The Indian calendar is packed with vibrant festivals. This weekend it is the turn of the inhabitants of Thrissur, as the eight-day Pooram festival reaches its climax at the Vadkkunnathan Temple. Deities are carried through the streets from the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples to the sound of drums, while Brahmin priests sit atop bejewelled "tusker" elephants. The partying carries on far into the night, with an extravagant fireworks display, considered to be the best in Asia.
26 APRIL-1 MAY
The Film-Makers' Festival in Gyor is a unique international event, with contributors from 64 countries. Nearly 10 years old, the festival, subtitled "Another Connection", seeks to promote a new, ideology-free, cultural unity between East and West. It welcomes guests from places as far away as Siberia, Tibet and Iran. Over six days, 1,053 films will be shown. Independent film makers are favoured, as the judges value content and meaning above technical expertise. There will also be dance, music and theatre performances for those who want some live action.
The Bahug-Bahugan Sa Mactan festival is as curious as its name suggests. On Tuesday the inhabitants of Cebu's Mactan Island will stage their annual re-enactment of Magellan's 1521 landing, and the battle in which he died. Although Magellan had stopped to re-supply his vessels on their circumnavigation of the world, this is a celebration of the Filipinos' bravery in resisting Spanish attempts to colonise the whole archipelago. Special respect is held for legendary chief Lapu-Lapu, who led the Filipino forces into action. Go early to witness the best of the activities, such as water battles, as most of then start at 8am and are over by noon.
This Friday, brooms all over the Czech Republic will burn in a frenzy of superstition, celebrating the pagan Burning Of The Witches festival. Dating back to medieval times, when it was taken with deadly seriousness, this festival is now little more than an excuse to party around a bonfire. In Prague, party-goers usually gather on Kampa Island, as the country's post-Communist frostiness is temporarily melted in a warm glow.
China and world-wide
Although a major event all over the globe, International Labour Day is particularly important in China, as it is the closest the country has to a religious festival. Peking is buried under extravagant floral displays, with Tiananmen Square the centrepiece. Marching bands and military displays form a large part of the entertainments of a festival created to celebrate the Communist dedication to work. As Chairman Mao said: "We must be happy in our work."
The Brighton Festival is an eclectic feast, with savoury treats like Jonathan Harvey's opera, Passion and Resurrection, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Troilus and Cressida. The mystery dish has to be the talk by crime writers P D James and Ruth Rendell. Mongolian throat singers and the Netherlands Dans Theatre add spice. For sweet, try the Moscow State Circus or the film, Famous Fred and the Bear.