Europe will be showcasing a variety of cultural and historical events in 2014; some are celebrations and some are moments of somber reflection.

In Scotland it's party time as the country showcases everything Scottish by throwing a Homecoming celebration, with numerous events and festivals held throughout 2014.  A highlight will be the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3 with the finest athletes from Commonwealth countries heading to compete in 17 sports. In addition to cheering on our Canadian athletes, spectators will have the chance to see Olympic champion sprinter, Usain Bolt go for gold.  If you want to explore Scotland's famous Highlands, hike the recently opened John Muir Trail, stretching some 160 km from Dunbar to the waterfront town of Helensburgh.

Every year, two cities are chosen as the 2014 European Capitals of Culture. With that designation comes a year of art exhibits, musical events and cultural festivities in each city. Relatively unknown Umea is located 600 km north of Stockholm and will focus a large part of its program on the indigenous Sami people. Slightly better known Riga, the stunning capital city of Latvia, offers visitors a lively restaurant and café scene and cobblestoned streets lined with medieval timber-frame houses. With more than 800 Art Nouveau structures within the city, Riga will be highlighting its unique architectural offerings alongside its arts program.  

It's a very important year for military history and remembrance as 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Commemorative events, including a national church service, are being held across Britain to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. New exhibits are also set to debut, most notably London's Imperial War Museum's First World War Galleries. Due to open in June the new galleries are part of a radical renovation of the museum. The goal is to better tell the story of the 16 million people whose lives were claimed by the First World War.

Elsewhere in Europe they are marking the beginning of the end of the Second World War with events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Prime Minister Harper will be attending ceremonies in France on June 6th. The new interactive WWII Bastogne museum just opened in Brussels.  The newly created Liberation Route of Europe will reconnect the main regions through which Allied forces moved from the United Kingdom to Berlin at the end of the Second World War.  In the Netherlands for example, the Liberation Route will focus on 85 historical locations in three regions, which played an important role in the final stages of the war. Each location, marked by a large boulder, will tell the story of the civilians and soldiers who lived and fought there in 1944-45. As you walk, bike or drive the route you can down land the accompanying audio stories for free as MP3s from