During this Globe Guide we criss-cross the world searching out the globe’s greatest experiences to be had during July, taking in Mongolia, the Maldives, Alaska, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Finland and America along the way.
Navarra, part of Spain’s Basque country, is home to hundreds of locals and tourists who, over a full week, attempt to drink the town dry and outrun two tonnes of raging testosterone; the bull run of Pamplona in honour of San Fermin.
With warm, clear waters and an amazing array of natural reefs and sea life, the Maldives is quite simply a divers paradise, as Megan McCormick discovers. Meanwhile, KT Comer catches up with 200 cyclists for the Tour de France and Christina Chang goes to Marseilles to celebrate the French Revolution, marked on July 14th when the storming of the Bastille took place in Paris.
July also marks the anniversary of Santiago, the patron saint of Spain. Thousands of people travel north to arrive on the 25th July; as evening approaches an Islamic façade covering the front of the cathedral is set on fire symbolising the departure of the Moors from Spain
Similarly, the southern Italian fishing port of Terracina has its own religious ceremony during the month of July – La Madonna della Carmine is a lively procession that peaks with a statue of the Virgin Mary taken by boat past all the local fishing areas to bless the waters for the coming year.
If you’re looking for something unusual, you could try watching grown men covered in olive oil and dressed in tight leather wrestle with each other. The towns of Erdine and Uluborlu in Turkey host the Wrestling Festival every June and July in honour of two soldiers, who died of exhaustion while wrestling each other in the 14th Century.
Poor Neil Gibson buckles under the pressure of the Wife Carrying Festival in Finland which started as a gimmick a few years ago and has since grown into a national institution. Run in heats, the winner who manages not to drop his wife receives a mobile phone and his wife’s weight in beer!
For something even more bizarre, why not head to Gilroy, California, for the worlds famous Garlic Festival? Justine Shapiro checks out the garlic mania and opts for one of the world’s strangest ice creams.
Meanwhile, on the Italian island of Sardinia, the town of Sedillo holds a crazy horse race called La Sardia in honour of St Constantine. From the dusty hills of Sardinia to the genteel surroundings of Sienna, Ian Wright takes in a more glamorous race in the form of ‘Il Palio‘, a hectic horserace held between rival towns in the city’s main square.
Home to some of the toughest terrain known to man, Bradley Cooper ventures to the Gates of the Arctic National Park which covers eight and a half million acres of northern Alaska. Taking a float-plane from Bettles and flying 150 miles north into the park, Bradley goes in search of caribou herds as they make their annual migration south for the winter.
Finally, we join Ian Wright as he experiences the Mongolian version of the Olympic games. The Nadaam Festival at Ulaan Baatar takes place every July and is a national holiday. Highlights include archery, horse-racing and wrestling where 500 people grapple at once on the pitch.