Upcoming festivals in Latvia, Mongolia and Japan, and more

KYOTO, JAPAN

One of Japan's most famous festivals, Gion Matsuri, is held in Kyoto every year in July.

The festival of Yasaka Shrine is believed to have started 1,100 years ago when the people of Kyoto held ceremonies and a parade to appease the gods during the outbreak of an epidemic.

Since then, the festival has continued as part of a purification ritual to guard against fire, floods and earthquakes.

Its highlights are the Yamaboko Junko parades - which take place on July 17 and 24 - when elaborately decorated and themed wooden floats topped by towering shrines roll through the streets.


Floats up to a height of 25m and weighing about 12,000kg travel the streets of Kyoto in Japan during the Gion Matsuri festival in July every year. PHOTO: JAPAN NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANISATION

The floats stand up to a height of 25m, weigh about 12,000kg and require up to 40 people to pull them.

When: July 1 to 29

Info: www.japan-guide.com/e/e3942.html


PAPEETE, TAHITI, FRENCH POLYNESIA

A celebration of Polynesian culture, Heiva I Tahiti is a vibrant event of traditional music, dancing, singing and sports.

The dancers are the highlight, clad in grass skirts and bikini tops, with rings of flowers in their hair, gracefully shaking their hips to the quick tempo of the drums.

Performers prepare for months before going on stage in front of thousands of people. They are backed by orchestras of up to 50 musicians performing with traditional instruments such as the nasal flute and marine shells.

When: July 7 to 23

Info: www.tahiti-tourisme.com


ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA

A celebration of Mongolian nomadic culture and strength, the Nadaam festival, or eriyn gurvan nadaam in Mongolian, is the country's biggest festival.

It is held across the country in honour of Mongolia's declaration of independence from China on July 11, 1921.

The biggest celebration is in the capital Ulaanbaatar, where thousands of people gather to watch parades of monks, the military, people in elaborate traditional dress and three days of the country's most popular sports: horse races, wrestling and archery.

The first festival is thought to have been started in the 13th century, presided over by Genghis Khan as a way for the Mongolian leader to identify the best fighters for his army.

When: July 11 to 13

Info: tinyurl.com/zcmt9zn


SALACGRIVA, LATVIA

One of Europe's best summer music festivals, Positivus, takes place on the shores of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea, surrounded by a forest of pine in a place called Fisherman's Park in the coastal town of Salacgriva in Latvia.

It has been attracting some of the world's best alternative and electronic dance music acts for the past 10 years.

Previous headliners include Sigur Ros, Imagine Dragons, Crystal Castles and Kasabian.

This year's line-up of more than 50 acts includes Ellie Goulding, M83, Mark Ronson and Iggy Pop.

Notable musicians from Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Russia will also perform in theatres in the woods, and an Arts And Nature stage will host music, improv theatre and poetry performances, while a cinema tent will screen international and local movies and documentaries.

When: July 15 to 17

Info: www.positivusfestival.com


DARWIN, AUSTRALIA

The Darwin Lions' Beer Can Regatta, started in 1974, is a boat race with a difference. Teams build boats using beer cans and race them off Mindil beach.

The boats must be built according to the Ten Can-mandments, including: Thou shalt build the craft of cans; the craft shall float by cans alone; thou shalt not drown.

In addition to the beer-can boat race, there are also boat-judging competitions, tug-of-war contests and a soft drink-can boat race for kids.

The event raises money for local charities. This year, funds raised will go towards supporting the Down Syndrome Association of the Northern Territory, Cancer Council and Mindil Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

When: July 17

Info: www.beercanregatta.org.au

Lydia Vasko

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'Agenda'. Print Edition | Subscribe