Attractions and Festivals in Galway, Ireland

Galway is one of the largest cities located in Connaught, Ireland. It is a wondrous place with spectacular views of the countryside. Every year, many tourists visit this city to enjoy its landscape and experience a genuinely Irish way of life.

There are numerous attractions that one can enjoy in Galway City. It may not be possible to see all of them in just a couple of days but if you are armed with a good map or a competent tourist guide, you should certainly try to visit as many places as you can.

One of the most popular sights that tourists visit while in Galway City is Thoor Ballylee. This is a tower located beside the edge of a stream and made world famous by Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats. Back in 1916, the poet had purchased this Norman Tower and its accompanying cottages, because he fell in love with it during one of his many visits to Lady Gregory, his patron.

Apart from the tower, there is also another edifice that is closely attached to Yeats. It is called Dungaire Castle which was the ideal place for revivalists of literature way back when. These days, bardic traditions are being relived through the Medieval Banquets which are held every night. This event is for the celebration of Ireland's fascinating musical and literary past, which can be a spectacular sight to those who are into medieval traditions and folklore.

There are many other attractions that you can take advantage of while in Galway City. Among these is the Dan O' Hara's Homestead nestled in the hillside right below the Twelve Bens. Also, there is the Athenry Heritage Center which is ideal for discovering the story of the walled town of Athenry. Rare sports such as archery can be tried here.

For a slightly different side of Galway City, visit its national aquarium called the Galway Atlantaquaria which can be located by following the trail of the world famous Galway Salmon from the River of Corrib to Galway Bay. Here, a breathtaking view of the water world and its many wonders can be seen, from the starkly blue seabed to local lakes and rivers as well as the city canals. Learning about the highly diverse marine ecosystem of Ireland at The Galway Atlantaquaria has never been made more entertaining and fun with features including saltwater and freshwater exhibits. Children will adore touching live sea animals like crabs, lobsters and starfish.

More of Ireland's grim but interesting history may be experienced at the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre. You can also visit the Glengowla Mines which are situated two miles of Oughterard as there is many caverns and marble chambers with impressive lead, calcite, and silver formations to explore. Last but not the least, treat yourself to an awe inspiring sight by exploring the very picturesque Inishbofin. To tour this area, you can either walk, rent a bike or ride a horse.

Joyous festivals frequently happen in Galway City. Examples of these festivals are Galway Arts Festival, the Cuirt International Festival of Literature, the Galway Early Music Festival, Connemara Garden Trail and the Inishbofin Community Arts Festival. These festivals are not only perfect for tourists to get a glimpse of the way the locals celebrate and entertain themselves, they are also unique experiences that one will surely remember for many years to come. The Galway Arts Festival has great music, artistic creations and independent films that will please all ages and tastes.

Ireland is known to have a temperate climate. The winters are considered mild with barely a few days of below freezing point temperatures. Although weather conditions are unpredictable, it may be helpful if you prepare yourself for a lot of rain with some warm spells, especially during summer.

Ethnic and Heritage Festivals

"Attendance at an ethnic event while traveling is a great way to experience the heritage of the area being visited. It can also be a way to introduce the traditions of a travel destination that will be featured on an upcoming international itinerary."

For over six centuries people have been arriving on these shores to find a new home. Most have sought to blend with the multi-cultural way of life that is now the norm in almost all communities and regions throughout the continent. However, carrying on heritage traditions has also been an important part of establishing a new life in the Americas for most immigrants.

Celebrations of these traditions come in many forms such as a family gathering for ethnic meals, cultural clubs where groups participate in dances and ceremonies, religious celebrations that honor certain ethnic rituals, community heritage festivals and ethnic events. An important purpose of all these gatherings is to hand down heritage values and activities from one generation to the next and to remind all who participate of the contribution the ethnic influence has had in formulating the diverse North American society.

Here are some ethnic and heritage events to consider including in your travel plans.

Latino Experience

The celebrations for those with Latin roots and particularly with Mexican heritage are found in communities located throughout the Western states. The most widely celebrated Mexican events that offer cultural experiences for visitors include fiestas, Cinco de Mayo (victory over France), Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Dia de la Independencia (Independence Day) and Posadas (parades commemorating Mary and Joseph journey into Bethlehem). Some communities also celebrate Dia de la Candelaria, a religious celebration that features candlelight processions through the streets of the town and dancing. Music is always present at Mexican events, and you will find that the religious occasions are filled with drama, pageantry and ceremony while other events are festive and will have fairs, parades, competitions, food, dance and colorful costuming and decorations. Mexican heritage events are listed on most community event calendars. Two resources useful for learning more about Mexican holidays

Native Americans

The passage of heritage rites and traditions is important to all Native American and First Nation peoples. The focal point of many powwows and native fairs is the telling of stories about tribal ancestors and beliefs that are handed down from the elders to the younger generations. Highlighted by the use of colorful costumes, dances and ceremonies, these gatherings are considered sacred rituals, but visitors are often welcome to observe. Tribal cultural centers and guides provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history and beliefs of a tribe as well as the significance of the performances and ceremonies being presented. Most events have food booths and display crafts of the tribe. The Red Earth Festival, in Oklahoma City, OK is the largest Native American cultural and arts exposition in the world. More than 2000 artists, dancers and singers from more than 100 tribes across North American convene each June at the downtown Cox Business Services Convention Center. Contact 405-427-5228

The Latin influence and experience are much farther reaching than Mexico. Other Latin nations and cultures are represented in the West with many celebrating Carnival, including San Francisco which is host to the largest celebration of its kind in California.

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Music and Dancing in Greenland

While Iceland may boast popular singers and alternative bands such as The Sugarcubes, its musical history is fairly straight forward. Holidays to Iceland could see you attending the performances of Emiliana Torrini and Sigur Rós, or you could spend your time at Iceland Airwaves, a music festival where local and international bands perform at clubs throughout Reykjavík. If you are interested in music, you can see most types of music and performances, as you embark on an exciting specialist holiday in Iceland.

But it is Greenland's musical history that is particularly intriguing. Greenland's modern musical scene sees the amalgamation of Inuit and Danish music, combined with the added influences of some Canadian territories, Alaska and Eastern Russia. A rich musical tradition exists here, with all music types from folk songs to rock music forming an integral part of Greenlandic life. Greenland travel could see you dancing to the rhythms of Shamans and bopping to the music of hip-hop artist, Nuuk Posse, and it's worth investigating Greenland package holidays to see if you can tie in a performance with your trip.

Current Musical Trends in Greenland

While Greenland's current popular music scene is not as big as Iceland's, its modern music is unique in that it retains a traditional feel. The biggest record label in Greenland is ULO. The label is based in the town Sisimiut, and is responsible for the majority of the releases on the Greenland music scene. It covers a range of genres, and produces everything from the rock music of Sume to Inuit folk music. Also with the label is pop singer Rasmus Lyberth and hip-hop artist Nuuk Posse.

Simamuit is an interesting theatre group and would make for a good evening of modern performances with a traditional flavour when on a Greenland holiday. They combine indigenous elements of Inuit drum dances with masks and face painting, creating an interesting contemporary art form.

Traditional Greenlandic Folk Music

A holiday to Iceland could include discovering the Nordic folk music of the local people. And while this would be fascinating, it doesn't have the same extent of cultural diversity that Greenlandic folk music provides. On travels to Greenland, discovering its traditional music is a great way to get into the minds of the local people. It is in the east and the northeast that you will find the greatest amount of surviving traditional influences. On a Greenland holiday, take the time to watch the sacred drum beats and dances being performed, with the locals playing on an oval, wooden-framed drum, covered by bear-bladder.

Shamans would integrate drums into their religious traditions, often incorporating humor into the performances. Song and drum duals were used as a way for rivals to compete, where the competitor managing to elicit the most laughs out of the audience was the victor.

Traditional Inuit Music

At the essence of traditional Inuit music is drum beats and song. None of their music is purely instrumental, and the rhythmic beat of traditional drumming always lies at its heart. Dance too, plays an important role in Inuit musical traditions, and music is always accompanied by singing and dancing, often being very festive. If you go at the right time, you could witness or even participate in these spiritual yet entertaining events on your Greenland holiday.

The instruments commonly used in traditional Inuit music are whistles, bull-roarers (dating back the 17000 BC, these instruments were originally used as a means to communicate over large distances) and buzzers (whirling objects making a buzzing/humming sound). And illustrating European cultural influences, Jew's harps and fiddles have been incorporated into Inuit music.

The Art of Competition

Similar to the drum-beat duals in Shaman rituals, drum dances are used as a means of competition between two males, often cousins. The dancers compose songs which are sung by their families while they dance, and are usually performed in a qaggi, which is a snow-house used for events and festivals. The criteria for judging the dancers are based on their endurance in a lengthy performance, as well as the composition of the dance itself. Perhaps you would be lucky enough to receive an invitation to such an event while on your Greenland travels.

While the men demonstrate their strength through their dancing, women compete with one another through song. The two women will face each other and begin singing songs using throat-singing and making animal noises. The competition usually comes to an end because the women laugh at their own utterances, which is a demonstration of the friendly nature of the Greenlandic people.

12 Months of Cultural Festivals Around Australia

Australia is blessed to have so many wonderful cultural events, festivals and celebrations throughout the year. If you would like to incorporate some of these exciting events into your luxurious travel experiences, we've made it easy for you with a run-down of 12 months of cultural festivals around Australia:


Hobart Comedy Festival - some of Australia's biggest names in comedy head to Hobart for the annual comedy festival.

Sydney Festival - this is a superb showcase of Australian and international visual arts and performing arts and takes place across the city.

Tour Down Under, Adelaide ? the Tour Down Under is a cycling race that has become popular with Australian and international cyclists.


Adelaide Film Festival - held annually, this film festival is an ideal way to keep up with the happenings in the film world, along with special advanced previews and discussion panels.

ANZ Ladies Masters Golf, Gold Coast - this annual Golf Championship is held at the Royal Pines Golf Course, attracting golfing enthusiasts from all over the world.

Launceston Cup Carnival - one of Australia's most prestigious horse-racing events, this has become a major date in the Tasmanian social calendar.

National Multicultural Festival, Canberra - this festival celebrates the differences and similarities of the many varied cultures that make up 'Australia'.

Perth Festival - a leading cultural event in Western Australia, this popular festival showcases various artistic mediums for almost an entire month.

Royal Canberra Show - come along to the annual Canberra show to see local wares, agriculture, livestock and produce, and experience great entertainment and food.

Tamworth Country Music Festival - Australia's leading country music festival, with visitors travelling from across the state and internationally.

Tropfest - this is the largest short film festival in the world, with in excess of 150,000 visitors each year.

UWA Perth International Arts Festival - this long-standing arts celebration brings together a fine blend of music, theatre, literature, film and visual and street arts. Visitors can enjoy a mix of paid and free community events.


Melbourne Fashion Festival - this week-long celebration showcases some of the country's leading fashion designers and up-and-coming designers along with the very latest in fashion trends.

Moomba Waterfest, Melbourne - this event has been a Victorian favourite for over 50 years, providing a range of free entertainment and celebrations along Melbourne's waterfront.

Sydney Royal Easter Show - offers a solid mix of sideshows, competitions, parades, food, entertainment, rodeos and loads of fun.


Fremantle Street Arts Festival - this unique festival of top international buskers is one of the best festivals in Western Australia, with more than 100,000 attendees each year.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - comedians from all over the world converge on Melbourne to provide three weeks of laughs and entertainment.


Canberra International Music Festival - join in the festivities as national and international musicians gather to entertain the crowds.

Hunter Valley Harvest Festival - local producers display their exquisite wines, olives and cheeses.

Settlers Cove Noosa Food and Wine Festival - celebrate the diversity of tantalising food and wines in Australia with some of the country's best chefs and winemakers, along with food and wine critics. Spend three days enjoying a sample of first-class food and wine along with a variety of entertainment.


Gympie Stampede - for three entire days, join in the fun as Gympie entertains crowds with traditional country music, country gospel and talented poets.

Melbourne International Film Festival - one of the country's largest annual film festivals, this winter festival combines film screenings with other events and celebrations over almost three weeks.

Sydney Film Festival - celebrate the joys of film, special screenings and reviews of Australian and international films.


Brisbane International Film Festival - if you enjoy watching movies and short films, you will enjoy the Brisbane Film Festival which showcases some of the most outstanding films from around the world.


Bangalow Music Festival, Byron Bay hinterland - this infamous weekend of music celebrations attracts visitors and musicians from around Australia and the world.

Barossa Gourmet Weekend - this is a wonderful event where visitors can indulge in tasty food and impressive wines from the Barossa Valley region, all while being kept entertained with a range of activities for everyone.

Hamilton Island Race Week - a world class yachting regatta that has been running for more than 25 years.

Melbourne Writer's Festival - for ten days, visitors get to meet authors and discover the secrets to good books and getting published.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week - for six days, celebrate the start of the new season's fashions with fashion parades, events and parties by leading local, national and international designers.

QANTAS Darwin Turf Club Gala Ball - this amazing social dinner and entertainment event is held outdoors, beneath the stars.

Taste of Gold Coast - for two weeks you get to sample some of the deliciously fresh produce from around the Gold Coast region while celebrating the joy of good food and wine.

The Darwin Festival - this exciting festival lasts for two and a half weeks and is a celebration of the multi-cultural mix that makes Darwin so special.


Brisbane Festival - a three-week festival to celebrate the arts scene, with international artists, fireworks and a host of community events.

Canberra Floriade - the annual festival of flowers to celebrate the commencement of spring.

Cronulla Spring Festival - one of the largest outdoor festivals in Sydney, this is a celebration spring.

Noosa Jazz Festival, Noosa - this exciting jazz festival attracts performers from around the world, celebrating jazz music from the traditional styles through to more modern melodies.

Perth Fashion Festival - this annual festival displays latest season's fashions while showcasing some of the state's up-and-coming designers alongside the more established leading designers.

Royal Adelaide Show - one of the largest events held in Adelaide each year. Organised by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, this is a huge display of local produce, agriculture and livestock, along with having a host of fun rides, entertainment and activities for all to enjoy.

Valley Fiesta, Brisbane - this annual three-day celebration is often referred to as the city's 'biggest street party', with various forms of entertainment centred on Brisbane's food, dance, fashion, music and art.


AFL Masters National Carnival - held over eight days, this is a major national event for AFL players. This Carnival is held in a different Australian city each year.

Bathurst 1000 - a premier event of Australian motor sports as V8 Supercar drivers race around Mt Panorama.

Brisbane Cabaret Festival - four nights of activities combining great food and wine with excellent music and fun for all.

Launceston Blues Festival - let your hair down and soak up the fun at this three day blues and roots festival.

Lexmark Indy 300, Gold Coast - the annual Indy Cart championship event held over four days, combined with parties and special events.

Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival - held during October and November, this is the highlight of the Victorian social calendar incorporating the 'race that stops a nation', the Melbourne Cup.

Royal Hobart Show - the annual show displays a range of local agricultural wares, livestock, produce and businesses, along with offering rides, entertainment, show bags and lots of great food.


Balmain Art & Craft Show, New South Wales - one of the most popular community events in Sydney.

Northern Territory Billfish Championship - spend four days catching and releasing mighty marlin while competing in one of the country's best fishing competitions.


Australian PGA Championship, Sunshine Coast - this is the oldest golf championship in Australia, attracting golfing greats from across the world.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - this famous race begins on Boxing Day and its completion is celebrated with parties galore.

The Hobart Summer Festival - Tasmania's main summer event provides a range of celebrations scheduled around the Sullivans Cove area.

Woodford Folk Festival - one of the largest and most popular events on the calendar, with many people travelling from all over the country, and some from overseas, to join in the six days of festivities. Entertainment includes plenty of fine food, music, writers, forums and panel discussions and loads of fun.

Five Big Mistakes Artists Make at Art Festivals When Learning How to Sell Art

When learning how to sell your art, one of the most rewarding things you can do as an artist to help sell your work and establish yourself as an artist is to participate in an Art Festival, whether local or afar. You get to meet wonderful people, allow others to experience your art and possibly connect with others who can help get your work in other venues.

However, to be able to turn the art festival into a successful opportunity there are some tips you should consider when selling your art. Allow me to indulge you for a moment with some of these tips that artists should not do at an art festival.

1. Never sit behind your tent and read a book with potential buyers walking-in and out of your booth.

When people see you in the back of your booth sitting and reading a book or newspaper they may get the feeling you don't want to be bothered. Get-up and get in front of your booth and let the people get to know you and get a feel of who you are. Most people will not come behind your booth to talk to you. Also you can not sell to people sitting down in the back of your booth. Like I said in other articles and posts your booth is like a store. You want to be up front where customers see you and you can talk to them and work your way into a sell.

2. Please don't eat in your tent or in front of your guests.

How would you like it if you went into a department store and needed help but the sales clerk was too busy stuffing their face? Well that's what you look like when people come into your booth when you are too busy eating. People are not going to interrupt you as much to ask you a question about your art if they come in your booth and see you eating. You could be losing sells. If you will have to eat at the festival go off away from your booth so your eating won't be a distraction to your customers.

3. Don't have all your buddies and families members hanging out in your booth.

Have you ever walked in a store and the owner had their family members or friends all huddle up talking and laughing. How did it make you feel when you went into the store? Uneasy I bet. Well that's how people feel if they come inside your booth and all your buddies are hanging out in your tent talking and not really contributing to your business. Some people may not even come in to look at your work if they see a bunch of people just hanging out doing nothing in your booth.

They will come in if they see a line of people with money in hand ready to purchase your work. So please tell your friends not to come and hang at your booth.

4. Not having artwork that focuses on one theme or niche.

One of the best ways to be seen as a professional artist is to have artwork created around one theme or niche using the same techniques or process. It could be that you have sculptures on birds, photographs of women, paintings of rural landscapes and so on. The point is that you want your work to be consistent with each other.

You don't need to have a painting of a bird, a painting of jazz musician and or photograph of a landscape all in one booth. It looks as if you haven't found your voice as an artist. And if you haven't you may want to decide which direction you want to take with your art and stick with it.

My advice to you is to find something that you like to create and something that will sell very well within your geographical area. I paint images of musicians playing jazz music with a palette knife on wood and canvas. When I first started out, I painted a little of everything, landscapes, still life and abstraction and I would have all of them in one booth. I found out that this was not the route you should take if you want to be successful as an artist. Today people come-up to me and say "Hey you're the guy who paints those musicians, I love your work". They have identified me and my specialty. I want to make sure people are able to do the same when they see your artwork or see your name.

5. Not having any business cards, artist statements or credit card swipe machine; not having one of these is Art Festival suicide.

First, there are several people who will like your work when they first see it but will not be able to purchase it at that time and if you don't have a way for people to contact you have just missed out on some money, plain and simple. Secondly, having an artist statement helps people learn about you and your work and if you don't have other things other than your artwork to promote you, you are in for it. Having an artist statement is like your company's mission statement.

Lastly, credit card processor, everyone that enters you booth will not have cash or a check and by having a credit card machine you can give your customer a chance to purchase your work. You don't want to miss out on sells especially just because you don't take credit cards.

There are easy ways to get credit card processors, just look online for the best deals. You don't have to have the fancy electronic ones. If you are just starting out you can get the manual ones where they slide back and forth.

Art Festivals can be a lot of work yet fun. With these tips mentioned above you can definitely help increase your sells and make your experience of selling art wonderful instead of a drain.

So be positive and focus on being a great artist and a great businessman or businesswoman that you truly are.

Still Time to Catch Some of the Summer's Best European Arts Festivals

Summer is traditionally the time of year when cultural calendars are at their busiest, and your favourite Art Guide is full to bursting point with unmissable events.
While the English summer is slowly drawing to an end, other European countries continue to be bathed in sunshine, with a whole host of cultural and artistic events still to come before the clocks go back.

If you haven't yet managed to get away for a summer break, now is the perfect opportunity to soak up those last rays of late-summer sun and take in some of the wonderful and diverse cultural events that Europe has to offer. Here are just a few of the events that lie in store over the next couple of months.

Schwarzenberg in Austria hosts a major chamber music festival from 27 August-12 September, attracting some of the world's leading artists. Bernarda Fink, Ian Bostridge, Magdalena Kozena and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau all appear at this year's edition, which will take place at the purpose-built Angelika Kauffmann Hall.

Opera lovers should head to Verona in Italy, where the world-renowned Arena festival is well under way. Running until 29 August, this year's event features a guest performance by veteran performer Maria Guleghina, in Franco Zeffirelli's Turandot. Festival-goers will also be treated to performances of Madama Butterfly and Carmen, among others.

Greece's Athens and Epidauros festival, running until 12 September, offers a spectacular celebration of contemporary and classical arts. This year's edition features a new Greek staging of the opera Parsifal, as well as a French version of A Streetcar Named Desire and a performance by the New York City Ballet.

Opera-lovers in for a treat if they make the journey to Bayreuth in Germany, where the legendary Wagner opera festival runs until 28 August. The event, organised by Wagner's two great-granddaughters, features a performance of Lohengrin, as well as Parsifal, starring bright young opera talent Christopher Ventris.

Finally, Lucerne in Switzerland hosts one of the world's greatest classical music festivals, with a programme that stretches until 18 September. The festival is a who's who of classical musicians, with conductors Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle, violinists Frank Peter Zimmermann and Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianists András Schiff and Helene Grimaud all featuring. Vienna Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony orchestra also appear in what is sure to be a fantastic event, set to the backdrop of Lucerne's beautiful lakes and mountains.

Music Festival Enthusiasts Defined As Festivillians

Let's define the word Festivillian. It has been used as a descriptive word by festival musicians, artists, promoters, organizers, and enthusiasts for many years. It refers to people that truly have a passion for going to or are participating in art, music, and renaissance festivals in particular. Often throughout history words have been used in a societal or urban fashion over a period of time before they become mainstream and defined as a dictionary term. Such is the case with Festivillian.

The first mention of a music festival comes from the Pythian Games in ancient Greece starting around 582 BC. At that time in history the administration of the Games was handed over to the Delphic Amphiktyonia, a council of the twelve Greek tribes, in order to end the Holy War in the past. The games often included musical performances. This might be the earliest historical mention of a Music Festival.

Initially the words Feast and Festival were interchangeable and utilized to honor Gods. Through the ages each term has found it's own meaning in our society, however both denote a celebration.

Music Festivals tend to be annual, although many are organized as a one time event. There are those that are for profit and purely entertainment, and those that are designed to do more than entertain. There has been a recent surge over the last several decades in the correlation between certain Music Festivals and environmental awareness. Many festivals today have a Green theme on some level. Some of them, for example the Shakori Hills Music Festival, build a sustainable village, and offer classes and workshops for sustainable living. The Green Apple Festival of 2008, held on Earth Day, was the first of it's kind coordinating many major U.S. cities in offering Music Festivals and Green living fairs in unison across the nation and even saw international participation.

Another interesting Music Festival is the educative and supportive type. Some communities offer free, or nearly free, Music Festivals for the purpose of offering young musicians an audience and the opportunity to play music with and learn from their more experienced and established peers. One outstanding example of this is the Alaska Folk Festival held in Juneau. Spring of 2008 was their 34th annual festival!

There is something special that we feel in a festival environment. It feels like there is a touch of magic in the air. There is a spirit of friendship, freedom, peace, and comradery that is present among most Festivillians, setting them apart and creating the atmosphere of a summer camp. Even casual festival goers or patrons seem to pick up on it. Eye contact with "strangers" is easier, people smile at one another and strike conversations instantly. Something about a festival seems to bring down our barriers and raise the spirit of community. Perhaps a Festivillian is best defined as a person that thrives on this type of environment. offers easy access to resources for Tickets, Camping / Hiking, Festival Gear, Memorabilia, and even easy price comparisons on RV's & Campers. As this website grows up, as all things do, it will blossom over time and offer it's users much more. Please feel free to share it, bookmark it, or link it. Suggestions are welcome (contact form coming soon) and so are you!

Costa Rican Love For Coffee, Music and the Arts

Costa Ricans love to dance, sing and party. The foundation of native music in Costa Rica is based on the "marimba," an African-derived, xylophone-style instrument. Costa Rican folk songs are nostalgic and have a ballad-like melody. The lyrics praise the beauty of the country, their people, the landscape, and often talk about the work it takes to grow the crops and to cultivate coffee. This country has a national "passion for coffee, the grain of gold," so it is not unusual to hear references to the beans in music lyrics, poetry, literature or everyday conversation.

The sound of marimba, combined with the sounds of steel drums, reggae beats and other instruments of the Caribbean creates a very special and festive sound.

  • The Costa Rican national folk dance, the "Punto Guanacaste," composed by Leandro Cabalceta Brau, is a heel-and-toe stomping dance for couples. This folk dance is often performed in theaters and at special occasions.
  • However, it is a popular dance in rural settings where couples may wear the traditional costumes for the occasion.
  • The dance portrays courting traditions of the past where the male dancer follows the female partner. The female dancer pretends to get away from the male who periodically shouts "¡Bomba !" The music stops so the male can recite praises or "bombas" to his lady.
  • These praises tend to be humorous and draw cheers and applauses from the audience. They can also draw spontaneous participation from the audience with general laughter and more cheer. An example of a traditional "bomba" is "...They say that you don't love me because I don't have a mustache. Tomorrow I shall put one on made out of buzzard feathers..."

Other popular music genres in Costa Rica include: Rock 'n roll (music from the USA from the 1940's and 1950's). Latin alternative rock, Pop (popular music). Calypso (Afro-Caribbean music from Trinidad Tobago). Disco (dance music from the 1970's). Salsa (modern style Cuban playing rhythms). Meringue (music and dance originally from the Dominican Republic). Cumbia (Colombian musical style and folk dance). Soca (soul calypso in the form of dance music). Chiqui-Chiqui (a mixture of meringue, cumbia, and afro-pop tones). Tex-Mex, Mexican music, Tangos, and even Celtic music.

Costa Rica is also a country with a passion for theatrical performances and drama.

  • The "Peña" is an intellectual style or type of performance that is interesting for the way it blends music with spoken word and poetry.
  • The "Peña" was introduced by Chilean and Argentinean exiles living in Costa Rica.
  • The "Peña" promotes the participation of the audience and is a favorite of cafés, where moving songs are shared all around the table.
  • Coffee, beverages, tears from laughter or emotion and much clapping are always part of the scene.
  • In the Costa Rican tradition, "Café Con Leche" is included in menus and ranks high in domestic consumption at cafés, day and night.

Costa Rica's night life, particularly in the larger cities, buzzes with live music ranging from traditional Latin rhythms to classical symphonies at the spectacular National Theater in San José. In the early morning, as the towns come to life, one thing you can be sure will fill the air everywhere is the exquisite smell of fresh bread and recently brewed coffee. Because most towns are small and the cafés are literally everywhere, there is no escaping the fragrance of delicious coffee ready for the asking! Of course, who wants to escape the wonderful aroma of coffee?

So, what are you waiting for? As they say in Costa Rica, "Pura Vida!" (Pure Life): go ahead and enjoy a delicious cup of Costa Rican Tarrazu or Costa Rican SHB Decaffeinated gourmet coffee!

Combine Music and Camping at the Suwannee Music Park

Do you like camping and do you like live music? If you answered yes to both questions then a visit to the Suwannee Music Park and campground in north Florida will positively delight you.

The park located north of Live Oak, Florida. The camp ground is located on the banks of the Suwannee River and it is home to a variety of musical events throughout the year. You can watch musical performances throughout the week at the park's music hall and during the festivals you can enjoy the ambience of the outdoor natural amphitheater.

Live music is just part of the attraction of this park. The camp covers 800 acres which provides ample space for camping, hiking, canoeing, bird watching, jogging, putt putt golf and lots more recreational activities.

The scenery here is beautiful. There is a Spanish moss-draped forest, a cypress tree lined, spring-fed lake, and a wonderful wildlife habitat that is perfect for bird watching. The recreational facilities are well developed and varied.

One unusual attraction is the Bat House. This is the largest known bat house in the United States. Bats enter the house from underneath through three-quarter inch openings. The Bat House is able to hold half a million bats since bats only use one-fourth of an inch of space.

Well if bats are not your thing then you can keep yourself blissfully occupied with swimming, hiking, fishing or canoeing. You can come as a day visitor or spend some time camping.

If you are camping you have several possibilities. The park has 600 improved campsites and 800 acres of primitive camping. There are beautiful cabins available for rent and there is RV parking with full hookups, and there are shower and bath houses as well. There are tent and camping areas and also areas for horse camping. With tent camping you can get water and electric facilities or you can spend less and opt for primitive camping.

If you are planning to do horse camping you will have to bring your own horse (no stallions) and be able to enjoy 20 miles of in-park trails and have access to 50 miles of other trails as well.

Other services at the park include a full service restaurant, a country store and an arts and crafts village.

In case you are wondering about the music experience here, the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park was named "the Best Live Music Venue" in Florida in 2009 by Florida Monthly Magazine. There are numerous concerts and festivals throughout the year and there is live entertainment four nights a week during the year.

But this not only a place to watch music, it is a place to play your own music. There are many covered pavilions and gathering places where campers can gather together for a time of fun, fellowship, and of course, pickin' and grinnin'. The Suwannee River Bluegrass Association invites you to join them every Saturday night in the Pickin' Shed at 6 pm.

So pack up your instruments and your camping gear and consider stopping in the Swannee Park the next time you are in Northern Florida. They are located: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, 3076 95th Drive, Live Oak, Florida 32060, Telephone: 386-364-1683.

Games, Music and Dance in Argyll and Bute, Scotland This Summer

When was the last time you visited Scotland and the area around Argyll and Bute on the west coast? If the answer is never or not recently, then maybe it is high time you put it on your to-do-list. As summer time in Scotland is very special, not only is it when the Scottish countryside is in full bloom and very attractive to the eye, but it's much more than that, as you get a feel for the real Scotland and its heritage.

For any visitor who has not experienced a traditional "Highland Games" event, I think it's a definite "must" on your to-do-list for things to whilst staying and visiting in Scotland. This brings the true spirit of Scotland together at such "gatherings" as some locals call them (which refers historically to the gatherings of Highland Clans), but also gives a glimpse of Scottish tradition in the rural highlands and lowlands over the previous hundreds of years. In essence each area and county department around the Scottish countryside has its own Highland Games, which for the rookie Scottish visitor is like a country fair to show of local produce like; Whisky tasting from the Oban Distillery, local art, crafts, agricultural displays, local music including traditional bagpipes, highland dancing displays and competitions, with the main event being the Highland Games themselves.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the Argyll and Butte area this summer, as from the 25th of August is the start of the "Argyllshire Gathering & Oban Games" which will be a spectacular display all the best in highland games events. Featuring the Hammer Throwing, Caber Tossing and Tug of War to name a few, also the Highland dancing events of which feature 22 this year including; Gillie Chalium, Sean Triubhas, Strathspey, Reel and the famous Highland Fling. The piping events are also not to be missed and show off the best in traditional Scottish Bag piping. The Games traditionally starts from "Argyll Square" in Oban with the Stewards Match at 10 o'clock, which are led by the Pipers competing that day, this is a spectacle in itself not to be missed.

The other big event taking place during August that is worthy of a mention is the "Mull of Kintyre Music Festival" which takes place at Campbeltown in Argyll between the 18th and 21st of August. This line up of events and artist performing this year draws from artists around Scotland and beyond, which features the very best in traditional Scottish music, pipe musicians, brass bands, folk music, pop and rock. For those of you like to shake a leg on the dance floor there are traditional "Ceilidh" (Scottish Country Dancing) events which are great fun and allows you to join into the real spirit of a country Scottish event like this. Events like these are sure to be a great experience for all the family, as there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.

Pecan Street Festival

The "Pecan Street Festival" has been a part of Austin for 31 years. The festival hosts over 250 arts and crafts venders, musical and performing artists. There are also art classes, dance classes, a scholarship competition, a petting zoo and a carnival.

The Pecan Street festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd. All the fun starts at 11:00 am each day and runs until 10:00 pm on Saturday and 8:00 pm on Sunday.

The festival will have five stages with some of the most eclectic performances around. Tommy Tutone is scheduled to open the festival on Saturday night.

The Pecan Street Festival is a bi-annual event. The first festival is in the spring, and then there is another festival held on September 26th and 27th. Both festivals bring an estimated $43 million to the Austin economy.

The shows benefit local charities and is the primary fund raiser for the Old Pecan Street Association; an organization established to preserve 6th street.

When the street were first laid out for Austin the north-south streets were given the names of Texas rivers in the order in which they appeared on the Texas map; the east-west streets were given names of trees. Later these streets were replaced with numbers. This is how Pecan Street became 6th street.

Austin is known as being different and "weird" and this festival is just as diverse and weird as Austin. All kinds of people from all over the region and country flock to this festival. The admission is free and everyone is welcome.

The festival is located on 6th street, which is also the heart of live music and is why Austin is known as the "Live music capital of the world."

6th street is lined with historical houses and commercial buildings that were built as far back as the late 1800's. Many of the old buildings now house numerous bars and host many live music venues, art galleries and restaurants and cafe's. Many are landmarks and have interesting history behind them. 6th street is a very beautiful street and has many pecan trees lining the road on both sides. Many people flock to the famous street to listen to live music and see bands or just to say they've been to 6th street!

The Pecan Street Festival will also have many other venues besides music and arts and crafts. Austinites love to eat, and there will be plenty of food booths to choose from. Everything from "fair" food like turkey legs and funnel cakes to hot dogs and hamburgers, they've even added something new this year, there will be healthy food available for those who are conscious of their diet and health.

Another famous treat is ice cream. There will be venders serving various flavors of ice cream, so be sure to take time to sample some of your favorite flavors and keep cool.

If you live in Austin or are just traveling through, it is worth your while to stop by the Pecan Street festival. It is an "Austin" thing and is one way to keep Austin weird.

The Wisconsin Music Scene 1968-1975 From My Eyes

I came back to tell you about the music scene in Wisconsin from my eyes, it was an exciting time. It's hard to know where to start. The Beatles came in '64, I saw the Doors at the arena '67, Cream, Hendrix, and the Allman Brothers played the Scene, which was run by Benadetta Balistrieri in the late 60's. The Midwest Rock Festival was coming to State Fair park in '69 with Blind Faith, Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, Jethro Tull, along with my favorite local groups Soup and Ox. This was an era of excellent music feeding the souls of the young...!

Leading to '68 there were CYO dances where bands had a chance to play along with the Strobe, and other clubs. We had the Messengers, the Destinations, the Corporation, the Baroques, the Sidewalk Skipper Band, the Skunks, Tony's Tygers, the Robbs, and don't forget about the Goodwill Industry building on N. 92nd, it held 1200 people and we always filled it. There were other great bands that would soon arrive on the scene. The first Summerfest that I can remember '68 was on the hill with the stage at the bottom of the Art Center on Lake Dr, New Colony Six, and many classic Rock groups. This is what I had scene leading to '69, those were the best days of my life (name that song?)! The music leading up to '68/'69 was just incredible. You had the Byrd's Mr. Tambourine Man, Eight Miles High, the Temptations, the Jefferson Airplane,Paul Revere & the Raiders with Kicks and Good Thing, the Young Rascals-they had a ton of hits,Wilson Pickett, Smokey, the Supremes. You have to remember back in those days music was the most important thing in our lives and we could listen to Pop, Hard Rock, R&B, Soul, Blues, Jazz, and Country. We could listen to all of it and be cool...! We actually need to bring music back, but not this processed garbage. Back to the real stuff... I can't list all the great songs for there are to many, I'll get a few in though. The Lovin Spoonful, the Yardbirds- Shapes of Things WOW, Donovan, the Stones, the Kinks-Who'll Be the Next in Line,You Really Got Me, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, classic, the Animals-Don't Bring me Down House of the Risin Sun, the British Invasion in general. Do you realize they got American blues records off the ships, put their twist on it and sold it back to us. How many of you knew that? Music feeds the soul....anyway it comes! These were all my influences too, along with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Howlin Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.

I had been playing drums now 6 years, heavy practicing. I joined my 1st group "the Epilogue" with Dale Peterson from the Chessman, they rehearsed a couple blocks away from me. They were great, we played rock, blues, pop (British Invasion pop). I started to learn how to perform my music, not just play it, I was hooked, no turning back now! I continued to play out and practice. I was offered a job with a group called "Prism", I was thrilled. We had a girl singer so we played a wide range of material from the Jefferson Airplane to Billie Holiday with Jim Appleby on guitar. Later that year Rick Cier one of the finest keyboard players in town joined us. Eventually things fell apart as happens in rock bands, drugs, alcohol, and just plain personalities. I had met a guitarist who was starting a band Jeff Dagenhardt, the band "Comus". He played with all the blues greats Sam Lay, Muddy, everyone, I was honored. That lasted a year, I was offered a gig with a group called "Short Stuff" they were the best blues band in town and I was 16. Junior, the keyboard player used to drop me off at high school, looking back what a time. My family was very supportive as long as I got the grades. They did hold that over my head, No Grades-No Music...! I learned so much from Junior and Kenny Berdall. Jimmy Liban only did a few shows when I was in the group and he moved to Nashville. Jimmy is a great talent. I hear Junior does a Little Richard impersonation in Vegas. He does look just like him. Junior Luv ya Bud. Same to you Jimmy and Kenny! I was getting more into Zeppelin and heavy blues. A band called "Tongue" was looking for a drummer. They played heavy blues. I was the 54th drummer they auditioned and I got the gig.

"Tongue" was where I wanted to be. They already had a great following. We played great shows, we would show up in Eagle River WI, there would be a stage and 3,000 people waiting for us. We had a road crew Bunny, Rube, and eventually Woody to, all we had to do was slam two beers and go play. They set up the equipment and tore it down when we finished, on to the next town. We traveled in a limo, life was the best! This went on for 4 years. Colorado, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, we played mostly, also we built quite a following. We were in Hollywood for the 1st time staying at the Tropicana and I forget the name of the restaurant downstairs Al's I don't remember, but the best burgers. We were recording at Hollywood Central Studios, we would eat at Southtown, a soul food place on Wilcox. Going back to the studio I was with John Rhys who owned the studio and was producing us, and I saw this beautiful black woman, now I am only 17. I said wow look at her, John said look at her feet, I said what...? Look at her feet, well they were so big they were hanging over the shoes. John said Teddy look and learn, that is not a woman, that is a man dressed as a woman, well needless to say when I see a woman the first thing I do is look at her feet, have sine 1972. That night we went to the Whiskey and I could'nt believe it the Who were there, and later that night we ran into Keith Moon at Denny's on Sunset. For a kid 17 that was exciting. Our album never was released do to legal problems, for you young players have attorney's on your side.

We played Denver on the way back home and that is where I met Bobby Barth who later we would start "AXE". He was such a great songwriter, I loved his material. So back to Milwaukee. The fun places to play now were the Stone Toad, Teddy's, the Electric Ballroom, the Saloon, the Alternate Site at the lakefront and more in Milwaukee. Wisconsin had a great music scene. "Tongue" played the same places as Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Clicker, and Luther Allison W/ my buddy Jimmy Solberg an incredible blues guitarist. Music in Wisconsin was smokin'. Headliners, the Nitty Gritty in Madison, The Barr in Oshkosh and Eau Claire, the London Inn, Lord Jefferies pub Eau Claire, the Modernaire Bar in Eagle River, the Rathskellar in Fondy plus all the festivals. I will never forget we were coming through Tennessee and bought 1/2 a truckload of fireworks and on Sunday after a killer show Sat. night, we woke up loaded up a row boat and hid it until dusk. We said Hop who was the owner, check this out, we had pushed the boat out shot a flair at it, it blue like Mt St. Hellens. Fireworks were flying everywhere, I still can't believe the men in blue never came...? Then there was Pine Point in Menomonie, and a ton more. We had all kinds of places to play. Again Music helped the soul...! Many groups went on to big things I wish Doug Yankus from Soup did not pass away(what a talent), Jon Paris from Ox went on with Johnny Winter and many others. If your in NYC go see Jon on monday nights at BB Kings in Times Square he hosts the evening. Don't forget the Bull Ring and Sweetbottom, Daryl joined Genesis. Tongue broke up, I moved to L.A. (see L.A. '75-'76) We had wonderful music here and it continues, we'll get into the 80's next time, fasten your seat belts for that one. Let the Music comeback....See you soon.

Ignite Your Creative Fire With Music and Dance

When was the last time you immersed yourself fully in music and dance? Your sense of self dissolves as you become one with music and movement. Energy flows for you to express yourself freely, time is of no significance and your experience is effortless and engaging.

What has this to do with writing you may well ask?

The parallels of being in the zone, including all the benefits of that experience, are clear. Yet there is more to it than that.

At a physical level, writing is primarily a static process. Apart from the movement of hands typing on the keyboard or moving across the page with your favourite pen, there is an inherent stillness to the process of writing (not including the movement and flow of ideas and imagination of course).

Dancing freely to uplifting music releases old or stuck energy in your body and is immensely grounding and liberating. It also frees up the channels for recharged creative energy to flow into your writing and indeed into all areas of your life.

And when you have danced until you're done, what better way to reconnect with inner and outer stillness than to pick up your pen and write with freedom in your heart and fire in your soul.

Larmer Tree Music Festival

This weekend I went to the Larmer Tree Music Festival for my annual dip into the colourful and creative mix of music and merriment this fabulous event provides.

Held in the beautiful setting of the Larmer Tree gardens described by Thomas Hardy as "the prettiest site I ever saw in my life", this is a relatively small and intimate celebration of music and the arts.

As an upmarket festival which is extremely well-organised with excellent facilities, delicious organic foods from around the world are on sale alongside other more unusual items such as real liquorice of all colours and flavours.

The atmosphere is creatively inspiring as ordinary people try their hand at any number of extraordinary arts and crafts, and mix with professional artists including photographers, sculptors, jewellery makers... and, of course, musicians.

What a wonderful opportunity for so many people to experience and share joy, freedom and fun. I certainly came away feeling deeply enriched by my time there.

After the event, I am not at all surprised to find myself having all sorts of new ideas for writing and the creative projects I have in the pipeline for the next few months.

Colourful, Creative, Fun!

So when was the last time that you treated yourself to something colourful, creative and fun to spark your zest for writing, open your heart and trigger your appreciation for life in general?

And if it has been a long time since you lost yourself in music and dance, why not give yourself the gift of a this kind of creative release?

You don't have to go to a music festival to do so (although live music does have more of an impact). On your own with the doors closed and the curtains pulled if necessary for you to feel safe enough to let yourself go for a while can also do the trick!

Not only will you enjoy the experience in the moment, the benefits will be far reaching and almost certainly provide you with fresh ideas and material for your writing too.

Celebrate The Yuletide Season With Music and Christmas Decor

During Christmas, we are fond of creating wonderful decorations inside and outside our home. There are numerous ways to make the Yuletide season memorable and exciting. One option is by combining music wall art with Christmas decor. We all know that music is widely used during Christmas. This is a perfect opportunity for music enthusiasts to revolutionize the the old way of celebrating Christmas.

Music and Christmas are two ideas which are closely related to each other. Creating a design concept that involves music and Christmas decor is ingenious. It can add a striking expression of music, love and Yuletide spirit to everyone visiting your home.

Jazz wall art is a perfect example of a music accessory which can give additional interest to our Christmas decoration concept. Jazz wall art and music wall decor can complement winter wreaths, holiday ribbons, Christmas trees and colorful lights. If you are a music lover and you have a vast collection of jazz wall art and music wall decor of your favorite band, you can actually include them all in your decoration. Furthermore, there are Christmas songs which are rendered using jazz music. You can play them during gatherings, special dinners and reunions to give a whole new expression of the Yuletide season.

Other music wall decor like music note art is also an ideal decoration to create a fabulous theme to your wall. Music note art are commonly used to furnish music or multimedia rooms. You can also add music instruments like piano and guitar together with Christmas wreaths and other holiday accessories. Music note art offers an illustrated way to celebrate the winter holiday while enjoying the beauty of other Christmas decors and lightings at the same time.

Lastly, encourage the whole family to work together to decorate the house. Take this opportunity to make the family bonds even stronger or rekindle broken ties if there are any. Also, the spirit of Christmas is best felt and remembered when the family is complete. Relatives and loved ones from far places should be invited for a festive gathering or reunion to celebrate the Yuletide season. Merry Christmas everyone!

Paseo Arts District

The Paseo Arts District in OKC is a historic and cultural destination. Located north of Midtown in Oklahoma City, the Paseo-Arts District was originally a shopping district created in 1929. In the course of time, it transformed into a major community of artists. Apart from the 17 galleries (some of which offer classes) and working studios, the district is also home to countless restaurants and bars. Connoisseurs of art have monthly and annual events to look forward to that not only feature art expositions and artistic demonstrations, but also cultural delights such as wine tasting and live music.

The Paseo Arts District is home to displays of a wide variety of artistic forms such as oil painting, photography, crafts, jewelry, music, glass, dance and theatre which in turn showcase diverse cultures around the world. The First Friday Gallery Walk is held on the first Friday of every month from 6pm to 10pm, and the next day from noon to 6pm. It is quite a time to enjoy the atmosphere, listen to live musical performances, check out live demonstrations and taste great wine.

The Paseo Arts Festival is an annual event that has been held at the Paseo Arts District for more than 30 years on Memorial Day weekend. Over 70 artists attend the festival, displaying their work that covers art forms such as painting, pottery, crafts, jewelry, sculpture and much more. The other features of the festival include: a children's play area where kids can create their artwork and have an early initiation into the world of art, performances of musicians and entertainers, and awards in many categories of up to $1000 presented to artists.

Traveling art lovers can experience the warmth of OKC hotels that offer shuttle services to the major destinations in OKC including the Paseo Arts District, Oklahoma City.

Cultural Kortrijk: The Best Music and Theatre

Classical and jazz, dance, theatre and more - this city has something for everyone and well within reach of any good Kortrijk hotel. There is always something going on, so when you visit, be sure to look out for the latest happenings. Here are some of the top venues and events to investigate during your stay, for the cream of Kortrijk's cultural scene.

City Theatre

Known locally as the 'Schouwburg' or 'Cultuur Centrum,' this is the city's main theatre. Originally built in the 1910s in neo-Renaissance style, a recent restoration has preserved its original character while adding the stunning stained glass roof designed by French-Algerian artist Alberola. The building houses a ballet hall, gallery, and 800-capacity theatre.

Centrally located, it will be an easy trip from your Kortrijk hotel, and boasts a full programme of music, theatre, dance, comedy and art all year round. With a mix of the classical and modern, there is bound to be something on to suit every taste; and even if you don't have time for a performance, the building and surrounding area with its striking architecture and public art are worth the trip on their own.

Antigone Theatre

At this theatre you can find traditional plays billed alongside cutting-edge multimedia productions. It also hosts both local and travelling companies, and might offer a Brecht play one night and new work by up-and-coming talent the next - so step out of your Kortrijk hotel and head to the Antigone Theatre for a taste of variety and difference. It also offers a good range of music concerts. If you happen to visit during the Flanders Festival, an annual festival of classical concerts that takes place in May, be sure to make time for 'Club Classic' at the Antigone. This series of intimate soirées in a lounge-style setting, featuring works by some of Europe's most cherished composers, promises cosy ambiance and quality performances

Golden River City Jazz Festival

Of all the times to spend a break in a Kortrijk hotel, September has to be the liveliest. For vivacious atmosphere and a diverse music-loving crowd, nothing beats the Golden River City Jazz Festival. Taking place over the first weekend in September, the festival was originally set up in 1970 to showcase the talents of the Kortrijk-based Golden River City Jazz Band, and has since attracted a wealth of international musicians. The festival also forms part of the 'September Braderie,' a fair that encompasses lively markets in the city's pedestrianised shopping areas, open-air entertainment of all kinds, and great dining - it's bound to be an unforgettable experience.

The New York Philharmonic at Hong Kong Arts Festival

The New York Philharmonic's performance on 16 February under Music Director, Lorin Maazel was splendid. The Silken Ladder Overture (La Scala di Seta Overture) was lively, gay and joyous. The haunting melodies in Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor spoke compellingly.

27-year old cellist Alisa Weilerstein, serious and charming with creamy skin, a sea-turquoise flowing gown and slightly braided honey-blonde hair, played with passion, internalizing and reverberating with the music she interpreted. Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 in A major (The Italian Symphony) was played with precise energy, pattern and fire. I wonder what people from stricter cultures make of the fact that orchestral members, who casually wander on and off stage during the interval and before the concert begins, coalesce so faultlessly, once the performance begins.

Lorin Maazel last conducted in the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 1982, with the Cleveland Orchestra. I was there, in one of the front rows, to the right of the conductor and able to see his face and expression. I was very impressed, so much so that I wrote a poem about his conducting. This was published by Proverse Hong Kong, many years later (2003) in For the Record: and other Poems of Hong Kong, supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

Obviously he is older, but so much is the same. No score needed for two of the three pieces. A quick getting down to business the moment he steps onto the podium. The flowing exchange of energy between conductor and players as exciting to watch and experience as ever.

Malta Arts Festival, 2010 - Culture in the Mediterranean at Its Summer Best

Malta Arts Festival is summer at its best, not just on the Maltese Islands but perhaps across the Mediterranean. It is a concentrated three weeks of eclectic entertainment from the thought-provoking and classical to the light hearted and thoroughly contemporary. As usual, it gives us a blend of home-grown and overseas cultural talent and this year's programme of what is undoubtedly Malta's premier summer cultural event has a very Mediterranean flavour. But there are Slavic and Swedish overtones too and a dash of science meets art as well.

Over the best part of three weeks, local islanders and visitors are treated to an exquisite melting pot of music, theatre, dance, visual arts and more. The last week blends with that other internationally-flavoured event, the Malta Jazz Festival, 15-17 July, now in its 20th edition and going stronger than ever.

Malta Arts Festival is to Malta what the Avignon theatre festival is to Provence (indeed all France and the world of theatre) and the Edinburgh Festival is internationally to new talent and performance genres of the world. Malta's Arts Festival is becoming set in stone as the event in the islands' cultural calendar and there's no reason why it won't, in time, cut the mustard with Europe's renowned festivals.

Malta's private sector does a fantastic job in bringing over big name acts and cult DJs to the islands, but it won't stretch to supporting the diversity of performance and the arts that a small island state needs if it is to provide for its tourists and open the eyes of its locals. It falls therefore to the Islands' public sector to pay the lion's share of funding the annual July Arts Festival.

And rightly so. The Malta Arts Festival each year brings in acts that broaden minds to cultures and cultural forms that would rarely get a look in on Malta's home market which is often dominated by popular forms of culture such as festas, carnival, pop nights or traditional song festivals. Britain's Wayne Marshall conducting and the Shakespeare Globe Theatre's touring group are highlights of this year's programme. But conversely, some events are not big budget nor big names, but they are no less inspiring for that.

The Malta Arts Festival is special for many reasons. World-class artists, postcard settings, world heritage contexts, a journey for the heart, the head and the eyes. And sometimes, the feet. At around Euro 15 a ticket for a great night out, there is no excuse not to go to a couple of events on the programme if you're heading Malta way; if not, perhaps book a holiday around the first three weeks of July next year, and come enjoy the cultural bonanza Malta has to offer in spite of its smallness of size.