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Time to Celebrate!

From the popular to the obscure, am scoured the globe to find the spring festivals that guarantee a good time.


1. Orange Throwing Festival - Residents of the medieval Italian town of Ivrea prepare for Lent each year with an orange-throwing festival; a re-enactment of a 12th century battle when noblemen pelted townsfolk with oranges, after a miller's daughter rebelled against a tyrannical court.


2. Carnaval in Brazil – Famous for the masquerades, parades, feasts, social gatherings, and, of course, the sexy, rhythmic samba and rumba music and dance forms, Brazil Carnival has many parades, but the most elaborate are specifically designed to showcase plot driven, themed samba school performances.


3. Mardi Gras New Orleans - People enjoy this celebration by going to parades where they catch beads, doubloons, cups and trinkets that are all thrown from floats.


4. Holi in India - People go around smearing each other with gulal (coloured powder) and coloured water. A lot of people spend the day alternating between getting drenched and coloured.


5. Flour festival in Viana Do Bolo – The entire town becomes engulfed in flour as people go after each other armed with bags of the white stuff.


6. Songkran Water Festival - Songkran Water Festival is best celebrated in Chiang Mai as everyone gets soaking wet, and since it is the hottest season of the year, the custom is quite refreshing.


7. Oruro Carnaval - UNESCO declared this festival a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanityas'. It is the biggest party in which you can appreciate the rich Bolivian folklore with its variety of dance.


8. Thingyan- Not too dissimilar to the Songkran Water Festival, this three-day festival in Burma is celebrated with splashing water, performances, courtship, and general good cheer. The elders of the family and community are treated to special services, such as hair washing, massage, house cleaning, and cooking elaborate meals.


9. Buenos Aires TangoFest - The finest dance practitioners in the world join the peerless local artistes in a programme of tango concerts, dancing displays, exhibitions, classes and a one-minute film festival.


10. Gateway International Roots Festival - Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre plays host to three weeks of gigs from some of the finest and most eclectic performers in the world. Expect everything from reggae, traditional and contemporary folk to African and dancehall.


11. Rainbow Serpent Festival (Australia) - Three days with a world class electro and trance line-up. There're markets and street performers, as well as a chill out area in the village.


12. Sunburst Kuala Lumpur – Live performances across four stages by some of the world's biggest names in music and local acts that will showcase a diverse range of music from the sounds of Rock, Jazz, R&B and Hip-Hop. The 2008 line-up included stars such as John Legend and Incubus.


13. St. Jeromes Laneway – Known simply as the Laneway Festival, this event was reviewed as Australia's most insurgent and unique pop music event. Emerging as an indie music event, the festival has grown rapidly in popularity, expanding to Sydney in 2006, Brisbane in 2007, Adelaide in 2008 and Perth in 2009.


14. Jazz & Heritage Fest in New Orleans - An annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state especially jazz, both contemporary and traditional.


15. Triangle Beach Music Fest - A day of music and fun in the Carolina Sun. Originally held in 1997, this festival has brought class local musicians and party people to the shores of Triangle beach. Expect events like bikini contests and surfing competitions.


16. Camden Crawl - This festival stretches for almost 2km of Camden in North London, allowing 30 venues for around 150 bands that have been handpicked by a panel of esteemed DJs, promoters, media and record labels. New for 2009, the festival will have an outdoor stage with live performances, DJs and X-Games.


17. Feria San Marcos – Traditional Mexican events such as cock-fights, bull fights, rodeos, traditional poetry, dance both traditional and interpretations of Flamenco and music. International stars who have performed here include Shakira and Julio Iglesias.


18. Stagecoach fest - A new festival devoted to country music, the outdoor festival is located in Indio in the US. It has various types of artists that attend, mainstream or almost unknown.


19. Langerado in Miami - An annual music festival in South Florida, the festival's main attractions are multiple stages of live music featuring a new-age assortment of music acts. Also on hand are craftsmen and artisans selling unique products.


20. Rivers and Spires - A three-day outdoor festive event in historic Downtwon Clarksville, US. It features a night of patriotic tribute to military heroes, five stages of entertainment, International Streetfest, Kidz Zone, Jazz'N Wine area, car shows, parades and much more.


21. Good Vibes - An outdoor summer event, Good Vibes Festival is a travelling music festival that touches down in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Perth in 2009.


22. Tropfest - The world's largest short film festival is held in Sydney, Australia each year, giving audiences exposure to premium short films, and delivers a unique, free outdoor entertainment experience that is second to none.


23. Sydney Performing Arts Fest – It has grown into one of Australia's largest festivals. More than 80 events with more than 500 artists from Australia and the rest of the world. Performances include dance, theatre, music, visual arts, cross media, workshops and forums.


24. Prague Spring - A permanent showcase for outstanding performing artists, symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles of the world. The concerts take place in various venues in Prague, such as Rudolfinum, Municipal House, Lichtenstein Palace, Church Of St. Simon and St. Juda.


25. Full Moon Party - The Full Moon Party is an all-night beach party that takes place in Haad Rin on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, on the night of every full moon. The event now draws a crowd about 20,000-30,000 every full moon evening. The party carries on until the sun rises the next day.


26. Quebec/Bonhomme Carnaval - An annual winter carnival, it has grown to become the largest winter celebration in the world. Activities include snow sculptures, canoe races and dogsled races.


27. Maslenitsa - Also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week, this is a Russian religious and folk holiday. Besides making and eating quantities of bliny, Maslenitsa include masquerades, snowball fights, sledding and plenty of sleigh rides.


28. Venice Carnival - Saint Mark's Square remains the heart of Carnival, with its huge stage and during the last days of carnival, the city teems with people in masks and it's possible to see every kind of costume, from static and icy 18th century noblewomen, to the most inventive modern costumes.


29. Viareggio Carnaval – There are parades, fireworks and marching bands. The highlight of this carnival are the carri; giant paper mache figures operated by up to 10 experts. These figures usually feature politicians, actors and famous Tuscan and Italian pundits.


30. Las Fallas - Las Fallas literally means ‘the fires' in Valencian. The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots (puppets or dolls), which are huge cardboard, wood, paper-machè and plaster statues. Young men with axes chop holes in the statues and stuff them with fireworks. The crowds start to chant, the streetlights are turned off, and all of the ninots are set on fire at exactly 12 midnight.


31. Lantern Festival - During the Taiwan Lantern Festival, thousands of sky lanterns light over the township of Pingsi in Taiwan.


32. Chiwawa Matsuri in JapanThe Fertility Festival or Honen Matsuri is a celebration of fertility and a fresh harvest.


33. Rattlesnake Roundup – The largest reptilian event of its kind. There are parades, crowning of the Queen Snakecharmer, snake dancers, live music, Texas barbecue, lectures and seminars, snake cook-off, arts and crafts with a reptilian twist and snake handling - everything related to the Texas diamondback rattlesnake.


34. Scoppio Del Carro - A 30-foot antique cart (which has been use for over 500 years) is dragged from Prato al Porto to Piazza Del Duomo by a team of beautifully decorated white oxen.


The cart or carro is surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, musicians and plebs wearing 15th Century clothes. A fire is struck by the Pazzi family using the historic flints from Jerusalem and the fire is then carried to the cathedral square. The cart is placed inside the cathedral - filled with fireworks – a mechanical dove is released and the thousands of people flood outside to enjoy the half-hour fireworks display. A good display means a good harvest.


35. Groundhog-Day - In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, folks gather around to see if the groundhog will see its shadow. If the groundhog sees a shadow, there will be 42 more days of winter. It has become a fun day to celebrate in elementary schools.


36. Scarecrow Fete in Moringhem - The idea came to life when the mayor's secretary decided to use scarecrows as indicators to direct some foreign friends to his home. Now, every April, the village is flooded with loads of terrifying scarecrows, and has become a tourist attraction, with numerous scarecrow-related activities for locals and visitors.


37. Church Rocket Fight - Easter on the small Greek island of Chios means one thing - a massive firework battle, with two churches firing around 60,000 rockets at each other.


38. Basant - Celebrated in parts of Pakistan, kite flying is the major and most colourful event of this festival. The sky is covered with colourful kites and you can hardly see sky. Yellow is the colour of the festival and so it dominates everywhere: the kites and clothes, especially for ladies.


39. Apple Butter festival at Berkeley Springs - The star of this traditional fall festival is dark and spicy apple butter, made the old fashioned way: slow simmered in giant copper kettles over open fires in the centre of the town square. Constant stirring is a must, and passers-by are encouraged to take a turn with long-handled, spoonbill stirrers.


40. Grand Festival of Spring – The highlight of Nikko's Grand Festival of Spring is a Samurai procession honouring Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan's first Shogun. Over 1000 men, lion dancers, musicians and Shinto priests take part. The procession escorts sacred portable shrines through the streets of Nikko in a re-enactment of the famous Shogun's burial procession.


41. Maple Syrup festival - People can be entertained and educated by seeing firsthand the boiling of the maple sap and the making of the maple syrup. Enjoy fun family events and taste the fresh maple syrup at any one of the maple syrup spring festivals located North of Toronto


42. Bahar (London) - A major, threeday, South Asian festival featuring some of the finest performing art groups. It aims to bring together and present a colourful array of various vocal styles from South Asia. These include Sacred Chants, Medieval Sufi & Bhakti poetry, Folk, Dhrupad, Khayal, Thumri, Qawwali and Ghazal. These vocal art forms will be accompanied by rare, majestic instruments such as the Rudra Veena and Rabab.


43. Spring Migration Festival (Israel) - The Spring Migration Festival aims to bring together birders from all around the world again. Many bird related activities will take place, including optional bird-watching excursions led by field experts, ringing demonstrations, identification workshops and lectures.


44. Dragon boat - Every spring there are nearly 60 dragon boat races held outside of China in cities from Vancouver to Sydney, from Gdansk, Poland to Cape Town, South Africa.


45. The Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne) - A world-class event showcasing thoroughbred racing, fashion and entertainment at its finest over 50 fabulous days across Victoria. There is the excitement and fervour of racing at both metropolitan and country tracks as well as fabulous fashion and supporting social events to enjoy.


46. Spring equinox, Chichén-Itza, Kukulcan Pyramid, Mexico – The equinox is the best time to witness the extraordinary stepped El Castillo pyramid – a Mayan astronomical marvel dedicated to the plumed serpent god Kukulcan. At the exact time of the spring equinox, 1.31pm GMT, the angle of the sun on the steps' edges casts a serpent-like shadow that seems to snake its way down to the sacrificial well.


47. Wife-Carrying Contest (Australia) - The woman doesn't actually have to be a wife – just any kind female who will consent to be carted around a 240-metre obstacle course featuring hurdles to go over and under, sand and deep water.


48. Rose Harvest Festival, (Morocco) - Held as soon as the flowers bloom, this summer event is pure spectacle, with the rose-carpeted valley flanked by snowy mountains, river and desert.


49. Bergenfest - Annual festival held since 1993 in Holland, it focuses on folk music and authentic American blues, in particular, as well as R&B, funk, gospel, rock, country and Cajun.


50. The Indie Spirit Film Festival (Colorado Springs) - An annual event for filmmakers (professionals and students) and film lovers alike, with a superb programme of feature films, shorts, documentaries, animation and many other films from around the world. Indie Spirit also has a sub theme in which Native American films are showcased.


Life in the Emirates





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