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Christmas on the Coosa in Tourism's top 10 for 2013

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From the Alabama Department of Tourism.

The Alabama Tourism Department today released its top 10 events for 2013. The list includes events in Mobile, the Shoals, Birmingham, Huntsville, Wetumpka, Gulf Shores and Tensaw.

The top 10 events are Mardi Gras in Mobile, the W.C. Handy Music Festival in the Shoals, the statewide Alabama Restaurant Week, the 200th Anniversary of Fort Mims in Tensaw, the Magic City Class Football weekend in Birmingham, the 50th Annual Bluff Park Art Show in Hoover, National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, Barber Vintage Festival in Birmingham, Galaxy of Lights in Huntsville and Christmas on the Coosa in Wetumpka.

The tourism department comes up with the list each year and selects the top 10 based upon significant anniversaries, unique events and those with large attendance. Nearly 1,900 events are scheduled around the state for 2013.

Below are the Top 10 Events of 2013 that are listed in the tourism department's annual vacation guide/calendar of events:

Mardi Gras, Mobile, Jan. 26-Feb. 12

Mobile is known as home to "America's Family Mardi Gras." The celebration lasts for more than two and a half weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. The streets are filled with marching bands, floats and crowds of parade goers. Masked riders in costume toss "throws" of beads, moon pies, doubloons and candy into the crowd. www.mobilebay.org

W.C. Handy Music Festival, the Shoals area, Jul. 19-28

The Shoals (Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals) is home to a weeklong celebration honoring Florence native, W.C. Handy, "Father of the Blues." More than 200 events take place including concerts, plays, art exhibits and picnics. www.wchandymusicfestival.org.

Alabama Restaurant Week, statewide, Aug. 16-25

For the second year, restaurants around the state, including many featured in the popular brochure "l00 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die," invite diners to experience the culinary scene of Sweet Home Alabama. Participating restaurants will offer special fixed-priced menus for lunch and/or dinner and other specials throughout the week. www.Alabama.travel

Fort Mims Massacre 200th Anniversary, Tensaw, Aug. 30- Sept. 1

The event begins on the actual anniversary date of the attack on Ft. Mims with a memorial and dedication service on Friday when descendants of survivors, historians, and state and local dignitaries gather to "Remember Fort Mims." Visitors will experience a living history encampment with settlers, militia and Redstick Creek Indian re-enactors, arrowhead and artifact displays, demonstrations of early crafts such as basket weaving and flint napping, period music, and Indian crafts.  9 a.m.–3 p.m. www.fortmims.org

Magic City Classic Weekend, Birmingham, Oct. 25-26

The Alabama A&M University Bulldogs of Huntsville and the Alabama State University Hornets of Montgomery meet annually in Legion Field for this traditional football rivalry featuring exciting half-time band action. This is the largest black college football rivalry in the country. www.themagiccityclassic.com

50th Annual Bluff Park Art Show, Hoover, Oct. 5

The art show is celebrating 50 years and is always held on the first Saturday in October.

Meet the artists and enjoy seeing and purchasing their works of art in a beautiful wooded park setting. www.bluffparkartshow.com. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores, Oct. 10-13

This nationally recognized outdoor festival features more than 300 vendors that offer fine art,

arts and crafts, a retail marketplace, children's activity village, 10k/5k run, live entertainment, and of course, shrimp. Thurs.–Sat. 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., www.nationalshrimpfestival.com.

Barber Vintage Festival, Birmingham, Oct. 11-13

The vintage motorcycle race takes place at Barber Motorsports Park just outside Birmingham. The event features road racing, motocross, cross country events, an air show, a swap meet with more than 250 vendors, a fan zone and more. www.barbervintagefestival.org

Galaxy of Lights, Huntsville, Nov. 28-Dec. 31

The month-long event is a magnificent two-and-a-half-mile long holiday light extravaganza featuring larger-than-life animated light displays. Special exhibits include a holiday village, dinosaurs, wild animals, a magical twinkling icicle forest, garden scenes, animated snowmen and the twelve days of Christmas. 5:30–9 p.m., www.hsvbg.org

Christmas on the Coosa, Wetumpka, Dec. 14

This is a Christmas extravaganza with arts and crafts, parade, food, quilt show, classic car show, entertainment and activities on the Coosa River culminating with a spectacular fireworks exhibition at dusk. www.wetumpkachamber.com

For a complete list of 2013 events visit www.alabama.travel.

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