Agenda: Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Land dives at Pentecost Island in Vanuatu (left) and the May Queen (above) at the annual Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Land dives at Pentecost Island in Vanuatu and the May Queen (above) at the annual Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. PHOTO: JASPER SCHWARTZ


Land dives at Pentecost Island in Vanuatu (above) and the May Queen at the annual Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Every year, the Sa tribe on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu spend five weeks building a 30m-tall tower out of vines and jungle wood.

Then, every Saturday between April and June, the men of the tribe jump off the top - one by one - in a show of masculinity and virility, with nothing but vines tied to their ankles to keep them from falling to their deaths.

New Zealander A.J. Hackett first saw this ritual in the 1970s and was inspired to create bungy jumping.

Despite becoming a popular tourist attraction over the years, Naghol land diving has retained its authenticity. Only men from the Sa tribe are allowed to make the jump. They spend the night before their jump under the tower to ward off evil spirits and enjoy a feast in the morning before climbing to the top.

When: Every Saturday from April to June



Now in its 17th year, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. Over two nights, more than 40 international artists, including Angie Stone from the United States, Roberto Fonseca from Cuba and South Africa's Benjamin Jephta Quintet, will perform across five stages to more than 35,000 people.

With art and photography exhibitions, fashion festivals and jazz workshops held in conjunction with it, the festival is often referred to as Africa's grandest gathering.

When: April 1 and 2



Inspired by major music and art festivals including Burning Man and Coachella, but turned off by their commercialisation, a group of music lovers started Desert Hearts in 2012. It is a four-day festival dedicated to art and music, as well as embracing nature.

There are no VIP tickets or areas, just tents and campervans and hundreds of people enjoying 100 straight hours of cutting-edge house and techno music performed on one stage.

There is no mobile phone recep- tion at the remote Los Coyotes Indian Reservation in southern California, about a two-hour drive from San Diego, where the festival is held. After all, Desert Hearts festivalgoers are more interested in finding uncensored ways to express themselves than posting on Instagram. The emphasis here is on connecting with the music, one another and themselves.

There are also art exhibitions, yoga workshops, sound healing and live art performances.

When: April 1 to 4



Every three years, millions of Hindus make a mass pilgrimage to one of four cities - Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain - to celebrate Kumbh Mela, the world's largest religious gathering.

It has its roots in a battle between Hindu gods and demons over a pitcher filled with the nectar of immortality. When the pitcher broke in the fight, drops of nectar fell onto these four sacred cities.

Every three years, when the planets align in the same position as they did during the battle, about 50 to 110 million devotees make the pilgrimage to one of the cities to bathe in the sacred rivers and wash away their sins, as well as the sins of their family's 88 previous generations.

When: April 22 to May 21



The Beltane Fire Festival, a resurrection of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual, has been held since 1988 to celebrate the coming of summer.

It starts with a procession led by the elaborately dressed May Queen from the city's National Monument, winding counter-clockwise around a hill and ending with the lighting of a large bonfire.

Beltane means "bright fire" and this is when the party really starts, with music and dancing, and festival-goers walking around or jumping over the bonfire for its purifying and healing properties.

When: April 30


Lydia Vasko

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Agenda: Pentecost Island, Vanuatu'. Print Edition | Subscribe