By KAYDI PYETTE, Special to QMI Agency
Let May begin! Make merry this month by heading to Florida for fresh seafood, a pirate invasion and ice-cream eating contest. If that's not to your taste, get on board with cheese rolling, the world's tallest flowers and cuisine from around the world -- there's no shortage of events to satisfy any passion.
Shrimp it up
Start May off with an action-packed getaway to Florida. The World of Nations Celebration honours the City of Jacksonville's cultural diversity in Metropolitan Park with the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes of different nations. The park is transformed May 4-6 into a multi-ethnic marketplace of cuisine, crafts and entertainment from around the world. Admission is $5 for a one-day ticket. See makeascenedowntown.com. Continue the fun by exploring the nearby Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, May 4-6. Eat up northeast Florida's freshest seafood while taking in exciting pirate invasions, a juried arts show, and craft and antique booths. If that isn't enough, there's even a Best Beard competition and ice-cream eating contest. Let the games begin! The festival takes place in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. See shrimpfestival.com.
Wine and flowers
Relax and indulge with Niagara-on-the-Lake's Wine & Herb touring program each weekend this May. With one pass, access to 28 wineries in the area is yours. Each features a VQA wine-and-herb-inspired food pairing to share. Open Friday to Sunday, pass holders ($43 per person) are welcome to tour and taste from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Designated driver touring passes are $30, and include a non-alcoholic drink and food pairing at each winery. See wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com.
And since you're in the area, visit Niagara Falls to see a flower like the CN Tower. The Niagara Parks Commission is currently home to two of the world's tallest flowers to-be, which are expected to bloom mid-May. The Titan Arum is a massive bell-shaped flower that grows up to 3 metres in height, and produces a single leaf in the place of the blossom. Its leaf is the size of a small tree, measuring 6 metres tall and 5 metres across. This rare bloom lasts only for a week. Admission is $5; check the flower's progress at niagaraparks.com.
Hike or groove to some great home-grown island music on the small Caribbean isle of Dominica. Renowned for its natural beauty, tourists luxuriate in unspoilt nature and authentic culture. Join Hike Fest on May 5, 19 or 26, the best way to explore the island along sections of the Caribbean's only long-distance hiking trail. If grooving is more your style, music fans will gather at Fort Shirley in Dominica's Cabrits National Park for a Jazz 'N Creole festival on May 27, featuring local jazz artists and international acts. See dominica.dm.
East Coast wonder
East Coast heart, small town flavour and stunning landscape -- what's not to love? The Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival in Norris Point, Nfld., is a fabulous mix of outdoor activities, storytelling, culinary events and great music. Running May 18-27, with a packed schedule of guided hikes, storytelling, concerts and kitchen parties, the area will keep you hopping. Moose sightings are practically guaranteed. Venture into nearby Gros Morne National Park to explore hiking trails and exhibits by foot, or take to the water to look for whales by kayak. Many festival events are only $10. See trailstalestunes.ca.
Take to the streets
Berlin's Carnival of Culture will blow you away with its four-day street festival of fabulous costumes, arts and cultural displays. One of the city's most popular annual events, more than one million people will enjoy performances, concerts, culinary delights and handmade arts and crafts May 25-28. The festival highlight is the street parade showcasing 4,000 professional and amateur participants from 80 nations celebrating Berlin's cultural diversity with traditional costumes and ritual dances. See karneval-berlin.de.
Cheese and Jubilee
There isn't a better place to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee than the heart of the action: London, England -- and you better book now! Celebrated over a four-day weekend, June 2-5, expect a flurry of street parties and neighbourhood picnics to honour the beloved monarch's 60-years reign. Don't miss the 1,000-boat-strong flotilla stretching down the River Thames on June 3. The events culminate on June 5 with a service at St. Paul's Cathedral, a procession to Buckingham Palace and a balcony appearance by the Queen herself. See thediamondjubilee.org.
Break up the intense royal-watching by getting the ball -- or cheese -- rolling with a visit to Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire on June 4 for some cheese rolling mayhem! Hundreds gather at the hill, an hour and a half outside of London, to watch risk-takers run, stumble and tumble after a wheel of cheese down a steep and muddy slope. Sprained ankles, broken bones and concussions are par for the course. Once merely a spectacle for locals, this wacky unsanctioned event now attracts people from all over the world. See cheese-rolling.co.uk.
This story was posted on Sun, April 29, 2012
More HeadlinesAttractions open doors across Ontario
Tiptoe through Ottawa tulip fest
Magic carpets of Tenerife
Niagara's 50 great experiences
Happening in April