Just in case you were not aware, the world's largest arts festival will once again be filling every available theatre, concert hall, street, park and garden shed in Scotland's capital. Running from 8-30 August, Edinburgh's Fringe Festival is offering a staggering 514 theatre shows. The International Festival, which runs from 15 August to 4 September, is a veritable feast for serious arts aficionados. The range of choice there is mind boggling too, with hundreds of comedy shows, every variety of music, dance events, a film festival and an international television festival. Fringe Office (tel: 0131 226 5257).
Well over a million spectators are likely to converge on the city of Tokushima in southern Japan to witness the Awa Odori, a four-day dance festival which is part of the nationwide O-bon Festival of the Dead. More than 80,000 participants dress in colourful yukata (summer kimonos) and straw hats, and parade through the city shuffling their feet to the two- beat rhythm of the taiko drums, flutes and shamisen. Along with the street parties and sideshows this is the closest Japan comes to Rio's Carnaval, and spectators are never short of invitations to join in the dancing.
Although worshipping a goat as a king might be verging on the abnormal, the residents of Killorglin, Co Kerry, do it every year at the annual Puck Fair. On the first day of the festival, the "Gathering Day", a wild mountain goat is paraded through the crowded streets, crowned by a local schoolgirl queen and then hoisted on to a huge stand where he reigns over his loyal subjects for the next three days. Highlights also include a horsefair, an Irish song competition, open-air night concerts, fireworks and some serious Guinness drinking.
Residents of Thailand all rise for a royal birthday. Passionately patriotic celebrations for Queen Sirikit's birthday take place throughout this South- East Asian country, where every household has a picture of the royal clan on the wall. Public buildings will be decorated on Her Majesty's special day, which is also a national holiday. Ratchadamnoen Avenue and the area around the Grand Palace in Bangkok promise to be the most spectacular, with coloured lights hanging from buildings.
Nine eight-metre-high candelabra are paraded through the streets of Sassari in northern Sardinia during the annual Candelieri festival, accompanied by crowds of locals dancing to drums and flutes. Adorned in flowers and ribbons each candelabra represents a traditional workers' guild whose members carry it on their shoulders through the city's streets. Dating from the 13th century, this ancient tradition is thought to be linked to the Ferro Agosto the following day, when towns throughout Italy celebrate the feast of the Assumption.
The first year of the Festival dos Oceanos celebrates Lisbon's affinity with the sea. The Parque das Nacoes, site of Expo '98 and now home to Europe's largest aquarium, is where fierce and fantastic creatures of the deep will dominate the opening parade on 14 August. One mythical monster is even said to arise miraculously in flames from the Tagus river. Regattas on jet skis, water skiing and wake boards are among the events. There are also concerts, exhibitions and city tours. Perhaps the highlight of the festival are the angels and fireworks on 21 August.
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The charm of the medieval lakeside city of Lucerne promises to lure thousands to its annual International Music Festival. The 70 or so events centre on the theme of "Myths". The 18 different symphony concerts are complemented by an interesting programme of musical theatre. Nearly 2,000 spectators are expected each night in the newly built concert hall, where they will be entertained by orchestras and musicians from all over the world. Young musicians, meanwhile, can exercise their orchestral skills with a series of "children's corner" performances. Performers include the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Alfred Brendel, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Evelyn Glennie.
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