Agenda: Budapest, Hungary

Watch The Whirling Dervishes (above) in action in Konya, Turkey, or attend the Hofburg Silvester Ball in Vienna.
Watch The Whirling Dervishes (above) in action in Konya, Turkey, or attend the Hofburg Silvester Ball in Vienna.PHOTO: GO TURKEY
Watch The Whirling Dervishes (above) in action in Konya, Turkey, or attend the Hofburg Silvester Ball in Vienna.
Watch The Whirling Dervishes in action in Konya, Turkey, or attend the Hofburg Silvester Ball (above) in Vienna.PHOTO: HOFBURG SILVESTER BALL

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Although it is not as well-known as its counterparts in neighbouring Prague and Vienna, the Budapest Christmas Fair is no less festive.

The 11/2-month festival takes place near the banks of the Danube River in Vorosmarty Square.

Folk, jazz, blues, dance and puppetry performances will take place on two music stages from 5 to 8pm every weekday and from 11am to 9pm on the weekends.

At the 122 stalls, visitors will find traditional handicrafts, Christmas decorations and Hungarian Christmas treats, such as honey cookies and mulled wine.

There will also be traditional food favourites such as stuffed cabbage, roasted goose thigh, roasted pork knuckle and goulash with prunes.

The fair will be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

When: Till Jan 6

Info: tinyurl.com/qxspv7g


BANGKOK, THAILAND

Thais will celebrate King Bhumibol Adulyadej's birthday and his love of the Thai people on Saturday. He turns 88 this year.

Bangkok will be covered in lights and a fireworks display will be held near the Grand Palace.

It is also the country's Father's Day and, because it falls on a Saturday this year, the following Monday, Dec 7, will be a national holiday as well.

When: Saturday

Info: tinyurl.com/napdup7


GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA

Every year, in the lead-up to Christmas, Guatemalans burn the devil (Quema del Diablo).

On Dec 7, they will clean house, focusing on the space underneath beds and in the corners of homes, where the devil is said to be hiding.

The collected garbage is then burned at 6pm, often with a papier-mache effigy of the devil on top, to chase away evil spirits.

Marimba bands and fireworks accompany the festival, which is best experienced in the country's capital.

When: Dec 7

Info: tinyurl.com/nlutut3


KONYA, TURKEY

For almost 750 years since the death of 13th-century mystic poet and philosopher Celaleddin Rumi, his followers - the Mevlevi Order - have danced in his honour.

Rumi had believed that dance was a way to commune with God. Since his death, the whirling style of dance-meditation has become a central force in the Mevlevi Order's worship ceremonies and grew to define the group as The Whirling Dervishes.

Today, more than one million people - most of them Turkish - venture to Konya, the city where Rumi died, to witness a week of trance-like dance ceremonies.

The most impressive dances and ceremonies take place on the day of Rumi's death, Dec 17.

When: Dec 10 to 17

Info: tinyurl.com/ok6a9yv


VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The Viennese love their balls. They hold more than 450 of them throughout the ball season, which starts in November and reaches its peak in January and February.

There is a Bonbon Ball, a Doctor's Ball and a Flower Ball, but one of the most glorious is the Hofburg Silvester Ball on New Year's Eve.

Held in the former Imperial Winter Palace, the swanky affair - tickets are priced from €155 (S$232) to €470 a person - offers a four-course gala dinner and performances by the Vienna State Opera and big-name Austrian and German bands.

Women must wear evening gowns, while men must wear a tuxedo or full dress suit.

Guests can pin their wishes for the new year on the ball's New Year tree.

When: Dec 31

Info: www.hofburgsilvesterball.com

Lydia Vasko

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Agenda: Budapest, Hungary'. Print Edition | Subscribe