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Power Travel

January 18, 2017
On January 20, thousands will crowd the National Mall to watch the peaceful transition of power, as Barack Obama departs the White House and Donald Trump officially gets the front door keys. The next day, thousands more will march in the nation’s capital, protesting the policies of the incoming administration.

There are few countries in the world who recognize such a transition of power with the pomp, circumstance and agitation of the United States. But that doesn’t mean that America has a monopoly on inaugural celebrations. The international side of our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages includes some national capitals that recognize a new leader with parades, ceremonies in historic squares, and even fireworks and garden parties.

In France, the inauguration ceremony is a private affair, almost completely held behind closed doors at the Elysee Palace, the president’s residence. But to mark the occasion, there are often parades, tributes and speeches for the public as well. Of course, it takes little to want to organize a parade when one has access to one of the most iconic thoroughfares in the world, Paris’ Champs Elysees. Throw in a stop at the Arc de Triomphe, and the supporters who line the famous street get a celebration worthy of the office.

One of the newest republics in Europe is Croatia, and thus far its four presidents have each given their inaugural addresses in St. Mark's Square, in the capital city of Zagreb. It’s the home of St. Mark’s Church, along with the parliament building, the high court of the country and even the Banski dvori, the seat of the Croatian government – an incredible amount of power in a one square block space. Just to visit the square is worth the trip; the brick street and the baroque architecture contribute to a feeling that belies the country’s young age.

Of course, while they are rare, the celebrations of the accession of royalty may be the most over-the-top – and the most fun to attend. Even in a small principality like Monaco, no expense is spared; when Albert Grimaldi became Albert II, Prince of Monaco in 2004, it involved a garden party for 7,000 and fireworks over Monte Carlo. The accession is still celebrated; ten years after taking the throne, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett and Robbie Williams each performed concerts and chefs prepared the world’s largest fougasse (a French bread similar to focaccia).