Event-o-Rama: 12 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:

  • Between the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, and the duchess’s pregnancy, London has had its share of the spotlight lately. The trend continues as the Chelsea Flower Show (May 21-25) marks its centennial. Come for the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual celebration of all things botanical. Leave inspired to plant a few seeds of your own.
  • Revelers who associate the holiday with margaritas may be surprised to learn that Cinco de Mayo (May 5) celebrates Mexico’s underdog defeat of France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. For an authentic Cinco de Mayo experience this year, Puebla is still the place to be.
  • Hold on to your hats, y’all. We’re headed to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby (May 4), one of the most famous horse races in the world. With high stakes, the dress-to-impress event attracts standing-room-only crowds for “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
  • Port Douglas doesn’t need a festival to draw attention. It is, after all, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. But down under, there always seems to be a reason to party. At the Port Douglas Carnivale (May 17-26), attendees soak up everything from parades to wine to scuba diving — and, of course, the warm Australian sun.
  • Catch a boat to Cheung Chau and check out the Bun Festival (May 14-18), a quirky cultural showcase with roots in the Qing dynasty. In addition to Taoist ceremonies and music, a parade, and lion dances, the highlight of the festivities comes when athletes climb a massive, bun-covered bamboo tower in a quest to collect the most treats.
  • Baltimore wears its Charm City moniker proudly, and at the 15th annual Kinetic Sculpture Race (May 4), it’s easy to see why. Participants zip across land and sea (OK, the Inner Harbor) in amphibious creations, vying for wacky titles like the Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion.
  • Some say Cagliari plays host to the largest and most colorful religious procession on Earth. Superlatives aside, the St. Efisio Festival (May 1-4) is surely a sight to behold, with thousands of costume-clad locals taking part in the commemoration of Sardinia’s patron saint.
  • Tucked between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara, Ouarzazate has hosted the Moroccan Rose Festival (May 8-10) since colonial times. To celebrate the region’s fragrant lifeblood (damask roses), the town puts on a vibrant show replete with Berber song and dance, street vendors, and of course, flower markets.
  • Thousands of miles away, Ottawa presents a similar floral fanfare. The Canadian Tulip Festival (May 3-20) draws 500,000 spectators to the national capital to see a million tulips in bloom all around the city. Fireworks, music, and street performances abound during this annual celebration of all things spring.
  • Head to Helston for the Furry Dance (May 8), one of Cornwall’s oldest and dearest traditions. Watch townspeople decked out in the finest historical attire wend through the streets whilst the Helston Town Band provides the sound track to the revelry. Wear a lily of the valley in your hair and you’ll pass for a local.
  • ArteBA (May 24-27) has captivated Buenos Aires for more than a decade, and this year is no different. The fair will highlight work from some of the best galleries in South America and abroad. Join the 120,000-plus people who are expected to descend on the “Paris of the Pampas” for this modern art extravaganza.
  • Notre Dame has long been a Paris landmark –– for 850 years, to be precise! To honor the cathedral’s staying power, churches and concert halls around the world will resound with the Notre Dame’s repertoire on World Organ Day 2013 (May 6). Find out how you can take part in the global symphony.

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


  1. Dianne
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    May 8, 2013, 10:41 am

    What about the Indianapolis 500? The whole month of May has events centered around the race.

  2. Rosie
    April 24, 2013, 9:13 am

    I think that a visit to Brighton should definitely be added! Not only is England’s largest arts festival, Brighton Fringe, taking place there’s also Brighton Festival, Artists Open Houses, HOUSE and the Foodies Festival to name but a few!

  3. Scott
    April 24, 2013, 8:10 am

    You’re missing the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Philippines on May 15.