FESTIVAL DATES, LOCATIONS AND THEMES
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Around the World in 500 Festivals - The World's Most Spectacular Celebrations
(Kuperard) ISBN 978-1857336856 1857336852
One of the best ways to plan a trip is around local festivals. Steve Davey's guidebook provides information about 500 international festivals, with locations and dates.
Organized by country and illustrated with 270 dazzling color photos, the historical and cultural festivals range from well-known (e.g., Carnival in Rio) to obscure e.g., the Shoton Festival (Yogurt Banquet) at the Norbulingka (Dalai Lama's summer palace) in Lhasa, Tibet.
The 272-page book subdivides festivals in each region by country. In Oceania, for example, it describes Australian, Melanesian, Micronesian, New Zealand and Polynesian festivals.
An index lists festivals by month, as well as variable dates, such as the Kumbh Mela bathing ritual in Haridwar, India. (It will be held in 2016 and then every 12 years afterward.)
Many festival dates are based on the lunar calendar. For example, in Northern Thailand, the Lisu New Year dates coincide with the three full moon days of the second lunar month.
In Steve Davey's book you will find something for every interest. Like food? Check out the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand, the Galway Oyster Festival in Ireland and the Vanilla Festival in Papantla, Mexico.
Are you looking for a music festival? Consider the International Alphorn Festival in Tracouet, Switzerland, the Guca Trumpet Festival in Serbia and the International Bagpipe Festival in Strakonice, Czech Republic.
Love dancing? Choose from the Nutters Dance in Bacup, England, the Horn Dance in Abbots Bromley, England, Australia's Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival and the Kura Dance Festival in D'Kar (near Ghanzi in the Kalahari Desert) in Botswana.
Are you a sports enthusiast? Head to the Matan River in Nigeria for the Argungu Fishing Festival. In Friesland, Holland, you will find the Pole-Leaping Championships. And Darwin, Australia, hosts the Beer Can Regatta.
Weird and funny
There's no shortage of unusual festivals. They range from the World Cow Chip Championship in Beaver, Oklahoma, and the Roadkill Cook-Off in Marlington, West Virginia, to the Wife-Carrying Championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland.
If you are an animal-lover, attend the Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp, California, the Cow Ball in Ukanc, Slovenia, and the Bikaner Camel Festival in India. The latter features a camel beauty pageant.
Costumes and masks
500 Festivals describes a wide variety of celebratory dress, from the elaborate feathered costumes at Crop Over in Barbados to the suits of armor worn by jousters at the Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo, Italy.
Masks are equally diverse. Steve Davey describes the traditional wooden masks worn by Dogon dancers at Mali's Fetes des Masques and the masked dancers at Paro Dzong, Bhutan.
Festival of Lights
Between festival listings, Steve Davey's articles describe festival themes, such as love and marriage, carnival, medieval Europe and food fights.
His Fire and Light article discusses the Nachi Fire Festival in Japan's Kumano Mountains, the bonfire at the Ethiopian Maskal in Addis Ababa and the Easter ritual of Holy Light at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
For each event, Around the World in 500 Festivals provides a description, with information on where and when to go. E.g., the description of the Boi Bumba Festival includes puppet and magical shows, performances and parades, as well as the location (Parintins, Brazil) and the dates (the last weekend in June).
- The Americas
Steve Davey is a London-based author and writer.