The San Isidro Festival in Madrid

san isidroAs a tourist it is sometimes difficult to really get to know a city and its people. Sure you get to see all the sights and interact with the locals on a purely superficial level but do you really get to know the people, their customs, traditions and what makes them tick?  More often than not the answer is no.  Which is why local festivals are a great way to see the locals letting their hair down and ge a bit of an insight into their lives. The best festival to see and experience the culture of Madrid is the Fiesta de San Isidro.

Celebrated in Madrid during the month of May it combines all that which makes the capital of Spain special, music, costumes, food and bullfighting. Here are few things you can’t miss.

san isidro 1On the Pradera de San Isidro is where the festivities get underway. Thousands of people wearing the traditional chulapos and goyescos gather to participate in a small pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Isidro followed by a picnic where the main aim is to have a good time eating drinking and dancing. The Pradera is on the opposite side of the river of the Atletico de Madrid football stadium.

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Aside from the all the eating and dancing the other main event is the San Isidro bullfighting festival which is undoubtedly the best in all Spain. Lasting from the 9th of May until the 8th of June it attracts the biggest names in bullfighting and the most prestigious fighting bulls. Definitely not an event for the faint hearted, it won’t leave you feeling indifferent.

For more information about the San Isidro Festival contact the Madrid Tourist Board or simply take to the streets of the capital and see what you find.

Valencia Erotic Festival

Salón Erótico de Valencia - del 06 al 09 de junio en Feria Valencia

After the success of the Barcelona Erotic Festival organisers have decided to embark on a new project the Salon Erotico de Valencia. The inaugural Valencia Erotic Festival will take place from the 6th-9th of June 2013 in the Feria Valencia. It is a celebration of eroticism complete with loads of activities and the chance to see some of your favourite adult movie stars up close and personal.  The Valencia Erotic Festival will also pay homage to Spain’s most famous adult movie star Nacho Vidal.

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The Valencia Erotic Festival is going to bring together more than 130 international and national artists with the two stars of the festival being Nacho Vidal and Cicciolina. Over the four days of the festival anything related to sexuality and eroticism will be on show be it a product, service or activity.

cicciolinaParticipants at the Erotic Festival in Valencia will be able to see more than 1200 live shows featuring some of the hottest stars of the adult industry, speak to more than 130 national and international artists.  Aside from the spectacular live shows there are going to be sections about erotic art, a BDSM zone where Ama Monika will introduce participants to the world of sadomasochism, an area designated exclusively to the sale of adult material, toys and the like, workshops, body painting, massage, gay area plus much more. The city of Valencia will also be getting fully behind the festival with events taking place all over the city leading up to and during the festival.

The Valencia Erotic Festival promises to be not to be missed event for all lovers of eroticism. Come and explore your wild side you might just find that it isn’t that wild after all.

Czech Beer Festival in Prague

Czech_Beer_Festival_PragueA visit to the Czech Republic is a beer lovers dream. It seems wherever you go there is a different beer to try and at an unbelievable price, we are talking really really cheap. No wonder the Czechs drink more beer than any other nation in the world. So how does the birthplace and current world number 1 beer loving nation in the world celebrate? Why with a beer festival of course.

Czech-Beer-Festival-02 Whilst not in the same league as its more famous and more popular cousin, Munich’s Oktoberfest, the Czech Beer Festival held in Prague offers the visitor to experience the Czechs love of beer in one venue. Lasting for 17 days this event draws together beer connoisseurs from all over the world who come together to sample the wares of more than 70 brewers. Huge marquees with capacity for 10,00 people are erected and women wearing traditional costumes weave their way through the crowd laden down with huge litre containers full of liquid gold serving the beer faithful.

czech beerThe festival is primarily about beer but there are lots of other events occurring as well, the main one being the Rock ‘N’ Beer Fest, 56 bands performing over the 17 days are sure to keep the well lubricated public happy and drinking into the early hours of the morning. The Czech Beer Festival in Prague also brings together some of Prague’s finest restaurants offering succulent local cuisine to festival patrons, think of a whole cow roasting on the spit and you have an idea of what to expect at the festival.

The Czech beer Festival in Prague begins on the 15th of May and finishes up 17 booze filled days later on the 1st of June in the Prague Exhibition Centre. Fortunately there is a park nearby where you can have an afternoon nap if you have indulged yourself too much at the festival. Na Zdravi (cheers)

Bohemian Carnival in the Streets of Prague

People walking the streets in masked costumes, music and performers in the street, dancing and feasting, mask competitions it must be Carnival time, but we are not in Venice. We are celebrating carnival in Prague or as this pre-Lent celebration is known locally Masopust. Bohemian Carnevale is the city’s official program of festivities.

Though an age old tradition it wasn’t until the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that a Venetian style carnival was celebrated in Prague. High society copied their Venetian and other European counterparts in an attempt to outdo them when it came to carnival, the rest of the population celebrated the popular local festival Masopust as a way of saying farewell to the winter.

Today Bohemian Carnevale in Prague is a mixture of traditional Masopust traditions and Carnival. Carnival this year starts on the 31st of January and concludes on the 13th of February this two week long carnival gets underway with a procession of masks through the streets ofPrague to the town hall where the city will be handed over to the revellers and Carnival will officially get under way.

For more detailed information check out the Bohemian Carnevale Program on their website. Let the festivities begin.

Halloween around the world in 2012

Although it can originally be traced back to the UK, the practice of celebrating the dead is nothing new, and many countries around the world have also appropriated Halloween 2012 for their own ends. Here’s a short article about Halloween traditions in different countries, and different ways the festival will be celebrated in October 2012.

Britain

halloween-around-the-world The original perpetrators of Halloween also put on some of the most genuinely frightening events, and Halloween is celebrated with traditional black British humour. It’s also tradition on this day for ladies to try to peel an apple in one piece and then throw the peel over their left shoulder. The shape it makes is said to mark the first initial of future husbands. For information about how Halloween 2012 in London will be celebrated, click here.

Mexico

mexico-day-of-the-dead Mexico’s Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st. It has its own scarifying aesthetic, and altars to those who’ve passed are placed in homes and cemeteries. A surprisingly cheerful, colourful festival, it isn’t uncommon to see parties taking place in the graveyards, with laughing, drinking and eating. This is what Mexico has planned for its Day of the Dead.

China

hungry-ghost-festival-china China’s Hungry Ghost Festival is a day of a month-long festival celebrated according to the lunar calendar. During this month, ghosts are said to roam our world, and this occasion is celebrated during the Hungry Ghost Festival by offerings and altars, some of which are made from paper and burned at the end. In 2012, the Hungry Ghost Festival was celebrated on August 31st. More info here.

Spain

halloween-celebrated-different-places In Catalonia, Spain, the autumn equivalent to Halloween is the Castanyada. In this festival, chestnuts (“castanyes”) are roasted and salted, which you can buy from stands in the streets. Sweet potatoes are also eaten, as well as “panellets”; glazed marzipan balls covered with pine nuts. These foods are normally accompanied with Muscat wine. Find out about Halloween 2012 in Madrid and Barcelona.

How will Halloween 2012 be celebrated in your part of the world?

The Brooklyn West Indian Carnival 2012

The Brooklyn West Indian Carnival, also known as the Labor Day Parade, is an event where costumes, colour and dancing spirit spill out through the streets of Brooklyn. Attracting up to 3 million participants, it’s one of the largest of its kind. The Brooklyn West Indian Carnival 2012 will organise events from August 30th to September 3rd.

Information about the Labor Day Parade

brooklyn-west-indian-carnival The New York West Indian Carnival started life out in enclosed spaces Harlem. Its impressive costumes, and marches in time to music, soon outgrew these places, however, and eventually it reached the streets of Brooklyn.

The Carnival has three important aspects: ‘mas’ – masquerade, Calypso music and Steelpan music. The costumes, many of which are produced by top artisans from Trinidad and Tobago, are wearable works of art. Calypso music was originally started as a means for slaves to communicate, and along with Steelpan music is a tropical-sounding art form typical of the Carribean.

2012 edition of the Brooklyn West Indian Carnival

labor-day-parade-2012 In the Brooklyn West Indian Carnival 2012, the Thursday 30th of August will be entirely dedicated to costumes. On Friday August 31st, music will have its place with a performance from Machel Montano. On the Saturday, a Children’s carnival will take place in the morning, as well as featuring 11 steel orchestras on the Saturday night. On the Sunday, a “Dimanche Gras” show will take place in order to prepare participants for the carnival the next day.

west-indian-carnival-brooklyn On Monday the 3rd September (Labor Day), the Booklyn West Indian Carnival will finally begin. It opens with J’Ouvert (“daybreak”), a 2 am celebration which begins in the Grand Army Plaza, and in which people often throw paint and dye. The official parade begins at 11 am on the corner of Rochester and Eastern Parkway, and runs until 6 pm. It has everything from live performers, masqueraders and stands selling succulent Caribbean food, as well as all kinds of clothes, books and accessories.

You can see more details about times, places and locations of Brooklyn West Indian Carnival 2012 events on the official site, but if you’re in the area, you’re unlikely to miss it! As the event’s organisers say (unfortunately not the best defence against noise complaints), “When the steel speaks, everyone hears”.

Brookly West Indian Parade

The London Paralympics 2012

london-paralympic-games This summer, a great sporting event will take place in the British capital, with the best international athletes battling it out and going for gold… Yes, we’re talking about the London Paralympics 2012. And, with London Paralympics 2012 torch details having been released yesterday, there was no better time to blog about this sporting event.

The London Paralympics 2012: overview

From the 29th of August to the 9th of September 2012, 174 countries will be competing to win gold, silver or bronze in the Paralympics games. 21 different disciplines will be represented, with sports as varied as Boccia and Judo. The events will take place in venues all across (and sometimes even outside of) London – check the official page for details.

The London Paralympics torch relay

The London 2012 Paralympic Torch showing a reflection of the Paralympic Torch Relay logo Somewhat shorter than the Olympic torch relay, the Paralympics torch relay will take just 24 hours. The Paralympics torch flame will be lit on the 24th of August, after the Olympic closing ceremony. In the following three days, it will then be lit in Belfast (City Hall; 25th), Edinburgh (Inverleight Park; 26th) and Cardiff (Roald Dahl Press; 27th)

London Paralympics 2012: London v. Beijing?

In the Beijing Paralympics (2008), the People’s Republic of China swept the board, obtaining twice as many medals as silver winners Great Britain. The London Paralympics 2012 will show whether or not China can repeat this victory when the roles are reversed and the Brits are playing on home turf.

Stars of the 2012 Paralympics

Successive medal winners (and ones-to-watch) at the London Paralympic Games include rider Lee Pearson (UK); archer Paola Fantato (Italy); Wheelchair Basketball player Chantal Benoit (Canada) and sailor Paul Tingley (Canada).

lee-pearsonPaola-Fantatochantal-benoit新华社照片,青岛,2008年9月13日

    (北京残奥会·颁奖)(1)帆船——单人龙骨艇:加拿大选手夺金

    9月13日,加拿大选手保罗·廷利在颁奖仪式上向观众致意。当日,在青岛举行的北京2008年残奥会帆船2.4米级单人龙骨艇公开级比赛中,保罗·廷利发挥出色夺得冠军。

    新华社记者李明放摄

Extra tickets for the London 2012 Paralympics are constantly being released, so if you haven’t already got yours there’s a good chance you can still enjoy a holiday in London.

Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012

Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most forward-thinking places in the world in regards to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. We expect nothing less from the Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012, therefore, than a lavish event with all extras laid on.

About the Gay Pride parade 2012

amsterdam-gay-pride Amsterdam Gay Pride also stands out from other parades such as Paris Gay Pride and Madrid Gay Pride due to the fact that it takes place in large part on water, up and down the canals of Amsterdam. It’s also later on in the year, falling between the 3rd and 5th of August.

The Amsterdam Gay Pride parade on the canals, which is the focal point of the weekend’s events, attracts around 500,000 visitors, and is made up of 80 or more boats, which blast out music, colour and cheers. The Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012 parade begins at 2pm on August 4th, and starts from Amsterdam Central Station.

Amsterdam Pride 2012 parties

pride-parade-canal Obviously, as well as the formal Pride Parade, there’ll be a load of partying afterwards. Most of this will be centred around Rembrandtplein Square, which a host of concerts and other activities available. A younger gay vibe can be found around Reguliersdwartsstraat street, with a “more mature” atmosphere in Zedijk street. Various activities aimed principally for a lesbian crowd will be organised in Paardenstraat.

As well as the street parties, the authorities of Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012 have organised a diverse range of activities, which include everything from tennis to a trip to the zoo. More details of everything Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012 involves can be found on the event’s official webpage.

Amsterdam Gay Pride

Paris Gay Pride 2012

paris-pride The 2012 edition of the Paris Gay Pride Parade (or “Marche des Fiertés”, as it’s known in French) is sure to be one of the largest gay pride celebrations taking place around the globe this year. With a large gay presence, as well as a liberal attitude and even proud possessors of the first ever gay town mayor in 2001, Paris is a great place to fight for LGBT rights this 30th June.

Being the political animals that the French are, the Paris Gay Pride 2012 will have a strong, high-minded theme: “l’égalité n’attend plus!” (“equality won’t wait anymore!”). It’s also bound to be a lot of fun, however – after the parade, look out for overflowing bars and clubs in the trendy, gay-friendly Marais district, and particularly around the Rue des Archives.

2012-pride-parade-paris The parade for Paris Gay Pride 2012 will set off from the Place du 18 Juin 1940, in the 6th arrondissement and south of the Seine river. It begins at 2pm, with people beginning to group together from 1.30pm. It will then continue down through the Boulevard de Montparnasse, Port Royal, Boulevard St.-Michel and Boulevard St.-Germain before crossing the river via the Pont de Sully and leading up through the Boulevard Henri IV to get to the Place de la Bastille in the Marais district.

In the Place de la Bastille, there’ll be a large podium with free concerts.

paris-gay-pride-2012 Bear in mind that Paris Gay Pride 2012 will observe a three-minute silence at 4.30pm exactly in remembrance of all those living in France who have been affected by HIV.

You can connect to the parade online via the official website and Facebook page.

…or why not take a look at what’s on during Madrid Gay Pride 2012?

Madrid Gay Pride parade 2012

madrid-gay-pride-2012 The gay pride celebrations in Madrid 2012 will take place between the 27th of June and the 3rd of July, although the key date to note down in your diary is Saturday the 30th of June. This will be the day that the Madrid gay pride parade takes place. The parade will begin at 6pm in the Puerta de Alcalá, and will follow its normal route through the Gran Vía and up to the Plaza de España. The celebrations have been pushed forward slightly so as not to coincide with London World Pride this year, which also promises to be spectacular.

Madrid Gay Pride 2012 events guide

During these days, the Spanish capital will be liberally sprinkled with the party spirit, as a load of concerts and activities will be on offer.

The majority of gay pride events in Madrid will be concentrated in the popular district of Chueca, but there’ll also be celebrations in the Plaza de Callao and the Plaza de España: drag queen shows, cabaret performances, a hilarious high-heeled race, the finals of the Mister Gay Spain 2012 and concerts with music for all tastes, from flamenco to pop via electronica. Some of the artists who’ve already been confirmed for the 2012 gay pride parade in Madrid include Marta Sánchez, Diabéticas Aceleradas and Productos Lola. A complete programme will be published over the coming days on the Madrid Gay Pride website.

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Every year, more than two million people normally clock to the city to celebrate the Madrid Gay Pride festival and defend a culture of respect and tolerance. Accommodation in Madrid can book up quickly, so if you’re thinking about going, make sure you find somewhere to stay as soon as possible.