Travel: What's on Worldwide
Sunday 21 February 1999
China The Ice Lantern Festival in Harbin. Staged in Zaholin park the festival features ice sculptures of famous Chinese landmarks. Inside the sculptures are coloured lights which make them glisten in the dark. If you are going to tour the wonders of China consider this as a cheaper alternative - past sculptures have included the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. With temperatures of-40C, dress well to avoid becoming a human exhibit.
England Last week's Chinese new year celebrations are not yet over: today London's Chinatown and Leicester Square become the stage for the local community's celebrations. The event includes international performers such as the Peking heavy metal band, the Black Panthers (a fitting tribute to the year of the Rabbit). Around one o'clock the real fun kicks off with the firing of traditional crackers and an explosive Lion dance.
Switzerland Basle's Fasnacht - a strangely delayed carnival - starts at 4am with the Morgenstreich on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. As the clock strikes four, costumed and masked pipe-and-drum bands start playing as they move through the dark streets. During the day carnival cliques march around the city, and Tuesday evening is dedicated to the masked musicians who fill the streets with their improvised cacophony.
Egypt The Abu Simbel Festival celebrates the birth of Ramses II. Held at Ramses's temple the main attraction is at sunrise - the temple was designed to let light into the inner sanctum on this day alone. Those who make it to the inner sanctum on time will see Ramses's statue become fully illuminated. There will be post-illumination entertainment in the form of folk dancing by Nubian Cobana, Aswan, and Abu Simbel troupes.
Zambia The N'cwala ceremony celebrates the first crossing of the Zambezi River into what is now Zambia by the Ngoni tribe. The crossing is celebrated by much beer drinking. On the day of the historic crossing in 1835 the world went dark - the event coincided with a total eclipse of the sun. Avoid attempting to join in with the masked Nyau cult dancers: their routine takes years to perfect and requires extreme endurance.
Singapore The Chingay parade is a good chance to see the three main cultures of Singapore come together for a big rave-up. Professional Malay, Indian and Chinese performers will animate the floats which pass through the city. Get yourself a gong and join the locals who line the parade bashing their metal at the passing spectacle.
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