Events Planner: Walking festivals

The best events on foot, from Finland to South Korea
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The Independent Travel

ITALY

ITALY

12-14 September, Marcia Mare e Monti, Arenzano

In Liguria this summer, not only will tourists be sauntering around the museums and galleries of Genoa, European Capital of Culture, but hikers will be converging on nearby Arenzano for the annual walking festival. The coastal and mountainous routes provide ample opportunity for nature-watching - golden eagles and eagle owls reside in the Beguia mountains, and whales can often be seen offshore. Routes lead from the coast and into the mountains to the Beguia Regional Park, and range from 7.7km to 24km in length. Free refreshments, including the local speciality, trenette (like linguine) al pesto, are provided en route. Walks are non-competitive and open to all, although the more taxing routes are for over-12s only. Registration from €1.50 (£1) to €10 (£6.50), depending on route. For details: 00 39 010 913 8291; www.maremontiarenzano.org

UK

18-25 September, Jersey Autumn Walking Week

A varied programme of walks, led by expert ramblers and blue badge tour guides is planned for the popular annual Autumn Walking Week, ranging from woodland to coastal routes. Some of the more unusual rambles include a moon walk around the seashore at low tide accompanied by a marine biologist, a gruelling five-day walk and ghost walks to some of the island's haunted locations. This is an excellent way to explore the island, with the added bonus of blue badge guides who are able to provide an interesting and insightful background to the locations visited. There are routes to suit most ages and abilities. Pre-booking is essential for many of the walks and the costs vary, with several that are free. Further information: 01534 500 700 (Jersey Tourism); www.jersey.com/walking

GERMANY

1-3 October, International Two-Day Walk, Fulda

The Baroque city of Fulda is in a valley in the heart of Germany, by the river of the same name. The valley provides lush, green and varied terrain for walking, with hills and riverside walks. The Rhön nature park and Wasserkuppe mountain, where hang-gliding was reputedly born, are also nearby. The non-competitive routes during the two-day walk take hikers around the surrounding countryside and hills. The routes range from 6-42km, with shorter evening walks on 1 October and the longer routes spread over two days. Hikers must register in advance, the cost ranges from €1.50 (£1) to €10 (£6.50) and forms can be downloaded from the website. Packages including accommodation and sightseeing tours can also be arranged. Further information: 00 49 9321 8616; www.come.to/Fulda

IRELAND

22-24 October, Wicklow Mountains Autumn Walking Festival

Hikers are invited to explore the Garden of Ireland this autumn during Wicklow's biannual walking festival. The 11 routes are graded according to ability and range from gently undulating trails on the sides of Brockagh Mountain to 20km long, 850m high ascents of the Glendasan Valley and Tonelagee Mountain. Other mountains, valleys and forests are also explored and there are two night walks around Brockagh, which should give walkers an impressive view across the Glenmacnass Valley below, as well as a hike up to the Glendalough Waterfall. Pre-booking is essential by 15 October, as group sizes are limited. A three-day pass costs €35 (£23), a two-day pass €27 (£18) and a one-day pass €15 (£10). Further information: 00 353 4042 0070 (Wicklow Tourism); www.wicklow.ie

SOUTH KOREA

29-31 October, International Walking Festival, Wonju

The Korean International Walking Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with special events taking place over the three days such as an international friendship night on 29 October and a parade on 31 October. The festival's aim is to promote healthy living as well as introducing

foreign visitors to a relatively unexplored region of the country. Wonju is in the north-east of South Korea, but before the division of North and South Korea, its territory stretched into what is now North Korea. The city is surrounded by the Taebaek mountains, which dominate the eastern province of the republic. Hikers can choose from 10-50km routes and applications must be received by 15 October. Registration is $50 (£29). Further information: 00 82 2 843 1043; www.walking.or.kr (Korean only) or www.walking.about.com

FINLAND

6-8 August, Vaasan Marssi, Vaasa

Explore Finland's "sunniest city", Vaasa, on foot this summer. Thanks to a decampment of Swedish seafarers in the 14th century, the western coastal city (just 80km from Sweden) is Swedish and Finnish-speaking. It's a pleasant location for a walking festival, with sea breezes from the Gulf of Bothnia cooling the grassy 10-42km routes from the town square to nearby Hietalahden Villa. Walkers of all ages are welcome and all routes are non-competitive. On the opening day, 6 August, an international arts night is planned in Vaasa, and it will be followed by a "blister ball" on the Saturday. All walkers must register by 5 August, for a fee of €21 (£14). For more information call 00 358 400 251220, or see www.vaasa.fi/marssi

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