Agenda: Calendar of festivals

The Adelaide Writers' Week (above) is part of Adelaide Festival, which presents a world-class programme of theatre, visual arts, music and film.
The Adelaide Writers' Week (above) is part of Adelaide Festival, which presents a world-class programme of theatre, visual arts, music and film.

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

In the dark, cold days of Icelandic winter, Icelandic chefs gear up for The Food And Fun Festival, a culinary competition against chefs from North America and Europe.

Chefs from both sides of the Atlantic team up with restaurants in Reykjavik to create a menu which highlights fresh Icelandic produce, including sustainably and organically grown fish, lamb and dairy products.

The public can make reservations at participating restaurants to sample the menus while a panel of celebrity chef judges rates the food. The three chefs who create the most innovative and delicious menus will compete for the title of Food And Fun Chef of the Year.

When: Wed to March 4

Info: www.foodandfun.is


ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The Adelaide Festival has been entertaining audiences with a world-class line-up of art exhibitions, music, dance, theatre, talks, opera and film for 55 years.

This year's programme includes performances by Jamaican singer, songwriter and supermodel Grace Jones, Grammy Award-winning American jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant and the first Australian solo exhibition by Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil, known for his hand-coloured photographs and films.

It will also host the 2018 Adelaide Biennial Of Australian Art at the Art Gallery Of South Australia and Adelaide Writers' Week (March 3 to 8), the largest free literary festival in Australia.

Writers' Week features dozens of literary events, talks, panel discussions and readings by some of the literary world's brightest stars, including Alexander McKall Smith, Barbara Kingsolver and Teju Cole.

When: March 2 to 18

Info: www.adelaidefestival.com.au


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

For more than a decade, the Glasgow International Comedy Festival has been serving up laughs by some of Britain's best comedians.

Europe's largest comedy festival will feature more than 300 shows at 70 venues across the city this year, including stand-up gigs by Phill Jupitus, Rob Rouse, Rahul Kohli and Rachel Parris.

When: March 8 to 25

Info: glasgowcomedyfestival.com


VALENCIA, SPAIN

Wooden and papier mache puppets, such as this one depicting soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, are constructed for the Las Fallas fiesta in Valencia. The Adelaide Writers' Week (left) is part of Adelaide Festival, which presents a world-class programme
Wooden and papier mache puppets, such as this one depicting soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, are constructed for the Las Fallas fiesta in Valencia. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Every year in mid-March, this Mediterranean city ignites in a frenzy of parades, explosions and bonfires for Las Fallas (the fires), one of the biggest festivals in the country.

For five days, the city becomes one big street party, with beauty pageants, paella competitions, parades and bullfights, attracting around two million visitors every year.

The festival is held in celebration of the coming spring.

Preparation starts months in advance when neighbourhoods in the city begin constructing ninots - wooden and papier mache puppets or dolls which are a metre to more than 10m tall and often take the form of satirical depictions of politicians or celebrities. They can cost upwards of $100,000 to make.

More than 700 ninots are made every year.

In the days leading up to the feast day of San Jose (St Joseph), the patron saint of carpenters, on March 19, Valencians move the ninots to their final locations at parks, plazas and intersections around the city, accompanied by the deafening sounds of firecrackers and fireworks.

Then, in the belief that burning the bad will bring good luck and a fresh start in the coming spring, the ninots are set alight on March 19, a day known as La Crema (the burning).

The biggest ninots are taken to Plaza del Ayuntamiento and set alight at 1am after a small but powerful fireworks display, which is so loud that the ground shakes, people regularly faint and pregnant women are not allowed to attend.

But not all ninots are burnt. Every year, Valencians vote for their favourite ninot, which is spared from the flames and saved for posterity in the Las Fallas museum.

When: March 15 to 19

Info: fallasfromvalencia.com/en/home


BYRON BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA

Australia's premiere blues and roots music festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, attracts some of the best musicians from around the world.

Lauryn Hill, Tash Sultana, Leon Bridges, Seal and Lionel Richie are just some of the award-winning musicians who will perform at the festival this year. It has been held on 120ha of the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on the outskirts of Byron Bay every Easter weekend since the event started in 1990.

More than 100,000 people attend the five-day festival, which boasts of more than 200 performances across various stages.

Besides camping space for up to 6,000 people, there are five bars, over 100 food and market stalls, beer gardens and children's entertainment.

When: March 29 to April 2

Info: www.bluesfest.com.au

Lydia Vasko

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Agenda: Calendar of festivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe