25 January 2014 – Chamonix, France – 90th Anniversary of the First Winter Olympics As we eagerly await the Sochi Winter Olympic games in Russia, we can look back at the very first such event which took place 90 years ago, from 25 January to 5 February 1924. Held in the now popular ski resort of Chamonix in France, just 258 athletes competed in 16 sports. In 2014 there will be more than 2,500 athletes competing across 15 sports including curling, bobsleigh and alpine skiing.26 January 2014 – France – 300th Anniversary of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle’s Birth The French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle was born on this day, 300 years ago. His life and works will be celebrated both in his birthplace of Paris and across the country. Pigalle’s most iconic work is the nude statue of Voltaire from 1776, which was bought in 1962 by the Louvre. He also has a district of Paris named after him, centered around Place Pigalle in the 9th arrondissements. 29 January 2014 – Ireland – 75th Anniversary of W B Yeats’ Death The Irish playwright and poet is honoured this year on the 75th anniversary of his death in 1939. During the course of his career,W. B. Yeats established himself as one of the foremost English-language poets of the 20th century. He was given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 and is best known for his works ‘The Tower’ from 1928 and ‘The Winding Stair and Other Poems’ from 1929. 31 January 2014 – Umea, Sweden - Host of the European Capital of Culture 2014 The Swedish town of Umea kicks off the European Capital of Culture honour (along with Riga, below) in style with a three day opening weekend set around its motto for the event; curiosity and passion. Umea, which has a lively atmosphere thanks to a vibrant student population, promises a non-stop party throughout the long weekend – surely a sign of things to come throughout the year?! January 2014 – Colima, Mexico – Host of the American Capital of Culture 2014 Colima is dubbed the ‘City of Palms’ thanks to the multitude of tropical trees that fringe this city on Mexico's central Pacific coast. Its most notable for its superb eco travel facilities – visitors can go volcano hiking and bird spotting in the morning, then tackle the superb Pacific surf in the afternoon, before settling back with a margarita and watching the sun set in the evening. January 2014 - Limerick - City of Culture 2014 The pretty Irish city of Limerick is hosting its very own annual cultural festival, packed with events spanning arts, pageants, music, sport, history, theatre and architecture. The year will have a real community feel to it with local artists encouraged to make their mark on The People’s Park Kiosk and to learn about the city’s heritage within dance, literature and architecture. January 2014 – Cardiff, Wales - European Capital of Sport 2014 The sporting capital of Wales, Cardiff is set to shine throughout the year with a packed annual calendar of thrilling sporting events. The city, which is most famous as the set of Doctor Who, boasts several state of the art stadiums including the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff International Sports Stadium and the Swalec Stadium. The national rugby, football, cricket and athletic teams are based here. Cardiff will also vie for a chance to host a future Commonwealth Games. January 2014 - Thessaloniki, Greece - European Youth Capital 2014 Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki is the perfect host of this particular title – it has a hip and happening atmosphere with plenty going on 24/7. Visitors are treated to boutique shopping, lively nightlife and, as you’re expect, a non-stop whirlwind of exciting festivals and events taking place all year long. January 2014 – Tripoli, Libya - Arab Capital of Culture 2014 The vibrant city of Tripoli will host the Arab Capital of Culture honour throughout the year, although this diverse city will be off limits to many travellers as a country-wide travel warning remains in place. January 2014 – Sharjah, UAE - Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014 The quieter and laidback alternative to Dubai, Sharjah is brimming with traditional Islamic culture, from traditional arts and crafts to striking architecture. 13–26 January 2014 – Melbourne, Australia - Australian Open The annual battle for the Grand Slam champions get underway this month, with the first leg kicking off in Melbourne in Australia. Competing for the A$30,000,000 prize money will be Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, last year’s singles winners. The tennis season is then followed up with the French Open in Paris (26 May 26 – 2 June), Wimbledon in London (23 – 30 June) and concludes with the US Open in New York City (25 August – 1 September). 1 January 2014 – Alcatraz, California, USA – 80th Anniversary of Alcatraz Prison This one little word struck fear across the US 80 years ago when it reopened as a federal penitentiary in 1934. During its infamous reign until 1963, Alcatraz proved to be inescapable, although many tried. Even if an inmate has succeeded they would have had to contend with a 1.5 mile swim to land in the San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz has spawned many famous films and TV series. 1 January 2014 – London, UK – 70th Anniversary of the death of Sir Lutyens Anybody that has explored New Delhi in India would have encountered the architectural efforts of Sir Edward Lutyens. From 1912 to 1930 Lutyens shaped the very skyline we see today, from the impressive Rashtrapati Bhavan (previously known as the Viceroy's House), Baroda House and the Patiala House Courts Complex. 1 January 2014 – Brunei – 30th Anniversary of Independence This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of independence of Brunei from the UK. 5 January 2014 – 40th Anniversary of Antarctica’s Highest Temperature The global warming debate rages on, but what is unquestionable is the highest ever recorded temperature at Vanda Station in Antarctica – a high of 14.6°C (59°F) was recorded on 5 January 1974.