The Hans Christian Andersen Festival takes place in Odense, on the island of Funen, where Andersen was born. Each year children gather at the Funen village museum every afternoon to watch one of his plays. This year the festival features Big Claus and Little Claus, not as well known to British children as the Little Mermaid or the Tinderbox, but it is a firm favourite with Danish children. In a tribute to the storyteller there is also a daily parade of locals (one dressed as Andersen), who march through his garden and around his house, three times a day.
UNTIL 31 JULY
Ten minutes by car from Benidorm, you can escape from the British crowds for a week and visit the village of Villajoyosa for the Moors and Christians festival, otherwise known as the festival of Santa Marta (the patron saint of the village). The highlight of this festival takes place at dawn on the 28 July, when there is a re-enactment of a Saracen landing on the beach. A battle between (villagers dressed as) Moors and Christians ensues, and the Moors make it as far as the gates of the town and take the plaza before being fought off by the Christians. As history dictates, the Christians are successful in defending the village and the Berber pirates are sent back to the sea for a ceremonial dunking. Expect the usual procession of villagers in the traditional costume of Christian knights, fireworks, drinking and general merriment.
UNTIL 1 AUGUST
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival celebrates 30 years of chamber music in the remote town in the east of Finland, close to the border of Russia. Mornings are devoted to Bach, afternoons to this century's Finnish music, and the evenings are a mix of the great masters. If you are suffering from the strains of modern living, then this is the place for you: they promise to "cleanse the soul and loosen the choke hold of our everyday lives".
UNTIL 4 SEPTEMBER
The Stamford Shakespeare Company's three-month summer season at Tolethorpe Hall is Rutland's theatrical answer to Glyndebourne. The Stage magazine called the venue"one of England's premier al fresco theatre venues" and patrons arrive some three hours before the performance to enjoy a picnic on the lawn of the Elizabethan manor house. Performances take place every evening except Sunday and this year's plays are The Taming of the Shrew, King John and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is the UK's longest running amateur theatre season and, unlike many shorter amateur seasons, the cast actually have enough time to perfect their performances. Tickets cost from pounds 10. Box office (tel: 01780 756133).
Khao Phansa, held on the day that marks the beginning of Phansa, the Rains Retreat or Buddhist Lent. This is the three-month period during which monks traditionally forgo travelling and remain inside their monasteries to meditate. The day is celebrated all over the country, but it is especially good in the provincial capital of Ubon Ratchathani where a procession of enormous hand-sculpted beeswax candles are drawn through the streets on floats to be presented to local temples.
30 JULY-2 AUGUST
'The party to end all parties,' claim the organisers of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race, one of Scotland's biggest attractions of the year. Eighty ships from 16 different countries, including some of the biggest and most beautiful tall ships in the world descend on Greenock Harbour (near Glasgow), for four days. Half of all the crews have to be between the ages of 16 and 26, in order for younger people to foster friendships with people from different countries.
The team that most successfully fulfils these credentials wins the Cutty Sark trophy. The 500,000 visitors expected will be entertained day and night by local artists with processions, musical displays, concerts and the final, spectacular, Parade of Sail.
30 JULY-6 AUGUST
Snake-charmers, fire-eaters, a Whirling Desert Drag Queen it's all happening in Sidmouth this week as performers from all over the world descend on the town for the 45th International Festival of Folk Arts. This is the largest festival of its kind in Europe and transforms the West Country enclave into an exotic, heady mix of jazz, salsa and gypsy rhythms. Headlining guests this year include Steeleye Span, the Eliza Carthy Band, Tarika and La Bottine Souriante. Box office (tel: 01296 433669)Reuse content