Tuesday, 13 September 2011


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Metalcore is reaching a sterile second stage where believers seem to be ordering "build-a-band" kits: the reverse–wind tunnel hairdos; droopy V-necks and chest tats; and alternating screeching/sensitive vocals framed by ominous in 'n' out guitars and busy, clicky beats. While North Hills' Lions!Tigers!Bears! certainly check off some of the above, they find considerable sense of self within the template. The drums are freethinking and hardcore-leaning; keys and samples sprinkle between borderline militaristic guitars; and Josh Wallace — while down with the genre playbook — has the shaggy makings of a hoodie messiah. Though ever-changing, L!T!B!'s tunes are sufficiently singable to be ADHD anthems for the abbreviation generation. When "metalcore" is a dirty word (like, next year), Lions!Tigers!Bears! will still be standing — and doubtless sounding rather different.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Pushkar Camel Fair

The central tenet of the Pushkar Camel Fair was originally a Hindu religious celebration, coming at a time of a full moon in November (usually). However, over the years, this site of pilgrimage had people from all over India flocking to the town with camels and cattle for a three day market- in which the animals were traded. So now, in a blaze of tourist brochure colour, religion and tradition, the population of Pushkar swells from 14,000 people to over 200,000 for the week’s festivities with tourists from all over the world joining pilgrims and traders from India in Pushkar. It is a week of enduring images- from huge areas containing thousands of camels, often adorned in multi coloured cloths and jewels being traded throughout the day, to the camp fires at night, blazing under the midnight hue of the moon.

But it is a time for fun too- tug of wars between locals and tourists abound, as do camel races and camel loading events- a king of camel Olympics- where locals try and load a camel with as many people as possible.
And at the heart, too, is the religious festival, as many saddhu’s bathe in the sacred waters of Pushkar’s lake. On the final day of the full moon, such religious rituals are accompanied by the banging of drums and the singing of songs and chants to the sight of thousands of the devoted bathing in the lake.


when: Apr - Oct 2011 (annual)
where: Höllgrotten
cost: SFr10; concessions SFr9; 6-16s SFr5
time: Apr-Oct: daily 9am-5.30pm
Set in the breathtaking Lorze ravine close to the town of Baar, the Höllgrotten are some of Switzerland's most impressive dripstone caves. Discovered at the end of the 19th century, the multi-coloured caves are filled with stalactites, stalagmites and lakes.
As you might expect, you can only visit the Höllgrotten caves as part of a 45-minute tour. They are lit up inside so you can see all the best bits and the pathways are easy to follow. However, it is advisable to wrap up warm (even in summer) and wear sensible shoes as the paths can get slippy.

Venue Information: Höllgrotten
Full Name: Höllgrotten, Baar, Switzerland
Directions: By Train: to Baar, then take the bus from Lorzentobelbrücke.
Contact Details: Höllgrotten
Phone: +41 (0) 41 761 83 70
Other Information: Höllgrotten
Website: Swiss Railways Website

The Qiantang River Bore

when: Sep - Oct 2011 (annual)
where: The Qiantang River Bore
Bore is the name given to a unique tidal phenomenon. An exceptionally high tide, triggered by the pull of the moon, produces a wave so large that it travels upstream within the banks of the nearest river, sometimes for many miles. There are only a few river bores throughout the world and the biggest is here, south of Shanghai in east China, caused partly by the peculiar bottleneck shape of the Hangzhou Bay.
For more than 2000 years people have gathered to watch this extraordinary spectacle. Known by the Chinese as "The Black Dragon", this mammoth wave can reach heights of almost nine metres. The force of this large body of water has been known to have devastating effects - it is reported that once 10,000 people were swept away by the wave, and recently 87 people were killed when they ventured too close. Anyone wanting to see the wave safely should have fair warning of its arrival - the roar can be heard 22km away.

As with the Severn Bore in England, there are those brave (or crazy) enough to attempt to surf the wave. The Chinese have become more open about allowing foreigners to take the plunge and recently a group of "bore riders" from the UK took the test.

If you lack the right equipment or the lunacy to attempt this feat, then there are others ways to enjoy this natural wonder. The bore forms near Jianshan and then travels through the city of Hangzhou and about another 40km upstream.

September and October are good times to see the wave. Join the festive crowds in Yanguan Town in Haining or Xiaoshan in Hangzhou, and on the 18th day of the 8th lunar month (21 Sep in 2005) the traditional tide watching day, or Birthday Of The God Of Waves draws thousands from across the country to await the coming of the bore. Please check local forecasts to avoid disappointment.

Venue Information: The Qiantang River Bore
Full Name: The Qiantang River Bore, Hangzhou, China
Address: Qiantang River

Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary

when: Mar - Oct 2011 (annual)
where: Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
cost: £5; children £2.50
time: Mar: Daily 11am-3pm; Apr-Oct: Daily 10am-5pm
At Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary, near Totnes, the butterflies' natural habitat has been reconstructed using high temperatures, humidity and tropical plants. The antics of the otters can be enjoyed in a special glass viewing pool.
Venue Information: Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
Full Name: Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary, Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary, England
Other Information: Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
Website: Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary

Werfen Ice Caves

when: May - Oct 2011 (annual)
where: Werfen Ice Caves
cost: €19 for cable car and cave tour; concessions €17; children €9.50; under 4s free
time: Daily 9am-3.30pm (until 4.30pm in Jul & Aug)
Tours last 75 mins. Allow 4 hours for whole visit.
The astonishing Werfen Ice Caves are the largest in the world. The cave network disappears 42 kilometres into the mountainside, but only the first kilometre, walls encrusted with ice, is open to the public.
Guided tours show visitors the ice palace, reached by cable car from the valley floor below. The whole tour involves climbing 134 metres - equivalent to climbing the stairs in a high block of flats.

In summer, the average temperature inside the cave is 0°C, so do wear a warm coat even if the weather outside is boiling! The ice-covered floor starts straight after the entrance, and the walls of the cave have ice cascades of all sizes.

After the Entrance Hall, visitors pass into the enormous Posselt Hall, measuring 30 metres wide and high. Later on, the impressive Mörk Glacier is an eight-metre-high wall of ice, polished smooth over the years by the wind, made up of blue and white layers interspersed with deposits of brown cave dust. An ice-free side passage leads the visitor down a few steps into the last large room, the Ice Palace. At this point, almost a kilometre inside the mountain and 400 metres under the surface, the tour is complete.

Venue Information: Werfen Ice Caves
Full Name: Werfen Ice Caves, Werfen, Austria
Address: Wimmstrasse 5450
Directions: Located 40km (30 miles) south of Salzburg off the A10 Tauern motorway.
By Train: Werfen - there is a shuttle between the train station and the parking area for the caves. Or you can walk the 5km to the caves, which takes 1.5 hours.
From the car park everyone must walk 20 minutes up to the cable car station which transports visitors from 1000m up to 1575m in 3 minutes. There is another 20-minute walk after the cable car to the mouth of the caves, which are at an altitude of 1641m.
Contact Details: Werfen Ice Caves
Phone: +43 (0) 662 8426 9014

Dinosaur Provincial Park

when: Apr - Oct 2011 (various dates)
where: Dinosaur Provincial Park
cost: Free (minimal charge for tours)
time: Daily all day
In the moon-like badlands near Patricia, 200km east of Calgary, erosion is slowly revealing one of the world's most extensive dinosaur fossil beds. Take a guided tour to learn more about this extraordinary place, protected as a provincial park.

Venue Information: Dinosaur Provincial Park
Full Name: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Calgary, Canada
Address: Near Patricia T0J 2K0
Directions: Rental car from Calgary International Airport
Contact Details: Dinosaur Provincial Park
Phone: +1 403 378 4342

Etosha National Park

when: 1 May - 30 Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Etosha National Park
cost: Entrance fee to the park: adults N$30.00 children N$2.00
Etosha National Park is Namibias's top wildlife area offering a huge variety of wildlife and a real sense of wilderness that has been lost from its more well-known counterparts in other African nations.
The Etosha National Park prides itself on its careful management of its resources, keeping a tight control on the size of the rest camps and preventing any feeling of commercialism from invading the park.

Look out for elephants making their way to a waterhole, eland antelope leaping over the plains, hyenas skulking around at night and rhinos lying in the shade. You might well see several kinds of wild cat, including lion, cheetah and leopard. You will be constantly delighted by the many different types of bird that are to be found in the park.

There are a variety of types of accomodation available, from campsites to bungalows. Perhaps the best place is Okaukuejo camp which has its own floodlit waterhole where you can watch the animals come down to drink at night. The winter months of May to September are the best time to visit. The heat is bearable, and the rainfall is minimal, so the animals will be concentrated around the waterholes.

Venue Information: Etosha National Park
Full Name: Etosha National Park, Etosha National Park, Namibia

The Professional Bull Riders Championships

For an animal that doesn’t get much attention from the world at large (ok, city dwellers) for most of the year, it’s funny how the bull is the animal du jour when it comes to events.
Famous events like the running of the bulls, bull fighting, pin the tale on the bull (can you check the last one please? Ed.) enthral and horrify many the world over. In the USA, where the cowboy culture of the parts of the wilder countryside endures, bull riding is the name of the game. And, yearly, in Las Vegas, there is an annual competition: The Professional Bull Riding World Finals. Basically, think of bucking bronco riding, add a heavier and far more aggressive bull and slightly braver rider to the mix and you are there.
This is a big draw too. The finals take place inside The Thomas and Mack arena in Las Vegas over a week from the end of October to the beginning of November. Trials and previous competitions throughout the year have whittled the competition down to the top 45 bucking bull riders in the world- and 7 rounds of competitions throughout the week begin the elimination process. There are literally millions of dollars of prize money up for grabs, for the, er, best grabber and watching the bulls readily shake their riders hard and fast is enough to give you a back ache and a sense of awe (and fear) for the competitors. This is hard core stuff indeed.
Being Vegas, though, a mundane competition in the local church hall would not really be enough- and so the week is a great event in itself. There are banquets, autograph signings, beginners competitions, parties, charity fundraisers and amateur competitions too. But the real deal are the finals themselves.
All in all, this is a superb event which will amaze and frighten (in a good way of course!) any spectator who goes along.

Fireworks Night

Amateur pyro-enthusiasts all over England dream of November 5th every year, when they get the opportunity to show off their Catherine Wheels and ability to conjure up Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture in the night sky over their neighbours garden.

This is, of course, all in homage to Guy Fawkes inability to redecorate the interior of the houses of parliament in 1605.
Every city, every town, every village and (almost) every garden has some kind of firework display going on, so it is not necessary to force yourself across the nation in search of 'the ultimate party'. If you do go to a large gathering, make sure you find one where the organisers know what they are doing. Pyro-enthusiasts have a habit of becoming accidental pyromaniacs unfortunately.
In the capital, the delightful topography of the city, with hills overlooking the central districts from North and South means that a good vantage point on Hampstead Heath or Greenwich will give you superb views across a city vista of exploding fireworks.
For the most spectacular firework displays, some open recommendations are Blackheath Common ( and Clapham Common ( in South London. In North London, perhaps the most spectacular are those unleashed at Alexandra Palace, the former home of the BBC.
And for a full festival treat, Lewes, near Brighton in Sussex, is king. Due to the historical add-on of Queen Mary 1st burning Protestant heretics on the hill overlooking the town in 1556, the town has taken their November 5th celebrations to the next level. In addition to a top quality firework display, the town seethes with thousands of people crammed into the streets, with a procession of flaming torches brought by costumed men and women, effigies of Mary being burnt and barrels of burning tar moving through the streets. The grog flows and the rather anarchic spectacle enthuses all who attend.

Pirates of the Caribbean festival in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are rich in not only their seafaring history, but also in their pirating and pirateering... and in celebration of their pirate legacy, the Cayman Islands host their own Pirates of the Caribbean Week in November.
For eleven fun and exciting days, the islands are awash in the festivities and frivolities of Pirates Week. The focus is in George Town on Grand Cayman where the whole gala event begins with a mock pirate invasion on the harbour. An old Spanish galleon ship and even a submarine invade the beach with blasting cannons and costumed men and women who capture the governor, thus seizing the city!
After the Pirates of the Caribbean seizure, the pirates parade through George Town to music and thousands of enthusiastic onlookers. The sun is bright and warm and so are the moods of the merrymakers as the festival kicks off.
Over the next eleven days are loads of fireworks, street dances, live music, lots of good food and the crowning of the Queen of the Festival. For the fans of activity, there is a 5km run and a 10km sea swim. Two of the most anticipated events of Pirates Week are the sea turtle release and Heritage Days where the different districts showcase the best of their best.
Plan your Cayman Island vacation rentals around 6-16th of November so you too can be a part Pirate’s Week!

Private Boat Trips on the Seine

when: Daily
where: Private Boat Trips on the Seine
time: Daily all day
What better way to see Paris than on your own private boat down the Seine? River Limousine organises tours on an authentic Venetian water limousine, the Armelle, setting sail from the Pont Alexandre III and taking in all the sights.
The 90-minute crossing is perfect for romantics, tourists or businessmen alike. The Armelle's skipper stops at all the most famous landmarks in Paris and gives passengers the chance to hop off for a quick photo opportunity - and his (optional) running commentary is peppered with anecdotes and witticisms about the French capital.

Children permitted, one to six passengers. Mooring at Batobus des Champs Elysées by the Pont Alexandre III. To book, phone the information line or fill out the form on the River Limousine website.

Related Information

Website: River Limousine Website

Venue Information: Private Boat Trips on the Seine
Full Name: Private Boat Trips on the Seine, Paris, France
Address: 75008
Directions: Metro: to Champs-Elysee Clemenceau.

Vélib' Self-Service Bicycle Scheme

when: Daily
where: Vélib' Self-Service Bicycle Scheme
cost: First half hour free of charge, after that from €1
7-day subscription €5
Annual subscription €29
time: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Move over the Métro, smart tourists know the best way to get out and explore Paris is by Vélib'. The French capital's self-service bicycle scheme has Parisians hooked and riding out in their thousands.
Paris' town hall created a two-wheeled revolution with the launch of Vélib' back in July 2007, its aim to help the capital get greener and fitter while reducing pollution and easing strain on its notoriously congested roads and public transport systems.

Vélib' bikes can be rented for as long as you need them, be that five minutes or five days. Users set up an account and then pick up one of thousands of bikes from hundreds of Vélib' stations across the capital. Bikes can be picked up and dropped off at any station and riders are never more than 300 metres from the next Vélib' point. Best of all, the first half-hour is completely free and after that, rates start at just €1.

The scheme is for over-14s only. Find out more and subscribe to Vélib' at the website, or fill out a form at Métro stations, post offices, bakers, tobacconists or wherever you see the Vélib' logo.

Related Information

Website: Vélib' Website (in English)

Venue Information: Vélib' Self-Service Bicycle Scheme
Full Name: Vélib' Self-Service Bicycle Scheme, Paris, France

Paris Plage

when: Jul - Aug 2012 (annual)
where: Paris
cost: Free
time: Daily all day
Every summer, two miles of the Seine (near the Pont Neuf) is turned into Paris Plage, a beach complete with white sand and sunbeds. It's free to play petanque and volleyball plus there's entertainment, from comedy to trip-hop.

A second stretch, along the Canal de l'Ourcq (75019/Metro Stalingrad), also draws crowds with yet more concerts, outdoor games and sand.

Just one word of warning - don't get carried away. You're not in Saint Tropez and Paris's waters are not fit for swimming in! According to project designer Jean-Christophe Choblet, the aim of this beach is lazing and strolling by the water. Bet you never thought you'd have to pack your bucket and spade for a weekend in Paris!
Related Information

Website: Paris Plage Website

Town Information: Paris
Full Name: Paris, France

British Science Festival

when: 10 - 15 Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Bradford
The British Science Festival offers one of Europe's biggest celebration of science, engineering and technology in venues across Bradford. The festival week features talks, debates and hands-on and interactive activities.
Related Information

Website: British Science Festival Website

Town Information: Bradford
Full Name: Bradford, England
Other Information: Bradford
Website: Bradford Tourism Website

Southampton Boat Show

when: 16 - 25 Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Mayflower Park
cost: £16; concessions £13
time: Daily 10am-6.30pm (until 6pm final Sun)
Mayflower Park hosts the annual Southampton Boat Show, which has been going strong since 1969. It's a showcase for watersports lovers featuring marine activities, unrivalled shopping opportunities and some of the world's most luxurious yachts.
Related Information

Website: Southampton Boat Show Website

Contact Details
Name: Tickets
Venue Information: Mayflower Park
Full Name: Mayflower Park, Southampton, England
Address: Western Esplanade SO15 1HJ
Directions: Located near the town quay, off Herbert Walk Ave. Leave the M27 at junction 3 and follow the signs.
By train: to Southampton Central.
Contact Details: Mayflower Park
Phone: +44 (0) 23 8083 2457
Other Information: Mayflower Park
Website: Southampton City Council Website
Website: Hampshire County Council Website

Heritage Open Days

when: Sep 2012 (annual)
where: St Mary's Guildhall
cost: Free
time: Sat & Sun 10am-4pm
Celebrating Coventry's architectural and historic importance, Heritage Open Days takes place in the city's imposing St Mary's Guildhall and around town. Music and hands-on activities bring history to life, while the building's Freeman Guild Room - usually closed to the public - opens especially for the event.
Related Information

Website: Heritage Open Days Website

Website: Heritage Open Days Website

Venue Information: St Mary's Guildhall
Full Name: St Mary's Guildhall, Coventry, England
Cost: Free
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-4pm
Address: Bayley Lane CV1 5RN
Directions: Opposite Coventry Cathedral.
Contact Details: St Mary's Guildhall
Phone: +44 (0) 24 7683 3328
Other Information: St Mary's Guildhall
Website: St Mary's Guildhall Coventry Website

The Great Reno Balloon Race

when: Sep 2012 (annual)
where: Rancho San Rafael Park
The Great Reno Balloon race in Rancho San Rafael Park consists of three days of dawn balloon glows, mass ascensions and off-field competitions. Music is provided for the spectators and the Balloon Boulevard offers crafts, souvenirs, food and warm drinks.
Related Information

Website: The Great Reno Balloon Race Website

Contact Details
Name: The Great Reno Balloon Race
Phone: +1 775 826 181
Venue Information: Rancho San Rafael Park
Full Name: Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno, USA
Address: 1502 Washington Street 89503-2862
Contact Details: Rancho San Rafael Park
Phone: +1 775 785 4319

Wallonia Heritage Days


 when: Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Wallonia
cost: Free
Wallonia's Heritage Days or Journées du Patrimoine allow participants to discover the historical buildings of the region, providing an opportunity to visit places that are rarely open to the general public. Each year has a different theme.

The theme for 2010 honours those who work in jobs promoting the regional heritage including architects, carpenters, sculptors, restorers and historians.

Related Information

Website: Heritage Days Website

Contact Details
Name: Heritage Days Event Organiser
Phone: +32 (0) 85 27 88 80
Country Area Information: Wallonia
Full Name: Wallonia, Belgium
Other Information: Wallonia
Website: Belgian Railways Website

Japanese Fall Festival

when: Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Mizumoto Stroll Garden
cost: US$4; under 12s US$2
time: Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat & Sun 1pm-10pm
The Mizumoto Stroll Garden in Springfield is the venue for the annual Japanese Fall Festival. Branson is twinned with Isesaki in Japan and entertainers from the city illuminate the event with their folk and traditional dance routines.

Venue Information: Mizumoto Stroll Garden
Full Name: Mizumoto Stroll Garden, Springfield, USA
Cost: US$3; under 13s free
Opening Hours: 1 Apr-31 Oct: Fri-Mon 9am-7.30pm
The Mizumoto Stroll Garden is designed along traditionally Japanese lines, utilising the classic "hide and reveal" concept to create a succession of individual scenes to be enjoyed separately.
Address: 2400 Nathanael Greene Park, S Scenic Avenue
Directions: By Car: west of Kansas Expressway, north of Battlefield Road.

La Caravane de Loire

when: Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Orleans
cost: Free-€15
time: Times vary from town to town, but most events start in the afternoon
France's Loiret region, around Orléans, kisses the summer goodbye with this wondering, ten-day Caravane de Loire festival. Ten towns provide the backdrop for street performers, circus acts, sailors and musicians, with the entertainment frequently culminating in rainbows of fireworks.
Related Information

Website: La Caravane de Loire Website

Town Information: Orleans
Full Name: Orleans, France


when: 10 - 12 Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Schützenhaus Albisgütli
cost: Free
Radical pacifists would probably rather miss the Knabenschiessen, one of the oldest festivals in Zurich. But if you're interested in 13-17-year-old boys' and girls' shooting, visit this festival at the Schützenhaus Albisgütli. Funfair attractions and a parade provide something for everyone.
Related Information

Website: Knabenschiessen Website

Contact Details
Name: Schützengesellschaft Zürich
Phone: +41 (0) 1 462 9955
Venue Information: Schützenhaus Albisgütli
Full Name: Schützenhaus Albisgütli, Zurich, Switzerland
Address: 341 Ütlibergstrasse Zurich Zurich 8045, Switzerland
Directions: By Tram: to Albisgütli.
Contact Details: Schützenhaus Albisgütli
Phone: +41 (0) 43 333 30 00
Other Information: Schützenhaus Albisgütli
Website: Swiss Railways Website
Website: Schützenhaus Albisgütli Website

Rendez-Vous at Queen

when: Oct 2011 (monthly)
where: Queen
cost: €20 with 1 free drink
time: 11.30pm-dawn
It's party time at Queen every first Saturday of the month, when international stars come to the Parisian club for guest nights and themed nights for a predominantly gay crowd.
Regardless of line-up, expect to queue with several thousand hopefuls for entry into this packed venue.

Venue Information: Queen
Full Name: Queen, Paris, France
Cost: From €15-€20
Opening Hours: Opening times vary between 11pm-12am. Visit the website for details.
Arguably Paris' most famous club (after the snooty Bains) and the city's prime gay venue. From its vantage point on the Champs-Elysées, Queen has attracted the crowds from day one and is as popular as ever (some would say too popular: queues and crowds are the order of the day all week).
Address: 102 Avenue des Champs-Elysées 75008
Directions: By Metro: to George V.
Contact Details: Queen
Phone: +33 (0) 892 707 330
Other Information: Queen
Website: Queen Website

Gay Village

when: 23 Jun - 17 Sep 2011; Thu, Fri, and Sat only (annual)
where: Parco del Ninfeo
cost: Free until 9.30pm
Gay Village settles in for the summer at Parco del Ninfeo in Rome's the Eur area. Concerts, comic and musical shows, lesbian theatre, a cinema festival, sports activities and literature are all on the menu.

It is one of the most popular events organised by the Estate Romana, attracting more than 200,000 people every year.


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Screamers is Brighton's monthly gay comedy night, often featuring Tina C, the country & western drag star who introduces a star-studded bill.
when: Sep 2011 (monthly)
where: Komedia
cost: £8.50; concessions £6.50
time: Doors 6pm: Show 7.30pm

The initial idea for Screamers was to borrow the format from the existing comedy club circuit and introduce it to an entertainment-hungry gay audience. The night is now one of the few succesful, regular gay comedy clubs in the UK.

The show was created by Chris Green, whose Tina C and musical Baroness Ida Barr characters are now revered by gay and non-gay audiences alike. In 1998 it was taken around the country as a large scale one-off event at the Leicester Comedy Festival, the Brighton festival and Manchester Mardi Gras.

Hosted by either Tina C, Ida Barr or a special guest - depending on whatever takes Chris's fancy! - Screamers' hallmark is its supportive, fun and irreverent atmosphere.

Folsom Street Fair

when: Sep 2011 (annual)
where: Folsom Street
cost: Free
time: 11am-6pm
Leave your inhibitions at the hotel for the Folsom Street Fair. The politicians roll up for photocalls with a dominatrix; non-gays join in the leather-bondage parades and the atmosphere is friendly and inclusive at the world's biggest leather event.

Every year about 400,000 leather folk turn out for the event, a grand finale celebration of kinky love at the end of Leather Pride Week. The fair stretches from 7th to 12th Sts, along Harrison, Folsom and Howard. Vendors from all over the country come to flog their wares to a sex-positive crowd: everything goes as long as it's consensual.

Everyone, gay or not, is proud of San Francisco's tolerance and the Folsom Street Fair celebrates just that. Even so, the bare flesh, the leather and the muscled torsos are quite mind-blowing and if you do take a camera, you won't know what to snap next as you find yourself surrounded by some of the most outrageous leather, rubber and fetish attire.

World Solar Challenge

An event that combines a slightly leftfield appreciation of vehicle racing with genuine technological innovation and concern for the environment, the World Solar Challenge has been going since 1987.

In its lifetime, over 300 teams have entered the competition- from amateur enthusiasts to large international firms. And the aim? To propel a vehicle over 3000 kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide using only the sun as petrol.
The event usually lasts for 6 days or so, and because of the lengths of distances covered it is perhaps not the greatest spectator sport. However, en route, design enthusiasts can marvel at the strikingly futuristic designs of the vehicles competing- sleek, sci-fi, alien visions, gliding through the vast, sun burnt planes of Central Australia. In addition, for techno types, the advanced technology used in the creation of the vehicles is exciting indeed- and, as the event organisers correctly state, such technologies are going to be in the forefront of vehicle design in the future.
And with cars racing at speeds of up to 130k/h, a thrilling race this most certainly is.

Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow

Polo is most certainly one of high society's sporting events of choice. Organised matches (usually sponsored by Cartier) happen across the globe, attract large and well heeled audiences and are a good, upper crust knees up.
And possibly the most unusual of all the events held, must be the Cartier World Cup on Snow in St. Moritz in Switzerland.
Now well over 2 decades old, the 4 day spectacle welcomes over 20,000 visitors to watch some gruelling equestrian activity featuring some of the world's finest polo players. With specially erected tents to house the spectators, liquid refreshment, food and other entertainment is of excellent quality and all have a great time.

Feria de Abril

Head to Andalusia two weeks or so after the overriding solemnity of Easter and, in Seville in particular, you will find some of the most wonderfully sexy, colourful, traditional and musical festivities going! Game on!
Seville is the home of the flamenco, and for 6 days it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from Spain for its annual Feria De Abril festival- where flamenco dancing, bull fighting, drinking and partying are the minimum requirements from all who visit.
During the day, the largish open stretch of ground in the city is given over to Sevillanos who set up brightly coloured tents, dress up in wonderful flamenco costume (gypsy style faralaes for the women and collar-less suits with top hats for the men) and drink and eat the hours away. During the day, the women get drawn through the streets on open topped horse drawn carts in a ritual procession. Later on, thousands descend upon the local bullring to watch matador after matador perform their cherished tauro skills to a thrilled crowd.
As usual, attempting to get a decent night's sleep at a normal hour is nigh on impossible during the festivities, as the city turns into one giant great big flamenco and sherry fest from dusk till dawn. Hurrah!

Somerset House Ice Rink

Somerset House is one of London's landmark buildings. It is perhaps its finest, still complete, example of neo-classical architecture in the city.

Its beautifully harmonious buildings run around 4 sides of a central square, which house, amongst other things, the London wing of St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, and parts of King's College London.
And it's in these elegant surroundings that the elegant joys of ice skating can be practiced in the winter months, as a temporary ice rink is laid down in the centre of the square. Ice rinks are not a new wintry formula for towns and cities anywhere in the world but you will not find a setting as fine as this you can be assured. As the dark nights descend early on London, this can be an extremely joyous way to spend your time.
Britons don't have a particular affinity with ice skating that some countries, like Canada, say, might. However, Torvill and Dean's Olympiad heroics in 1984 and the stunning collapsing finale to Bolero have left their mark in the psyche to the point that you might find people ahead of you swirling to the white ice in flamboyant abandon to emulate their favoured couple.
If you find yourself hitting the deck completely uncontrollably anyway, don't worry- the rink takes on skaters of all ages and abilities!
Skate hire comes included in the price and the square is well catered for with cafe, bar and indoor viewing areas. You can go any time between 9.30am and 22.00 on most nights of the week, and you get an hours pleasure on the ice for your money. You will need to book in advance (easy to do so- see their website below for details) and only a limited number of tickets are available on the day.
To spice things up a bit further, there are also some nights designated as "Late Skates" where the rink stays open until midnight and djs supply the tunes from rink side. Perfect for budding Olympiads of the future, say we!

Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow

And possibly the most unusual of all the events held, must be the Cartier World Cup on Snow in St. Moritz in Switzerland.
Now well over 2 decades old, the 4 day spectacle welcomes over 20,000 visitors to watch some gruelling equestrian activity featuring some of the world's finest polo players. With specially erected tents to house the spectators, liquid refreshment, food and other entertainment is of excellent quality and all have a great time.

Visit Dionysus Festival and Bulgaria villas

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The Dionysus Festival in late January features the mystical Kukeri rituals and is a fantastic time to visit and rent Bulgaria villas. These rituals seems as old as time, but gained a fervent following during the pagan times when the men of the village community would dress in extravagant fur and rural costumes.
These primitive costumes were completed with a mask, usually either grotesque or meant to frighten. Next is a procession of men dancing through the streets to the loud clang of bells and dizzying noise of rattles. All this noise and spectacle was meant to frighten away evil spirits making way for goodness to come and give a prosperous and fertile year, a theme common around the globe.
Book your Bulgaria villas today and chase away the winter with the ritualistic and honoured people pf Bulgaria. The Dionysus Festival is a magical, albeit noisy event to usher you into the ancient traditions of Bulgaria.

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