The holy month of Ramadan began Aug. 22, and over 1 billion Muslims around the globe will be observing it by fasting from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. They’ll be waking up early for a hearty suhoor meal before dawn and an iftar dinner after sunset. Sound hard? Well, it is, but different cultures have found unique ways to celebrate this sacred time.
-The first day of Ramadan is greeted with fireworks and celebrations in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
-In Dubai, a loud canon booms when it’s time to stop eating in the morning and to break fast at sunset.
Muslims in Cairo keep things festive at night, reveling by staying up late after evening prayers to eat and smoke sheesha till the early hours of the morning.
The streets of Reno, Nevada, resembled the final scenes of a Quentin Tarantino bloodfest this weekend by the time the local fire department arrived to hose down the squishy red residue of 50,000 pounds of squashed tomatoes left clinging to the sidewalks and shopfronts of the Biggest Little City in the World. More than 5,000 people wound up their pitching arms on Saturday to hurl tomatoes at one another and at city officials in what is being called the largest food fight in North America, La Tomatina.
With the Labor Day holiday arriving a little later this year, the summer seems a bit longer. I don’t know anyone who isn't grateful. While many festivals finish their seasons in August, a few extend into the warm weeks of September. And this summer has brought some remarkable exhibitions, worldwide. There are only a few weeks to catch them, but any of them will refresh, provide a cultural charge, and give your imagination a boost—just in time for fall. Here are my picks:
Basel, Switzerland. "Vincent van Gogh, Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes" at the Kunstmuseum Basel (through September 27). In his intense short career, Van Gogh produced some 70 landscape paintings, depicting scenes in Holland, southern, and northern France. They are gathered in Basel for a landmark show, drawn from public and private collections as far as Hawaii and Japan, some lent for the first time. Because of their fragile state, some canvases may not travel again. That's why you should.
You can’t quite prepare yourself for the amazing sight of thousands of salmon heading upstream to spawn. That’s because they do not travel, la di da, to their spawning spot. They fight for it.
I observed this natural show this week in Ketchikan, Alaska, a historic town of about 8,000 people, and a popular cruise port on the Inside Passage. (I arrived in town on a Royal Caribbean ship.)
While most don’t want to think about the end of summer, the Finns are celebrating with crayfish and schnapps. From now through October, hotels, tour groups, and restaurants are celebrating huge hauls of crayfish in this singular Finnish tradition. (Finland's crayfish celebrations began in the early 1900's, when monied Swedish and Russian jetsetters took to feasting on the succulant shelfish while visitng Finnish seaside resorts.)
As T+L's resident tennis guru, I feel compelled to blog that now is a great time to get US Open tickets. It's a month away!
The only grand-slam tennis tournament to be played at night under the lights, (despite Wimbledon's fancy new roof), New York City's tennis event is filled with lots of amazing distractions during the day in a beautiful venue, but really gets going after dark—just like the city itself. Here, an unscientific list of reasons to get your tickets now, before they sell out:
10. Tickets to both day and evening sessions are affordable, starting at $48
9. Thanks to some new budget hotels, staying in New York is now affordable, too
8. This is world class tennis (look for a Federer-Nadal nail-biter in the final)
7. Daytime tickets are still available for sections 301-304 of Arthur Ashe Stadium. (These coveted seats are in the shade during the whole day session.)
6. One of the many perks for Amex cardholders is a free loan of a nifty hand-held "Vision" TV monitor that streams all the matches in play, with live commentary. It's awesome. (Disclosure: Travel + Leisure is owned by American Express.)
5. Hometown hero John McEnroe is in the house.
Whitney Lawson is a photo editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photos courtesy of Whitney Lawson.
One night after a mind-blowing dinner at El Bulli last week I caught the opening stand of the new U2 tour in Barcelona.. The show was astonishing, the crowd and the venue equally so. Read my full report here.
BOY, do I want to do this.
Five days in August in Camden, Maine, in the company of 20 fellow foodies and four guest chefs, for a sort of locavore Olympics: lobster-trapping, oyster-shucking, mussel-hunting, trout-smoking, sausage-making, mozzarella-crafting, blueberry-picking, pie-making, whiskey-distilling, ale-brewing—even pig-butchering, under the tutelage of the extremely cool Tom Mylan from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Daughters. All that, plus a lobster bake and dinner at Francine Bistro with the fantastic Brian Hill?
Peter Jon Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor at large.
Photo courtesy of Salt Water Farm
Confession: When I first heard about Luminato three years ago, I thought—for a moment—about canceling plans to go a friend’s wedding to attend the first year of the ridiculously ambitious Toronto arts festival. With literally hundreds of artists slated to participate, I was, to put it mildly, giddy over its utopian vision of arts, community, and urban renewal. It felt big and historic, and I wanted to be there in person for the event’s debut.
Luminato 2009 (June 5 - June 14) looks to be just as electrifying, with a dizzying line-up that includes the world’s largest guitar ensemble, the Canadian Tenors, family dance parties, tastings from top Toronto chefs, public art pranksters, and a closing celebration from Canada’s-own Cirque du Soleil . Most events are free to the public.
What do you do on a too-beautiful-to-believe summer day in New York City?Head to Governors Island to watch HRH Prince Henry of Wales (Prince Harry to you and me) play polo, of course. This past Saturday, May 30, I was lucky enough to have been the guest of Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and St. Regis New York’s brand new British General Manager, Paul Nash, at the star-studded charity event.
Just a few of the celebs who turned out to see the Prince go head to head with smoldering Argentine polo phenom Nacho Figueras: A fedora-clad Madonna (with sons David and Rocco, the later sporting a mohawk), Kate Hudson, Chloe Sevigny (in creamy Chloe), LL Cool J (in a handsome brown Kangol for his first-ever polo match), model Alek Wek (wearing a canary yellow frock and a coordinating orange cast on her wrist), designers Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, and my Today Show pal Matt Lauer. St. Regis New York sweetened an already memorable day by serving its classic Afternoon Tea, courtesy of Adour pastry chef Sandro Micheli, just as Prince Harry claimed the winner’s trophy.
See my behind-the-scenes slideshow.
Nilou Motamed is the features editor at Travel + Leisure.