Known simply as The Boat Race, this legendary eights rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities has graced London every year since the early 1800s, with just a few world war-like exceptions. During the event, London’s riverbanks see an estimated quarter of a million (usually of the well to do type) descend to cheer on the competing ‘blues’ (Cambridge in light blue and Oxford in dark blue). The four-mile course starts at Putney Bridge, passes through Hammersmith and Barnes before finishing at Chiswick Bridge. Events kick off around midday at Bishop’s Park and Furnivall Gardens (both of which have large screens, bars and stalls), with BBC TV coverage beginning at 1pm. Viewing points center around the start and finish lines, though anywhere along the route is viable.
SonarSound – Music Festival – April 21-22
This state-of-the-art media and music festival originates from Spain’s Barcelona back in ‘94 and has since become an annual highlight – no mean feet amid a city well-known for it’s carnival-like revelry. It’s been so successful, in fact, that the event has now spread further afield, taking London, Chicago, New York, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Frankfurt and, most recently, Tokyo in its wake. Simply put, this thing is big. And well worth planning your Japanese trip around. This year’s Tokyo lineup sees Squarepusher, The Cinematic Orchestra, Hudson Mohawke and much much more.
Songkran – Water Festival – April 12-15
Thai New Year, or Songkran (Water Festival) as it’s more commonly known, sees scores of people taking to the streets with water pistols, bombs and buckets. What originally started as a gentle sprinkling of water on the elders (to give good fortune) has now evolved into a countrywide carnival. Some will plan their trip to coincide whilst others will stay well clear. Crowds come as standard in Bangkok at any time of the year but these dates are particularly heaving. Milkshake concoctions do add a certain color to the water too but you’d be best to remember Bridget Jones when ordering.
A colorful opening ceremony with dragon dances, music and the called-for kite demonstrations should suffice for most visitors to Beijing. But this International Festival attracts fanatical kite-flying fans from all corners of the globe. Taking place in Chao Yang Park in Beijing, experts are on hand to explain the artistry involved in designing and creating these aerodynamic toys. With its history in China dating back over a hundred years – with many of the original models brought out for display – this is some serious kite flying session. A worthy addition to your Spring Beijing break.
International Film Festival – March 31 – April 15
This highly acclaimed Film Festival has grown year-on-year since its humble beginnings back in 1984 as a sideshow of the International Istanbul Festival. It has since gained accreditation from the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) as a “specialized competitive festival” and attracts submissions from across the global for entry into its Golden Tulip competition. Special interest is drawn toward world classics with retrospective program sections and conferences. The final program gets announced last minute but with so much to do in Istanbul it’s worth planning your trip with this in mind.