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?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss