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The Independent Travel

USA Cyclists in Los Angeles (see feature, page 7) take advantage of the miraculously empty streets set aside for the LA Marathon. Fifteen thousand riders, including Mayor Richard Riordan and many celebrities, are expected to set off at 6am for the LA Marathon Accura Bike Tour. The saddle-sore have until 8.40am to complete the course, when the Marathon proper gets under way and the runners start to play catch-up.


Belgium Strange celluloid soirees will be taking place in Brussels over the next couple of weeks as it plays host to the International Festival of Fantasy Films. Along with films like Star Trek: Insurrection and Letters From A Killer, this festival of fantasy, thriller and science-fiction films will also feature a Vampires' Ball and a body-painting competition. Events are held at various times at Passage 44, Boulevard du Jardin Botanique and Cinema Nova, 3 Rue D'Arenberg (tel: 00 32 2 201 1495).


Japan The Bumper Harvest festival is held at the Tagata-Jinja temple in Tagata-oho. Well known as a unique festival, its purpose is to encourage a good harvest and the bearing of many male children. To this end, villagers carry a shrine featuring a model of a 2m-high penis on their shoulders to the temple. If you want to catch a glimpse of the star attraction of the festival, arrive early as 100,000 visitors are expected.


USA Boston is the place to be if you find yourself in the States on St Patrick's Day. The large Irish community celebrates the patron saint of Ireland with a mammoth street parade. Irish customs are, if anything, stronger here than on the Emerald Isle itself. And when you fancy a Guinness, you won't need to make do with ersatz Irish pubs - the real thing is out there.

17-21 MARCH

Colombia The Cartagena International Festival of Caribbean music is a wild and partly spontaneous affair, involving a range of events from mock battles between conquistadors and pirates to dawn serenades by Vallenato bands. The fun really starts with the concerts, which are the highlight of the festival; held in the open-air bull-ring, they are a frenzy of dancing and rum-drinking and continue until 5am, by which time you are more than ready to wind down to a dawn serenade on the Boca Grande beach.

20-21 MARCH

USA Military enthusiasts will love the Military Through the Ages exhibition, being held at the Jamestown settlement in Williamsburg, Virginia. Watch re-enactments of historic battles in US history, from the War of Independence onwards, and learn about camp life, military tactics and weaponry.


Italy Never has there been a more pleasant setting for, what, to most sensible people, would be an unpleasant experience: the Rome Marathon takes in the Italian capital's best sights including the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. Though this is arguably more enjoyable as a spectator sport, the marathon manages to attract some 15,000 competitors, starting from the Colosseum at 9:30am. Those that don't fancy going the full 26 miles can take part in the alternative three-mile non-competitive Stracittadina; a run through the city centre. For information tel: 00 39 06 406 5064.