A peerless procession and unrivalled performers

WHAT'S ON AROUND THE UK

To start with a little pomp and circumstance, Wednesday sees the State Opening of Parliament. While the actual ceremony is not open to members of the public, it is possible to view the Royal Procession on its way along the Mall and through Horse Guards Parade and Arch, Whitehall and Parliament Square. The cavalcade leaves Buckingham Palace at approximately 11am; the Gun Salute is fired in Green Park at 11.15, marking the arrival of the Queen at the Sovereign's Entrance to the House of Lords.

What makes 1999's event particularly worthy of note (apart from the contents of Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech) is that this year will see the exclusion, for the first time, of all but the 92 elected hereditary peers, providing, of course, that the House of Lords Reform Bill has obtained royal assent in time.

At the other end of the country, Haddington's Museum of Flight, near Edinburgh, presents an "open cockpits" day today, giving the public a rare opportunity to sit in some of the museum's historic aircraft, including the Vulcan bomber and the MiG15 jet fighter.

Still in Scotland, The Hub in Edinburgh is to hold the Shoots and Roots festival (tel: 0131-662 1199), a mix of traditional and folk music, from 18-21 November. Among those performing are Martin Hayes (one of the world's leading Irish fiddle players), Sheena Wellington (who sang at the opening of the Scottish Parliament) and the group Tartan Amoeba, who will be showcasing their eclectic mix of folk and funk.

Staying with things melodic, the nine-day St Ceciliatide International Festival of Music starts this Saturday. Now in its fifth year, the event takes place at the wonderful17th-century Stationer's Hall in Ludgate Hill, London. Particular reasons to attend might be the performance of two works by the Bohemian composer J D Zelenka, notably his Requiem of c1730, Joshua Rifkin and his Bach Ensemble playing Bach's Overture in D for the first time in London - and the opportunity to sup vintage wines from the vineyards of Saint-Emilion.

And the final note of the week will be from the string section as the Wirral holds its 11th International Guitar Festival (tel: 0151-666 5023), which offers a range of ticketed events in various venues, along with free lunchtime and nightly candlelit concerts. The festival runs until 21 November and today brings performances from the American blues guitarist Woody Mann and the Celtic group Waz, featuring Steve Tilston. Later highlights include appearances by the Christians, Wishbone Ash, the US guitar legend Eric Sardinas and the finale with Albert Lee with his band Hogan's Heroes and Mike Berry playing a tribute to Buddy Holly.

MATTHEW SKINNER

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