Thursday, September 1, 2011
London in May
At the first ray of spring sunshine, London kicks off its drab pinstriped image and jumps into sequins and nonsensical T-shirts. On days when hot-blooded types would shrug and go indoors, the number of Londoners with faces turned to the sun is endearing. City folk pull up a smidgeon of lawn in a tiny park at lunchtime, or sit outside under newly flowering window boxes at the pub. Jubilant music booms from open windows, and the plane trees boast their green. You may even get an accidental smile from one in a million people on the tube. Capture the start-of-summer vibe with a walk on London’s highest green space, Hampstead Heath.
Anchorage in salmon season, USA
Office workers in Anchorage, Alaska, get to go salmon fishing during their lunch hour. In early June the king salmon begin spawning in Ship Creek, but the wildest salmon are found spawning along downtown streets as part of the Wild Salmon on Parade, an annual event in which local artists turn fibreglass fish into anything but fish. The art competition has resulted in an Elvis Presley salmon; a salmon turned into a floatplane; ‘Uncle Salmon’ painted in patriotic red-white-and-blue stripes; and’‘Fish & Chips’, a poker-playing halibut. The 30 or so colourful fish appear on the streets and stick around until September. Fish your own salmon at hotspots like Alexander Creek and Twentymile River.
New York in June, USA
The song tipped you off : the first full summer month in New York brings a slew of parades, street festivals and outdoor concerts. Summer Stage in Central Park has an amazing line-up of pop, rock and world musicians, plus temperatures above 20°C. There are big-time discounts at top-notch eateries during Restaurant Week. Gay Pride month culminates in a major march down Fifth Avenue on the last Sunday of the month, a five-hour spectacle of drag queens, gay police officers, leathermen, parents and representatives of just about every queer scene under the rainbow.
Dublin at Christmas, Ireland
December in Dublin is remarkably high spirited. Check out the icy ‘ Christmas Dip at the Forty Foot’, 11am on Christmas Day, at the famous swimming spot in Sandycove immortalised in James Joyce’s Ulysses. A group of the very brave swims 20m to the rocks and back before Christmas lunch. Then drink a toast to the soundtrack of the Christmas masterpiece, The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’. Blow your dough and your post-Christmas crankiness at the hugely popular Leopardstown Races, from 26 to 30 December. Top it off with Dublin’s traditional funfair, Funderland, from 26 December to 9 January. Drink enough Guinness and you might try the Christmas Dip at Ringsend Pier (a couple of kilometres from the city centre), where the howling winds test the hardiest of souls.