WHAT'S ON WORLDWIDE

2 MAY

Britain

Coming up today, in a field in Devon, several hundred wriggling worms. The International Festival of Worm Charming, now in its 16th year, aims to tempt as many worms as possible to the surface during a 15-minute period. Not until the morning of the contest are contestants told from which field in the village of Black Awton the worms will be drawn. This secrecy is to ensure that potential Pied Pipers of the worm world do not engage in any premature charming. Tried and tested worm wooing methods include singing, dangling liquorice, twanging a garden fork (so the wrigglers think its raining), magic stones and meditation. It's apparently a highly skilled business and such clumsy methods as mechanical diggers and liquid stimulants (pouring whiskey on to the turf) are banned.

6 MAY

Italy

Live snakes, a Catholic saint, TV crews and several thousand pilgrims all congregate in the tiny mountain village of Cocullo, in Abruzzo, this week during the annual snake festival. On the first Thursday in May, the residents of Cocullo celebrate the feast day of St Dominic with the Processione dei Serpari, or snake charming procession. Pilgrims arrive at this isolated, almost uninhabited village from all over Italy to pay homage to the saint in the village church before following the procession through the narrow streets. A cloaked statue of St Dominica is draped with live snakes and carried through the town. Preceding the statue are four girls dressed in local costumes carrying ciambelli, traditional sweetmeats prepared by local women, while the statue itself is covered in bank notes and jewels donated by pilgrims. Snake bearers coil hissing serpents around their necks and sing as they pass through the crowds. This unusual procession is said to recall the ancient pagan "cult of reptiles" and the worship of Goddess Angizia. The snakes used are not poisonous and snake handlers are covered by a divine insurance policy as St Dominic is said to ward off snake bites (and toothache).

8 MAY

Britain

Another daft spring festival taking place in the UK this week is Helston's Furry Dance, a rather solemn procession with a silly name. In the 19th century, the Helston Furry Dance (feur, or fair dance), a Cornish festival to welcome the spring, became known as the Floral Dance and under this name it was a popular ballad between the wars - and, of course, a number one for Terry Wogan a few years back. To catch the first dance at 6am, bleary-eyed locals travel the roads of Cornwall's Lizard peninsula before dawn, carrying green boughs and flowers with which they will decorate the doors of Helston's old stone houses. The doors of the houses are left open, and people dance in and out from one to another bearing the benediction of spring. Door-hopping culminates at midday with the Quality Dance, which starts at the Town Hall, led by the mayor and the town band. The Furry Dance song (an eight-bar refrain repeated for six hours), accompanies the procession as it passes the most important houses in town.

8-9 MAY

Thailand

The Bun Bang Fi festival in Yasothon does exactly what it says in the title; bang, with ear-splitting volume, many times over. More like a Nasa launch than a fireworks display, this "rocket festival" sees several gunpowder- filled devices, the size of semi-detached houses, exploded high above a crowd of thousands. This area of north-eastern Thailand is less explored by tourists and ferang (foreigners) can expect typical Thai high-jinx commencing on the evening of the 8th, with heavy drinking, carnival floats and street parties. Each village builds a rocket and parades it though the town on a float. The following night, hang-overs notwithstanding, the rockets are launched. This earthshaking tradition is said to bring the rice season rains and first prize is given for the rocket that stays in the air the longest. Yes, a fire proof hat is probably recommended and no, this wouldn't get past Health and Safety in the UK. But isn't that half the fun?

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment