TRAVEL: WHAT'S ON WORLDWIDE

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The Independent Travel
23 MAY

Spain

The usually deserted village of El Rocio near Almonte in Andalucia welcomes some 500,000 revellers during Whitsun week. Visitors should be prepared to spend 40 alcohol-fuelled hours with little sleep and lots of flamenco in order to take part fully in Spain's most passionate Pentecost celebration. The festival commemorates the miracle of Nuestra Senora del Rocio (Our Lady of the Dew) which began in the 13th century when a statue apparently resisted all attempts to be moved from the spot where it was found. Consequently a shrine, and later a chapel, was built there and miraculous healings are said to have occurred. On Pentecost Sunday, villagers prostrate themselves in front of the statue (or fall down drunk, depending on how you look at it), which is credited with all kinds of magic and fertility powers. El Rocio has sprung up to support the 90 or so hermandades (brotherhoods) of pilgrim-revellers that converge annually on the chapel, arriving on horseback and in decorated ox-drawn carts. The procession on Pentecost Sunday sees villagers wrestling over who will carry the statue, fondly known as the White Dove, and celebrations last all weekend.

Denmark

The last day of the Copenhagen Carnival. Expect offbeat parades though the heart of the capital, samba dancing in the streets, a boat carnival plus children's events (puppet shows and the like) in the city's parks. And later on this week in Copenhagen, the sounds of a "cool" European summer can be heard approaching. Between 27 and 30 May the Swinging Copenhagen festival sees the Danish capital giving itself over to traditional jazz, played in every street, square, club and concert hall, featuring both Danish and international musicians in more than 100 performances.

26 MAY

Australia

Despite the fact that Australia's government has traditionally seemed to have the word "sorry" stuck in its throat, National Sorry Day gives all antipodeans the chance to apologise officially, or perhaps pay lip- service, to the country's Aboriginal people for past (and present) abominations.

28-30 MAY

Belgium

Brussels, one of the jazz capitals of the world, this week puts on its Jazz Marathon which welcomes more than 250,000 jazz fans and 350 musicians. Saxophonists can display their talents in the home of Adolph Sax (Belgian inventor of the saxophone), on some 60-odd stages dotted around the city's cafes, bars and hotel lounges. The open-air concerts on the Grand Place, the Sablon and the Place Ste Catherine are free of charge on Friday and Saturday. The entrance ticket to the Brussels Jazz Marathon offers more than 100 concerts and free access to the Jazz Marathon buses (as well as the usual public transport). Contact the Belgian Tourist Office for general information (tel: 0171-867 0311) or for ticket sales (tel: 0032 2456 0485).

28-31 MAY

USA

Fans of silent movies and the early "talkies" should head for Columbus, Ohio, this week for the 31st Annual Classic Film Convention. Each year international film fanatics flock to Columbus to view screenings of rarely seen silent and vintage sound films. Some 170 dealers will be pandering to the obsessions of movie memorabilia collectors, offering film, video, sound recordings, posters, stills, lobby cards, books and autographs. Some of the major events include a series of silent Laurel and Hardy shorts (Two Tars, Sugar Daddies and Their Purple Moment), plus Harold Lloyd in one of his best, The Kid Brother (1927).

29 MAY

Buddhist countries worldwide

Vesak, the most sacred festival on the Buddhist calendar, celebrates the birth, spiritual enlightenment and death of Buddha, which were all believed to have taken place on the same date, on the full moon in May. In Sri Lanka this auspicious date is celebrated by the lighting of lanterns; in Singapore, caged birds are freed and similarly, in Malaysia, white doves are released and celebrants nationwide gather in temples for dawn ceremonies.

29-30 MAY

UK

As ball sports go, even the championship of Mondial Billes, or Marbles- on-Sand, would appear to be a small affair. In actual fact it is a hotly contested international competition and this week sees the last of the eliminating rounds taking place in Bristol and the Isle of Wight. Victors will go on to compete in the national championships in Milton Keynes in June and, balls bearing up, the teams may then go forward to the international finals in Royan, France. Across the globe, national heats are currently taking place in 50 places. Countries as far away as Cuba, Canada, Tunisia, Germany and Iceland will select marble masters to represent them in August's finals. This gritty game is played on a circuit of hard-packed sand which takes a day to sculpt and resembles the circuit of the Tour de France, complete with hairpin bends, chicane and mountains. Ten contestants take turns to flick their marbles through various challenging channels and the first to pass the finish post is the winner. The contest originated in Royan 19 years ago but the game of marbles was a recreation long before the Romans introduced it to Great Britain in the first century AD.

29 MAY

Poland

Childish behaviour in Krakow this week as Juvenalia brings the kids out of the classroom into the centre of town for four days of street dancing, fancy dress and masquerades.

29-30 MAY

USA

San Francisco's International Progressive Music Festival celebrates the success of the genre that is typified by eternal guitar and keyboard solos. British bands such as Genesis, Yes and King Crimson secured "prog rock" a position on the international stage, and the West Coast festival features a range of styles from classically inspired Euro-symphonic rock to jazz- space fusion. San Francisco is the new home of the event, originally known as "Progfest", which has grown significantly since it began six years ago on the UCLA's campus. This year's line-up features Gong, Brand X, Porcupine Tree and Buckethead.

30 MAY

Germany

Not tempted by a visit to the newly restored Reichstag? Then head to Berlin's Botanical Gardens for the start of the summer open-air concerts. The picnic and concert season opens with music from Beethoven, Faure and Dvorak. Tickets for the concert also include free access to the Botanical Gardens throughout the day and staunch anglophones are eligible for free guided tours in English (two hours before the show) if they telephone in advance. These lazy Sunday summer shows begin at 4pm. For tickets and information (tel: 49 30 830 060). It's a busy musical month for Berlin as the city also plays host to the Mozart Festival featuring such heavyweights as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Unter den Linden opera.

SARAH BARRELL

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