows at the Torphin Hill Quarry near Edinburgh and of exposed sandstone rock strata at Dreghorn that reveal that southern Scotland once had a desert-like ecology.

For more information about the festival, visit the Web site www.sciencefestival.co.uk.

For hire: One country

Want to make a big splash at your next convention? Why not rent a country? Liechtenstein, the tiny principality between Austria and Switzerland, is offering itself to corporate events planners.

In the newly inaugurated Rent a State program, the 62-square-mile country will allow conference planners to blanket its 11 villages with posters and other promotional material. Guests will have a chance to mix with the local population. Liechtenstein's ruler, Prince Hans Adam, will allow renters to use his wine cellar for parties, but the prince himself is not for hire.

The program is modeled after the Rent a Village program (www.rentavillage.com) run by Xnet, a Liechtenstein events management program.

Vicksburg sites open for tour

Fifteen historic homes and churches in Mississippi will be open for tours through April 5 during the 29th annual Vicksburg Spring Pilgrimage. Timed to coincide with the blossoming of dogwoods, redbuds and azaleas in the city, the pilgrimage centers on downtown Vicksburg, and many sites are within walking distance of one another. Tours are offered in morning and afternoon. For more information: 800-221-3536; www.anchucamansion.com.

A BOUNTY OF BULBS IN HOLLAND

Holland's Keukenhof Gardens is one of the world's most photographed parks, but the Dutch treat lasts only two months each year.

In the fall, 90 Dutch bulb growers plant 7 million bulbs in the 80-acre park, guaranteeing a spring bounty of blooming hyacinths, daffodils, narcissus, lilies and tulips.

Among the 15 indoor exhibits is the world's largest display of lilies (May 12-18). Keukenhof Gardens, a royal herb garden in the 15th century, was transformed into a landscaped park in 1840 with beech trees, a Japanese garden, a dune landscape and ponds. The park's first bulb exhibition in 1949 attracted 236,000 visitors; today, more than 900,000 people come -- many with cameras in hand.

After the bloom cycles are finished, the park closes, and the growers dig up the bulbs and begin getting the park ready for next year.

For more information about the park and its exhibits, visit the Web site www.keukenhof. com.

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