Until 31 January, 2018
Bamako, Mali

Catch this fascinating Pan-African showcase of photography and videography in its final month, highlighting the crème de la crème of the continent’s contemporary creators.

Founded in 1994, Bamako Encounters is a biennial cultural event that works with local and international partners – from galleries to museums and French cultural centres – to put African photographers and filmmakers front and centre through exhibitions, screenings, workshops, lectures, educational outreach programmes and more. Integral to the event is the Afrotopia exhibition, this year curated by Marie Ann-Yemsi and held at the Musée National du Mali. Expect to see contemporary African art as never before.

[Photo Left © Nyani Quarmyne, Mbera, 2013, Photo Right © Kiripi Katembo, Avancer, « Un regard », 2009]

London International Mime Festival
10 January – 3 February, 2018
London, England

Europe’s most unbelievable masters of mime head to London for a showstopping line-up of theatrics, from slapstick to melodrama, circus and aerial acrobatics, with workshops, discussions, meet-and-greets and film screenings mixed in.

Hailed as the longest-running physical and visual theatre event in the world, the festival offers a dizzying array of weird and wonderful acts for visitors of all ages, with last year’s iteration hosting more than 120 performances in addition to hands-on workshops in film and theatre. Highlights of the 41st edition include manga-inspired dancers, taxidermy animal puppets, silent concerts and mesmerising Gandini Juggling (a truly unique mash-up of theatre and circus) – all at various venues across the city.

Hay Festival
25-28 January, 2018
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

Literature lovers, lend us your ears – you won’t want to miss the illustrious Hay Festival when it descends on charming Cartagena for one of the foremost Spanish literary gatherings of the year.

The list of notable attendees reads like a literati who’s who, with last year’s edition playing host to Simon Sebag Montefiore, Andrea Wulf, Hisham Matar and Ana María Machado, along with dozens of other celebrated journalists, poets, musicians, writers and artists from Colombia and abroad. But luminaries aren’t the only draw: the festival encompasses more exhibitions, workshops, seminars, discussions, readings and performances than one could possibly attend in 4 days. Inclusive as well as educational, organisers have designed the event to be accessible for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, from the Festavalito for kids to the Hay Festival Comunitario, which brings activities and events to the most vulnerable communities in the city and surrounding areas.

[Photos: Daniel Mordzinski]

Carnaval De Québec
26 January – 11 February, 2018
Quebec City, Canada

You can’t escape winter in Québec – so you might as well embrace it! When the holiday season has ended and the lights and decorations are coming down elsewhere, Québec City is just getting warmed up (figuratively, of course).

Officially founded in 1955, but with a tradition reaching back to the 19th century, the Québec Carnival is as much an homage to the culture of the region as it is a lively way to chase off the winter blues. If it’s fun and winter-related, it’s happening here: there are feasts and banquets, masquerade balls, ice slides, snow sculpture contests and extravagant parades led by Bonhomme, the festival’s jolly snowman mascot (who lives in the tastefully graffiti-decorated Ice Palace across from the Parliament Building). Restaurants and cafés set up outdoor patios, and winter sports – from ice canoeing to hockey, snowshoeing, ice fishing and cross-country skiing – abound, encouraging any and all to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter what the thermometer says. Feeling a bit chilly? Knock back a bit of caribou, tie your traditional arrow sash a bit tighter, and join the fun!

[Photos: © Carnaval De Québec/Audet Photo]

Ice Music Festival
31 January – 4 February, 2018
Geilo, Norway

A popular winter destination in a region that’s lousy with winter wonderlands, Geilo is worth a peek on its own merit. Once a year, however, it sweetens the pot by adding the world’s only Ice Music Festival to its roster of attractions.

At once a tribute to sculpture art, music and sustainability, everything at the festival – from the venue to the decor and the instruments themselves – is entirely carved from ice and snow, often just hours before the performances. Past years have seen ice drums, ice harps, ice cellos, ice fiddles and even an ice didgeridoo, with musical genres spanning rock and roll to pop, jazz, classical, folk and R&B. Dresswarm and grab a seat on a deerskin-covered ice bench, but do so soon – who knows how much longer an icy festival of this scale will be possible.

[Photos: Emile Holba for the Ice Music Festival, Geilo]

[Photo at Top: Carnaval De Quebec © Audet Photo]

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