A formation of gold-caparisoned elephants at the Thrissur Pooram (Photograph by Aji Jayachandran, Corbis)
A formation of gold-caparisoned elephants at the Thrissur Pooram (Photograph by Aji Jayachandran, Corbis)

Event-o-Rama: 10 Must-Dos in May

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in May:

  • Each spring, everyday life comes to a full halt for an occasion you have to see to believe. During Thrissur Pooram (May 8-10), people dressed as local Hindu deities parade through the streets of Kerala‘s cultural capital atop beautifully decorated elephants en route to the Vadakkunnathan Temple. Fireworks, traditional music and dance, and a flag hoisting ceremony round out this popular festival.
  • You’ll have to rise early to welcome the coming of spring at Oxford’s annual May Morning (May 1), the famous university city’s unique take on May Day. Take in the musical musings of the Magdalen College choir from the Great Tower, grab a bite to eat, then head down to Soapbox City on Broad Street to hear people from all walks of life spout off about their “big idea.” You’ll be glad you didn’t hit the snooze button.
  • The streets of Calgary will be in full bloom at the 25th annual Fourth Street Lilac Festival (May 25). This free one-day event features live music, artisan vendors, and a parade. We can’t think of a better way to shake off the winter blues!
  •  If lilacs aren’t your flower of choice, the Portland Rose Festival (May 18-June15) may float your boat. Oregon’s “Rose City” has been feting the arrival of the sun–and the gorgeous blooms it brings with it–for more than a century. This year, the month-long celebration includes a sing-off, live auction, and rock ‘n’ roll marathon, with the Grand Floral Parade as grand finale.
  • Ten pint-size competitors will put their geography skills to the test during the 2014 Nat Geo Bee (May 22), hosted for the first time by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien. Play along–or simply try to keep up–by tuning in to the National Geographic Channel to see who knows the most about the world and all that’s in it.
  • Let your inner foodie out to play in Cape Town at the Good Food and Wine Show (May 29-June 1). While they had us at “food and wine” (and Cape Town at its autumn best), this premier epicurean event boasts live cooking lessons, gourmet food trucks, and meet-and-greets with celebrity chefs. Just remember to bring your appetite.
  • Mark your calendar for Vivid Sydney (May 23-June 9), where live music, inspiring ideas, and bright lights collide to epic effect. From the illumination of this capital city’s iconic architecture to free cutting-edge music performances, this is one event you won’t want to miss.
  • A kaleidoscope of kites fills the air over Japan’s Nakatajima Dunes during the annual Hamamatsu Festival (May 3-5). Dating back to the 16th century, this colorful celebration of newly born children features a kite battle, parade of floats, and firework display.
  • The birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll sure knows how to throw a party, and May is the month to join in the fun. Get a taste for the Memphis sound at the Beale Street Music Festival (May 2-4), then savor the local flavor at the World Championship Barbecue Contest (May 15-17).
  • Celebrate the power of language at the 27th annual Hay Festival in Wales (May 22-June 1). Described as the “Woodstock of the mind” by Bill Clinton, this literary festival, held in namesake Hay-on-Wye, brings together writers and lyricists from all over the world for ten days of “stories, ideas, laughter, and music.”

What would you add to the list? Let us know what we’re missing by leaving a comment.