When travelling around the world, the first thing that most people do is open a map and select a place to visit. The truth, however, is that the timing of the visit can be every bit as important to it being pleasurable as the place itself. After all, you wouldn’t want to pay a visit to some tropical paradise island on the two weeks of the year when the monsoons strike, nor would you wish to visit a place famed for its summer sunshine during winter. On a less fundamental level, there are events, festivals and celebrations taking place all around the world which are well worth a visit, and these can be used as the basis for constructing your travel plans. In the month of May2014, for example, the following are just a few of the events taking place around the world which might make it worth packing a bag, picking up your passport and heading for the airport:
The Festival of the Snakes
This is part of the feast of St Dominic and it takes place on the first Thursday in May in the Italian village of Cocullo. During the climax of the festival, the statue of St Dominic is covered in jewels, banknotes and live snakes and then carried through the village, with the snakes (which have had their fangs removed) writhing all over both the statue and the people carrying it.
This elephant parade takes place at the Vadakkumnatha Temple, Thrissur, India during April or May and it had been staged for over two centuries now. Not based around any one religion, it is a celebration for people of Hindu Muslim and Christian faith and involves two teams of 15 extravagantly dressed elephants facing each other across the temple square whilst drums pound and men with giant parasols walk along the back of the elephants. The climax of the event takes place in the evening and takes the form of a firework display lasting up to 4 hours.
This energetic race takes place on the 15th may in the Italian village of Gubbio as a celebration of the patron saint St Ubaldo. Three teams race through the streets of the city and then up the side of Mount Ingino, trying to be the first to reach the Basilica of St Ubaldo. In case that doesn’t sound difficult enough, it should be pointed out that each of the teams is carrying a 4 metre long pillar made of wood which is capped with a statue of one of three rival saints.
Rocket festivals are held throughout Laos and north-eastern Thailand on the night of the full moon in May, and they involve displays of music, dancing, theatre, eating and processions, and the climax of the festivals arrives on the third day when locally made bamboo rockets are launched up into the heavens in an effort to encourage the rainfall which will lead to a successful rice harvest.