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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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current events, Star Wars, maythe4thbewithyou, Star Wars Day,

May the Fourth Be with You: Celebrating Star Wars on May 4

For more photos and videos from Star Wars Day celebrations, follow the Star Wars official account (@starwars) and browse the #maythe4thbewithyou and #starwarsday hashtags.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… no one celebrated droids, Wookies or Ewoks on May fourth.

May 4, better known as Star Wars Day, unites fans from across the galaxy in celebration of the popular series and the culture it created. While each of the six live-action films were released in May, the origin of the date actually has a different connection to the series. If you say it out loud, “May the fourth,” you will hear that it nearly echoes the beginning of one of the most beloved Jedi phrases: “May the force be with you.”

Over the past few years, Star Wars fans have given life to the holiday, expressing excitement and dedication to the saga through social media. From watch parties, to trivia and costume contests, to celebrations held in Disney Parks, the force is strong with this annual tradition.

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Walpurgisnacht, Walpurgis Night, valborg, current events, germany, Location Feature,

The Witches and Warlocks of Walpurgisnacht

To view more photos and videos from Walpurgisnacht, explore the Brocken location page and browse the #Walpurgisnacht hashtag.

Every year, six months from Halloween, spring festivals in Northern Europe are held to celebrate the eve of May Day. In Germany, the traditional Walpurgisnacht festival welcomes May 1 with witches and warlocks.

On Walpurgisnacht, or “Walpurgis Night” as it precedes the May Day feast of Saint Walpurgis, it is believed witches congregated for pagan ceremonies in places such as the Harz mountains in Schierke, Germany.

Today, adventurous Instagrammers and tourists make the journey up 1142 meters (3747 feet) to Brocken, where costumed revellers dance among bonfires at dawn. Elsewhere Walpurgis parties are held known as Tanz in den Mai, meaning “dancing into May”, followed by a four-day holiday in the country.

Similar witch festivals also take place on this night in Sweden (Valborgsmässoafton), Finland (Vappu), the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (pálení čarodějnic).

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current events, open walls baltimore, street art, graffiti, baltimore,

Breathing New Life into Public Spaces with Open Walls Baltimore

For more photos and videos from Open Walls Baltimore as it unfolds, browse the #OpenWallsBaltimore and #OWB2 hashtags.

The second annual Open Walls Baltimore is underway in Maryland, USA.

Held in the Station North district (@stationnorth) of the city, Open Walls stands as a celebration of street art as more than 20 artists from around the world gather in Baltimore to create large-scale murals in an effort to revitalize public spaces and bring art and color to the local neighborhood. A series of lectures and events also accompanies the cadence of painting until the initiative’s concluding celebration on May 25.

Among the art in progress, street artist escif (@escif) recently completed a much-discussed mural entitled LOOKS MUCH BETTER NOW!, a massive, classic yellow smiley face that brightens up its dilapidated surroundings.

Baltimore street artist Gaia (@gaiastreetart) serves as curator for the event, as well contributing artwork of his own to the walls.

For more from the artists participating in this year’s Open Walls, check out the following accounts on Instagram:

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current events, holocaust remembrance day, Location Feature,

Commemorating the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah (יום השואה)

To view more photos and videos from Yom HaShoah, browse the #YomHaShoah and #יוםהשואה hashtags and explore the Yad Vashem location page.

From sunset on Saturday to Sunday’s sundown, the Jewish community honors Yom HaShoah (יום השואה), a time to remember the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. In Israel, where Yom HaShoah is a national holiday, flags are lowered to half-mast and people across the country gather for memorial ceremonies held at schools and public squares. Though other countries also recognize Holocaust Remembrance Days of their own, many Jews around the world observe Yom HaShoah at home and at important historical sites. In Yad Vashem, the official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, speeches and prayers are given by the Israeli President, Prime Minister and chief rabbis as six torches are lit by Holocaust survivors to pay tribute to victims of the genocide. At 10:00AM local time on Sunday, sirens go off to mark a two-minute moment of silence observed by the nation.

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current events, chernobyl, Location Feature,

Remembering Chernobyl (Чорнобиль)

To view more photos and videos from Pripyat, explore the Pripyat (Припять) and Chernobyl location pages, or browse the #pripyat and #chernobyl hashtags.

On this day 28 years ago, a catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine resulted in a huge plume of radioactive contamination and the relocation of more than 350,000 people. The Chernobyl disaster is one of only two nuclear accidents classified as a level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011).

Chernobyl and the nearby town of Pripyat remain in the same state today as they were in April, 1986. Bold tourists and many Instagrammers have visited the still heavily contaminated site, sticking to an official route after it opened to the public in 2010. Russian Instagrammer Roman Palchenkov (@palchenkov) recently visited the site: “Being there, in the silence, darkness, and cold, and standing in the empty room of regular house, I was able to understand what a catastrophic nuclear disaster means for people and cities.”

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shakespeare's birthday, current events, stratford upon avon, william shakespeare, english literature, news,

Marking the 450th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Birth

For more photos from the sites of William’s Shakespeare life, explore the Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Globe Theater and Shakespeare’s Grave location pages.

Every year at the end of April, a celebration of the life and works of the great playwright William Shakespeare takes place in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare was born there in 1564 and cultural celebrations in Stratford’s streets, with entertainers, street performers and traditional Morris dancers, go back hundreds of years.

From his plays to his sonnets, Shakespeare’s extensive works have produced a legacy of characters, ideas, histories and, of course, words—it is thought he contributed more than 2,000 to the English language. His plays are a staple on many school curriculums, and continue to be reinterpreted on stage, rewritten in fiction and retold on screen.

The man himself is still very much a mystery and few details exist about his private life. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway with whom he bore three children, before relocating to London to pursue his acting and writing career. He died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616—a date which fell very near to his birthday in the same month (the exact date is unknown).

This year marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and, on Saturday, a special procession will take place in Stratford, ending with celebrants laying flowers on Shakespeare’s grave in the Holy Trinity Church. The world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company will also host a full program of shows.

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current events, litterati, Earth Day,

Doing Your Part on Earth Day with @litterati

For more of Jeff’s finds, follow @litterati on Instagram and contribute your own discoveries with the #litterati hashtag. To see more photos and videos from Earth Day celebrations around the world, browse the #earthday2014 and #earthday hashtags.

Spotting a piece of garbage in the woods during a walk with his young daughter sparked the inspiration for Jeff Kirshner’s project, @litterati.

"Seeing my daughter’s perplexed expression reminded me of when I was a kid at summer camp," explains Jeff. "Before our parents came to visit, our director made us each pick up five pieces of trash. So I thought, why not apply that same crowdsource­ cleaning model to the entire planet?"

Litterati introduces a social element to cleaning up garbage. The steps are simple:

  1. Find a piece of litter
  2. Photograph it with Instagram
  3. Add the “#litterati” hashtag
  4. Throw out, recycle or compost the litter

Your photo is then added to the digital landfill of cleaned-up garbage, and the people who see your photo in their feed are encouraged to participate as well.

To date, more than 40,000 pieces of garbage have been picked up across 45 countries. Visit litterati.org to learn more about where litter accumulates and what items are most commonly found.

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current events, Boston Marathon, Boston Strong,

Undaunted, Runners and Spectators Gather for the 2014 Boston Marathon

For more photos and videos from the 2014 Boston Marathon, browse the #bostonmarathon and #bostonstrong hashtags, explore the Boston Marathon Finish Line location page and follow @bostonmarathon on Instagram.

More than 35,000 runners and nearly half a million spectators turned out for the 118th annual Boston Marathon today. Despite last year’s bombings at the finish line, top athletes from 91 countries convened in Boston again this year. Family, friends and well-wishers—undeterred by last year’s tragedy—lined the 26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston to cheer and document the event.

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, with a time of 2:18:57, took first in the women’s category. With a time of 2:08:37, Meb Keflezighi took first place among men, the first American to do so since 1983.

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current events, påskris, Easter, sweden,

Celebrating Easter in Sweden with Påskris

For a look at how Easter is celebrated in Sweden and across Northern Europe, browse the #påskris hashtag.

In the spring, florists, markets and city centers in Sweden display twigs and trees sprouting some unexpected blooms: feathers.

Påskris, or “Easter twigs,” refer to birch twigs that have been decorated after being cut and tied together. These Easter trees, especially when displayed in the home, are adorned with colorful feathers, eggs and more.

Beginning in the 17th century, Christian Swedes used påskris—without the feathers—to strike one another as a reminder of Jesus’s suffering. During the 18th century, however, påskris transformed into a more vibrant (and less painful) tradition and have spread to other Nordic countries.

Påskris are placed in water-filled vases and provide bursts of color that Sweden’s spring cannot supply due to its harsh and lengthy winters. If one is lucky enough to find twigs with some early blooms, however, the leaves grow and provide natural color to the påskris, bringing the new life of spring into the home. The more courageous locals will also bring these bursts of color outside the home by adorning the trees that line streets and city centers with colorful feathers and decorations to celebrate Easter and welcome the spring.

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Coachella, coachella2014, current events, music, photo feature,

Instagrammers Capture Coachella

For more photos and videos from the festival, follow @coachella and @coachellaastronaut on Instagram and explore Coachella’s location pages: Coachella, Main Stage and Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival. You can also browse the #coachella hashtag.

Last weekend and again next weekend, music fans head to Indio, California, for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (@coachella). There, against a backdrop of desert sunsets and an iconic ferris wheel, up-and-coming performers and established acts alike will take the stage. To see Coachella from the perspective of the performers, follow these artists on Instagram:

This year’s festival will also feature the Coachella Astronaut (@coachellaastronaut), a roaming art installation created for Coachella by Poetic Kinetics (@poetickinetics), a group of artists based in Los Angeles.