Climbing spooky mountains ... moon-bathing ... waltzing in the outback ...
Sunday 04 October 1998
The Rome to St Petersburg Festival means music-lovers only have to travel as far as the Italian capital to sample some of Russia's greatest classical music. This festival brings the Kirov to town with a programme of six concerts, including music from Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.
Mount Kinabalu, on the Malaysian Island of Sabaha, is perhaps one of the more unlikely places to stage a Climbathon. Until the mid-1800s, Borneo and Malaysia's highest mountain was believed to be the home of the spirits and, as such, setting foot on it was strictly taboo. Today, however, Kinabalu represents a sporting challenge too tempting to resist, and the annual Climbathon sees hundreds of ascents up this 4,101m mountain - starting from an altitude of 1,800m. One of the toughest mountain races in the world, the current record is two hours 42 minutes to the top.
Moon-bathing and cake-eating are the main events at the Mid-Autumn Moon Cake Festival. Visitors converge on Hong Kong's Victoria Park during this family event which commemorates the 14th-century uprising against the Mongols, during which the rebels wrote the call to revolt on pieces of paper which were stuffed into cakes and smuggled to compatriots. The sweet-tasting Moon Cake is made of ground lotus and sesame and is traditionally consumed while watching the huge autumn moon rise. Parks and hilltops take on an eerie glow, illuminated by both the moonlight and hundreds of coloured paper lanterns.
St Francis of Assisi's poems will be read in the original Umbrian dialect and set to music by Richard Blackford at a fund-raising concert in Oxford this week. The Alternative Travel Group is sponsoring a choral event at the Sheldonian Theatre in aid of the Assisi restoration fund. The earthquake in Assisi, which severely damaged the Basilica, hit the Italian town a year ago last week, and the concert aims to raise money for those who suffered. Call for tickets and information (tel: 01865 315612).
The Curdimurka Outback Ball must qualify as one of the world's most remote social events. Set 450 miles north of Adelaide, and almost 500 miles from Alice Springs, in a dust-blown, disused railway station, the Curdimurka Outback Ball is, for one night in October every two years, the place to be in the southern hemisphere. It attracts thousands of antipodean partygoers - from prominent politicians and socialites, who arrive by jet, to local farmers, who scrub-up and don black tie and tails for the occasion. Champagne replaces the perennial Aussie favourite, a cold tinny, and after a night of sophisticated desert dancing, party-goers finally bed down at dawn in a vast city of tents.
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