Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Igue Festival of Benin Kingdom Nigeria

Ugie Ewere: The Igue festival is concluded with the Ugie Ewere ceremonies. This is normally done in the early hours of the morning by presenting the Ebe'ewere leaves to the Oba. These leaves symbolize joy and prosperity. Bini history has it that this ceremony was incorporated into the Igue festival by Oba Ewuare, to re-enact his fruitful and blissful marriage to Ewere, the daughter of Ogie'Ekae. The procession to the palace is normally a flamboyant and colourful event which involves the chiefs dancing to the palace along with their followers. The Ewere leaves serves as New Year gift to all Edo people.
The Igue festival as celebrated in Benin is mainly held to offer thanks for a year just past and to ask for blessing for the incoming year. The Isologbe (happy New Year) greeting rings around the city after the conclusion of Igue.
The Igue festival is also an opportunity for the Bini people to display their rich culture and tradition to all those who have come to witness the colourful festival. This period sees an increase in agricultural, cultural, economic activities as people engage in buying and selling in preparation for the epic event. The festival also helps to cultivate a warm relationship between the people and foreigners, little wonder Benin City is recognized as one of the most welcoming cities to foreigners in Nigeria.
If you happen to be in Benin City during the first half of the month of December, endeavour to visit Kings Square or the palace of the Oba to catch a glimpse of the rich culture and tradition of the Bini people.
The festival has continued to draw sponsorship from the corporate world as well as drawing record crowds year on year.

*Culled from www.infoguidenigeria.com

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Igue Festival of Benin Kingdom Nigeria

The Igue festival is the biggest and most flamboyant of all the festivals celebrated by the Oba and people of Benin Kingdom. It is normally celebrated with a lot of pomp and pageantry during the first half of the month of December (first fourteen days of the month) of every year. This article is about the events of the Igue festival of Benin Kingdom, Nigeria.
he Igue festival is a set of annual cycle of rituals and rites that are performed to purify and strengthen the Oba and the kingdom in preparation for the New Year.
According to Bini history, the Igue festival has been celebrated for more than 1000 years. The modern day Igue begins with the Ague, which is a period of fasting when the Oba and his chiefs go into strict seclusion. They are not allowed to see anyone during this period. It is only after successful completion of the Ague that the Igue can begin in earnest.
The British invasion and consequent capture and sending into exile of Oba Ovonramwen saw the interruption of Igue celebrations in 1897. It was not until the restoration of the monarchy in 1914 that the celebration of the festival was restored.
During the celebration of the Igue festival, it is forbidden to hold any burial or funeral ceremonies in Benin kingdom. This is because Igue is seen as a period of joy, and should not be interrupted with any form of public mourning.
The Igue festival is actually a culmination of nine different ceremonies or Ugie as chronicled by the outstanding research done by Prince Ademola Iyi-Eweka (Ph.D).
Ugie Iron: This ceremony is a celebratory re-enactment of the victory of the Oba during his conflicts with the Uzama nobles and other historical events such as the drowning of Oba Ehengbuda at Ikorodu and the assassination of Iyase Emuze on the directives of Oba Ohen.
Ugie Erha'Oba : Erha'Oba literarily means father of the Oba. This ceremony is dedicated to the memory of the father of the reigning Oba and all the royal ancestors, and also to strengthen and purify the kingdom. This is actually the most flamboyant of all the Igue ceremonies. The Oba is joined in this celebration by all the Binis. He is dressed in full coral regalia and performs the ritual dance with the Eben (traditional sword) in honour of his father. This ceremony takes place in the Ugha-Erha Oba.

Igue Oba : This ceremony is held at the Ugha Ozolua which is the point of activity of most social and traditional ceremonies. It involves performances by various groups and guilds of the Benin Kingdom. After the performances, the Oba then proceeds to pay homage to Oba Ozolua, the great warrior king who first exchanged ambassadors with the Portuguese in 1486.
The Oba then proceeds to offer prayers and asks for ancestral guidance during the ceremony, after which he is purified by the Ewaise guild. The Oba is then taken for further purification and fortification by the Ogiefa N'Umuekpo. Fourteen different herbs are used for this purification ritual. The Ogiefa grinds one set of herbs while the other set is ground by a young girl who must be below the age of puberty. After applying the herbs, the Ogiefa rocks the Oba from side to side indicating that the he has been successfully sanctified and fortified for another year. The Oton priests then offer prayers for the Oba.
The highlight of the Igue Oba ceremony is the wonderful display of dance steps by the elegantly dressed chiefs, which is topped up with the symbolic throwing into the air and catching of the Eben. The various palace chiefs come out to perform this dance in order of seniority. A sacred crossbar is kept in place, which restricts the entrance of junior chiefs from the arena, only those chiefs who have completed all the four stages of chieftaincy ceremonies are permitted entry into the arena. The Iyase who is the Commander in Chief of the Oba's army performs the necessary rites to remove the crossbar.
After this event, animals are slaughtered and the blood used to anoint the head, hands and feet of the Oba, referred to as the worship of the Omo N'Oba's head.
Igue Ivbioba and Igue Edo'Hia : Two days after the Igue Oba ceremonies, the princes and princesses perform their own Igue rituals in their homes, followed by the entire Benin nation. This involves the sacrificing of goats and offering of coconuts. On the night of the Igue'Edohia, they perform a traditional fireworks display which is believed to send all the evil forces away from the kingdom before the New Year.

How Sango Festival is Celebrated in Oyo Town, Oyo State Nigeria

Grand finale

This day marks the ending of the festival. On this day, a group of followers called
Elegun Sango would entertain the crowds with magic which many, find frightening. The Elegun Sango come from different parts of the country such as Oyo, Ekiti, Ede, Ibadan, Ajagba and Koso. They usually plait their hairs and their eyes are usually looking frightening.

The Elegun Sango Koso Alaafin, is usually the last to appear on the stage at the grand finale. He would go round Oyo township, praying for people, before coming to the palace. He greets the people and goes to Iya Ilekoto before leaving the palace.
The crowning of the Alaafin is usually done at the shrine of Sango in koso. It is a significant event for the Alaafin because without wearing the crown of Sango, he is not yet regarded as an
Alaafin. The crown gives him the right to rule from the old Oyo Empire to the present Oyo.
No doubt, the Sango Festival has lived up to its biling as a special day for the unification of the Yoruba race.
Sango played a major role in the advancement of the Yoruba race far beyond it borders, this just goes to show how important the World Sango day means to the Yoruba people.

*Culled from www.infoguidenigeria.com

Thursday, 28 April 2016

How Sango Festival is Celebrated in Oyo Town, Oyo State Nigeria.

It is a special day used to celebrate Sango, a popular Yoruba deity who was believed to possess magical powers. The festival was rebranded as World Sango Day by the Oyo State Government to signify its international wide spread. The festival plays host to visitors from all over the country and followers from foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobaggo and the Caribbean.

Who is Sango

Sango was the third Alaafin-king of old Oyo empire. He took over from his brother Ajaka who was regarded as weak. During his reign he was constantly fighting battles with other towns. He mistakenly destroyed his palace with lightning which brought about the end of his reign.
Sango is widely referred to as the God of thunder. He ruled Oyo kingdom for seven years and married three wives Oya Oba and Oshun. He is worshiped on the fifth day called ojo Jakuta. His followers like to wear a red attire which was his popular clothing.

Significance Of The Sango Festival To The Yoruba

Sango is a popular Orisa in Yoruba land, as such his festival plays a very important traditional and cultural role with the Yoruba people. Sango is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the present Oyo State. It is a day when Yoruba people used it to reconnect which each other, and to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba such as drumming, dancing and singing.

Brief History of Sango Festival

The festival dates back over 1000 years ago when Sango mysteriously disappeared from the palace. He was believed to have committed suicide after he was challenged by one of his powerful chiefs who ordered him to leave the palace. Since then the festival has been celebrated by the people of Oyo.

International Recognition of Sango Festival

The Oyo State Government in 2013 decided to put Sango Festival on global stage when it changed the name to
world Sango Festival . It has since been recognized by UNESCO. It was a day used to serve as home coming of Yoruba people from all over the world notably Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobaggo and the Caribbean as well as to celebrate Sango.

How Sango Festival Is Celebrated

The Sango Festival is a 10 days event, which is marked with pomp and pageantry. Worshippers and visitors can be seen in a happy mood. The worshippers are usually adorned with white or red attire.

Day one

The first day of the festival is celebrated with games of different kinds. Some of the activities lined up for the day are
Ayo competition
Ogun Ajobo Day traditional night rites.

Ayo Competition

Ayo is a special game that is popular among the Yorubas. It is one of the oldest games in Yoruba land and it is usually played by aged men sitting face to face. It involves moving pebbles from one hole of the board to another.

Description of the Ayo Board Game

It is a carved wooden, fairly rectangular object with a total of twelve circular carved out pockets arranged in two rows, six pockets in each row. The wood used to make the Ayo is very light due to the continuous drying of the wood. It contains elaborate decorations on both side of the board.
The board is trapezoidal in nature and the appropriate size measured top – 20"x 12" / bottom – 22" x 12".
Ayo board can be made of wood or clay and it has a lot of carvings on it.
Ayo board game is not only a recreational game it is seen as a spiritual connection to the essence.

Ogun Ajobo Day

The Ogun Ajobo Day is celebrated on the second day of the festival. On this day, the traditional groups from the Oyo zone make great display to the cheers of people. Olode Cultural Display from Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun and Kwara States would be paraded from Owode in Oyo town to the palace of Alaafin. A night party is usually held called the Aisun Koso featuring some popular Yoruba artist amidst drinking and eating.
Third Day of Sango Festival
On the third day; Friday other cultural groups such as the Igunu and Omolulu would display their performance. This day is called the Sango Obakoso day.

Fourth Day Sango Festival

On this day the shrine of Sango koso would be opened. This is usually marked by wide celebrations from performance from the members of the Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) and followed by a night party for Oya Okenira.

Fifth To Ninth Day of Sango Festival

From Sunday down to Thursday and Friday, there would be celebrations of Oyo State, Oya Day, Aje Oloja Day, Sango Oyo Day, Osun State Day and Iyemonja Day, Esin Elejo Day as well as Kwara State Day. This period is usually filled with excitement and wide celebrations among the people.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

THE SAYINGS OF OUR ELDERS

*If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building or do you change the nail?
*Do not tell the man who is carrying you that he stinks.
*To be without a friend is to be poor indeed.
*Every camel was once upon a time two years old.
*It takes a whole village to raise a child.
*It is better to refuse than to accept and not go.
*Rain beats a leopard's skin, but it does not wash out the spots.
*To engage in conflict, one does not bring a knife that cuts but a needle that sews.
*Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.
*Sickness accompanies a waning moon; a new moon cures disease.
*He who asks questions cannot avoid the answers.
*When your neighbor is wrong you point a finger, but when you are wrong you hide.
*Evil enters like a needle and spreads like an oak tree.
*One camel does not make fun of the other camel's hump.
*Always be in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevents living.
*The death of an elderly man is like a burning library.
*Hope is the pillars of the world.
*Birth is the only remedy against death.
*Talking with one another is loving one another.
*A little rain everyday will fill the rivers to overflowing.
*Good millet is known at the harvest.
*Earth is the queen of beds.
*A friend is someone you share the path with.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

THE SAYINGS OF OUR ELDERS

*The wind does not break a tree that bends.
*Words are like eggs : when they are hatched, they have wings.
*A wise man who knows proverbs; reconciles difficulties.
*If you damage the character of another, you damage your own.
*No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
*A chattering bird builds no nest.
*We will water the thorn for the sake of the rose.
*If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips.
*The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine.
*When you change king, you change customs.
*The most dangerous thing a nan needs is a woman.
*By getting angry shows that you are wrong.
*Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.
*Wealth is like hair in the nose: it hurts to be separated whether from a little or from a lot.
*Copying everyone else all the time, the monkey one day cut his throat.
*There is always a better man for every good man.
*When the cock is drunk, he forgets about the hawk.
*When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow.
*Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.
*The rain does not recognize anyone as a friend; it drenches all equally.
*After a foolish deed comes remorse.

Monday, 25 April 2016

LEBANON HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Art lovers will be happy to know that Lebanese holidays are heavily focused on culture. From classical music at the Al Bustan International Festival to displays of dance and poetry in the Tyre and South Festival, Lebanon sure does know how to showcases its talent.

Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Arts

Kicking off the year's festivities with a bang is the Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Arts. Held annually in Beirut in February, this Lebanese event is a musical celebration that takes over the entire month. Spanning five weeks, everything from orchestral concerts, opera performances and ballet shows are on offer for the enjoyment of the public.

Workers' Day

May 1 sees the observation of this public holiday which is recognized as Labor Day elsewhere.

Byblos Festival

Every year in July, the usually sleepy town of Byblos hosts one of the most popular music festivals in Lebanon. Bringing together a diverse range of international and local artists, including the likes of Moby and jazz musician Jamie Cullum, the festival appeals to all genres. Over the course of a few weeks, concerts are held in venues all over the town.

Baalbeck International Festival

Located in the breathtaking Roman Baalbeck ruins, the Baalbeck International Festival is yet another music festival held in July centered around jazz. Both Lebanese and international artists perform for a few weeks in the unrivalled. During evening shows, the ruins are lit up to create a truly magical atmosphere.

Zouk Mikael International Festival

Also in July is another international music festival which takes place at the spectacular amphitheater in the charming town of Zouk Mikael. Everything from classical and opera to blues and jazz can be heard drifting from the stage. While the event is not as heavily publicized as some other musical events in Lebanon, the atmosphere is electric, with most concerts starting at sunset to enjoy music under the stars.

Tyre and South Festival

In a celebration of Southern Lebanese culture, the Tyre and South Festival is held annually in July at and around the ruins of Tyre. Activities include dance shows, poetry readings, musical performances, crafts fairs, and lectures on the region's culture and history.

Beiteddine Arts Festival

July is a busy month in Lebanon, festival-wise, and one of the most anticipated events in the country is the Beiteddine Arts Festival. Set against a backdrop of the Beiteddine castle, the festival spans three months and is a feast of music, drama and art.

Eid al-Fitr

Taking place annually around August and September – the exact date is determined by the lunar calendar – Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the end of the Islamic fast. This public holiday is characterized by food, gift exchanges and shopping for new clothes.

Lebanese Independence Day

Observed November 22, Independence Day marks the date in 1943 when the country gained freedom from France after a 23-year period of rule. This nation-wide celebration sees most people enjoy a day off work, military parades, and locals displaying the Lebanese flag outside their homes.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 24 April 2016

IRAQ HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

In addition to Islamic-based festivals and traditions, Iraq holidays also include a number of cultural events and religious celebrations. Christmas festivities are enjoyed by the small Christian population that remained in the country after the 2003 Iraq War, while art and other forms of expression are widely observed throughout the country.

Assyrian New Year

The Assyrian New Year takes place every year on April 1 in all countries where Assyrians reside. Marked by festivities, the day is celebrated with long parades in colorful outfits and ancient costumes. Students, dignitaries, men, and women alike join in the parties, dancing in the streets and parks for hours. Just like the rest of the world, Iraqis also celebrated the Georgian calendar New Year on January 1.

Iraq Short Film Festival

Established in 2005, the Iraq Short Film Festival celebrates movies made by and for Iraqis. A series of short films are shown in the Arabic or Kurdish language throughout Baghdad. The event is held August 1 through September 30.

Babylon International Festival

Held once a year, the Babylon International Festival encompasses all aspects of arts and music. The event represents different cultures and civilizations, celebrating science and culture through folkloric ensembles, singing, musicals, stage performances, seminars, workshops, and other activities. Its main goal is to preserve ancient traditions by passing them on to the younger generations. The annual event takes place September 22 through October 1.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day (December 25) is celebrated differently in Iraq than in the west, observed by the few remaining Christians in the country. The day is marked with a ceremonial reading of the nativity story from the Arabic Bible. During the reading, family members hold lighted candles as they listen, and once the story is finished, a bonfire is lighted using the candles and a pile of dried thorns in the courtyard, symbolic of the future of the household in the coming year. Once the thorns have completely turned to ashes, family members jump over the remnants and make a wish. Religious services are also held in local churches, followed by processionals.

Historical Holidays

Throughout the year, Iraqis celebrate historical milestones like Army Day (January 6), Baghdad Liberation Day (April 9), Republic Day (July 14), Ceasefire Day or End of Iran-Iraq War (August 8), and Iraqi Independence Day (October 3).

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

IRAN HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Iran holidays tend to center around the Muslim religion, with most celebrating a holiday or event. Festivals vary greatly by region due to Iran's multi-ethnic make-up. Visitors should note that when watching or participating in any religious event, conservative dress is a must and women may want to cover their heads. Ask your tour guide or hotel what customs need to be followed so as not to offend anyone.

Day of Ashoura

Taking place in February every year, the Ashoura Festival celebrates the martyrdom of Husayn in Ali, grandson of Muhammad. This is a time for Shi'a Muslims to show their devotion. The event include self-mutilation and flagellation, such as cutting parts of the body, which are viewed as barbaric by some.

Leilat al Mi'raj

An important day for Muslims in February or March is remembered for when the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. It is one of the most significant days on the Islamic calendar and celebrated with night prayers and illuminated buildings.

Nowruz

Nowruz, the celebration of Iranian New Year, starts on March 20 and is considered the most important holiday in Iran. Festivities take place over 12 days and usually involve the cleaning of homes, the giving alms and the visiting of relatives. There are regional variations, with the Kurds celebrating using fire.

Tehran International Puppet Theater Festival

This Iranian festival takes place every two years and attracts leading puppeteers from all over the world to Tehran. Dating back to 1989, participants have included acts from Germany, Canada, Austria, and England. Although event dates vary, it usually takes place in June.

Tehran Book Fair

The Tehran Book Fair is one of the leading publishing events in the region. It takes place annually in May or June and attracts roughly five million visitors and thousands of domestic and international publishers. It is one of the pre-eminent book events in the Middle East and Asia, and usually takes place on the Grand Prayer Grounds in Tehran, a special venue for visitors to pick up rare and out-of-print literature.

Tehran International Short Film Festival

The Tehran International Short Film Festival has been taking place every year in October or November since 1983. It is a wonderful opportunity to see contemporary Iranian artistic talent. Movies are screened at various venues in Tehran, usually in the Mellat Cinema Complex.

Yalda Festival (Shab e Cheleh)

Celebrated on the longest night of year which generally falls somewhere in the middle of December, this festival marks the defeat of evil. Iranians will eat melon, which is thought to ward off illness and visitors will find many restaurants serving dishes that involve the fruit.

Festival of Fire (Chahar Shanbeh Soori)

Taking place annually on the last Wednesday of December, the Festival of Fire sees bonfires sprouting up in various public areas and parks. People jump over the burning cinders and shout, "Give me your red color and take back sickly pallor," which is a purification ritual. Many Iranians believe their ancestors' spirits visit during the last few days of the year.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Festivals in Palestine

Festivals

Palestine do not only include sites to be visited, there are many festivals that are taking place on weakly basis, musical and cultural festivals.

Olive Oil Festival

Every year in October, Manger Square comes to life with the sounds, sights and tastes of traditional Bethlehem, locals and visitors come together to celebrate the long tradition of olive harvest. From musical performances by local groups to traditional dances by the Artas Falklore Group, exhibiting booths line Manger Square featuring traditional Palestinian handicrafts, Olive Oil, Olive Oils Soups and the famous Cremisan wine.

Taybeh Oktoberfest – annual village festival

It is a two day celebration for Taybe Beer held in Taybeh, Ramallah, usually happens on the first Saturday and Sunday of October (excluding religious holidays ), and gives venue to local music groups to celebrate their talent and skills in promoting a different face of Palestine.

Theatre of the Oppressed

The Theatre of the Oppressed is now in its fourth year. The event features performances by local and international groups and is attended by people from around the world. The three-month "season" of theatre dazzles performance art lovers with dozens of extremely varied and unique performances from Ashtar and its international partners. While the Theatre of the Oppressed concept was born on the other side of the ocean and is currently all over the world, the unique experiences and talents of Palestinian artists, combined with the context of the occupation, make the Palestinian version stand out from the rest.

Artas Lettuce Festival

Since its debut back in 1994, the annual lettuce festival which takes a place in the beautiful village of Artas just south of Bethlehem near Solomon's Pool brings locals and visitors together in a joyful festival celebrating and honoring the eternal Palestine peasant. Organized by the Artas Folklore Center is truly an experience as you get the chance to interact with the living stones of this ancient land and experience the hospitality and culture of Palestinian in real life.

PalFest (Palestine Festival of Literature)

This is an annual event that aims to bring a cultural festival of international standard to audiences in Palestine to assert "the power of culture over the culture of power." The festival traveled through many cities in the west bank such as, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin.

Bethlehem live festival

Bethlehem live festival is held by the holy land trust for a four days in a row in June. The purpose of the festival is to revive star street. Traditional stores and restaurants are opened during the festival in star street with bands coming from all over the world to sing enjoy summer nights.

*Culled from www.lailatours.com

World's Tallest Drum For Display At Maiden Nigerian Drums Festivals By Lara Oshi

The Ogun State Commissioner for Culture, Mr Muyiwa Oladapo, said on Wednesday that the 14ft world's tallest drum would be displayed at the forthcoming Drums Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.
Oladapo stated this at the Unveiling of the Official Logo of the event in Abeokuta.
He said the festival would hold in Abeokuta from April 19 to April 22.
The commissioner said the festival would draw participants from the 36 states of the federation including Abuja.
He added that the participants would compete in drum beats, drum dance, performance and exhibition with different types of drums peculiar to their localities.
Oladapo said "the festival is aimed at promoting Nigeria's cultural heritage and unity.''
He expressed optimism that the festival would also expose tourism opportunities and potentials of the state.
The drum is a common factor that binds tribes and ethnic groups with different cultures in Nigeria and the festival will be an avenue to bring the different types of drums together.
"The festival, being the maiden edition, will turn around the face of culture and tourism not only in Ogun, but in Nigeria and Africa at large", he said.
He explained that the festival was purely an initiation of Ogun government supported by the private sector in the state.
*Culled from www.newsherald.com.ng

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Festivals in Libya By Anthon Jackson, Demand Media

Several noteworthy festivals are held deep within the deserts of Libya.

At times politically unstable, Libya has never enjoyed the tourism swell that its myriad cultural, historical and natural attractions merit. One potential tourist calling card lies in the country's colorful festivals. While Libya's holidays include religious festivals such as Eid al-Fitr and political occasions like Evacuation Day -- celebrated on three separate occasions each year to mark the withdrawal of British, U.S. and Italian troops -- it also hosts a number of cultural festivals complete with feasts, music and dancing.

Ghadames Festival

Ghadames International Festival is one of the Sahara's most colorful events, a three-day celebration of the traditions of the nomadic Tuareg people. Set in the ancient town of Ghadames in west Libya, the festival has long revolved around the town's premiere export: dates. In addition to scaling the date palms for the harvest, converting much of the old city into an open marketplace and holding horse and camel races outside the city walls, the Tuareg join with Arabs and Berbers for feasting, singing and dancing. While the original Ghadames Festival, run by the residents of the old town of Ghadames, is generally held on varying dates in October, a rival Tuareg Festival occurs annually on September 2, instituted by the Tuareg living outside the old city.

Ghat Festival

Set in a Tuareg oasis deep in the Libyan interior is another cultural festival. The town of Ghat -- surrounded by desert, dunes and the dramatic Acacus range -- houses its own ancient medina, or walled city. The festival takes place here, with music, dancing, Tuareg camel racing and traditional crafts on display for locals and foreign visitors to enjoy. The Ghat Festival occurs alternately in November and December, and lasts for three days.

Nalut Spring Festival

The Nalut Spring Festival celebrates local traditions, industries and culture, much like the Ghadames and Ghat festivals. Set in the impressive old town of Nalut in the Jebel Nafusa of western Libya, the festival showcases crafts and features parades, traditional music and nightly dance performances. Growing in popularity among visitors to Libya -- partly due to its proximity to Ghadames, one of the country's top tourist destinations -- the three-day festival is held in late March.

Zuwarah Awessu Festival

Coinciding with the highest temperatures of summer in July through early September, the Awessu Festival in Zuwarah, a beach destination along the northern coast, consists of ceremonies tracing their roots to pre-Islamic times. To mark the beginning of this special period, ancient Libyans in Zuwarah reportedly bathed naked in the sea, diving seven times and spraying the water into the air. They also brought possessions and livestock into the water for ritual bathing. As Islamic Libya has come to view such ancient observances as somewhat promiscuous, the festival today mainly consists of sailing and swimming races as well as folk music, dancing and generous traditional feasts.

*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com

Monday, 18 April 2016

PANAMA HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Panama holidays celebrate its rich cultural and geographic diversity. If you were to go to the Flower and Coffee festival in the Chiriqui Highlands, you will gain an insight into the wonderful landscapes that shape the country's interior. Head over to the Bocas del Toro Sea Fair and you will see why the oceans are so important to this nation's heritage. Spanish influence and Roman Catholicism they brought are an important part of Panamanian culture, yet certainly blended with Latin American flare, and the annual Carnaval is set to not disappoint party-goers.

Chiriqui Highlands Flower and Coffee Festival

After full bloom and a fresh harvest, you will be treated to glorious sights and smells at this ten day festival held every January. It is held in and around the town of Boquete.

Carnaval

This festival is held 40 days before Easter, the start of lent, and would coincide with other 'Mardi Gras' celebrations held around the world. The Panamanian carnival is special as every day has a theme: Friday is the grand opening, Saturday is international day, Sunday is 'Pollera' day, Monday is costume day, and Tuesday is the Queens day. Wednesday is the final day where the ceremonial act of entierro de la sardine (the sardine burial) takes place. The carnival is best enjoyed in Panama City or the town of Las Tablas.

Boquete Jazz and Blues festival

The mountainside town and coffee-growing region is home to this annual music festival held in March. It has grown in recent years, and is now on the map for international touring artists who play jazz and blues music. The town of Boquete provides an ambient feel.

Sobresaltos Dance Festival

Dance! It's the name of the game. This is a funky urban music festival held in Panama City, in the old district of the city called Casco Antiguo. It is an outdoor festival and features contemporary performances and art installations around the district. It is held in December every year.

Semana Santa

Held during Easter week, this festival is celebrated all over Panama. During this time you will see spectacular parades through the streets telling the biblical story. Depending on the town or city, the festival lasts up to five days, finishing on Good Friday.

Bocas Del Toro Sea Fair

Held for four days in September every year, the "Feria del Mar" (Sea Fair) in Bocas del Toro is a spectacular event that celebrates the archipelago's fishing traditions. There is plenty of music and dancing, and also a showcase for traditional handicraft products. The festival is held on Ismito beach near Bocas town.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 17 April 2016

HUNGARY HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Hungary holidays and festivals embrace the contrasts of the country itself, from small village folk and religious celebrations dating back centuries to great international musical and cultural events featuring world-famous artists. Budapest has the most in the way of festivals, with Hungary's spring and fall music festivals the most-loved.

Budapest International Circus Festival

Held biannually over five days from the end of January into February, this celebration of all things circus draws acts from all over the world to perform in the capital. Fire-eaters, clowns, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists and more give 30 shows over the five-day event, ending in a gala performance featuring famous talents.

Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix

Early February sees the town and motor racing circuit of Mogyorod come alive for the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix race. Car enthusiasts from all over Hungary and Europe fill the hotels and spill over into Budapest some 12 miles (20 kms) away, and the streets are crowded with fans of the various drivers.

Budapest Spring Music Festival

This iconic musical event draws visitors from all over the world in March to its 200 concerts, many of which are set in the city's glorious historic buildings. World-class artists in opera, classical, jazz, rock and folk perform in great buildings such as the Hungarian State Opera House and the National Gallery, as well as in basilicas, churches and less exalted venues.

Valley of Magic Festival

This much-loved summer festival kicks off in June and runs through July around Lake Balaton and its little towns of Oula, Kapoics, Ocs and Monostorapati. Over 50 venues in Hungary host over 800 individual events of all kinds, attracting local and international visitors to the beautiful setting.

The Danube Carnival

Multi-cultural, exciting, and full of music, the Danube Carnival takes place in Budapest's Vorosmarty Square and other venues every June. Professional and amateur contemporary dancers, folk musicians and artists from across Hungary and Europe join for 10 days in performances, street entertainments, concerts and parties.

Koros Valley Folk Arts Festival

Hungarians are immensely proud of their folk heritage and do all they can to preserve its long history, especially in rural areas. This festival, held every July and August in the town of Gyula, is one of the best of its kind, featuring traditional music, dance, drama, and crafts.

Budapest National Gallop

Lovers of horses and riding won't want to miss this September event, taking place annually over three full days and featuring the superb Hungarian horses. A celebration of the Hussar culture and its military traditions sees many diverse events culminating in the spectacular National Horse Race in Hero's Square, with riders from villages, towns and cities all competing for the big prize.

Budapest Palinka and Sausage Festival

Foodies will love this event, held every October on Castle Hill. Featuring at least 20 different varieties of the Hungarian brandy, palinka, their distillers are on-hand to explain their intricacies along with the makers of the famous Hungarian sausages and their produce. Street entertainment, music, dance performances and general merriment are all part of the gastronomic fun.

Budapest Christmas Fair and Festival

Despite the cold weather, Budapest is a magic place to be in at Christmas, with carolers, pre-Christmas parties and the largest Christmas Fair in the country held in Vorosmarty Square. Loved equally by locals and visitors alike, you'll find gifts, local artwork, paintings, crafts, Christmas decorations, traditional food and drink, mulled wine, and a Nativity scene.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Traditional Festivals in Germany By Alicia Bones, Demand Media

Germany's famous Oktoberfest was first held in 1810.

Germany is intent on preserving its history through its festival traditions -- but that doesn't mean you can't have fun, too. In typical German fashion, several of the country's popular festivals, including Oktoberfest and Christmas Markets, offer alcoholic beverages, rich food and celebrations of centuries-old traditions. Fasching, or Carnival, and Kinderzeche, or the Children's Party, mark historical events with traditional costumes, revelry and parades. Whether you want to attend a masked ball or watch a sword dance, you'll find plenty of traditional German festivals that combine age-old customs with modern carousing.

Fasching

Fasching serves as the Catholic carnival for German-speaking countries. Lasting a little over a month, Fasching historically involved the temporary subversion of traditional roles -- men handed over power to women, for example -- and also included masked balls, plays and wild behavior. Modern-day celebrations still are based on their historic incarnations, with the biggest modern celebrations happening in Bonn, Munich, Düsseldorf and Cologne. Fasching celebrations often include Weissen Feste, or white parties, parades and open-air dances. In Munich, which holds the country's largest celebration, there are more than 800 masked balls during the season.

Oktoberfest

Beginning as a celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, Munich's Oktoberfest now is the largest festival of its kind in the world. For a little more than two weeks, visitors can drink German beer, ride carnival rides, eat Bavarian specialties such as sausage and pretzels, and wear traditional costumes -- liederhosen for men and dirndls for women. In addition to drinking beer, visitors can watch the Oktoberfest Costume and Riflemen's Parade, which consists of a parade of beer sellers followed by a brass bands and horse-drawn carriages, on the first Sunday of the festival.

Weihnachtsmärkte

Germany's famous Weihnachtsmärkte, or Christmas Markets, take place throughout the country. Most of the Christmas Markets are made to look like Victorian towns, with Christmas-light-draped booths selling lebkucken, which are gingerbread cookies, and gluhwein, which is hot mulled wine. In addition to food, Christmas Markets often offer handmade children's toys, wreaths and miniature houses. Some of the larger Christmas Markets also include holiday themed festivities such as Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, ice skating rinks and other family friendly attractions. Most of the country's Christmas Markets also have special events throughout the season, including choral concerts, fireworks and live music.

Kinderzeche

Dinkelsbühl's Kinderzeche, or Children's Party, is based on a 17th-century legend. In the tale, Swedes took control of Dinkelsbühl in the Thirty Years' War with the intent to destroy it. Children in the town went to the Swedish colonel and begged him to spare their town; being moved by their bravery, he eventually did. Since then, the children in Dinkelsbühl have been given a yearly party, which still includes a reenactment of the Swedish surrender, a parade and sword dances. Additionally, all of the children of Dinkelsbühl are given kinderzechgucke, a cone filled with sweets, to honor their 17th-century predecessors' bravery.

*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com

TANZANIA HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are the best places to enjoy Tanzania holidays, particularly the latter with its Muslim-majority populace. In July you can witness the Mwaka Kogwa and the Festival of the Dhow Countries, while the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti starts in December. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, sees action during the Kiliman Adventure Challenge in February.

Wanyambo Festival

The Wanyambo Festival is one of the best opportunities to check out the local culture of Tanzania in early January. The event is staged in the northern area of Dar es Salaam known as Makumbusho, with lots of traditional music, dance, costumes, and food.

Kiliman Adventure Challenge

A triathlon if there ever was one, the Kiliman Adventure Challenge involves three grueling events in February to discover the "KiliMan." Events include a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro (not judged), followed by a mountain bike jaunt around the great circumference, and finally the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

A separate entity from the Kiliman Adventure Challenge, the Kilimanjaro Marathon is a road race under the guise of the world's highest solitary mountain. There's also a half marathon and fun runs so everyone can get involved. The events take place in late February when it's the coolest.

Unification Day

A big day for Tanzanians, April 26, 1964 is when the Zanzibar islands joined Tanganyika in 1963 to become the Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, later to be known as the Republic of Tanzania. Expect flag waving and parades in traditional garb in the main cities.

Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival

A two-day music festival in May, Mzalendo Halisi is staged in Kigitonyama in northwest Dar es Salaam. It features traditional Tanzanian music by local performers along with art and cultural exhibitions.

Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair

For those in Arusha in May/June, the Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair is a must to partake in, the biggest of its kind in East Africa. There are all sorts of Tanzanian items for purchase, from gemstones and furniture to safari gear and wine.

Festival of the Dhow Countries

This two-week festival in early July is one of music and motion pictures. The highlight is the week-long Zanzibar International Film Festival, the main arts event of East Africa. Enjoy local screenings throughout the city.

Mwaka Kogwa Festival

This four-day event in July/August is a must for visitors to Zanzibar, when village men thrash each other with banana stalks to settle arguments from the previous year. Women dress up, sing and dance, a straw hut is set on fire and a feast ensues.

Eid al-Fitr

Zanzibar is the place to witness Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan in August. The best site is Makunduchi where there is much pageantry, dancing and dining.

Bagamoyo Arts Festival

The coastal town of Bagamoyo, between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, puts on the annual Bagamoyo Arts Festival which features traditional and contemporary music and dance. The week-long event in September also includes grand exhibitions, workshops and acrobatics shows.
Serengeti Wildebeest Migration
The animals are on the move through the Serengeti at various times throughout the year to find water and graze, although December through February sees the wildebeest at their peak in Tanzania.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Thursday, 14 April 2016

TURKEY HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Turkey offers more than just a stunning landscape and fascinating culture. It is home to a wide variety of Turkey holidays and festivals, many of which have been introduced to help the country develop a more modern image like The Istanbul International Music Festival. Folk ceremonies like The Kadirga Festival are some of the more important traditional events in the country.

Ankara International Film Festival

The Ankara Film Festival is a wonderful event held in Turkey's capital. Each year during the month of March, travelers, film-buffs, directors, and acclaimed actors from across the globe come to Ankara for screenings at venues around the city.

Istanbul International Music Festival

The largest event in Turkey's largest city, the Istanbul Music festival lasts about two months, filling June and July with a range of interesting concerts and performances. Tourists will be able to enjoy classical and opera performances, theatrical shows, and traditional tunes from regions around the country.

Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival

One of the most renowned musical events in Turkey's Gumusluk area, the bulk of the festival begins on July 5, although classical performances are held several times in July, August and September. Symphony orchestras offer a relaxing way to rejuvenate after a long day of sightseeing.

Istanbul International Jazz Festival

First established in 1986, the Istanbul Jazz Festival is one of the most popular musical events in the nation. It is held every July, attracting thousands of revelers from all over the country. Even though Jazz is the focus, there are plenty of other genres to enjoy.

Edirne International Kakava Festival

This Roman festival known as Kakava is celebrated by Romani people throughout the Middle East and Turkey. The Edirne Festival is enjoyed on May 5-6 and sees more than 5,000 people attend.

Aspendos International Opera Festival

The beautiful and ancient city of Aspendos is home to a wonderful Roman theater, where the Aspendos International Opera Festival is held each year. More than 10,000 spectators flock to the experience the wonder of live drama in June.

Kadirga Festival

Often regarded as the most famous festival in Turkey, the Kadirga Festival is a stupendous event that showcases some of the most fascinating aspects of Turkish culture. Set a dozen miles from the heart of Tonya township upon the treeless plateaus of the hinterland, the event is celebrated by visitors and the locals of Tonya, Torul, Macka, Gorele, and Eynesil every year in July.

Izmir Fair

The oldest trade show and exhibition in Turkey is the exciting Izmir Fair held at the large show ground of *Kulturepark during the early days of September. There are several other fairs during the event, including a popular musical festival.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Yugoslavia Holidays & Festivals (Concluding part)

Day of the Macedonian

Revolutionary Struggle

The somewhat communistic title of this crucial festival on October 23 doesn't hide the fervor of the national holiday, commemorating the first serious, revolutionary attempt to overthrow the Ottoman rulers and take back the country. The Revolutionary Organization began in Salonica in 1893 with just six firebrand members, who later set the population's hearts ablaze with freedom, resulting in the Macedonia we know today.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Yugoslavia Holidays & Festivals

The majority of Macedonia holidays and festivals are centered around religious occasions or on a number of crucial events in the country's long struggle for independence first from the Ottoman regime to Yugoslavia. Two of the most important celebrations are Easter and Independence Day.

New Year

As with the rest of Europe, New Year's Day and Eve is celebrated from late December 31 through January 1, with memories of the outgoing year and hopes for the upcoming twelve months shared. Traditional fireworks at midnight see residents pouring onto the streets with parties in bars, clubs, hotels, and restaurants lively until early morning.

Orthodox Christmas

Post-New Year winter visitors to Macedonia can enjoy two Christmases, as Orthodox Christmas kicks off on January 5 with children going from house to house caroling and everyone gathering around a bonfire reminiscing about the past year. Christmas Eve is welcomed on January 6 with a traditional vegetarian family supper and the arrival of the Yule Log. Houses are decorated with greenery, and straw is strewn on floors in memory of the stable. On Christmas morning, everyone heads to church, followed by home visits and a sumptuous dinner. Local celebrations continue for three more days.

Strumica Carnival

Held at the end of March, beginning of April on the Tuesday following Ash Wednesday, Strumica's carnival is centuries old and focused on local girls getting engaged. The festival begins with a colorful procession and parade, followed with masked men visiting the homes of potential fiances begging for their hand in marriage. It's all great fun, with street parties and large amounts of food and drink.

Orthodox Easter

Easter is the most important festival in Macedonia, held in April about two weeks after Western Holy Week. The traditional dyed and painted Easter Eggs are prepared well in advance with the first placed next to the family icon. Good Friday sees church attendance and vegetarian food, with the traditional Easter Day meal prepared on Great Saturday. On Easter morning after church, the decorated eggs are given to family and friends, and celebrations continue all day.

Labour Day

Labour Day in Macedonia is a national holiday, celebrated on May 1 to honor the social and economic achievements of the workers known worldwide as International Workers' Day. Macedonians enjoy their day off with trips to the countryside, the lakes or city parks for picnics, relaxation and general merriment with family and friends.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Day

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the lives of Macedonia's two major saints are celebrated on May 24 with the creation of the Slavic Glagolitic alphabet and the region's conversion to Christianity. Church services give thanks and commemorate their contribution with parades and family gatherings.

Skopje Summer Festival

Skopje's annual cornucopia of concerts, folk music, traditional events, and museum openings run from June 21 for four or five weeks in venues across the city, which is a feast of indoor and outdoor theatre and musical delights. The entertainment is mostly free and attracts artists and performers from around the world.

Ilinden – Saint Ilija's Day

This national holiday is a dual celebration on August 2, commemorating two major events during Macedonia's struggle for independence. The Ilinden uprising against the Ottoman rulers in 1903 and the first meeting of the fledgling Assembly in 1944 which laid down the basics of the modern republic are remembered with street parties, parades of horsemen, visits to holy monasteries, family festivities, and a great deal of eating and drinking. The religious significance of the day goes back to the end of the pagan era when the god Perun was replaced by the Christian Prophet Elijah.

Galicnik Summer Festival

The highlight of this early July event in the village of Galicnik is the traditional Wedding Festival, during which one lucky couple gets to marry in a ceremony unique to the region. The marriage rites last for two full days, with the traditional Tescoto men's dance performed to symbolize centuries of suffering endured by the Macedonian people.
Ohrid Summer Festival
From mid-July to late August, the historic city of Ohrid celebrates its Summer Festival with theater, concerts and outdoor street performances. Many of the events are held in the city's ancient buildings or around historic monuments. The festival is run by Macedonia's President.

Independence Day

One of the most significant secular events in Macedonia is Independence Day, a national holiday celebrated on September 8 in remembrance of the great day of the referendum in 1991 which resulted in the country becoming a sovereign parliamentary democracy. Expect parades, fireworks, street celebrations, and patriotism toward the relatively new country.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Yemen Holidays & Festivals

Photo Credit : Ala'a Assamawy

There are a number of Yemen holidays throughout the year, several which are major attractions for tourists. Many of the more popular festivals take place in the summer, including the colorful month-long Sana'a Summer Festival. The Al-Baldah Tourist Festival is another popular festival which is held in Mukalla City each August. All of Yemen's festivals offer visitors a way to learn more about the culture and traditional way of life in Yemen.

National Unity Day

This is the day that North Yemen and South Yemen united and became one nation. It is celebrated each year in May through parties, public entertainment, and carnivals. It is also a day of family for locals and many citizens travel throughout the country to be together.

Sana'a Summer Festival

This month-long festival kicks off a series of events in the capital city each year during July. This colorful festival starts off with a huge carnival at Bab al-Yemen, the main gate to the Old City. Numerous people participate in the carnival and perform the traditional folkloric dance and take part in a fashion show to show off the traditional clothing of the country. Different events take place throughout the month-long event in parks, theatres, at historical attractions, and on the streets of Sana'a. The main focus of the festival is the handicrafts and industrial items of the country, with the crafts made by women of particular interest.

Al-Baldah Tourist Festival

Each year on August 10, Mukalla City holds this well-known and popular event. The festival is named after a star that is seen each year on this date. It is said that when the star appears, the sea becomes exceptionally cold. The focus of the festival is to promote tourism to the Yemen coast by way of recreational activities. It also shows off the city's natural beauty and therapeutic agents. This is one of the most important festivals in the region and as well as holding a number of activities, it sees exhibits of the beautiful jewelry and handicrafts of the region.

Eid al-Adha

This is an important Muslim holiday, whose name translates to 'Feast of the Sacrifice'. It is celebrated in honor of the Prophet Abraham who sacrificed his first-born son to God, who then gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead. This four-day holiday starts on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is anywhere between September and November. This is the last month of the Islamic calendar and starts the day after the Hajj pilgrimage. The rituals in the mosques themselves are closed off to visitors though visitors can participate in the feast that follows.

Mouloud

This day celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. It takes place each year on the 12th day of the month of Rabi' al-awwal, which falls in the winter of the Georgian calendar. A large street carnival takes place in cities and towns all over the country, as well as a large street procession. Houses and mosques are decorated, and food is distributed to everyone. Stories about the life of Mohammed are told and children recite famous Arabic poetry. Unlike other festivals in Yemen, Mouloud is a national holiday so all banks and businesses are closed.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

THE SAYINGS OF OUR ELDERS

*The goat thought it was dirtying the owner's wall till it realized its coat was peeling.
*Do not make the dress before the child is born.
*A strong man is remembered on the day of the fight, and a glutton on the day pounded yam is surplus.
*A farmer does not conclude his farm is ripe without opening it for close examination.
*A child can play with his mother's breasts, but not with his father's testicles.
*When the brothers fight to the death, the stranger inherits their father's estate.
*Do not blame God for having created the tiger, but thank Him for not having given it wings.
*A performing masquerade who tries too hard to outclass his colleagues may expose his ass.
*Children are the reward of life.
*If you are looking for a fly in your food it means that you are full.
*When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly.
*Money is sharper than a sword.
*By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed.
*An egg does not fight a rock.
*When you see clouds gathering, prepare to catch rainwater.
*When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
*The horse that arrives early gets good drinking water.
*He who is guilty is the one who has much to say.
*The crab does not bite, it is it's greeting that hurts.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

November to December: Lille Christmas Market

Get into the festive spirit with Lille's month-long Christmas Market. The Place Rihour is taken over by stalls selling arts and crafts. There's entertainment for children plus a Ferris wheel and traditional Christmas delicacies to try or take away. Visitors with children can have photos taken with Father Christmas, who attends the market and participates in a spectacular event on the Saturday before Christmas — when he 'falls' from the Chamber of Commerce's 80-metre-high Belfry.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

Early Oct: The Grape Harvest Festival, Montmartre

Clos Montmartre vineyard, nestled in the hills of Montmartre, is a tiny relic of the once abundant vineyards that flourished all over this northern Parisian neighbourhood. But once a year, in early October, all of Montmartre celebrates the Fete des Vendanges de Montmartre — the Grape Harvest festival.

Mid-October: Autumn Festival of Lanvellec

The music festival of Lanvellec celebrates the magical music of Brittany. Taking place over some two weeks, the gentle sounds of the Dallam's Organ, which was built in 1653, transport the listeners on a journey into the heart of traditional French music. The festival also sees a range of artists from around the world participate in what is a relaxed festival before the winter storms.

Late-October to early November: Le Salon du Chocolate, Paris

Chocolate lovers who visit Paris at the end of October can enjoy the delights of dozens of chocolatiers and see how chocolate is produced from the picking of the cocoa beans to the end product. Manufacturers from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Japan, Canada to name a few come and present their wares on more than 400 stands. A heavenly delight for children and sweet lovers of all ages. The next Salon du Chocolate is on from 28 October to 1 November, 2016, Porte de Versailles.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

Friday, 8 April 2016

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

July: Festival of Avignon

The annual Festival d'Avignon is one of France's oldest and most famous festivals. Every year there are around 40 different shows in venues around the city, both French and non-French, in a variety of art forms — theatre, dance, music and cinema, many of them world or French premieres.

July: Chorégies d'Orange

The Chorégies d'Orange festival dates back to 1860 and is the oldest festival in France. The festival of opera and classical music takes place in a beautifully preserved Roman Theatre in Orange. The 9,000 spectators enjoy not only the incredible historic atmosphere of the ancient building but also, because it has retained the original stone stage wall, amazing natural acoustics. In 2016 the festival, which includes Puccini's opera
Madama Butterfly , runs from 9 July to 6 August (dress smartly).


Mid-September: Mulhouse Beer Festival

The city of Mulhouse in North East France holds an annual beer festival (Modial de la Bière Mulhouse) lasting three days and with a variety of events and shows. As well as drinking beer participants can watch beer contests, exhibitions on making beer and beer and cheese workshops.

September: World Puppet Theatre Festival, Charleville-Mézières

Every two years the Festival Mondial des Théâtre de Marionnettes or World Puppet Theatre Festival is held in the town of Charleville-Mézières in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France. For 10 days, 250 troupes from around the world perform around 200 shows — main festival, fringe, street shows — to 150,000 spectators. You'll find every sort of puppet from glove, through string marionettes and shadow puppets to the latest puppetry innovations. The next festival is in 2017.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

Thursday, 7 April 2016

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

June 21: La Fête de la Musique, throughout France

La Fête de la Musique is a street musical festival held every year on 21 June, the day of the summer solstice throughout the whole country. Thousands of musicians gather in the streets, bars, and cafes giving free performances of all kinds of music, from jazz to rock and from hip-hop to electronic music.

July 14: Bastille Day

A day of national celebration for the French, this public holiday commemorates the day that Parisian commoners and peasants stormed the fortress and prison of Bastille, provoking events that would end the monarchy and usher in the age of liberty, fraternity and equality. There are celebrations all over France but the place to be is the capital. Celebrations start in Paris on the night of 13 July, when many firestations have all-night parties. Next day there's a traditional military parade along the Champs Elysees and there is a festival atmosphere throughout the day, finishing with the city night-sky turned bright by magnificent and noisy fireworks shows. Festivities last until the late hours.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

June: Pentecost Feria, Nîmes

Don't miss out on the Feria de Pentecôte. Held for the first time in 1952, the five-day festival runs from Thursday to Whit Monday. A huge carnival parade starts festivities, winding its way through the city streets and culminating in a large firework display in the arenas, launching the mass celebrations of the million people who come. The world's best toreros demonstrate their skills in corridas in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, before the streets fill with revellers enjoying the open-air concerts and dance parties that go on throughout the night.

June to August: Carcassone Festival

The extremely well-preserved medieval city of Carcassonne is always worth a visit, especially during its summer-long festival. A mix of music, theatre and dance is performed among the walled city's historic buildings, including the
Grand Théâtre and Basilique Saint-Nazaire . This year is the 10th anniversary of the festival.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

THE SAYINGS OF OUR ELDERS

*One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.
*When the moon is shining, the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.
*Befriend many but trust few.
*We live by hope, but a reed never becomes an Iroko tree by dreaming.
*He who has done evil expects evil.
*The mouse that makes jest of a cat has already seen a hole nearby.
*Fear a silent man, he has lips like a drum.
*A man who is trampled by an elephant is a man who is deaf and dumb.
*When the head is too big, it can not dodge the blows.
*To love someone who does not love you, is like shaking a tree to make the dew drops fall.
*It is what is in the heart when there is no wine in the head, that comes out when there is wine in the head.
*The wrong headed fool who refuses counsel, will come to grief.
*What an old man will see while seated, a small child cannot see even standing on top of a mountain.
*It is impossible to find a man who has everything, but it is possible to find one who enjoys the things he has.
*A good wife is easy to find, but suitable in laws are rare.
*A healthy person who begs for food is an insult to a generous farmer.
*It requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum.

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

May: Cannes Film Festival

This International Film Festival was created by a French Minister of Education and Fine Arts who was keen to establish an international cultural event in France to rival the Venice Film Festival. Today, more than 30,000 professionals from all over the world meet at the festival. The festival is a social as much as a professional event and hundreds of thousands of guests enjoy the atmosphere. Worth a trip even if it's just to star spot. There's also an open-air cinema on the beach showing Cannes classics: get tickets from the Cannes Tourist Office. The 69th Festival de Cannes will take place from 11 to 22 May, 2016.

Mid-May: Festival Medieval de Sedan

Sedan Castle is one of the great European castles and is a worthy host for the thousands of people who come here to experience the atmosphere of the Middle Ages for this medieval festival. Traditional banquets, fairs, tournaments, wrestling competitions and sword duels await festivalgoers. Check the festival website for dates.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

Mid-February to early-March: Menton Lemon Festival

Held in the second half of February, this carnival-like festival, the Fête du Citron , sees more than 200,000 visitors enjoying the work of 300 professionals who use 145 tons of citrus. For two weeks the Biovès Garden in the centre of Menton is filled with huge statutes, models and tableaux, all made from citrus oranges and lemons. The streets belong to the giants, the wind musicians, acrobats, drummers and the masked crowds that dance to the music of the parades of citrus-decorated floats. Treat yourself to a glass of delicious fresh lemonade, some lemon vinegar or even your very own lemon tree. There are shuttle buses to take you into the centre of town. In 2016, the 83rd year of the festival runs from 13 February to 2 March.

April: Berck-Sur-Mer Kite Festival

The town of Berck-Sur-Mer has held an international kite festival (Rencontres internationales de cerfs-volants) for more than two decades. People come from all over the world to fly kites of every colour and shape — from giant pandas and crabs to state-of-the-art stunt kites. There are usually around half a million spectators but there's plenty of room up on the sand dunes to get a good view. The next festival is 9 to 17 April, 2016.

April to early-November: International Garden Festival

Every year since 1992, the gardens of Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire play host to the annual Festival des Jardins, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens. From over 300 proposals, 20 to 30 gardens are selected for inclusion in the festival, with contributions from the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The displays are also illuminated allowing visitors the chance to explore the gardens by night. The chateau is also enhanced by the glow of over 2,000 candles.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

TOP FRENCH FESTIVALS

Top French festivals

End of January: Cirque de Demain, Paris

Once a year, circus actors from the best circus schools in the world compete at the Circus of Tomorrow under the Big Top of the Cirque Phénix according to age groups and professions. The new, young talented discovered here will be the famous artists of tomorrow. The great crowds of spectators enjoy the animal trainers, clowns, acrobats and jugglers who perform in both traditional and modern acts. This is a marvellous experience for the whole family. The 37th festival will take place from 28 to 31 January, 2016.

Mid-February: Nice Carnival

Nice Carnival is one of the largest carnivals in the world. There are 15 days (and nights) of carnival parades with fantastically decorated floats and gigantic papier-mâché figurines made by the
Carnavaliers. During the Flower Parade, extravagantly dressed characters throw 100,000 flowers into the crowd along the Promenade des Anglais and more than 1,000 dancers and musicians from around the world perform at the carnival. By night the floats are illuminated for the Parade of Lights. The 2016 carnival, with the theme 'King of Media', will take place 13 to 28 February. If you're coming from outside, Nice, book accommodation as far ahead as possible as the place will be packed out.

*Culled from www.expatica.com

Monday, 4 April 2016

EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND

Milford sound by Farbenfrohe Wunderwelt (Flickr)

3 Rotorua

Rotorua is known as the thermal wonderland of New Zealand. It is a place of fascinating Maori culture, hot springs and boiling mud pools.

This city, in the Bay of Plenty area of the North Island, is located on a volcanic plateau which has some of the world's most lively geothermal activity. All around the city there are natural eruptions of steam, hot water and mud. Here you can clearly see the turbulent forces that have formed New Zealand.

About 600 years ago the Te Arawa people settled in Rotorua. Their presence provides several cultural experiences, such as taking a tour of an authentic pre-European Maori village or trying a Hangi feast. Hangi is a traditional way of preparing a meal in an oven underground, while making use of the hot steam from the volcanic activity.

Furthermore you can just enjoy the view of the spectacular and colorful environment or indulge in a hot spring spa treatment. For the more active people amongst you there are some attractions such as skydiving or mountain biking that will get your adrenalin flowing.

2 Explore the real Middle-earth

Lord of the Rings has been one of the most popular films in Hollywood's history. This exciting trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand. For fans of these movies it is possible to visit the stunning locations and landscapes that starred as Middle-earth.

Some Lord of the Rings locations you can visit are Matamata, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Mackenzie Country, Southern Lakes and Fiordland. In Matamata you can visit the Shire region of Middle-earth which has been currently rebuild to be used for the filming of The Hobbit trilogy. This area will now remain as a permanent attraction.

Following these locations from the North of New Zealand to the South, will definitely provide you with a tour of the most beautiful and memorable places of New Zealand.

1 Milford Sound

Described as the "8th Wonder of the World" and voted as the world's top travel destination in an international TripAdvisor survey in 2008, Milford Sound is number 1 on this list.

Milford Sound offers some of the world's most amazing coastal scenery with its dramatic peaks and beautiful dark blue waters. When it rains in Milford Sound, as it often does, waterfalls cascade downwards from the mountains, only multiplying the magnificent effect.

There are different ways of exploring this memorable attraction. You can explore the lake by kayak or cruise boat while interacting with the marine wildlife. On land you can walk through this hiking mecca.

*Culled from www.justlanded.com

EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND

Shot Rear - Sperm Whale Kaikoura by Strange ones (Flickr)

7 Take a trip to of Wanaka

New Zealand visits are never complete without a trip to Wanaka, located in the Otago region of the South Island. Tourists are guaranteed to be amazed by the sight of the wonderful Wanaka lake together with the general serenity of the town.

In the winter time this is the perfect location to do all sorts of winter sports. From all over the world people will come to Wanaka to go skiing and snowboarding at Cardrona and Treble Cone, do cross-country skiing at Snow Farm and heli-skiing high in the Harris Mountains.

Wanaka is much more than just a winter destination so those are not the only activities you can do. Fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving are things you can do all year round. Before leaving Wanaka, it's be worthy worthwhile to take a tour to of the Rippon Vineyard, which is home to some of the wonderful wines available in the Kiwi New Zealand wine market.

6 Visit Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui, or Mauao in Maori, is a dormant volcano in the southern end of Tauranga Harbour. It reaches up to 230 metres above sea level and offers beautiful views of the harbour, beach and Pacific Ocean that makes the effort of hiking totally worthwhile.

Mount Mauao is an important part of the Maori culture and history. There is a Maori legend that tells of Mauao trying to drag himself into the sea to escape misery of an unrequited love. When the sun came up he couldn't move any further and the result was his lonely position on the edge of the peninsula.
At the foot of the mountain there is a stunning sheltered bay with white sands and clear water as well as a famous surf bay with high waves.

5 Te Papa Tongarewa museum

Those interested in learning more about New Zealand should visit the Te
Papa Tongarewa museum. It is New Zealand's national museum and art gallery and is located in Wellington.

Te Papa (our place) Tongarewa museum is home to all the New Zealand stories and treasures. Here you can learn about the heritage and history of the country and admire the country's art.

4 Kaikoura

Another very memorable activity would be to visit Kaikoura, a small town which is situated on the east coast of the South Island. Here visitors can come face-to-face with the marine wildlife of New Zealand.

For those fascinated with sperm whales, seabirds, dolphins and seals, this adventure provides the perfect opportunity to interact with these animals in their natural habitat. Some tour operators even provide wetsuits so you can swim with dolphins and seals in the Kaikoura waters. Few other places can offer such natural wonders as Kaikoura.

Other than watching marine animals there are lots of land activities in Kaikoura as well. Hiking or horse riding through the beautiful countryside, wine tasting or visiting the stunning Maori Leap Cave are just some of the other activities. When having dinner try to taste the crayfish as Kai (food) Koura (crayfish) is known for it.

*Culled from www.justlanded.com

EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND

Josef Glacier by Jesse Palmer.


New Zealand is an otherworldly country with unique contradictory extremes. It has one of the most spectacular landscapes of the world, containing dense forests, mountains, beaches glaciers, thermal regions and fjords.

New Zealand is a place where traditional Maori culture mixes with modern conveniences, charming villages and untouched wilderness. The country offers all sorts of activities for everyone to enjoy.

Out of all the limitless things to do and see in New Zealand these are our top 10 suggestions.

10 Coromandel Peninsula

The north-east of New Zealand is known for its pristine beaches, native forest and laid back vibe. Make sure to visit the small but picturesque village Thames. Its rich history of gold mining, the galleries of the many artists and craftsmen, together with the beautiful view make this village worth seeing.

The area of Coromandel Peninsula has everything a big city doesn't. The forest provides untouched nature and exciting adventures, while the beach offers great relaxation and a beautiful view. At the Hot Water Beach you can dig your own hot pool from the springs under the sands.

9 National parks

When in New Zealand it is highly recommended that you visit at least three of the 14 national parks. At all of the parks, visitors can get in touch with the natural heritage of New Zealand, as well as various native animal species, such as blue penguins, wekas , oystercatchers, wood pigeons and Kiwi birds, that have defined the country.

Tongariro

The first national park of New Zealand was Tongariro, known for its surprises and extremes. The park has a strangely diverse range of ecosystems which includes tranquil lakes, active volcanoes, herb fields, untamed forests and desert-like plateaus.

The best way to explore the park is to take a hike starting from the Whakapapa Visitor Center. From here its just a three hour hike to the stunning Taranaki Falls. This short hike will take you further through scrubland and forest and across the lava line of volcanic eruptions from hundreds of years ago.

Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman National Park, located at the north end of the South Island, is one of the smallest national parks in New Zealand, but also one of the most spectacular.

It is a coastal paradise that you can walk through or explore by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak.

The Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier, located within Westland National Park in the southwest of New Zealand, is one of the world's most accessible glaciers. Visitors can walk right up to the foot of this massive glacier to enjoy the spectacular view and hear the grinding, crushing sounds of the ancient ice forcing itself down the valley.

The Franz Josef Glacier moves up to four meters every day, which in the glacier world is uncommonly rapid.

8 Sky Tower

In the city of Auckland, the Sky Tower with a height of 328 meters (1,076 ft) is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The Tower serves as an observation and telecommunications tower and has become an icon in on the Auckland skyline. Going up in the tower will provide you with a view up to 80 km away while you dine could be dining at the Orbit Revolving restaurant.

*Culled from www.justlanded.com

Sunday, 3 April 2016

AUSTRALIA'S ABORIGINAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

Australia's Aboriginal Events and Festivals

Australia's Indigenous people celebrate and share their culture at many colourful traditional and contemporary festivals throughout the year. Visit a remote Gove Peninsula community at the Garma Festival or travel back to the Dreamtime at Walking with Spirits. Head to Cape York Peninsula for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Browse a diverse range of Aboriginal art at the Darwin or Cairns Aboriginal Art Fairs. Enjoy everything from concerts to comedy at Saltwater Freshwater Festival on the New South Wales North Coast. Catch a performance of Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia's leading Indigenous performing arts company as it tours city and regional venues across Australia.

Yabun Festival
Sydney, New South Wales
January

Yabun is the largest single day Indigenous festival in Australia, drawing an audience of between 10,000 and 15,000 people on Australia Day. It is one of the most important Indigenous music events in the country reflecting the wealth of Indigenous creative talent. Some of Australia's best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music from around the country is featured, from well established artists to those just emerging on the scene. Yabun also delivers a current and informative cultural program, with discussions and speeches by some of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community's most recognised leaders, academics, politicians and artists.

Saltwater Freshwater
Various locations, New South Wales
January

The Saltwater Freshwater Festival is a nomadic event that moves to a different location on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales each Australia Day providing a range of healthy, family-friendly activities for the community to enjoy. It is the only Aboriginal cultural festival of its kind in New South Wales. The festival features arts, music, dance, workshops and cultural traditions. It provides an authentic Aboriginal experience for visitors, families and local communities wishing to experience traditional and contemporary Australian Aboriginal culture. The 2013 Saltwater Freshwater Festival is held in on 26 January each year.
*Culled from www.australia.com.

AUSTRALIA'S ABORIGINAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

Spirit Festival,  SA


Spirit Festival
Adelaide, South Australia
February

The Spirit Festival is South Australia's premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts and Cultural Festival. With more than 100 dancers and singers from across the country, the festival presents a vibrant celebration of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, art, dance and music. A smoking ceremony is performed to welcome all visitors to Palti Yerta (dance ground) in Kaurna country, the traditional owners of the land on which the event is held. The Spirit Festival is a special event of great beauty and cultural significance.

Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival
Melbourne, Victoria
February

Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with a diverse range of events including traditional and contemporary Indigenous theatre, screen, dance, cabaret, visual art, spoken word, opera and conversation. National established and upcoming performers attend the eleven day festival which attracts a national audience who are invited to check out its wide range of arts events. Events include Koorioboree, a cultural dance gathering and Aboriginal Heritage Walks that give an insight into the Wurundjeri, Boonerwrung, Taungurong, Djajawurrung and the Wathaurung that make up the Kulin Nation.

Homeground
Sydney, New South Wales
April

Homeground, which was formerly known as Message Sticks, is an annual multi-arts held at the Sydney Opera House, celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. It features song, dance, film, discussion and art, fusing contemporary and traditional cultural art forms. Now in its 13th year, the festival is held on the lands of the Gadigal Peoples, at one of the great meeting places, Bennelong Point. Previous festival highlights have included Dancestry - a free modern day corroboree held during sunset.
*Culled from www.australia.com

Top Cultural Celebrations and Festivals in Chile By Jessica Martinez, Demand Media

Chile takes a great deal of pride in its long history, impressive geography, unique culture, and its religious and indigenous roots. A warm, open and fun-loving people, Chileans are always ready to celebrate. Any number of festivals and cultural celebrations take place in Chile year-round, and some of the most well-known and exciting of those draw visitors not only from around the country but from around the world.

Vina del Mar Music Festival

Each year during the last week of February, Vina del Mar, an upscale resort town about two hours from Santiago, holds the Vina del Mar Music Festival. This immensely popular, nationally broadcast music festival is one of the world's largest of its kind. Though built around pop- and folk-singing competitions, the festival's real draw is the performances by famous international musicians.

Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol

The Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol, or "the Andean Festival with the Strength of the Sun," is one of the most influential and entertaining of a string of festivals that take place in February in Chile's northern region. Hosted in the city of Arica, Con la Fuerza del Sol is a three-day festival that celebrates the peaceful blending of Spanish and indigenous cultures in the Andes, as well as Catholic and indigenous traditions. Chilean, Peruvian and Bolivian participants come together to celebrate with lavish costumes, dance groups and brass bands, which compete for the favor of the audience.

Fiestas Patrias

Fiestas Patrias, or "Patriotic Festivities," refer to celebrations related to the Chilean Independence Day, which falls on September 18. Across the country, communities celebrate with parades, air shows, festivals, patriotic decorations and indigenous foods. Individual families celebrate by hosting traditional "asados," or barbecues, where they eat, drink and dance, often late into the night. Independence Day festivities are celebrated over a long weekend and typically last for several days to a week.

Festival de la Tirana

Each July nearly 200,000 people descend upon the tiny town of La Tirana to celebrate its namesake festival. Beginning on July 12 and ending on July 18, the La Tirana Festival is one of Chile's most important and well-known cultural festivals. This religious celebration is based in Chile's Catholic roots and honors the Virgin of Carmen, the patron saint of Chile. Day and night throughout the festival, worshippers, congregations, musicians and dancers dressed in traditional clothing perform in Carmen's honor.

Santiago a Mil

Santiago a Mil, or "Santiago by the Thousands," is Chile's largest festival. This three-week-long artistic and cultural festival takes place in January in the country's capital, Santiago, and features open-air as well as indoor theater performances and international street shows that feature street performers, acrobats and dancers.

We Tripantu

We Tripantu, or the Mapuche New Year, begins just before sunset.on June 23 and ends at sunrise on June 24, as the indigenous Mapuche people wait for the the "new sun" to return from the west. The new year coincides with the winter solstice, as the Mapuche believe that winter brings the renewal of life. Rituals performed invoke Mapuche ancestors and are directed by a religious or community chief.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com

Friday, 1 April 2016

Egypt Culture & Festival By Sarah Metzker Erdemir, Demand Media

Modern Egypt is home to secular, religious, ancient holidays and festivals.

Egypt is predominantly Muslim, but a large minority of Coptic Christians and a melange of other religions make the country an exciting destination for religious, secular and ancient cultural festivals. For many of these celebrations, people pour out into the streets wearing traditional costumes to enjoy impromptu song and dance performances and eat traditional foods.

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

Ramadan is a month of fasting during daylight hours in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunup to sunset. The mood during the day can be somber, with reduced business hours to allow time for spiritual contemplation. The first day after Ramadan begins a three- or four-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr. After the final fast-breaking (iftar), people often celebrate all night. The next day everyone puts on new clothes to join street festivities with small fairs and open markets while families and friends get together to exchange gifts and sweets. Muslim holidays are not on fixed dates because they are on the lunar calendar, so they move back by about 11 days each year.

Leylet en Nuktah

Ancient Egyptians worshiped the Nile because of the yearly bounty it brought, and beautiful women were sacrificed to appease the gods and bring on the flooding. Modern Egyptians still celebrate the yearly rise of the river on June 17, since the flooding is what brings the silt that feeds the Delta's rich soil. Instead of sacrifices, modern Egyptians picnic and camp along the edges of the river or spend the night out on the streets with family and friends. At sunset, women put out balls of dough representing the people in the house, and in the morning the cracks are examined to make predictions about each person's longevity and fortune.

Coptic Christmas

Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, and most Egyptians regardless of religion join in the festivities, especially in Cairo and other Coptic regions. The week before Christmas, homes and businesses are decked out with colorful lights and decorations, and there are manger scenes and special holiday bazaars in the streets. Following the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, people gather to celebrate and eat a traditional dish of rice, garlic and meat soup called fata.

Sham al-Naseem

"Sham al-Naseem" means "sniffing the breeze." Egyptians of all religions celebrate this ancient holiday to mark the coming of spring on March 21 by spending the day in the countryside or in parks for picnics; some have their picnic on a boat trip on the Nile. The picnic baskets are loaded with the traditional foods of this holiday, including dried or pickled fish and dishes made with midamis or fuul (kidney beans). Food vendors, dancers and musicians also fill the streets to entertain the public on this festive day.

Moulid an-Nabi

Moulid an-Nabi is a major Islamic festival that marks the birth of the prophet Mohammed. Most cities host parades and processions on this day, and the streets are filled with dancers, acrobats, drummers and musicians. Families join together to greet each other and exchange gifts before heading out to explore the street fairs. Traditional sweets like halawet el-moulid (a type of helvah or candy) and candy dolls called are sold from roadside stands as well as hummus (a puree made from chick peas), the traditional food of Moulid an-Nabi.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com

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