Must See Events in the Next Few Weeks

Ueno Park, Tokyo, bursts into spectacular life every spring when over a thousand cherry trees become heavy with rich and fragrant bloom and the arrival of the blossom marks the start of Ueno Sakura Matsuri (March 20-April 8). This is a chance to visit the park and enjoy the sight and delicious smell of the trees in a celebration of the arrival of spring, either during the day or when the park is lit up by paper lanterns at night.

Austin, capital city of the state of Texas, plays host to the annual South by Southwest festival between the 7th and 16th of March. This is a celebration of creativity and the latest developments in technology which incorporates film screenings, live music performances and presentations from leading thinkers.

If you visit Northern Italian town of Ivrea between the 2nd and 4th of March you’ll find yourself caught up in one of the world’s largest food fights. Every year, in the run up to lent, thousands of visitors take part in the Battaglia delle Arance, a re-enactment of a historic battle in which the weapons of choice are none other than 100 tons of oranges.

The weekend of March 14th to the 17th contains St Patrick’s Day, the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Festivals take place all over the world, but nowhere is the celebration more raucous and lively then the city of Dublin, where the attractions on offer include live music, a parade, a fair and races down the River Liffey.

The Pasifika Festival, which takes place in Auckland, New Zealand on March 8th to 9th is a celebration of the culture and creativity of 11 different pacific island nations including, for the first time this year, Hawaii. ‘Villages’ which celebrate each island will offer traditional crafts, authentic food and national music and dance.

International Yoga Week takes place between the 1st and 7th of March, and the best place to sample the serenity and calm the discipline can offer simply has to be the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, the village of Rishikesh, in India. The week will see teachers from all over the world offering lessons and demonstrations.

Every Autumn the city of Munich holds a world famous beer festival, but what you might not know is that it also hosts one from march 21st to April 6th, known as Starkbierzeit. This is a celebration of doppelbock or ‘strong beer’ which, as well as lots of drinking, includes stone lifting contests.

El Castillo is the standout structure in the Mexican archaeological site of Chichen Itza. One the day of the spring equinox (March 20th) the design of the building causes the sun to cast a shadow down the steps in such a way that it looks like a writhing snake.

The Bali Spirit Festival takes place between March 19th and 23rd in the city of Ubud, long seen as the cultural hub of Bali. It has been taking place for seven years now and offers healing, world music, yoga and dance.

If you want to witness one of the most unusual, indeed unique festivals in the world then visit the Belgian city of Binche between March 2nd and 4th. The Carneval de Binche has been described by UNESCO as a ‘masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’. It climaxes when local men, dubbed Gilles, parade through the streets in costumes and wax masks.

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