Pick of the week

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pick of the week

CARDIFF ANIMATION FESTIVAL

Once the preserve of children and Uncle Walt, animation has, in recent years, turned into a thriving industry and enormously popular art form. From Monday, fans of Toy Story and Wallace and Gromit can check out their cell mates at Cardiff's annual animation festival, which surveys everything from MTV to German animation in the Third Reich.

For further information and booking phone: 01222-878436

Today

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE SEA

Britain's largest ever maritime event starts in Bristol today, with more than 700 traditional ships setting sail for the city's historic harbour. A parallel film festival continues the watery theme with a swashbuckling programme of wet-look treats, including tonight's charity premiere of Muppet Treasure Island, which will be attended by her royal porkiness, Miss Piggy.

Odeon Cinema, Broadmeads shopping centre, Bristol (0171-605 1221) 7.30pm pounds 25

LONDON BLUES FESTIVAL

Two of London's quieter suburbs will reverberate to the sounds of blues of many hues this weekend, with acts as varied as Texas's uncompromising Fabulous Thunderbirds (once described as "louder than your mother-in-law and hotter than a jalapeno pepper"), and this year's acoustic favourite, Corey Harris. The action, which also features Chicago stalwart Magic Slim, deep soul legend James Carr, and the up-and-coming Keb Mo, is split between the slightly incongruous Blackheath Concert Halls and the Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford.

Tickets from Blackheath (0181-463 0100) or Brentford (0181-568 1176).

MOTOR MOUTHS 2

The second season of performance poetry events at Glasgow's CCA imports one of the finest exponents of the form from New York - where they take mouth music very seriously - in the shape of Dael Orlandersmith. Orlandersmith, who hangs out in the downtown Nuyorican Cafe, did an exquisite set at the ICA a few years back and makes words flip, flop and fly.

CCA Studio, 17 Castlemilk Arcade, Glasgow 8pm pounds 5/pounds 2

BUGS

From tonight, Devon's Simon Drew gallery will be full of creepy-crawlies, in the form of jewellery, pottery, paintings and automata. Toe-curling exhibits include beetles, wasps, earwigs and a bumble bee, brought up cuckoo-style by a jar of humbugs (below).

The Simon Drew Gallery, 13 Foss Street, Dartmouth (01803 832832)

Saturday 25

ESSENTIAL MUSIC FESTIVAL

Three days, three stages and three genres. Today's Dance Day boasts Prodigy, Underworld, Goldie and Dreadzone. Indie Day tomorrow features the Lightning Seeds and Echobelly, and Monday's Reggae Day stars Lee "Scratch" Perry and Gregory Isaacs. Stanmer Park, Brighton (01273 887878) pounds 22

CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH EXHIBITION

Glasgow's most famous artist "Toshie" pursued his own spare, geometric style. From the famous Glasgow School of Art to the Daily Record building, his legacy lies all around the city. This excellent new exhibition allows visitors to follow his development from apprentice to interior designer, see his delicately modern furniture and stained glass, and trace the influence of his partner and fellow artist, Margaret Macdonald.

McLellan Galleries, Glasgow 10am-8pm pounds 4

RICH HALL

Self Help for the Bleak is the title of this American comedian's latest book, and it gives you some idea of his laconic, downbeat style. A Letterman regular and star of Saturday Night Live, Hall's incisive, observational humour crushes the myth that all Americans have their sense of irony surgically removed at birth. Sussex Arts Club, Brighton 8.30pm (01273- 709709)

BLACKPOOL PLEASURE BEACH

The screams of happy punters have rent the air around Blackpool for 100 years now, as generations of holidaymakers have graduated from wooden merry-go-rounds to the world's tallest, fastest rollercoaster. The town celebrates its centenary tonight with the gala charity opening of "illusion spectacular", Mystique.

The Pleasure Beach Ocean Boulevard, Blackpool 9pm, pounds 25

Sunday 26

EXTREMELY FLUTEWISE

The "Sticky Bun Sessions" might never make John Peel's play list, but they're a great way to tempt young flute players to practice. Those who turn up for today's masterclasses can learn from flute greats like Kirsten Spratt and Goran Marcusson, and afterwards jam up their blowers with icing sugar. Other attractions today include numerous free concerts, such as Richard Douglas jamming on his digeridoo and Simon Deshorgher stretching his lungs on the world's largest panpipes.

The Barbican, Silk St, London EC2 10am-5.30pm

INTERNATIONAL SWORD-DANCE

Far removed from the highland fling, traditional sword-dancing resounds to the clash of steel on steel as dancers weave complex patterns with their weapons before tying them together in a star-shaped lock. Today, 500 dancers in bright breeches and bell straps will be demonstrating their skills in this massive gathering of swordmanship. Longsword dances and the Lange Wapper move from Antwerp are just two of the moves that will be in evidence.

Scarborough, Yorkshire. For further info, phone Scarborough tourist information centre (01723-373333)

THE ARAB AND THE JEW

Omid Djalili's winning one-man show explores the cultural schizophrenia that results from looking like a "short, fat kebab owner's son" and feeling like Sebastian Flight. Today he teams up with Jewish comedian Ivor Dembina for a funny, sideways look at English society.

Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8.30pm (0171-960 4206)

Monday 27

COVENT GARDEN FESTIVAL

Two weeks of musical and operatic delights begin in Covent Garden today. An eclectic programme stretches from work by the young Mecklenburgh Opera to a new production of Amadigi by Dublin's Opera Theatre Company, from Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury performed at Bow Street Magistrate's Court. If you're strapped for cash, enjoy free highlights from Camelot and the Hatstand Opera in the Piazza today.

Venues vary. For further information and tickets phone (0171-3121996)

FREE NET SURFING

If you're itching to check out the Uma Thurman web site, or fancy a long- distance chat with some pals in the "House of Glee", here's your chance to go on-line and get wired for free. A Grand Internet day at the HMV store in London's Trocadero invites the web-shy to access terminals, claim a floppy disk and surf the system all day.

HMV Trocadero, 18 Coventry St, London W1 (0171 439 0447)

TASTE FESTIVAL

This attractive sounding event is part of the larger, Greenwich Festival which is doing its bit for Docklands' regeneration by packing the area with theatre, music and art. In weeks to come the syncopated sounds of open-air jazz will fill Greenwich parks, and a riverboat cruise will carry the cool music of Fapy Lafertin down-river. Meanwhile, today's visitors to West India Quay can fill their faces with Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Greek cuisine while listening to non-stop music from the likes of Boney M, Sugar Ray and King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys.

West India Quay, Isle of Dogs, London E14 (0181-317 8687) 12pm-8pm pounds 2

TIGER WEEK

Zoos grab the conservation issue by the tail this week with a series of special events focusing on tigers. Activities at Marwell include a gruesome "touch table", which gives hands-on access to the skin and skulls of our stripey friends, talks about the tiger trade and examples of Oriental medicine that make use of the endangered predators' body parts. Storytelling and face-painting are also on offer, but the highlight of the afternoon will be a talk outside the tiger enclosure at feeding time. London's tiger- lovers can earn their stripes at a special evening on Wednesday, when celebrity pictures of tigers will be auctioned for charity.

For further information call Marwell Zoo on (01962-777407) or London Zoo on (0171-449 6262)

Tuesday 28

DAVID GAMBLE

As if contributing to the Independent's magazine wasn't enough, this renowned photographer has provided pictures for The New Yorker, Time, Life and Newsweek. Without tricks, props or special effects, his classical portraits have always created a real relationship between viewer and subject. Now, in this first solo exhibition since his graduation, Gamble experiments with mixed media compositions, placing polaroids on three-dimensional canvases and complementing his prints with paint and paper to capture the spirit of characters such as Iris Murdoch and Courtney Pine.

The Groucho Club, 45 Dean St, London to 20 June

OPEN-AIR THEATRE

Summer may be dragging its feet, but the season for open-air theatre is upon us, with productons already underway at Cornwall's cliff-edge Minack Theatre and the start of the Regent's Park programme this week. Stars rustling through the undergrowth this year are Paula Wilcox as Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, and Christopher Biggins as Stephano in the Tempest. But as fans of al fresco theatre know, the experience is as much about scenic surroundings, picnic hampers and pre-, during and post-performance drinking as it is about who or what is on stage.

Open-Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London NW1 (0171-4862431) pounds 5-pounds 18.50

DAMES AT SEA

A tap-happy 21-gun salute to the Busby Berkeley movies of the 1930s, this new musical revolves around the antics of a group of chorus girls staging a show on a battleship. Calamity strikes when the dancers' theatre is demolished, but the show goes on, aboard Captain Hennesey's poop deck. High-kicking kitsch with theatreland pro Kim Criswell and Sara "Philadelphia-ad" Crowe.

Ambassadors Theatre, West St, London WC2 (0171-8366111) 8pm pounds 12.50-pounds 25

Wednesday 29

TRUTHS AND FICTIONS

Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer challenges the idea that the camera (ink-jet printing, computer graphics and CD-ROM) never lie in an exhibition that journeys from documentary to digital photography. Switching between the tradition of street "naturalism" and magical realism, Meyer's work reflects on Californian and Mexican cultures and demonstrates new technologies' ability to modify and distort reality.

The Impressions Gallery, 26 King St, Glasgow G1 (0141-5522151) to 1 Jun

BLACK

The Charles and Di split

has well and truly permeated the national consciousness. Witness a new exhibition by installation artist Stuart Brisley at the South London Gallery, which has one room dedicated to each of the unhappy royals. The republican Brisley promises a multi-media dissection of the monarchy and excesses of the press.

South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Rd, London SE5

ANCIENT GARLAND CEREMONY

Pagan fertility rites will be observed in Castleton Village tonight as the king and his Consort ride on horseback through swathes of young girls in white dresses. The king wears a unique beehive-shaped flower headress known as the garland, and everyone will be decked out in flowers. Thomas Hardy would have been delighted.

Castleton, Derbyshire (01433-620560) 6.30pm-9pm

Thursday 30

ARTHUR C CLARKE

The dad every sci-fi anorak always wanted (instead of that Sierra-driving stranger who'd never even heard of Douglas Adams) will be beamed live from Sri Lanka and into Heaven tonight. An author, philosopher and pioneer of satellite communications, Clarke is perhaps best known for his Oscar- nominated screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke will be talking of his life and times and taking questions from the crusty assemblage usually to be found at Megatripolis.

Heaven, Villiers St, London WC2. Doors open 8.30pm, Clarke beamed in at 3am, pounds 7

DICKENS FESTIVAL

The best of times in Rochester today, with the start of a four-day festival in honour of the Kent-born novelist. Revelry includes a Victorian-costumed baby contest, a children's workhouse tea party, and parades of Dickensian characters. No doubt mayor Harry Housby's opening speech in Castle Gardens which will be received with Heepian rapture by the waiting crowds.

Rochester, Kent (01634 727777) 11.30am

BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET

The company's enormously popular touring production of Far From the Madding Crowd calls in at the Royal Opera House tonight. Although this dance adaptation of Hardy's novel is necessarily rather plot-heavy, audiences have thoroughly enjoyed the original score by Paul Reade, magnificent sets and period costumes. Tonight's programme also features Carmina burana and Themes and Variations, choreographed by George Balanchine.

ROH, Floral St, London WC2 (0171-304 4000) 7.30pm pounds 8-35

FAMILIAR RELATIONS

New York photographer and professor Larry Fink has curated this show, which brings together work by 40 American artists. Probing the dynamics and tensions of the family, these works explore the social rituals that surround people's daily patterns in the home.

The Watershed, 1 Canon's Road, Bristol (0117-9213958)

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