Like Clockwork: 10 Attractions You Can Count On
From a military exercise steeped in history to an eerily predictable natural wonder, here are 10 attractions around the world that occur daily.
In the heart of Munich, pedestrian traffic in the bustling Marienplatz square stands still at 11 a.m. as eager tourists crane their necks to glimpse the historic Glockenspiel, which sits atop the Neues Rathaus, or “New Town Hall.” The charming, 2-level clock’s 43 bells and 32 life-size figurines re-enact 16th-century scenes, including knights jousting and dancing the Schäfflertanz. The performance lasts about 12 minutes.
When to Catch It: 11 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. daily, March through October
Changing of the Guard
Throngs of tourists, sometimes 10 people deep, assemble in front of Buckingham Palace to see the new guard relieve the old guard each day. Red-coated soldiers bark orders and march in a highly orchestrated, 45-minute ceremony in this quintessentially British display of pomp and pageantry.
When to Catch It: The guard begins assembling daily at 11:15 a.m., but get there earlier to secure a decent spot. Occasionally canceled because of heavy rainfall.
Set against the great Burj Khalifa Lake, a mesmerizing series of lights and graceful water jets — which can blast as high as 500 feet in the air — makes up the great Dubai Fountain. At night, it shines so brightly that it can be seen from space. The dancing fountain, considered to be the world’s largest, has a varied repertoire, including classical songs, Middle Eastern music and, naturally, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
When to Catch It: 1 and 1:30 p.m. daily — except Friday, when it starts at 1:30 and 2 p.m. — as well as every half-hour from 6 to 11 p.m. nightly
Yellowstone is home to the majority of the world’s preserved geysers, in large part because it was America’s first national park, established in 1872. Old Faithful’s eruptions aren’t the largest or the most frequent, but true to its name, they are the most consistent — shooting 8,000 gallons of water up to 180 feet into the air about every 90 minutes.
When to Catch It: You can see crowds gathering on the benches and predicted geyser eruption times (plus or minus 10 minutes) on the National Park Service’s Old Faithful live cam.
The Peabody Ducks, Memphis
Cue the drum roll. Unroll the red carpet. The Peabody downtown hotel welcomes some very adorable VIP guests every morning, who in turn spend the day playing in the Italian marble fountain. Families with young kids will especially get a kick out of this tradition, which dates back to a prank played by the general manager in the 1930s.
When to Catch It: 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (when they return to the rooftop “duck palace”) daily. Word to the wise: The ducks don’t waddle, they run — so make sure you’re in the lobby early, as it takes them less than a minute to beeline for the fountain.
Volcano at the Mirage, Las Vegas
Less famous than the Bellagio fountains but no less of a spectacle, Mirage’s iconic, revamped volcano now comes with more fireballs, explosions and its own lagoon. Choreographed to hypnotic music and the sound of actual volcanic eruptions, fire blasts on demand 12 feet into the air, which explains why the show is canceled only in the case of high winds. Surrounding waterfalls, smoke and, of course, the radiating heat add to the overall effect.
When to Catch It: Every half-hour from 5 to 11 p.m. nightly (except at 7:30)
Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong
The Symphony of Lights laser show claims the entire spectacular Hong Kong skyline as its backdrop. Divided into 5 parts, the 13-minute show builds excitement slowly, until the tops of the skyscrapers erupt with radiance. While tickets to the world’s largest light show are free, some of the best vantage points are from posh penthouse bars such as Sevva, where the 360-degree views from its wrap-around terrace atop the famous Prince’s Building is worth the steep cocktail prices.
When to Catch It: 8 p.m. nightly. Suspended in cases of severe weather.
Bridge Bats, Austin
Like a scene from a (potentially scary) movie, 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. And so, on summer nights, hundreds of people gather to witness the world’s largest urban bat colony. The truth is that the Mexican free-tailed bats migrate each spring from central Mexico and devour up to 20,000 pounds of insects on these nightly flights. Spectators have nothing to fear as long as they don’t attempt to handle the bats.
When to Catch It: Crowds converge around dusk most summer nights.
Disneyland Forever Fireworks, Anaheim, CA
Families headed to the Anaheim this summer will be treated to an upgraded fireworks show in honor of the amusement park’s 60th anniversary. Multicolored projections, animations, cutting-edge pyrotechnics and a fireworks display that rivals the Fourth of July will shine a light on Main Street USA as you’ve never seen it before. The fireworks display will join a new 1.5-million-light Paint the Night parade and World of Color water show as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebration starting May 22.
When to Catch It: 9:30 p.m. nightly
Eiffel Tower Sparkles, Paris
Only in Paris could you party like it’s 1999 every night. That’s when 20,000 flashing lights were installed for its millennial New Year’s Eve celebration. Fifteen years later, those same lights make the tower sparkle for 5 minutes at the top of every hour — often met with a spontaneous round of applause from tourists and passers-by.
When to Catch It: Every hour from sundown until 1 a.m.