Celebrations leading up to Holi, 21-24 March. Holi (24 March) marks the first day of summer in northern . On the eve of Holi, bonfires of unwanted possessions symbolise the death of winter. On Holi itself, men and women are allowed to flirt and pour water over each other before noon.


St Patrick's Day. Celebrations, street parades and other entertainments held in towns throughout Ireland, north and south.

Horse Ploughing Match. This international horse competition and show (of Clydesdale horses) takes place at various venues in Ballycastle, Country Antrim in Northern Ireland. Admission is free. For more information call 012657 62530.


Paul Delvaux retrospective. Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels. This exhibition, brings together more than 100 of the paintings of the Belgian surrealist Paul Delvaux, commemorating the centenary of his birth (21 March-27 July).


Kipling Cotes Derby, 20 March. This, the oldest annual horse race in the world, takes place as usual on Humberside - as it has done every year since 1519.


Purim (Feast of Lots) 23 March. A remembrance of the Jews' refusal to compromise religious principle by bowing to secular authority. Celebrated in carnival style with lots of drink and the eating of three- cornered pastries.


Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain, 15-19 March. One of the Mediterranean's most colourful annual spectacles, in which residents parade colossal figures through the streets and then burn them in massive bonfires throughout the city, as well as in the neighbouring area.


Edinburgh Folk Festival 21-30 March. One of Scotland's major folk festivals, featuring traditional and innovative folk music and dancing. For more details, contact Dave Francis 01585 559870.


Higan week, centred on 21 March, the vernal equinox. All Buddhist temples around the country hold special services and people pray for the souls of the departed.