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The Independent Travel
Throughout September

Great Britain

Every weekend throughout September, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and on 12 and 13 September in England, several thousand buildings of historic and architectural interest, normally closed to the public, will open their doors free of charge for Doors Open Day. This event is part of European Heritage Days in which over 40 countries will celebrate Europe's rich architectural heritage. Follies, farms, courtrooms, private homes, lighthouses, government properties, piers and windmills will be open to public scrutiny, including the Burns House Museum in Ayrshire, Scotland, where poet Robert Burns lived, and such award-winning modern architecture as the Manchester Velodrome. For more information about Heritage Open Days, tel: 0891 800603.

Japan

The beginning of autumn sees the start of the rice harvests in upland areas of Japan. To offer thanks for a bountiful harvest, annual festivals and celebrations take place at many Shinto shrines during this month. These festivals typically involve loincloth-clad locals parading through the streets carrying the sacred Mikoshi - heavy, ornate portable shrines - on their shoulders. Some of the more fervent harvest processions have teams jostling in the streets in order to race their Mikoshi back to the shrine first. Giant firework displays, lion dances, lantern festivals and fire rituals are just some of the other events taking place throughout Japan to show appreciation for good crops. Don't miss the curious Waraji festival, in which an enormous straw sandal is thrown into the sea off the coast off the Nakiri coast.

Until 7 September

Lille, France

Eurostar passengers en route to Paris should hop off at Lille for the annual Grande Braderie. This overgrown marche aux puces draws over one million bargain hunters each year, and sells everything, including the kitchen sink; 200km of pavement is taken over by locals selling off the random contents of their attics, and dealers from around Europe trade antiques and second-hand goods at affordable prices. This giant bazaar and rummage is without doubt the largest flea market in Europe, and the tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when valets won the right to sell off their masters' old clothes once a year.

Until 20 September

Copenhagen, Denmark

The Golden Days Arts festival will be showing some of the most outstanding creations from 1800-1850. The festival is designed to highlight and celebrate aspects of this flourishing period in Danish art, and includes exhibitions featuring the works of such artists as Johan Thomas Lundbye, one of the most important Danish landscape painters. The programme also includes architecture tours, concerts, ballet, drama, poetry, prose - Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales will be cropping up in various guises - drama, readings etc - throughout this three-week event.

11-21 September

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The 1998 Commonwealth Games make their first appearance in Asia with Kuala Lumpur as the host city. The games feature 15 sports, and more than 6,000 athletes and officials from around the world will be taking part in the games which will be made more challenging by Malaysia's climate - average temperatures are around 26C with 60 per cent humidity. The glittering opening ceremony will take place on 11 September in a 10,000-seater stadium in KL's purpose-built complex.

12 September

Southampton

The 30th annual Southampton International Boat Show brings over 600 of the world's top names in boating to the city's marina. The exhibits and on-water boating spectaculars aim to entertain seasoned sailors as well as encouraging newcomers to get afloat. Some of the special attractions include search and rescue demonstrations from HM Coastguard, a purpose- built dive tank, and the "Go Boating" event which gives visitors the opportunity to climb aboard and take a ride on some of the show's best vessels. Tickets for the show cost pounds 8.50 for adults and can be bought in advance, tel: 0121-767 4600.

13 September

Alesund, Norway

Previously held in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Pacific and the Red Sea, the World Underwater Photography Championships are taking place this year in the North Sea. Sixty world-class sub-marine snappers will be taking the plunge into waters where the conditions are verging on Arctic to compete in three categories: wide-angle, close-up and creative. The championships will be one of the main attractions during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Alesund, a town on the north-west coast of Norway.

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