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Out With the Old

From the world's largest theme park in New Jersey to Singapore's Dr. Seussian gardens to Pablo Picasso's long-awaited return to Paris, here are 25 new things to see and do this year (with places to stay while you're doing them)

11.-12. AMSTERDAM AND LONDON: The Fest Test

This year, two of Europe’s most illustrious cities are set to have what can only be described as an anniversary-off. For both Amsterdam and London, 2013 will involve a preposterous number of red-letter days, all of them celebrated in lavish style (or at least some sort of style). To determine who will prevail in the Battle of the Milestones, we devised a stringent scientific survey, reproduced here.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

AMSTERDAM: 400 years since the establishment of the city’s canals—165 in all, totaling more than 60 miles—which were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. Celebrations include Queen’s Day, in which barges will be festooned in orange (the royal color) and orange-clad people will dance atop 1,500 canal-spanning bridges.

LONDON: 150 years since the debut of the Tube, the world’s first subway system, which has almost 250 miles of track and plunges to 220 feet below ground at its deepest point. Celebrations include a series of commemorative posters designed by leading artists, and theatrical performances at the disused Aldwych station.

WINNER: London. You simply cannot top a disused subway station.

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HISTORICAL INFAMY

AMSTERDAM: 150 years since slavery, an abhorrent practice in which the Dutch played a key role, was abolished by the Netherlands. Celebrations include slavery-themed photography exhibitions, theater performances and lectures.

LONDON: 125 years since Jack the Ripper went on a bloody rampage across London, breeding terror on the streets and inspiring hundreds of dodgy conspiracy theories. Celebrations include special Jack the Ripper walks, in which people are invited to follow in the madman’s footsteps.

WINNER: Amsterdam. Some crimes are bigger than others.

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CULTURAL REDOUBTS

AMSTERDAM: 125 years since the opening of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s grand concert hall, renowned for having some of the best acoustics on earth. Celebrations include an “enormous range” of events, including the Digital Concertgebouw Project, which will broadcast concerts at venues around the city.

LONDON: 50 years since the founding of the National Theatre, counterpart to the Royal Shakespeare Company; opening night saw Peter O’Toole playing the lead in Hamlet. Celebrations include a permanent exhibit outlining the theater’s history, and a production of Othello starring TV actor Adrian Lester.

WINNER: London. If only because we can’t pronounce “concertgebouw.”

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EXOTIC CREATURES

AMSTERDAM: 175 years since the debut of Artis Royal Zoo, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, which boasts more than 6,000 animals representing 900-plus species. Celebrations include a series of in-zoo “entertainments” every Saturday evening.

LONDON: 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation—not to be confused with last year’s Diamond Jubilee, which marked 60 years since Lizzie ascended the throne. Celebrations include… not much, given the fuss made over QE2 in 2012. Mainly endless loops of the first-ever televised coronation.

WINNER: Amsterdam. The world might be just a bit queened out.

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FINAL TALLY: 2-2 … A WELL-EARNED TIE.

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