Tuscaloosa's Arts and Entertainment Goes Global

By Kimberly Daly on May 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm EST


As the site of Mercedes-Benz’s only manufacturing plant in the U.S., Tuscaloosa already has a natural link with Germany, but there is another one as well: Schorndorf, Germany, is one of Tuscaloosa’s sister cities, as is Narashino, Japan. The Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission not only facilitates exchanges of students and business people between the cities, but it also sponsors exhibits, workshops and activities such as the annual Sakura Art Contest in the Tuscaloosa City School System. Plans are in the works to build a Sister Cities Peace and Friendship Park on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

Tuscaloosans who can’t travel to Germany can experience an authentic German village right in downtown Tuscaloosa every May at the International City Fest and Weindorf, which has become one of the state’s premier festivals with a global touch. Other festivities downtown include the Mardi Gras Parade, the Crawfish Festival and Tuscaloosa Christmas Afloat and Christmas Parade.

Among other world-class attractions in the Druid City is the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, which stages dynamic and diverse live performances under the leadership of world-renowned conductor Maestro Shinik Hahm. The orchestra typically performs a Masterworks series, various pops concerts and young people’s concerts.

Young people are also on the minds of the folks at the Alabama Blues Project, which promotes the state’s signature sound and unique blues heritage through performances, workshops and blues camps for students.

Speaking of students, the Children’s Hands-On Museum is the place for kids to explore, discover and learn through interactive exhibits such as the Japan House, the Art Studio and the Lil’ Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

At the Alabama Museum of Natural History, located on the University of Alabama campus, visitors travel into the distant past of the Coal Age, the Ice Age and the Age of Dinosaurs to learn about the geological origins of the state. And don’t leave campus without a stop by the Paul W. Bryant Museum to relive the glory days of Coach Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide. You can even pick up a replica of the coach’s signature houndstooth hat as a souvenir.

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