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  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:06am

Encounters Spring 2013

From the blue waters of the Maldives to the natural bounties of Mozambique, SCMP's regional travel magazine, Encounters, takes readers on rich journeys that are up-close and personal.

 

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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 5:46pm

Hong Kong Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Listed in Time.com's top 10 quirkiest local festivals, the event is attended by thousands of spectators each year. The colourful festivities commence with processions of children balancing on poles and dressed as traditional deities accompanied by gongs and lion dancing. The final night is the quirky bit. Competitors scramble up a bun tower - made by the locals - to collect as many buns as possible in order to claim the title of king or queen of buns. This festival dates back to the late Qing dynasty, when plague ravaged Cheung Chau island and only ceased when residents built an altar at the Pak Tai Temple to their god to drive out the evil spirits. Dates: May 14-18


Japan Cherry blossom season
Springtime in Japan is famed for its cherry blossoms. The blooms only last a week, so timing is crucial when planning your trip. It's said that if the winter has been mild, then the cherry blossom trees will open early - late March - but if the winter has been especially cold, they will bloom in April. The best areas in Tokyo to view the blooms are Ueno Park, the Imperial Palace, Meguro River, Shinjuku Gyoen and the Yasukuni Jinja Shrine. Picnics in the park are a popular pastime. If you happen to miss the blooms in Tokyo, head for Mount Fuji, where blossoms open up two weeks later. Date: March-April Website: www.japan-guide.com


Thailand Songkran
Thailand's biggest national holiday, Songkran, also known as the Water Festival, marks the country's new year, which is actually on the final day of the festivities. If you love getting wet, this is the place to be, as you won't be able to avoid the water-filled pistols, buckets and balloons from enthusiastic Thais. Chiang Mai holds a week-long event with performances and holiday food culminating in a parade and the important "bathing" of the Buddha. Date: April 13-15 Website: www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com


Macau Top Rank Boxing
Zou Shiming makes his professional debut as a boxer at the Venetian Macau's Cotai Arena in April. His opponent will be Argentina's Javier Francisco Maciel. Zou is a two time Olympic gold medal winner and three time world amateur champion. The Top Rank event headlines Brian Viloria defending his WBA and WBO flyweight titles against Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico. Tickets are on sale at all Sands China box offices. Date: April 6 Website: www.toprank.com

Britain City of Culture
Derry is Britain's City of Culture for 2013 and is hosting a wealth of cultural events that include music, sports, art and dance programmes throughout the year. Highlights include performances by Primal Scream, The London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Ballet and the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival. The Northern Ireland city will also host the Turner Prize and the biggest festival of Irish culture in the summer - the first time it's been held in the north. Date: until December. Website: www.visitbritain.com


Spain Seville's Semana Santa
Easter Week is celebrated with gusto across the Spanish-speaking world, but arguably Seville holds the most spectacular event. Over Holy Week, starting from Palm Sunday, more than 100 floats depicting the Easter story are carried through the streets of Seville from the town's churches to the cathedral. In all, 60,000 hooded members of religious organisations carry the lavish floats. The most important procession takes place at midnight on Maundy Thursday to usher in Good Friday. Date: March 24-31 Website: www.exploreseville.com

 

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