Look ahead in 2009 and you'll look to the past. • Every year brings noteworthy anniversaries, but this year those milestones may seem particularly momentous — and worth traveling to celebrate. Hard to believe, but it has been 500 years since that famed serial spouse, Henry VIII, assumed the English throne and began a reign that would change history. • This year marks 200 years for President Abraham Lincoln, author Edgar Allan Poe and scientist Charles Darwin. • It's a big year for remembering firsts including man's first step on the moon (40 years ago, by Neil Armstrong.) • And as for celebrating the Big 5-0, the states of Alaska and Hawaii and yes, even Barbie, are hitting the half-century mark. • Barbie's turning 50? It had to happen. And still, there's not a gray hair on that girl's plastic head.
Henry VIII 500th anniversary of accession to throne
Two sites most associated with this despotic English king are staging special programs in 2009. The Tower of London is staging a "Dressed to Kill" exhibition April 1 to Oct. 31 that will display a young Henry VIII's armor and weapons. (It's also the site where Henry had two of his wives beheaded.)
At Hampton Court Palace on May 2, Rick Wakeman of the rock group Yes will perform an extended version of his classic 1972 album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
Visitors to England can tour many other sites associated with Henry VIII, among them Hever Castle (where he courted Anne Boleyn), Leeds Castle (where he rebuilt the royal apartments) and Windsor Castle (where he is buried).
Information: Visit Britain, (212) 986-2266, www.visitBritain.us
Bermuda | 400th anniversary of settlement
This Atlantic island's events mark the year when the Sea Venture, a ship sent to rescue the settlers in Jamestown, Va., was wrecked off the coast of Bermuda. The crew made it to shore and the island has been continuously inhabited since.
Bermuda began its celebration Saturday with a major festival on Front Street in Hamilton. Other important events on tap: the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, June 11-15, when tall ships in a world race visit the island; a reenactment of the Sea Venture incident, July 8-11; Somers Day with tour of Sea Venture wreck, July 28, followed by Cup Match Cricket Festival, July 30 and 31; and the Christmas Boat Parade, Dec. 12.
Bermuda is offering a 400th anniversary deal for guests visiting the island before April 1 that provides $200 to $400 lodging credits, plus a coupon booklet for further savings. Details: www. bermudatourism.com/400offer.
Information: Bermuda Department of Tourism, (212) 818-9800, www.bermudatourism.com
Abraham Lincoln 200th anniversary of birth
Observances of our 16th president's birth will take place in all 50 states, but one of the most extensive will be in the nation's capital.
The newly renovated American Museum of National History in Washington will put more than 60 artifacts from Lincoln's life on view in "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life," opening this month. On Jan. 31, Lincoln's second inaugural ball will be reenacted in its original locale, the historic National Portrait Gallery. On the president's birthday, Feb. 12, Michael Feinstein will offer a musical tribute at the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial itself will be rededicated on Memorial Day, four score and seven years after its 1922 dedication.
To commemorate the bicentennial, the U.S. Mint will issue a silver dollar bearing a portrait of Lincoln on the obverse and the famous final words from his Gettysburg Address on the reverse. Four new Lincoln pennies also will be issued, their reverses featuring aspects of the president's life, as well as four new commemorative postage stamps.
Information: Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, (202) 707-6998, www.abraham lincoln200.org
Charles Darwin | 200th anniversary of birth
It's a double celebration for scientist Darwin, marking both his birth 200 years ago and the publication 50 years later of his famous work, On the Origin of Species, in which he espoused the theory of evolution. Observances are planned in 11 countries so far. In London, the Natural History Museum has mounted a major Darwin exhibition through April 19. Special tours keyed to Darwin's studies are planned in the Galapagos Islands.
Information: www.darwinday.org. For Britain, (212) 986-2266, www.visitBritain.us
Edgar Allan Poe | 200th anniversary of birth
Baltimore, where the poet and author died at age 40 in 1849, has planned a series of commemorative events called Nevermore 2009. Many tributes to the author of such works as The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart are clustered around his birth date, Jan. 19, and death date, Oct. 7.
Information: Baltimore Area Convention and Visitor Bureau, toll-free 1-800-343-3468, www.nevermore2009.com
Smoky Mountains National Park 75th anniversary
This popular national park, within a day's drive of a third of the U.S. population, will mark its 75th year with several major events in June. Among them: an outdoor concert at Cades Cove in eastern Tennessee, June 13; all all-day open house at park headquarters near Gatlinburg, Tenn., June 14; groundbreaking for a new visitor center at Oconaluftee, N.C., on the actual anniversary date, June 15; and the rededication of the park at Newfound Gap, Tenn., on Sept. 2, the date President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the park in 1940.
Information: Great Smoky Mountains Association, toll-free 1-888-898-9102, www.smokiesinformation.org or www.greatsmokies75th.org; or Great Smokies National Park, (865) 436-1200, www.nps.gov/grsm
Barbie | 50th anniversary
America's most famous doll came into being in 1959, dressed in a black-and-white striped swimsuit. In the 50 years since, thousands of outfits have been produced for Barbie and friends, and 70 famous designers have outfitted her, according to Mattel Inc., Barbie's creator.
To celebrate her 50 years, Barbie will host a show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in February, where more than 50 designers will showcase real-size looks inspired by the famous doll.
On March 9, Barbie is throwing a celebration at a specially built Malibu Dream House, where celebrities will get to see the inside of Barbie's famous closet. And on www.barbie.com, girls of all ages can see Barbie commercials of the past and listen to stories from designers.
Alaska, Hawaii | 50th anniversaries
Both territories became states in the same year, 1959. Alaska was first, on Jan. 3. Hawaii became the 50th state on Aug. 21.
Information: www.gov.state.ak.us/ASCC/events.php for Alaska and (808) 586-0034, www.hawaii.gov/statehood for Hawaii
Frank Lloyd Wright | 50th anniversary of death
A major exhibition of this famous architect's work will take place at New York City's Guggenheim Museum May 15-Aug. 23. On view will be many original drawings, historic models and photos. Examples of Wright's work are found in many parts of the country, including Florida Southern College in Lakeland, home of the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Information: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, (480) 860-2700, www.franklloydwright.org
Man landing on moon | 40th anniversary
Details haven't been announced yet, but Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is planning special programs and events to commemorate the month and day, July 20, 40 years ago, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to step on the moon's surface.
Information: Kennedy Space Center, (321) 867-5000, www.ksc.nasa.gov
Fall of the Berlin Wall | 20th anniversary
Anniversary celebrations will begin in Berlin on May 7 with an exhibition on Alexanderplatz focusing on events that led to the tearing down of the wall. A large celebration will take place at Brandenburg Gate on the anniversary date, Nov. 9.
Information: toll-free 1-800-651-7010, www.visitBerlin.de; also www.berlin.de/english or www.mauerfall09.de