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The Independent Travel

River song and dance

River song and dance

London's South Bank, that unrelentingly grey concrete riviera, will become the greenest spot in the capital today. It's the setting for a big St Patrick's Day festival, beginning at noon and going on till 6pm, between Jubilee Gardens and the Royal National Theatre. It's all free, so go and catch a great line-up of Irish singers, musicians and dancers, including superannuated punks The Undertones, folk star Mary Coughlan, and a "surprise guest" (fingers crossed that doesn't mean Terry Wogan). A simultaneous parade celebrating Irish culture starts at 12.30pm in Park Lane, heading via Piccadilly, Park Lane and Trafalgar Square to the Embankment.

Vroom at the top

Driving a Lotus Elise or a Caterham must rank pretty high among petrolheads' fantasies. Sadly, the amount of cash most of us have to spend on a car would just about cover the insurance for either of these. But, desire being the indulgent aunt of invention, there is a more affordable way to experience the multisensory thrill of burning up country lanes in a loud, low-slung shiny thing. A new one-day package from Classic Car Hire (0800-052 5066, www.classiccarhire.co.uk) of Otley, West Yorkshire, allows you to drive not one but five different sports cars during a day-long treasure hunt around the Yorkshire Dales. The fun revs up at 8.30am: you'll drive a range of sports models – Porsche, TVR, Jaguar E-Type, Austin Healey, Morgan, etc – with lunch provided, finishing at 5.30pm. The package costs £450 for two, including fully comprehensive insurance and VAT. Next scheduled weekend dates in Yorkshire are 26 and 27 April.

Cheesy does it

If you find yourself in Cheshire next weekend and you're feeling peckish, there'll be more than the eponymous cheese to satisfy you. Chester Food & Drink Festival 2003 (0161 905 3300, www.chestercc.gov.uk/foodanddrink) will be in full swing. There'll be a range of nosebag opportunities, from a re-enactment of the medieval ale assizes (in which local ales were regularly put on trial by the city mayor for, ahem, quality control purposes) to a diverse taster luncheon at the Farndon Arms and an ice-cream challenge: can you eat 12 varieties? Get stuck in...