Events Planner: Sporting events

From French flyers to drunken Guatemalan jockeys. By Sophie Lam


WALES

WALES

30 August, World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Powys

A dip in the sea would suffice for many on a hot summer's day. But others will be diving into bogs in the Welsh valleys this August Bank Holiday for the Ben and Jerry's 19th World Bog Snorkelling Championships. The idea was conceived in a pub in 1986 as a fundraising event, and has since gained international recognition with dozens of participants converging on Llanwrtyd Wells each year to try their hand at the murky contest. Participants must swim two lengths of a 55m trench cut into the Waen Rhydd peat bog without using conventional swimming strokes - only flippers are permitted. The winner receives a year's supply of ice cream to keep them going until the next year's competition. Entry to the event is £10. Further information: 01591 610270; www.benjerry.co.uk

CANADA

5-14 September, Western Festival, St Tite

The Wild West comes to St Tite this September, a town north of Trois Rivières between Montréal and Québec City that is an important leather and cowboy boot producing centre. In keeping with the town's main export, a rodeo day was organised in 1967 that subsequently expanded into a celebration of all things Western, with bull and bareback riding, lassoing, country music, dancing and rodeo events for cowgirls. Expect to see competitors in full Western attire, from spurs and chaps to hats and waistcoats, with horse-drawn carriages taking visitors back to the era of Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy. Events take place at the purpose-built Estrades stadium and the town's country club. Ticket prices vary according to event, and range from C$12-C$30 (£5-£13). Further information: 001 418 365 7524; www.festivalwestern.com

US

15-19 September, Gravity Games, Cleveland

Urban games such as skateboarding and in-line skating are now more popular in some areas than street sports like basketball. Skateboarding grew from the American surf boom in the 1950s, when surf enthusiasts looked for an alternative to keep them occupied while away from the beach. As the sports have become more popular they have also become more extreme, with gravity-defying acts that would make even bystanders feel giddy. The Gravity Games promise just that - with five days of BMX biking, skateboarding and motorcycle competitions and demonstrations. A programme of music is also planned. Further information: 08705 143609 (Greater Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau); www.gravitygames.com

FRANCE

16-19 September, Icarus Cup Festival, St Hilaire du Touvet

In true Icarus spirit, contestants will be gathering in St Hilaire du Touvet in Isère to see who can fly the furthest and longest, but with hang-gliders and paragliders rather than feather-and-wax wings. In addition to the competitions, which take place on 18 and 19 September, there will also be displays, from parachuting to boomerang throwing and airborne acrobatics from the French Air Force. And there will be balloon displays, a children's area with anything from paper planes to a bungy trampoline and a programme of live music and films. A festival pass, which allows access to the festival for all four days, costs €5 (£3.60). Further information: 00 33 4 76 08 33 99 (tourist office); www.coupe-icare.org

GUATEMALA

1 November, Todos Santos Cuchumatan Festival

High in the Cuchumatanes mountains, the Mayans of Todos Santos celebrate a riotous horse race at the beginning of November. The race is highly superstitious, with jockeys abstaining from sex for nine days prior to the race in order not to fall off their steeds. The death of a jockey is often seen as good luck, although preventative measures are now taken to try and stop this from happening. Fifteen horses and jockeys in traditional colourful costumes race along the straight course numerous times throughout the day, drinking as much beer as possible at the end of each race. As the jockeys become inebriated, they fall off their horses and are thus disqualified, and the jockey still mounted at the end of the day is the victor. Races start at around 8am and are free to watch. Further details: 020-7351 3042 (Guatemala Tourist Office); www.mayaspirit.com.gt

THAILAND

6-12 September, King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, Hua Hin

Elephant polo is far from a novelty game - it's a traditional sport that was favoured by the British aristocracy in India at the turn of the last century. The game was originally played with footballs, which proved to be unsuitable as the elephants could easily crush them, so they were replaced instead with polo balls. The pitch is also smaller than a standard polo field owing to the reduced speed of the competitors, while penalties are awarded against animals lying in front of the goal or picking up the ball with their trunks. There are three players on each side and this year's entrants include a group of Thai lady-boys and one all-British team. Further information: 00 66 3252 0250; www.thaielepolo.com

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