UNTIL 6 MARCH

Australia The Sydney Gay Mardi Gras is the largest event of its type in the world. Among the goings on will be a "dogs and their owners look- alike competition". Ever seen an Alsatian in Drag? Not to be missed is the final night's parade, when the world's biggest queens come out to show off along Oxford Street. Expect a river of sequins at this, one of the world's biggest street parties.

Portugal This is Oporto's 19th International Film Festival "Fantasporto", known for promoting films that use new forms and methods of film-making. This year the focus will be on Alfred Hitchcock films in celebration of the centenary of his birth; together with his classics, some of his less well-known titles will also be on show. This is the perfect opportunity to experience alternative, non-Hollywood pictures. For a complete programme of what's showing visit the website at: http//www.caleida.pt/fantasporto

1-7 MARCH

Iceland The Icelandic Beer and Food Festival will be happening across the country. This year's celebrations will be particularly buoyant because 1999 is the 10th anniversary of the legalisation of beer in Iceland. The Icelanders have done some impressive catching up since then - an Icelandic beer was recently selected as the world's third best. For a list of all the restaurants taking part in the festival see the website at: http//www.Icefest.is

2 MARCH

India Holi, the festival of colours is celebrated all over north India after the new moon which marks the coming of spring. During the festival the tensions of the winter months are released when friends and family get together to "play Holi" - the festivities involve people drenching each other in coloured water and then daubing themselves in garishly coloured powders.

4-6 MARCH

New Zealand The annual Golden Shears competition in Masterton promises to give an insight into the special relationship New Zealand farmers enjoy with the woolly beast. Having won the competition 10 times since 1986, New Zealander David Fagan is favourite to cut his way to victory once again. Being an international festival, expect to find shearing experts from any country where sheep are known to graze.

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