Outdoor activities and cafe terraces come into their own. The weather is especially pleasant in the south throughout the Mediterranean regions. Yachts ply the harbours while beautiful people take to the sun loungers.

Brussels Jazz Marathon

Brussels swings to around-the-clock jazz performances for three days over the second-last weekend in May during the Brussels Jazz Marathon (www.brusselsjazzmarathon.be). Free performances are everywhere from open stages in city squares to tight-packed cafes and pubs, and encompass everything from zydeco to boogie-blues.

Cannes Film Festival

Celebrities, would-be celebrities and plenty of starstruck spectators hit the French Riviera's glitziest seafront, La Croisette, during Cannes' famous film festival, held over two weeks in May.

Queima das Fitas

Fado fills the air in the Portuguese town of Coimbra, whose annual highlight is this boozy festival of traditional music and revelry during the first week in May, when students celebrate the end of the academic year.

Karneval der Kulturen

This joyous street carnival celebrates Berlin's multicultural tapestry with parties, global nosh and a fun parade of flamboyantly costumed dancers, DJs, artists and musicians over four days in mid-May.