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The Independent Travel

Spain, 23-30 March, Semana Santa (Holy Week). has the world's most flamboyant and expressive celebrations during the week prior to Easter Day. There are daily street processions, with colourful floats carrying holy effigies accompanied by local nazarenos, men who are the descendants of Spanish religious brotherhoods. The week is marked with musical and street performances. The celebrations get more fervent as Good Friday approaches, when nazarenos from around the country parade the Virgin de la Macarena through the streets accompanied by singers.


28 March, World Marbles Championship, Greyhound Hotel, Tinsley Green. The world's finest players come to compete in a prestigious circuit contest. This traditional pub sport has held its world championships here for 65 years and despite recent technological advances, and the sport's growing popularity, there are no plans to move from this small venue.


23-31 March, Glendi Greek Festival. Annual showcase of Greek culture and heritage, including dance, food, music, and language. The final two days mark the festival extravaganza, with hundreds of performers and thousands of visitors gathering from across the globe. Ellis Park, West Terrace, Adelaide, SA. Contact (08 43 8123).


New Zealand, 28 March, Easter Sports Festival. The summer sporting season continues with this four-day competition. Events include a triathlon, a marathon, kayaking and cycling. Numerous age divisions and competitions for amateurs as well as professionals truly make this a sporting event for all to enjoy.


29 March, Oxford versus Cambridge University Boat Race. Popular rowing competition between rival universities dating back to 1829. Race runs from Putney to Mortlake, along the Thames. Alumni, rowing enthusiasts and the curious never seem to tire of this most absurd of annual British events (contact 0171 379 3234).


23-31 March, Easter Festival. This classical music event displays world- famous companies performing some of the most celebrated works, including Beethoven, Strauss and Bach. Different pieces performed nightly.


28 March-1 April, Tour of the North. Some of the world's finest cyclists compete in one of the British Isles' most important bicycle races. The race begins in Ballymena and winds its way throughout the Northern Irish countryside for five days of rigorous competition.


30 March-5 May, Monte Carlo Spring Arts Festival. Monaco hosts a four- week cultural delight, with ballet, opera, theatre and classical music, including a performance by the London Philharmonic.

Displays of artwork and craft overflow from the principality's plentiful art galleries and unique shops.


28 March-5 April, Festival EXIT. A celebration thrown in the brashest and most innovative style, as only Paris can. Entertainment includes modern and hip-hop dance, theatre, political satire, comedy, and new video technology. For the extraordinarily fun-loving, festivities begin early each morning and extend well into the morning hours. Maison des Arts, place Salvador-Allende.