MAY

Philippines

The month of May sees the people of the Philippines give themselves over to honouring the blessed virgin during the festival of Flores de Mayo. Daily acts of devotion take place from noon onwards throughout the month, culminating in the last week with the sagalas. Sagalas is an age-old tradition, more common in the countryside, where processions of young girls in pristine white dresses decorate statues of the virgin with freshly cut flowers.

17 -5 JUNE

UK

Travel around the world in 20 days with the BOC Covent Garden Festival: opera from Germany, musicals from Broadway, choral music from Russia and cabaret from Italy are just some of over 100 events in venues across Covent Garden. Highlights include Richard Strauss's The Donkey Shadow, with Sir Peter Ustinov, the Pocket Opera Company of Nurnberg's four-hour version of Wagner's Der Ring, and Circo Rum Ba Ba's Dress Circle - a stilt-walker in a 19th-century costume with a miniature opera production concealed under the skirt.

19-20

Venezuela

Head to San Francisco de Yare, on Venezuela's Caribbean coast, this week and you'll find yourself surrounded by masked devil-dancers, writhing to the beat of African drums. Dancers fill the streets and set off in procession to El Calvario for an all-night vigil. The following morning, the devils gather outside the church while Mass takes place within. Then an initiation ceremony for apprentice devils takes place and the priest blesses the devils. Carrying the image of the Holy Sacrament, the devils' next stop is the graveyard where they pay their respects. The fevered street dancing that ensues continues all night.

21-23

Greece

Every year since at least 1250, Anastenaridhes (literally "groaners") have been dancing barefoot on burning coals while clutching icons in the village of Langadas, 20km north of Thessalonika. The origins of this festival are hotly disputed. Some say that the rites are remnants of a Dionysiac cult but others maintain that they relate to a 13th-century church fire, when the icons were heard groaning and were rescued by villagers who miraculously emerged unharmed.

22-24

Netherlands

Dig out your tent and make for Landgraaf, near Maastricht, for Pinkpop, the Netherland's answer to Glastonbury. This three-day event heralds the beginning of the outdoor festival season and welcomes Robbie Williams, The Manic Street Preachers, Alanis Morissette, Underworld, Skunk Anansie and Lauryn Hill.

SARAH BARRELL

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