There is no way Pablo Picasso would have ever lived to see his 125th birthday - what with all that absinthe he drank - but his work lives on in museums around the globe. Throughout the year, exhibitions in Málaga (his birthplace), Madrid, and Barcelona will honor his legacy.
Nikola Tesla (150)
No, he wasn't involved with the '80s rock band. Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, the basis for most alternating-current electrical power - as well as lots of other stuff we don't understand. The Tesla Society is swinging for the fences for the 150th anniversary of his birth, even proposing that the International Belgrade Airport be renamed in his honor.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (250)
The most famous Austrian of all time was born 250 years ago in Salzberg. His birth city and Vienna have planned concerts, exhibitions, tours, auctions, and plenty more. Simply put, you won't be visiting Austria this year without getting an earful of Mozart. And that's a good thing.
Benjamin Franklin (300)
Benjamin Franklin's tercentenary is being celebrated with a traveling exhibition, Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, which hits Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, and Paris throughout the year. The folks in Philly even came up with the catchy little slogan, "Philly's Got Benergy," which sounds a bit like a Hollywood "It" couple to us.
Europeans first landed in Australia in 1606, the beginning of the continent's documented history. And though most of the celebratory events are still in the planning stages, why not throw some shrimp on the barbie, kick back with a Foster's oilcan, and sing "Happy Birthday" in your best Aussie drawl? Or you could just rent Crocodile Dundee and call it a night.
Rembrandt van Rijn (400)
Dutch painter Rembrandt, one of the most important European artists in history, was born in 1606 (the same year Dutch sailors reached Australia, incidentally). The Dutch are pumping nearly $5 million into the celebrations, planning everything from Rembrandt-centric cycling and sailing packages to special exhibitions at the Rijksmuseum and Rembrandt House Museum. As if you needed an excuse to go to Amsterdam.