Until 24 February

Nice, France

The capital of the Riviera is turned upside-down with unbridled gusto during its marathon carnival. For 21 days the usually reserved Nicois become obsessed with fun, decking out the city in wild colour and adopting intriguing disguises. Residents join the thousands of visitors for masked balls, regattas, torch light processions and spontaneous street corner sessions of bonhomie.

Until 28 February

Berlin, Germany (above)

This month, Europe's most talented drag queens will be converging on Berlin for a series of special shows at Chez Nous (the country's oldest transvestite club) for the 40th Festival der Transvestie. On the bill will be performances by the likes of Shirley MacLaine, Nana Mouskouri, Liza Minnelli and, er, Judy Garland.

8 - 11 February

Xi'an, China

The Lantern Festival has been celebrated in Xi'an for more than 2,000 years - and copied all over the rest of the country. Starting several days before the full moon, all the parks, squares and walls of the city are beautifully decorated with lanterns resembling vegetables, fish, men and animals.

9 February

Shaitli and Kituri, Russia

The Festival of Igbi is the Russian version of "Trick or Treat". Wearing creepy masks, young boys stalk the villages and demand that the woman of each house places igbi (bagels) on their extended wooden swords. "Make igbi", they chant. "Anyone who does not give igbi will be punished." The punishment usually involves having one's bare feet immersed in icy river water.

10 February

Prague, Czech Republic

The Stamic Quartet, one of the country's finest classical groups, are holding a concert at the Klementium in the Hall of Mirrors. This rich and fabulous Baroque venue is a world apart from the tourist trail and a fine setting for a programme which includes music by Mozart and Dvork, played by the veterans of numerous world tours

11 February

Madurai, India

South India's lively temple town rolls out the rafts for the full moon Teppam Festival. The epicentre of the cheery celebrations is the illuminated and many-tiered temple island in the middle of the Mariamman Teppakkulam reservoir. The images of the goddess Meenakshi and her consort, Sundaresvara, are floated on the flower bedecked rafts, while on the shore the Tamil crowds chant hymns as a bevy of bands thump encouragement.