International calendar listings in the Jan. 5 Travel section should have said that this month's Dalai Lama-led Kalachakra Initiation will take place in Bodh Gaya, India, and that the Tour de France bicycling race will be held July 5-27. (Published 1/7/03) ----- The international calendar listings in the Jan. 5 Travel section contained incorrect dates for the 2003 Venice Carnival. The carnival will be held from Feb. 21 to March 4. For more information, see www.carnivalofvenice.com. (Published 1/14/03)
Celebrations around the world range from the religious (Easter in jam-packed Rome) and raucous (Carnaval in pulsating Rio de Janeiro) to the seasonal (Setsubun in springtime Japan) and strange (a race of 100,000 rubber duckies in Singapore). Thousands of events take place internationally each year, and if you plan a vacation around one, you'll come home with stories as vibrant as your photos.
Here are our picks for the can't-miss festivals, ceremonies and celebrations of 2003. For comprehensive lists of thousands of more events worldwide, visit the Web sites www.whatsonwhen.com and www.world-party.com.
5-20 Bodh Gaya, Tibet: Kalachakra Initiation. The Dalai Lama himself performs one of the oldest and holiest ceremonies of Tibetan Buddhism. The main ceremonies are Jan. 16-19. www.kalachakranet.org.
8 Komotini, Xanthi, Kilkis and Serres, Greece: Gynaecocratia. The women are excused from their household duties in these villages and take to the bars and cafes. The men do the chores until sundown, when they're permitted to join the women. And this happens only once a year? www.greektourism.com.
13-14 Ilulissat, Greenland: End-of-No-Sun Gathering. In mid-November, the sun sets and doesn't rise until Jan. 13. On that day, Ilulissat residents hike up Holmes Bakke mountain, watch the sun rise over a fiord, then party. www.greenland-guide.gl.
18-26 Chateau-d'oex, Switzerland: Ballooning Week Festival. More than 60,000 spectators pack this hamlet to watch balloons from 15 countries launch into the sky. www.chateau-doex.ch.
31-Feb. 16 Quebec Winter Carnival. This celebration, the third largest carnival in the world, has a stunning ice castle as a backdrop to sculpting contests, dog sled races and skiing. Imbibers with iron stomachs should try the Caribou, a concoction of brandy, vodka, sherry and port. www.carnaval.qc.ca.
7-March 4 Munich, Germany: Fasching. Revelers in snazzy clothes celebrate at elaborate balls, eat fish casseroles and doughnuts and fill the streets with singing and dancing. The top events are March 2 and 4. www.muenchen-tourist.de.
30-Feb. 1 Montego Bay: Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. Well-known and local artists headline the outdoor festival that draws about 20,000. Air Jamaica (800- 568-3247) and Sunburst Holidays (800- 786-2877) have well-priced packages. www.airjamaica.com /JazzAndBlues.asp.
31-Feb. 16 Ottawa: Winterlude. This is the 25th anniversary of the weekend festival that drew more than 650,000 people last year. It's filled with ice- and snow-sculpting competitions, a stew cook-off and figure skating on the Rideau Canal. Most events are free. www.capcan.ca/winterlude.
1 Hong Kong: Chinese New Year. Lions and dragons wend their way through the city's streets, as fireworks explode to mark the most important Chinese holiday. www.discoverhongkong.com/usa.
1-12 Italy: Venice Carnival. One of the world's most famous celebrations is also one of the most packed, especially considering what a labyrinth Venice is. Tourists and locals flood the narrow streets and canals wearing elaborate masks. www.venice-carnival.com.
3-4 Throughout Japan: Setsubun. Practice saying "Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto." That's what of people will chant at temples to celebrate the first day of spring on the lunar calendar. It means "Good fortune in, devils out" and is an important part of the ritual that involves scattering roasted soybeans in homes and temples. www.jnto.go.jp.
10-March 3 Auckland, New Zealand: America's Cup. The world's top yachting race continues after its qualifying events last fall. www.americascup.com.
13-March 2 Montreal High Lights Festival. The winter gets a boost with fireworks and light shows, concerts, cooking demonstrations and wine and food tastings. www.montrealhighlights.com.
22 Egypt: Abu Simbel Festival. The inner sanctum of the temple here lights up just twice a year at sunrise. Credit goes to Ramses II, who surely never anticipated what a breathtaking sight it would be. If you can't go in February, it happens again Oct. 22. www.egypttourism.org.
1-4 Rio de Janeiro: Carnaval. Hedonistic and outrageous, Rio's is the most famous of the carnival celebrations. Thousands of revelers in various degrees of dress turn the streets into a 24-hour party. Check with travel agents for package deals, or you'll never find a place to sleep -- as if anyone does. www.rioconventionbureau.com.br.
6-9 Birmingham, England: Crufts Dog Show. New York's Westminster Dog Show is mere kibble compared with this filet mignon of dog shows. More than 20,000 pooches compete; tickets from $11.80. www.the-kennel-club.org.uk.
14-23 Maastricht, Netherlands: International Art and Antiques Fair. The admission ticket (from $30.79) is probably all most people can afford at this huge show of museum-quality art. Still, it's a great place to browse. www.tefaf.com.
15-30 Ucluelet and Tofino, Canada: Pacific Rim Whale Festival. More than 20,000 gray whales leave their timeshares in the warm waters off the Baja Peninsula to return to their northern home in the Bering and Chukchi seas. The migration is celebrated with art exhibits, lectures and harbor tours by boat. www.island.net/~whalef.
17 Dublin: St. Patrick's Day. Aside from swilling ale with your mates, there's a lot more to do in Dublin to commemorate the day Ireland's famed snake exterminator "fell asleep." The celebration here is a festival of free entertainment March 11-17, including music, outdoor dancing and the "Big Day Out" parade on the 17th. www.stpatricks day.ie.
19 Jerusalem: Purim. The Jerusalem Post gives this instructional on how to celebrate Purim: "Eat, drink, sing, drink, discuss the Purim story, give money to the poor, drink, eat, drink." You get the drift. Note: The holiday falls on March 18 but is celebrated on the 19th within the walled cities of Israel. www.tourism.gov.il.
28-April 30. Singapore Food Festival. Imagine traipsing through a rain forest and past a waterfall before landing upon an international buffet. That's just one event at this 10th anniversary festival of cooking classes, tours and themed meals. www.singaporefoodfestival.com.
8-28 Mexico City: Fiesta del Centro Historico. Considered Mexico's top festival, this event is packed with international plays, movies, ballets, concerts, food, exhibits and lectures, among dozens of events. The official Web site, www.fchmexico.com, is in Spanish; info in English can be found at www.visitmexico.com.
12-16 Paro, Bhutan: Tsechu. The Bhutanese dress in their best clothes and jewelry to gather with friends and family and attend parades, dancing and plays that celebrate a revered guru. www.bootan.com.
13 Chiang Mai, Thailand: Songkran Festival. To celebrate the new year, Thai people dump buckets of water on each other, shoot each other with water pistols and splash in the river. The festival in Chiang Mai includes a procession of Buddhas bathed in jasmine-scented perfume. www.tat.or.th.
18-May 5 Argentina: Buenos Aires Book Fair. More than a million attend the fair, which features the sale of books in a multitude of languages, readings, literature discussions and lectures. www.sectur .gov.ar. (Note: The official Web site, www.el-libro.com.ar/, is in Spanish).
20 Rome: Easter. The number of people visiting during Easter Week is staggering: upward of 1 million. All 20,000 seats at the Mass in St. Peter's Square are reserved; catch a glimpse of the pope when he blesses the crowd at noon. www.vatican.va.
26-29 Bridgetown, Barbados: Barbados Congaline Festival. Conga lines seem silly at weddings but fit right in at this festival filled of calypso and reggae, fruity rum drinks and "De Human Congaline." www.barbados.org.
28 Along the Nile in Egypt: Sham el-Nessim. People fill the parks along the banks of the Nile and spend the day -- a tradition celebrated since the Pharaohs were around. www.egypttourism.org.
30-May 1 Helsinki: May Day. Revelers wearing fake red noses and carrying balloons celebrate "Vappu" by partying all night in Market Square and the Esplanade. www.hel.fi.
2-11 Castrie, St. Lucia: St. Lucia Jazz Festival. Ashford and Simpson and Earth Wind and Fire are among the acts at this popular event. Get tickets (from $12) by calling the Jazz Shop at 758-451-8566. www.stluciajazz.org.
2-19 Ottawa and Gatineau: Canadian Tulip Festival.The national flower is celebrated during three weeks of events, including the Floral Gown Competition, in which contestants are judged on their tulip-decked attire. www.tulipfestival.ca.
3-8 Seoul: Lotus Lantern Festival. As the sun sets on Buddha's birthday party, Korean Buddhists parade through Seoul with fireworks exploding above them. www.llf.or.kr.
5 Puebla, Mexico: Cinco de Mayo. It's not merely an excuse to guzzle Coronas. Women dance in flowing skirts, musicians play mariachi and visitors wander among the many food stalls in packed plazas. The party celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, in which Mexican soldiers defeated invading French troops. www.visitmexico.com.
9-15 Austria: Vienna Festival. The music fest, featuring orchestras, choirs and dance troupes, comprises nearly 1,000 performances. The opening ceremony at the Rathausplatz is free. www.festwochen.at. (Note: Info in English starts Jan. 10).
14-25 France: Cannes Film Festival. If you're not a celeb, you likely won't be able to view any films. However, the star-gazing and parties surrounding this see-and-be-seen movie fest is worth the visit, if you can afford it. www.festival-cannes.org.
16-18 Tokyo: Sanja Matsuri. Millions watch as gold shrines are carried through the streets. The more the shrines are tossed and shaken, the more blessings will come to the neighborhood. www.jnto.go.jp.
20-23 London: Chelsea Flower Show. This is the world's largest horticultural event, which has been held since 1913. Tickets ($14.40 and up) must be purchased in advance and can be bought online. www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea.
26-June 8 Paris: French Open. Tickets for the Grand Slam tennis event held on clay courts go on sale in February. Applications for tickets, which start at $10, are online. www.frenchopen.org.
24-25 La Paz, Bolivia: Feast Day of the Almighty Lord. More than 20,000 musicians and costumed dancers take to the streets to honor Jesus. www.mcei.gov.bo. (Click on "turismo" and look for "touristic services (eng)" on the pulldown menu).
24-31 Russia: 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. One of the highlights is the reopening of the restored Amber Room in Catherine Palace, disassembled during World War II. The biggest celebration is May 31. www.spb300.com.
29-June 1 Monte Carlo: Monaco Grand Prix. The narrow streets of this ritzy resort are turned into a race track for Formula I drivers. The cheapest tickets ($31) are for lawn seats near the palace. www.monaco-tourism.com.
1-2 Amarante, Portugal: Festival of St. Goncalo. A bizarre ancient fertility ritual in which unmarried young people exchange phallic-shaped cakes as symbols of their affection. www.portugal.org.
1-July 31 Tanzania and Kenya: Migration of the Wildebeest. More than 10 million of the beasts and other animals thunder from the Serengeti to Kenya's Masai Mara reserve. It's best seen on an organized tour. www.masai-mara.com.
4 Hunan Province, China: Dragon Boat Festival. This event commemorates poet Chu Yuan, who drowned himself in protest against injustice in 277 B.C. Celebrants eat rice balls and watch races of 50-foot boats shaped like open-mouthed dragons. www.cnto.org.
5-27 Throughout France: Tour de France. This is the 100th anniversary of the annual cycling race that starts and ends in Paris. Watch it from one of the villages dotting France; rent a car and drive the night before to one of the next towns on the route. www.letour.fr.
7 Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales: Man vs. Horse Marathon. More than 300 runners race against 20 horses on a 22-mile course. There's a $38,000 prize should a human ever win. llanwrtyd-wells.powys.org.uk.
14 London: Trooping the Colour. The queen's birthday is saluted with a pageant of 1,400 officers, 200 horses and 400 military musicians. www.royal.co.uk.
18-29 St. Denis, Lyon and St. Etienne, France: Confederations Cup. This biennial soccer tournament includes the top national teams from six continents, World Cup champion Brazil and the host country. Ticket sales start later this month; prices to be announced. www.fifa.com.
23-July 6 London: Wimbledon tennis tournament. Applications for tickets were due Dec. 31; your best bet for seats is through a broker or a package deal. www.wimbledon.org.
24 Cusco, Peru: Inti Raymi winter solstice celebration. A ceremony at the fortress-city of Sachsayhuaman pays homage to the mythical Inca sun god Inti. Drinking rituals, dancing and feasts are part of the celebration. www.peru.org.pe.
26-July 6 Montreal International Jazz Festival. With almost 600 scheduled concerts, it's among the world's largest jazz fests. Performers, schedules and ticket info will be available later in 2003 at www.montrealjazzfest.com.
1-15 Fukuoka City, Japan: Hakata Gion. Starting around 5 a.m., men with bare bottoms race while carrying elaborately designed floats. Locals stay up all night to get good seats. www.jnto.go.jp.
2 Siena, Italy: Palio. The famously insane bareback horse race through the Piazza del Campo has ignited shame and boasting in its participants since its inception in 1310, not to mention how it crams an otherwise tranquil Tuscan town with thousands of onlookers. www.italiantourism.com.
4-13 Alberta, Canada: Calgary Stampede. Watching the rodeo events and chuck wagon races will bring out the cowboy in you. Tickets, available online, start at $14.50. www.calgarystampede.com.
6-14 Pamplona, Spain: Running of the Bulls. Participants try to outrun snorting beasts pounding through the streets of this usually quiet town with few hotel rooms. Bullfights held daily. www.sanfermin.com.
6-15 Morocco: Marrakech Popular Arts Festival. Storytellers, musicians and acrobats fill and surround the Place Djemaa el Fna. www.tourism-in-morocco.com.
7-21 Nagoya, Japan: Basho. A basho is a sumo wrestling tournament, and this event is considered the sport's Super Bowl. The top wrestlers compete for the "yusho," or championship, and lower-ranking athletes compete for division titles. Tickets from $30. www.sumo.or.jp.
10-20 Montreal: Just for Laughs. Nearly 1,900 yuksters perform at the world's biggest comedy festival. Ticket info to be announced; packages (from $101) are available now online. www.hahaha.com.
11-13 Ulan Bataar, Mongolia: Naadam. Thousands compete in wrestling, archery and horse racing in the country's most famous fest. www.mongolia tourism.gov.mn.
13 Berlin Love Parade. The entire city is transformed into a techno disco (really!), as 1.5 million people flood the streets to dance to the deafening music being pumped out of 50 huge floats. Not for the hearing-sensitive. www.loveparade.de.
13-20 Sandwich, England: British Open. The championship golf tournament will be held at Royal St. George's Golf Club near the English Channel. Tickets purchased before Jan. 31 are discounted. $64 for championship days, less for practice rounds. www.opengolf.com.
12 Puri, India: Rath Yatra. The images of the Hindu god Krishna and his brother and sister are pulled through the streets in chariots en route to the temple. www.tourismof india.com.
14 Paris: Bastille Day. France's most important holiday celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution. Parisians line the Champs-Elysees to watch a military parade, then party. www.franceguide.com.
27-Aug. 1 Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago: Emancipation Day. Revelers in African-style clothes parade through the streets in a party that rivals the country's annual Carnival. www.visittnt.com.
1-4 Amsterdam Pride. One of the world's biggest gay events is highlighted by a parade of drag queens, colorful floats thumping with loud music and half-naked paraders showing off the results of all their hours in the gym. The celebration also includes theater productions and plenty of other eye-popping events. Book your lodging soon. www.gayamsterdam.net/pride.
2-7 Aomari, Japan: Nebuta Matsuri. The word nebuta in Japanese means "drowsiness." This purpose of this huge festival is to prevent it from setting in before the harvest. That goal most certainly is accomplished during a Carnival-like atmosphere packed with 3 million celebrants. www.jnto.go.jp.
16-17 Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea: Mount Hagen Highlands Show. Decked out in their best costumes and most complex face paints, members of more than 50 tribes compete in song and dance in front of more than 50,000 spectators. Get with a tour group for this event. www.tcsp.com.
16-Sept. 8 Lebanon: Byblos International Festival. The historic port town fuses Arabic music with styles from around the world. www.lebanon-tourism.gov.lb. (Note: The official Web site, www.byblosfestival.com, is in French.)
24-25 London: Notting Hill Carnival. This off-season Carnival celebration, which attracts 1 million people, is Europe's biggest street fest. www.thecarnival.tv.
27-Sept. 2 Montreal: World Film Festival. Nearly 500 independent films are shown during this celebrity-free festival, which makes it accessible. A set of tickets to see 10 films costs around $45; schedules available later this year. www.ffm-montreal.org.
28 Bunyol, Spain: La Tomatina. You know how you feel when you dribble tomato sauce on a white shirt? Imagine being bombarded by tomatoes for two hours during this strange festival. Leave your Sunday best at home. www.turisvalencia.es.
4-10 Bombay, India: Festival of Ganesh. This event celebrates the god of wisdom with idols placed in homes, shops and public places. On the final day, everyone gathers on the beach to put the idols in the sea, sing and dance. www.mtdcindia.com.
4-15 Guadalajara, Mexico: International Mariachi Festival. About 2 million people -- many with guitars in hand -- attend this festival of music, parades and food. Don't be surprised if you're serenaded in the streets. vive.guadalajara.gob.mx.
5-14 Toronto Film Festival. It's more accessible than Cannes, yet the reputation -- and star-gazing -- is nearly as good. Schedules and ticket info will be available later in 2003; however, book a room months early. www.bell.ca/filmfest.
7 Venice: Historical Regatta. Regattas are common in Venice, but few are as true to their history as this event. Costumes -- powdered wigs and all -- are required at many events. www.turismovenezia.it.
7-10 Paris: Pret-a-Porter. The annual fashion-show-to-end-all-fashion-shows is restricted to members of the fashion industry. However, the people-watching is unforgettable. www.pretparis.com. (Click on "Plan du site," then "English version").
13 Oberwesel, Germany: Rhine in Flames. Reflections from the fireworks make the Rhine and Moselle rivers seem on fire. This is the highlight to the Rhine Valley's annual wine festival. Splurge on one of the boat rides that depart from Boppard for the best view. www.firework.rhine-river.com.
20-Oct. 5 Munich: Oktoberfest. Last year, 5.9 million people drank 5.7 million liters of beer at this annual celebration. Arrive at the beer tents as early as possible to ensure a seat. www.oktoberfest.de.
23-Oct. 11 Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu, China: Women's World Cup. Sixteen of the best women's national soccer teams, including the defending champion U.S. squad, compete. China didn't officially ask to host the tournament but was asked to anyway, because women's soccer is one of the most popular sports there. www.fifa.com.
1-11 Vientiane, Laos: Ok Phansa Boat Race Festival. On the first night of the festival, locals -- who finally come out of their homes after the long rainy season -- light carved candles and float them on the river, seeking good karma. The next day, decorated boats race as spectators watch, eat and gamble at fairs set up along the banks. www.visit-laos.com.
5-15 Thailand: Phuket Vegetarian Festival. During a 10-day period without meat, men pierce their tongues with heavy metal rods, sprint across red-hot charcoal and climb ladders with rungs of blades, all to purify themselves and ask for mercy from the gods. Not for the weak tourist. www.tourismthailand.org.
10-19 England: Cheltenham Festival of Literature. The longest-running literary festival in the world is also one of the largest. In addition to talks by more than 400 authors, there are walking tours, workshops, book sales and children's events. Request a brochure online. www.cheltenham festivals.co.uk.
13-19 Bordeaux, France: Tasting Week. Food tastings, cooking demonstrations, exhibitions and reduced-priced menus throughout France mark the country's biggest gastronomic fest. Families are encouraged to cook a meal and put it on a table in the street outside their homes for everyone to enjoy. www.franceguide.com. (Note: Tasting Week's official Web site, www.legout.com, is in French.)
26-27 Throughout India: Dussehra. This celebration is one of the Hindu world's most significant, as it celebrates the victory of the hero Rama over the demon-king Ravana. The battle is reenacted with dolls or enormous stuffed statues, at which flaming arrows are shot. www.tourismofindia.com.
Mid-October (dates to be announced) Bora Bora: Hawaikinui Va'a. A 78-mile, inter-island race of 100 Polynesian outrigger canoes is one of the biggest celebrations in Tahiti. www.tahiti-tourisme.com.
2 Mexico City: Day of the Dead. The living pay homage to family members who have died, and the dead "visit" the homes of the living. The celebration includes skull-shaped lanterns, marzipan coffins and giant skeleton puppets during parades -- seemingly morbid but actually reverential. www.visitmexico.com.
2 Athens Marathon. Runners follow nearly the same course that Pheidippides purportedly ran to spread news of the Greek win over the Persian army in the first battle of democracy in 490 BC. He ran only 24 miles; you'll need to do 26.2. Entry forms available in late January. www.athensmarathon.com.
4 Flemington, Australia: Melbourne Cup. This horse race is so big in Australia that the day is declared a national holiday, as everyone heads to the pubs to watch. Tickets start at $30. www.melbournecup.com.
5 Lewes, England: Guy Fawkes Day. Throughout the country for 400 years, effigies of "The Guy" have been lit and bonfires set to commemorate their favorite traitor. Lewes residents try to outdo each other with their entries in a parade, and kids participate in a procession of their own. Fireworks, speeches and "barrel races" also take place. www.travelengland.org.uk.
5-8 Pushkar, India: Pushkar Camel Fair. The desert is turned into a tourist-filled, carnival-like atmosphere, with camel rides, camel fashion shows and camel bartering. It's best to plan a day trip rather than trying to stay overnight, unless you want to camp or are part of a tour package. www.tourismofindia.com.
28-Dec. 24 Nuremburg, Germany: Christmas Market. This is the capital of Christmas, based on the 200,000 people who visit in the month before the holiday. Christmas crafts and food and drink are sold in the marketplace. Go on a weekday, when it's less crowded. www.christkindlesmarkt.de.
Mid-November Surin, Thailand: Elephant Roundup. Trained elephants are pitted against man in tug-of-war and log-rolling contests and demonstrate warfare tactics in a stadium. Watch where you step. www.tourismthailand.org.
Mid-November: The Great Singapore Duck Race. The concept is simple: Buy a yellow rubber duckie from the organizers and plop it in the Singapore River. If your "adopted" duck is the first of the 100,000 entries to cross the finish line, you win a huge cash prize. Squeaky clean fun. www.duckrace.com.sg.
10-17 Konya, Turkey: Festival of the Whirling Dervishes. A "whirling dervish" is a dancer, decked out in a white cape and billowing skirt, who spins quickly during an intricate and hypnotizing dance called a sema. Every move during the 700-year-old dance is a symbol in the Islamic sect, and more than a million people attend the event annually. www.tourism.gov.tr.
12 Mexico City: Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Millions of pilgrims -- many crawling -- travel to the Basilica of Guadalupe on Tepeyec Hill to pay homage to Mexico's patron saint. www.visitmexico.com.
23 Oaxaca, Mexico: Night of the Radishes. Figures are carved out of radishes, then placed into dioramas reenacting the birth of Jesus. Tourists roam the Christmas light-covered pavillion where the radishes are displayed, trying to determine which will be judged the best. It's the oddest part of a large Christmas celebration of parades, pinatas and church services. www.christmas-in-oaxaca .com.
26-27 Nassau, Bahamas: Junkadoo. Locals create colorful costumes out of tiny scraps of paper, then parade through the streets on stilts, Carnival-style. www.bahamas.com.
31 Edinburgh: Hogmanay. New Year's in Scotland is so big that it gets its own name. More than 100,000 people attend this event, making it the biggest New Year's Eve street party in Europe. Bundle up, though; it's bitterly cold (and often raining). www.edinburghshogmanay.org.