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Top things to do in May

Explore the best things to do in the region and around the world this season, from film festivals to cultural celebrations and more

Al Gaffal Long Distance Race

🗓 May 20, 2023 📍Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Celebrating the region’s love affair with all things maritime, the Al Gaffal Dhow Race is all set to wow spectators once again this month. Now in its 32nd year, this hugely popular race is an integral part of the region's traditional sports scene as it nods to the emirate’s past by helping keep its pearl fishing and dhow sailing traditions alive.

The event will see over 100 skilled boatsman board majestic 60-foot dhows from Abu Dhabi's Sir Bu Na'air island and make their way to the Dubai International Marine Club. Visitors can set up at the Al Gaffal Village Tent at the marine club or take one of the specially-chartered ferries to view the action up close. It’s a spectacular sight to take in as hundreds of vessels with billowing white sails make their way through the calm Arabian Gulf waters to the finish line.

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Dubai Food Festival

🗓 Until May 7, 2023 📍Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai’s annual gastronomy gala is now back for its 10th edition. A don’t-miss date on the emirate's culinary calendar, the festival showcases Dubai's vibrant dining scene. Running across two weeks, the packed line-up features everything from world-famous fine dining to scrumptious street food. It also puts a spotlight on some of the city’s greatest chefs who host culinary workshops, cooking demonstrations and competitions during the event. A highlight of the festival is Dubai Restaurant Week, which gives foodies the chance to try immersive experiences at homegrown concepts, neighbourhood hotspots and hidden gems for special prices.

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Cinco De Mayo

🗓 May 5, 2023 📍Global

This annual festivity, with origins in Puebla, Mexico, is where tradition and history come together in the form of a colourful street party on the city’s boulevard. The annual event commemorates the Mexican Army's first victory over the French Empire in 1862. A reenactment of the Battle of Puebla is followed by a decadent street party with great food and music going from the morning, late into the night.

Other activities in Mexico’s fourth biggest city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, include cultural events such as concerts, theatre performances and dances. All over the world, restaurants host Mexican feasts to mark the occasion.

Cannes Film Festival

🗓 May 16 - 27, 2023 📍Cannes, France

Every year, for about 12 days in May, the quiet seaside town of Cannes transforms into the densest concentration of representatives from the worldwide film industry. Now in its 76th year, the renowned Cannes Film Festival will once again add its glamour factor to this coastal resort with an array of A-list stars ready to grace the red carpet.

Over 200,000 of the biggest names in the history of filmmaking, up-and-coming stars, film fans, studio executives and media professionals will descend on the country for this celebration of global cinema. In addition to box office tickets and passes available for purchase, free screenings are shown daily at Cinéma de la Plage, which features open-air films under the stars at Plage Mace beach for the public to enjoy.

Kelâat M'Gouna Rose Festival

🗓 May 9 - 20, 2023 📍 Tinghir Province, Morocco

Morocco's annual rose festival, which usually takes place in mid-May, attracts close to 300,000 people to El Kelaâ M’Gouna, the quaint Berber town at the foot of the M'Goun peak in the Atlas Mountains. During the week, the people of the town harvest millions of roses that stretch for kilometres along the valley that runs through the mountains. While a majority of the roses are used to produce rose water and perfumes, the excess of the flowers is used to decorate the streets and host festive petal-strewn parades. Visitors to the city during this time can enjoy authentic dishes, traditional music and dancing while perusing local shops selling soaps, perfumes and oils produced by the people of the town.

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