Get your blue funk down in Paris at the La Villette Jazz Festival, from tonight until 27 June and from 1-4 July. Every evening the parc swings to the sounds of Herbie Hancock and Carlinhos Brown et al. Cafes and cool, grenadine and grooves ... it's summertime, and the living is easy. Call for tickets and information (tel: 0033 14 003 7575).



On Midsummer's Eve bonfires are lit throughout the country to mark the changing season and fireworks are launched into the night. The population sings and orates the night away while along the coastline and on inland hilltops you can see the dark orange of the fires burning through until dawn. 23 JUNE


By the cunning of some ancient monk, the feast of Saint John the Baptist falls on Midsummer's Eve, which gives two excuses to party. In Javea and Torrevieja the custom of lighting fires to celebrate the summer solstice also involves frenetic street carnivals, bonfire leapfrog, and concerts performed on makeshift stages.

23-24 JUNE


Also to celebrate the feast of Saint John, inhabitants of Oporto run around hitting each other with leeks - nobody knows why. There's dancing all night long, the revellers valiantly overcoming the agony of their leek-inflicted wounds to feast on roast kid and plenty of vinho verde.



Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is celebrated near Cuzco on the ancient Sacsayhuaman Fortress. The Incas made sacrifices here on the solstice to please the sun, in an attempt to persuade it not to disappear. Encouraged by tourist interest, the sun-worshipping ceremony was brought back in the 1940s. Today's animal sacrifice is of the virtual variety, where the sacrificial llama does not actually die.