West Country diary

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The Independent Travel
Holiday bookings for Cornwall in 1999 will be directly influenced by an astronomical event in Asia later this month. The total solar eclipse over Mongolia on 10 March is bound to fuel interest in the next-but-one total eclipse of the sun, visible over west Cornwall at 11.11am on 11 August, 1999. The central line of totality passes just north of Penzance and south of Falmouth (see map, above). For an excellent guide to the eclipse, complete with a viewer, send a cheque for pounds 5.95, payable to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, to The Observatory Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OEZ.

Accommodation is likely to be scarce. For lists of properties, call the tourist information centres in Penzance (01736 62207, also covering St Ives), Helston (01326 565431) and Falmouth (01326 312300).

If you cannot make it to Cornwall, then you will still get a good view of a partial eclipse from elsewhere in the UK. Even in Britain's northernmost town, Lerwick in Shetland, there will be a partial eclipse covering 65 per cent of the sun.

Less cosmic events in Devon and Cornwall this year include the following (contact numbers for further details shown in brackets):

1 May: Padstow 'Obby 'Oss celebrations - May Day custom marking the coming of spring (01841 533449).

8 May: Helston Flora Day - the spring celebration moves west for the sequence of Furry Dances (01326 572082).

15-17 May: Devon County Show, Westpoint Showground, near Exeter (01392 444777).

23 May-7 June: English Riviera Dance Festival, Victoria Hotel Ballroom and other venues in Torquay (01895 632143).

6-22 June: Golowan Festival, Penzance (01736 331933).

3-20 July: Exeter Festival (01392 265200).

25 August: Newlyn Fish Festival (01736 62207).

22-25 August: Wadebridge Folk Festival, re-named this summer after 24 years as the Cornwall Folk Festival (01208 831123).

8-20 September: St Ives September Festival (01736 795003 or 01736 66077).

8 October: Tavistock Goose Fair (01822 613529).

6 November: Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival (01278 429288).

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