Best Bank Holiday events: Three days of fun start here...

Bog snorkelling or beach rugby? Begonias or big band beats? Jamie Merrill and Laura Scarrott help you choose the best way to spend your long weekend
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The Independent Online


Notting Hill Carnival, Sunday, Monday

Join hundreds of thousands of revellers at Europe's largest street festival and London's most vibrant celebration of diversity, colour and sound. True to its Caribbean roots, the festival parade boasts 64 masquerade bands and 38 sound systems along its three-mile root. Sunday is the family-friendly Children's Day, while Monday offers the senior costume competition.

Free; Notting Hill, London W11; 6am (Sun), 10am (Mon) until late.

Teddy Bears' Picnic, today (Friday)

Children can bring their favourite teddy or doll to this picnic while their parents enjoy the poetry of John Keats, all in the relaxed environment of Preachers Hill Park; make sure you pack a rug.

Free; Preachers Hill Children's Park, London NW3; 3pm to 3.45pm.

The Olympics in Trafalgar Square, Sunday

You don't have to travel all the way to China to get into the Olympic spirit this weekend, as London prepares to take over the Olympic torch from Beijing. All the action from the Games is shown on a big screen, and the event culminates with live music and the launch of the Get Set London road show.

Free; Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N; all day.


A Royal Victorian Visit, Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Travel back in time to 1850 and meet Queen Victoria as she welcomes you to this grand country retreat. Talk with the Victorian cast as you share in a typical Victorian day wandering around the beautiful Audley End estate. While you relax to the Victorian dancing and music, the children can take part in Mr Bramble's flower fairy hunt.

From £5.50; Audley End House, nr Saffron Waldon, Essex; 11am to 5pm.; 0870 333 1183

Reading Festival, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

If you're one of the lucky few to have tickets for this weekend's Reading Festival, you'll be enjoying performances by Rage Against the Machine, The Killers and Metallica at Britain's longest-running music festival. The rest of us will have to make do with the television highlights and trusty BBC iPlayer.

SOLD OUT; Reading.

Marble Hill Picnic Concerts, Saturday, Sunday

Set in the grounds of Marble Hill House, an English Heritage site, the event consists of two days of live music. On Saturday, Classic FM presents the best in classical music; on Sunday, Ronnie Scott's Big Band perform.

£22-29; Twickenham, Surrey; 7.30pm.; 0870 400 0601


Glendale Agricultural Show, Monday

Celebrate the best of farming and rural life at Northumberland's premier agricultural show. The highlights include all kinds of farm animals as well as the Scottish terrier racing team and the popular sheep-dog trials. It's a welcome return for the show after last year's event had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

From £3; The Showground, nr Wooler, Northumberland.

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Sutton Hoo, Saturday

The award-winning touring theatre company Illyria presents Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor against the stunning backdrop of Sutton Hoo's open-air theatre. Shakespeare wrote it after Elizabeth I requested a play in which Falstaff fell in love. For more modern romantics, the evening is the perfect opportunity to curl up on a blanket with a bottle of bubbly.

From £13.50; Sutton Hoo, Suffolk; starts 7pm.


Medieval Knight Trail, Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Roam the picturesque grounds of the 600-year-old Old Wardour Castle and take in its lakeside views while the kids scour the castle to locate the hidden medieval figures in time to deliver an invitation to the Queen's banquet. It all sounds very cloak and dagger, but it will keep them out of your hair for an hour or two.

From £1.80; Old Wardour Castle, Tisbury, Wiltshire; 10am to 6pm.; 01747 870 487

Lusty Glaze Beach Rugby, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The golden sands of Lusty Glaze Beach play host to the seventh Cornish Beach Rugby tournament. More than 60 teams will take part in the competition, and England rugby stars Paul Sackey and James Haskell will join in the action. Entertainment is provided, with live music from local band Small Wonder, a barbeque and a spectacular fireworks display to round off proceedings.

Free; Lusty Glaze Beach, Newquay, Cornwall; 4pm to 11pm.; 01637 859 718


Southport Flower Show, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Helping to confirm Liverpool's status as European Capital of Culture, the Southport Flower Show has one million blooming flowers on display (weather permitting). The 34 acres of parkland also offer regional products, live music and acrobats.

From £5, free for children; Victoria Park, Southport; all day.; 01704 547 147

Creamfields, Saturday, Sunday

The acts are out in force to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Creamfields this weekend. It's labelled as the biggest dance and electronica event in the UK, and artists include Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, Kasabian and Ian Brown.

From £53.50; Daresbury, Liverpool; all weekend.; 0871 424 4444

Eaton Hall Gardens Open Day, Sunday

Set in the gardens of the family home of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster, this open day offers 88 acres of beautiful landscape. The gardens, only open to the public once a year, boast wildflowers, formal beds, sculptures and lakes, all crafted by the Victorian gardener William Nesfield and architect Detmar Blow. All proceeds to charity.

From £4; Eaton Hall, nr Chester; 1.30pm onwards.; 01244 684 400

The Big Weekend, Manchester Pride

After 78 hours of partying, revelling and bawdiness, Boy George, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Alpha Beat round off the celebrations at Manchester Pride. A candlelit vigil for victims of HIV will close the festival on Monday night as Manchester's gay community gathers in Sackville Park to remember those lost.

From £12.50; Manchester, Canal Street; all day.

Scotland, Bute Highland Games, Saturday

Catch the ferry to the Isle of Bute to watch large men in tartan toss the caber, throw the hammer and put the shot at the Bute Highland Games. Also on offer are Highland dances, wrestling, athletics, pipe bands and a range of Highland refreshments.

From £4; Rothesay, Isle of Bute; from 11am.; 01700 831 610

Foodies at the Festival, Saturday, Sunday

Join 10,000 food-lovers as the Edinburgh Festival welcomes the best in Scottish victuals. Foodies can sample the range of goods on offer, watch Michelin-starred Scottish chefs performing cookery demonstrations, and attend food and drink masterclasses. Bon appétit.

From £5; the Sheraton Hotel and Festival Square; 10am to 6pm.; 0131-226 7766


World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Monday

Watch hardy, or perhaps just foolhardy, competitors "swim" two lengths (about 60 yards) along a murky, muddy peat trench to triumph in this outlandish event. The aim, with the help of flippers and a snorkel, is to cover the distance in the quickest time. Swimmers come from as far afield as Australia and America to compete for the title of world champion bog snorkeller.

Free for spectators; Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys; 1am to nightfall.


Belfast Mela, Sunday

Belfast's Botanical Gardens hosts Northern Ireland's biggest multicultural festival. This year's focus is on health and wellbeing, and the event is a platform for local and world talent in crafts and the performing arts.

Free; Botanic Gardens, Belfast; 12pm to 6pm.; 028-9023 1381