Here’s just a sampling of some noteworthy – and sometimes offbeat – happenings across the globe over the next couple of months.
EUROPE - Join the masked revellers as one of the world’s most beautiful cities scintillates with costumes, parties and processions. Held over the two weeks preceding Ash Wednesday, the Venice Carnival ends on Shrove Tuesday and begins two Fridays before. (26 Feb – 8 Mar). Carnival dates back to 1268, but became famous as an essential stop on the Grand Tour in the 18th century. Banned by Mussolini in the 1930s, it was revived in 1979. The locals embrace the festivities and it is a major event in the Venetian calendar. Synonymous with Carnival are the ornate masks, originally worn to conceal status within the hierarchical structure of Venetian society, and to aid anonymous flirting and gambling. Masks are still a must and are widely available.
The bauta, often considered to be the most traditional mask, can cover the whole face, or just the top half, leaving the mouth free for eating and drinking. Today, Carnival-goers are still addressed as ‘Sior Maschera’ (Signor Mask). The Carnival is centred on Piazza San Marco, but parties, dances and street theatre will be encountered at every twist and turn in the city. Regular events are the Volo Dell’Angelo (‘Flight of the Angel’), when confetti and balloons are showered from the top of the campanile onto the crowds gathered below in the loggia of the Doge’s Palace.
La Festa Delle Marie is a historical pageant, free for all to join, which starts in San Pietro di Castello. The Gran Corteo Storico and the mask procession – La Sfilata delle Maschere – are also not to be missed.
MIDDLE EAST – The newly built Sakhir Formula 1 track is considered to be the centre of motor sport in the Gulf and is one of the safest tracks in the world, with giant run-off areas, which are sometimes criticised because they do not challenge drivers who stray off the track.
On 11 – 13 March, Bahrain will be returning to its original track layout after an experiment with the ‘Endurance layout’ which added a distance of 3,91 miles and increased lap times by 20 seconds, in 2010. The 2010 race was won by Fernando Alonso, his first win for Ferrari and their fourth win in Bahrain. However, the top ten were eventually separated by over a minute by the end of the race. Don’t expect to see the traditional spraying of champagne by the winners; after the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain the drivers celebrate with non-alcoholic rosewater (although alcohol is not actually banned in Bahrain).
CARIBBEAN – Go to the beautiful British Virgin Islands for week of winter sailing in the sunny Caribbean, with plenty of opportunity to spectate and party at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. The Festival offers a range of yachting activities; with a three-day regatta and four-day Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. The events take place over four racecourses, and offer a large range of options for every class of yacht.
The event kicks off on 28 March with the welcome party for the Sailing Festival at Nanny Cay Marina. 29 March starts with The Bitter End Cup where the Sailing Festival starts at Nanny Cay and races up the Sir Frances Drake Channel to the famous Bitter End Yacht Club. A new addition on 30-31 March sees eight teams race matched IC24’s in the National Match Racing Championship. The week culminates with the regatta, three days of world-class racing accompanied by three nights of partying at the Regatta Village on the beach at Nanny Cay Marina. The Regatta Village is the focal point of social life during the festival, with bars, food, music and a continuous party atmosphere. Nightly footage from the event will be broadcast in the village.