Whisky Live returns, bringing the world’s best whisky event to even more cities worldwide

Whisky LiveWhisky lovers, rejoice. The world’s largest celebration of Scotland’s national beverage, Whisky Live, is returning for its 11th year, bringing together enthusiasts, experts, distillers and educators to cities across the globe.

What can you expect? Hundreds of other whisky lovers, tastings from your favorite brands like Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker, Glenmorangie, live bands, and private classes that offer specialized learning sessions.

We’re particularly intrigued by the Master Classes, usually about $20 each. Held in private, accommodating up to 75 people classroom style, these classes offer an hour of intense time learning more about your favorite whiskies. Hosted by brand ambassadors, master distillers, leading experts or Whisky Magazine writers, these seem way more fun than your traditional classroom experience.

Dates are scheduled across the country for the rest of the year and are currently on sale for Dublin, Glasgow, LA, New York, Shanghai and Toronto.

The 2011 US tour kicks off April 6 in New York City. Book tickets, which range from $105 to $135, here. Don’t want to shell out to attend? They’re also offering an online sweepstakes where you can enter to win a trip for two to Scotland for the Whisky Live Scotland event, as well as private distillery visits, lodging and more.

[Flickr via Keith.Allison]

Ring in the year of the rabbit

year of the rabbitIt has the makings of any good party… dancing dragons, popping firecrackers and mouth-watering food, all mixed together with a hearty splash of tradition.

February 3rd marks the start of 2011’s Chinese Lunar New Year. If you can’t swing the trip to Hong Kong to live it up with the locals, fear not! Here are just a few of the cities a bit closer to home where you can join in on the festivities.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco is home to the largest Chinese New Year celebration in North America with a multitude of events like a flower fair, a multi-day street festival and even a Miss Chinatown USA pageant. The party culminates with one of the “Top 10 Parades in the World” boasting a 250-foot-long ‘Gum Lung’ Golden Dragon –manned by 100 men and women– followed by a grand finale of over 600,000 firecrackers.

(Parade: February 19th, 5:15 – 8 pm, begins at the corner of Second and Market Streets)

VANCOUVER

Escape the parade crowds and learn the tradition behind the festivities at the Vancouver Chinese Garden with Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Try your hand at calligraphy, check out a paper flower demonstration and keep an eye out for red envelope hand-outs to bring you luck for the coming year.

(Garden Festival: February 6th, 10 am – 4 pm, 578 Carrall Street)

WASHINGTON, DC

DC’s Chinatown may only be only a few blocks long, but it stands out due to the recently refurbished Friendship Arch. Here you’ll find the staples of any respectable New Year’s procession, but the real draw to this event is the giant 5 story high firecracker that’s set off at 3:45 pm to drive off evil spirits.

(Parade: February 6th, 2 – 5 pm, H Street, NW, between 6th and 8th Streets)

NEW YORK CITY

The highlight of the Big Apple’s celebration is the 12th annual parade winding through the many streets of Chinatown. Over 5,000 participants are expected to join in the parade with lion and dragon dancers, musicians, magicians and acrobats.

(Parade: February 6th, 11:30 am – 4 pm, begins at Mott Street in Little Italy)

Whether you are a true descendant of the dragon, or just someone looking to experience a little bit of Chinese culture…”Kung Hei Fat Choy” or “May you be prosperous in the New Year.”

For other city celebrations, see your local Chinatown events calendar.

5 German drinking destinations other than Oktoberfest

german drinking destinations oktoberfestAs the towering, stumbling behemoth of German drinking destinations, Oktoberfest overshadows the many rich traditions of beverage consumption throughout the rest of the country.

While Oktoberfest resembles an overpriced frat party to my discerning eyes, these destinations promise beautiful settings, affordable prices and plenty of friendly locals ready to raise a glass and say Prost!

1. Palatinate Wine Festivals

While Germany’s premier wine region is best known for its world-class white wines, it’s quantity over quality at the region’s many wine festivals, and that’s no negative. Germans pack the streets in rural wine country to gulp down Weinschorle, a mixture of wine and sparkling water served in .5L glasses. Live music and lots of pretzels complete the scene.

2. Bamberg Rauchbier

Bamberg is one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities, and home to the highest density of breweries in the world. Their most famous brew is Rauchbier; a smoked beer that tastes like delicious beer bacon. Add that to the bizarrely low prices for everything in this bustling university town and you’ve got a winner.

3. Hessen Apfelwein

Hessen, a central state that includes Frankfurt is well known to Germans for its Apfelwein (apple wine). Similar to the American or British hard ciders you may be used to, Apfelwein is typically more tart and sour. It’s best experienced in Hessen Apfelwein taverns where they usually pair this wine with a massive plate of meat.

4. Stuttgarter Wasen

Cannstatter Wasen, also known as the Cannstatter Volksfest, takes place in Stuttgart at the end of September or beginning of October. It’s not that different from Munich’s Oktoberfest –you’ll find tents filled with top-notch German beer, loud drunk people and all the grilled bratwurst you could ever desire. But you can throw back that Ma� (liter glass) of Hefeweizen without the feeling that you’re in a tourist trap.

5. Oberkirch Schnapps

Oberkirch, a small town perched on the outskirts of the Black Forest, boasts 891 schnapps distilleries in the nearby vicinity. Try some pear schnapps, blackberry, raspberry, apple … the list goes on. Bonus: the entirety of the Black Forest is stunningly gorgeous with lots of outdoor activities.

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of March 6 –March 13

Happy Friday the 13th. My day has actually gone well. I hope yours has as well. Once again there is a hodge podge of happenings around the world that have captured our notice here at Gadling.