The arrival of spring has always been cause for celebration.  Here are just some of the spring festivals and events taking place around the world this year.

Beltane, Edinburgh:  Amongst Europe's Celts Beltane fires were historically lit to acknowledge the cycle of the seasons and the growing power of the sun.  Processions led by a Green Man and a May Queen combined pre-Christian themes of death, rebirth and fertility.  Since 1988 celebration of Beltane itself has been reborn, the 30th April at Edinburgh's Calton Hill is the site of a growing performance festival.

Byron Bay Blues Fest, Queensland, Australia.  The seasons may be a little different but Byron Bay's festival has sprung up to outgrow the town's feral Aussie hippiedom.  However, it's avoided trading earnest ideals for a new set of Middle Class delusions - you've been to Glastonbury right?  In its 26th year the 2015 line-up includes The Black Keys, The Waterboys, John Mayall (yes, he's still alive) and a host of Australian talent.

Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales:  Unlike Wales's Eisteddfod Hay's 21st May ten-day event looks outside national and linguistic boundaries to encompass worldwide literature and art.  Likened by Bill Clinton to 'a Woodstock of the mind' guests this year include Stephen Fry, Germaine Greer, Kazuo Ishiguro, Dan and Peter Snow.

Holi, India and Nepal:  Visit northern India in early March and risk being assailed by excited Hindus bearing powdered paint all celebrating the vanquishing of demons and the triumph of love.   In case you're thinking, 'What's all the fuss about a bindi between the eyes?  We could all do with some divine insight.'  Think again, and prepare to be hosed down by enough multicoloured pigment to cheer up a battleship.

Chinese New Year:  Known locally as 'Spring Festival' this is the most important traditional Chinese celebration, lasting for over two weeks and culminating in the 'Lantern Festival.'  Family is at the heart of proceedings, a diary of tasks, often related to food preparation, performed on each day.  Fireworks and bright red decorations serve to cast off the dying year, making way for new growth, and new aspirations.

Cherry Blossom, Japan:  Even in the 21st century Japan is a country Westerners struggle to understand.  However, Hanami, the appreciation of delicate ephemeral beauty in cherry blossom, transcends cultures.  Celebrations involve day and night picnics in particularly blossomy surroundings. Unconnected with religious observance, dates determined by the Japanese Met Office normally fall towards the end of March.

Koningsdag, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:  The 27th April is a national holiday, birthday of recently-crowned monarch, King Willem-Alexander.  Despite an overstated liberal reputation, as a nation the Dutch are quite reserved.  Koningsdag is a catalyst for 'oranjegekte' (orange madness) when already sozzled partygoers sporting national colours attempt to refresh parts others beers could not reach…

Nowruz, Iran:  Reflecting Zoroastrian roots, fire is a theme of this Persian festival tightly tied to the spring equinox.  Certainly pre-Islamic and now effectively a secular celebration of New Year, Nowruz crosses regional borders.  However, despite a local preponderance of unsmiling clerics, Nowruz is marked most joyously and emphatically in Iran - just don't expect a free bar.

Sant Jordi, Catalonia, Spain:  The 23rd April sees dragon-slaying patron saint of Catalonia, Saint George, celebrated by the exchange of roses and books.  In Catalonia St George is also patron saint of lovers.  In Barcelona streets fill with couples perusing flower stalls - traditional gifts for women, and overflowing displays of books - reciprocal gifts for men.

Songkran, Thailand:  Thai social reserve evaporates during April's no-holds-barred water fight.  Though no longer coincident in date the festival celebrates the spring equinox, water symbolising Buddhist practices of spiritual cleansing.  Chiang Mai hosts the country's most visible Songkran, temple processions of Buddhist icons combining with prolonged pumped up water pistol battles.

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