What: May Day
When: 1 May 2015
This university town will be starting extra early on the first day of May, ushering the start of Spring from 6am – traditionally to welcome the warming weather with activities throughout the day that has lasted hundreds of years. The festivities will start with ‘Hymnus Eucharisticus’ by the Magdalen College Choir on the Great Tower and followed by the bell-ringing that should be a wake-up call to the non-early risers. Most cafes and bars will also be open early, so don’t forget to grab a hearty breakfast before heading out around the city. There will be live music and other entertaining individuals around the city. If you’re more of the daredevil type, look out for those who would leap off the Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell but you could just minus the risk and stay on dry land.
Where: Borobudur, Java
What: Vesak/ Waisek Day
When: 3 May 2015
Wesak is celebrated by most Hindus around the world but in Borobudur temple in Java where the religion thrive in the sacred landmark, there would be body piercings and a parade of Kavadis carried by devotees to mark the day when Lord Shiva’s son, Murugan was given a lance to vanquish three demons. These gruesome acts shows their devotion as fulfillments for answered prayers. As excruciating as it may seem, these kavadi carriers and those with pierced skin are usually in a trance to stop them from feeling pain and the wounds will be healed with lemon juice and holy ash.
Where: El-Kelaâ M’Gouna
What: Rose Festival
When: Early May (depending on harvest period)
Near the Sahara Desert there is a beautiful place called Vallée des Roses (Valley of the Roses) and it blooms in Spring with perfect-pink Persian roses. In the town of El-Kelaâ M’Gouna, these roses are the town’s lifeblood to produce rosewater. These flowers are harvested in May along with the celebration of Rose Festival – three days of dancing, music, feasting, souks and chariot processions through showers of rose petals, a real sensory treat for visitors.
Where: Gubbio, Umbria
What: Corsa dei Ceri
When: 15 May 2015 (St Ubaldo’s Day)
This centuries-old ceremony is held to commemorate Gubbio city’s patron saint, St Ubaldo by a race of an interesting proportions. Three teams representing three saints will race up through the city’s steep slopes to the Basilica of St Ubaldo where his body lies. Each team carries a ceri made out of a long wooden pillar bearing statue of the saints (Ubaldo, George and Anthony) and each weighs about 400kg. The race begins with a blessing by the bishop, then a sprint around the city ending once the teams reach the end point. It’s never a fair fight as team St Ubaldo will always win for obvious reasons.
Where: Palais des Festivals, Cannes
What: Cannes Film Festival
When: Mid- May
For twelve days each year, Côte d’Azur is in the centre of attention as the crème de la crème of the cinematic world draws together to buy, sell, promote or showcase more than 2000 films. The festival is usually split into ‘in competition’ and ‘out of competition’ sections. Official screenings are at the Palais des Festivals but unless if you have passes to go in, you could do some star-spotting within the hot spots in town or by the red carpet of the entrance.
Where: Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales
What: Hay Book Festival
When: 21-31 May 2015
Imagine a small town of Hay-on-Wye becoming the centre of the literature world for ten days – 85000 people indulging in intellectual thought and theories, gather together for literary experiences at the border of Wales-England. Poets, politicians, writers, philosophers, musicians and more speak to thousands and sharing thoughts in this festival village. As the evening approaches, the party starts with bands and comedians taking stage entertaining the crowd.