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International festivals

Thursday, October 8, 2009
There are too many international festivals for us to cover in one hour but we thought we would tell you about a few of them.

Finland

The Kerkkoo Sports Carnival is an unorthodox annual event started by villagers. After enduring a long, dark winter, they wanted to something to celebrate the long summer days. They've been going since 1975 and a major event is running backwards, something which takes a lot of concentration. Also included is Wellington boot throwing, swamp soccer, wife carrying, mosquito killing and jetty ice fishing.

Germany

Munich's Oktoberfest began at a royal wedding reception where things got a little bit out of control. Now at noon on the first day of the festival, the lord mayor taps a keg of beer and visitors then quench their thirst. Every year around 6 million visitors drink 5 million litres of beer. It will be on again next year between September 18 and October 3. Visit www.oktoberfest.de/en for more information.

Vanuatu

The Pentecost land dive is a ceremony with life or death results. It is held between April and June every year to ensure a good yam harvest. Men and boys take the jump from high trees with just a vine tied around their ankles. Sadly they don't all come out unscathed. It's been going on for centuries and is thought to be the inspiration for today's bungy jumping. It will be on every Saturday between April and June 2010. Visit www.vanuatu.travel for more information.

Mongolia

More than 750,000 locals turn up for the Nadaam Festival which began as a way of keeping warriors fit between wars. The grand finale is a 25km horse race with more than 100 jockeys with an average age of just eight! It will run next year from July 11 to 13, 2010.

India

For more than a thousand years on the first full moon in February or March, Mumbai's Holi Festival turns the city into an even noisier and more colourful place than usual. Gulal (powder paint) and water is thrown at everyone. Even complete strangers. The air is bright with colourful clouds and Mumbai's 19 million residents get right into it. It's all in good humour, but don't wear your best clothes and buy natural powders if you want to take part in the throwing. The night before, bonfires are lit at crossroads and special food is prepared. It will be held again on March 1, 2010.

United Kingdom

England's beautiful Cotswolds in Gloucestershire has been the site of the cheese-rolling festival since the 1830s. It goes on in several locations, but the concave Cooper's Hill is the most popular. Contestants roll wheels of cheese up hill and down, following a tradition established in the early 1800s. The next time will be May 31, 2010.

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