Loaded (Your Calendar, That Is)

Our unscientific but highly authoritative guide to the 20 BEST PARTIES on the planet

International Relations

A few key phrases to get you started...

AUSTRIA: Du g'foist ma. (I like you.)
BRAZIL: Acabei de chegar na cidade, voce poderia me dizer onde fica seu apartamento? (I'm new in town; can I have directions to your apartment?)
SPAIN: A San Fermín pedimos por ser nuestro patrón nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición. ¡Viva San Fermín! (We ask of Saint Fermín, for he is our patron, to guide us in the bull run, giving us his blessing. Long live Saint Fermín!)
UK: Can I borrow a rubber? (Can I borrow an eraser?)

Go Global
BECAUSE YOU NEED TO GET OUT—WAY OUT

KITZBÜHEL, AUSTRIA
Hahnenkamm
[January 18–20]
Arguably the most technical and dangerous downhill course on the FIS World Cup circuit—and the biggest bash. Austrians blow their horns, the Swiss clang their cowbells, and everybody crowds the course to taunt. Where to Be The Londoner, where tradition dictates racers tend bar for the town's vigorous post-race party (and where "half the alcohol is in the air," according to Daron Rahlves, 2003 champion). Expect Horse-drawn sleighs trotting past speaker stacks pumping European techno. Wild Card The crack of skis slapping the snow as racers may or may not land 100 feet of arm-flailing air from the legendary Mausefalle jump. Sightings Former Austrian champions like Franz Klammer and Hermann Maier. hahnenkamm.com

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Carnival
[February 2–5]
A feverish, four-day party that culminates on Fat Tuesday, with Rio's local samba schools competing in parades, each trying to outdo the others with elaborate floats and extravagant destaques, the feathered, sequined, and often topless dancers. Where to Be The drummers' niche, at the Sambodromo, locus for the main parade, where drummers from every samba school work the crowd. Expect Half-naked dancers that make us Puritans blush—then join in. Wild Card Whatever you want. We won't tell. Sightings Politicians and celebrities mingle among 500,000 visiting foreigners. rio-carnival.net

HONG KONG, CHINA
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Tournament
[March 28–30]
A tournament with teams of only seven players, instead of the traditional 15, which allows individuals to shine. Where to Be The Sevens Village—opposite the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium—has a huge screen, a rollicking beer garden, and no entrance fee. Expect Hilarious mini-rugby, played between games, by children ages four to 11. Wild Card Take a high-speed ferry to nearby Macau to gamble in the enormous, lavish casinos of the Asian (and less cheesy) Las Vegas. Sightings Hong Kong's favorite son, Jackie Chan, attended last year, as did former UK prime minister John Major. hksevens.com

Glastonbury, UK
Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts
[June 27–29]
Europe's largest music-and-performing-arts festival, held on 900 acres in the Vale of Avalon—possible burial spot of King Arthur—near the mystical town of Glastonbury, draws more than 175,000 revelers. Where to Be The hedonistic nighttime madness of the parties at Lost Vagueness eventually lure everyone. Expect Great music on six huge stages and numerous side venues. The final lineup won't be available until May, but Amy Winehouse, the Killers, and Björk performed last year. Wild Card Stay out all night, then hike six miles to watch the sun rise at Glastonbury Tor. Sightings Kate Moss and fellow London hipsters. glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

PAMPLONA, SPAIN
Fiesta de San Fermín
[July 6–14]
An annual event that supposedly honors Christian martyr Saint Fermín. In reality, it's all about the crazies who run a barricaded course through the city with the six bulls to be fought that day in the ring. Where to Be Vuelta del Castillo at 11 p.m. for the nightly fireworks display. Expect Several thousand people running alongside 1,300-pound bulls. Wild Card Wear a red handkerchief for a week without being mistaken for an ascot fetishist. Sightings Local Spaniards dying (sometimes literally) to run with bulls.

Count Down

Rethink new year’s with these five unique blowouts

Home In One Piece
Who to call after having too much fun

Tahoe: Sunshine Taxi, 530-544-5555

Scottsdale: Scottsdale Taxi, 480-994-4567

Portland: Broadway Cab, 503-227-1234

Reykjavík: Hreyfill Taxi, 354-588-5522

Jost Van Dyke: Bun's Tequila Sea Taxi, 284-495-9281
JOST VAN DYKE, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
A Night at Foxy's
2:14 P.M. Set anchor in Jost Van Dyke's Great Harbor. 6 P.M. Dinghy over to Foxy's Tamarind Bar and enjoy barbecue and frosty home brews. 11:43 P.M. After hours of marinating in beer and local music, link arms with 3,000 soggy beach bums and, of course, Foxy Callwood, the calypso-ballad-belting bar owner, to sing "Auld Lang Syne." 9 A.M. Wake up somewhere on the beach and hitch a boat ride over to Willy T's, a restaurant on an old ship off Norman Island, near the fabled site of Long John Silver's treasure.

PORTLAND, OREGON
PDX Rock City
6:34 P.M. Grab a bike from the lobby of the Ace Hotel—your weekend digs—and ride two miles to Clarklewis, a sustainable restaurant that inhabits an old loading dock and serves local meat and produce. 9:35 P.M. Return the bike and walk to the Crystal Ballroom, one of Portland's most historic concert venues. Drop the flannel and celebrate by dancing on a floating dance floor. 12:01 A.M. Find your friends and walk across the Burnside Bridge to the Fir Ball ($40 cover), at Doug Fir, an indie-music venue and restaurantbar that looks like it was designed by an artsy Paul Bunyan. 4:22 A.M. Wander back to the Ace Hotel with a fresh case of tinnitus.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA
The Blockbuster
3:07 P.M. Take your last turns at Heavenly. 8:58 P.M. Buy a Sierra Nevada for that cute snowboarder back at the Block, your hotel, designed in part by pro snowboarder Marc Frank Montoya. 10:30 P.M. Head to closed U.S. 50 for the four-lane block party where drunken revelers make their way on foot from Park Avenue, California, to Lake Park Way, Nevada. 11:59 P.M. Duck into MontBleu Casino. Put all your money down on the roulette table and pray.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
The L.A. Alternative
6:14 P.M. Steal away from the hardbodies poolside at the Mondrian Scottsdale. This urban hipster resort hotel kicked off the city's recent transformation from blue-hair buffet to fun micro-L.A. 7:42 P.M. Stop by the Rusty Spur Saloon, a kitschy former bank turned western bar. Knock back a few 8th Street Ales with your long-lost college fraternity brother and the cowboy-boot crowd. 10:11 P.M. Head back downtown for Scottsdale's Ultimate Block Party, on Craftsman's Court. Mingle with the more than 10,000 revelers in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl. 11:57 P.M. Decide your wingman is a loser and strike out on your own.

REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND
Fire and Ice
5:35 P.M. When it comes to New Year's Eve fireworks laws, Reykjavík doesn't have many—so stock up on six-inch mortars. 8:44 P.M. Hit the 11 bonfires scattered throughout the city. 11:59 P.M. Prepare for a huge light show—Iceland imports 396 tons of explosives annually. 12:07 A.M. Head to Kaffibarinn, a bar partly owned by Damon Albarn (vocalist for Blur, Gorillaz, and the Good, the Bad & the Queen). 8 A.M. Wake up at 101 Hotel, stomach some hakarl (putrefied shark meat, a questionable hangover cure), then head to Blue Lagoon, the classic local hot springs.

Out of Doors, Off the Hook

Ain’t no roof on the mother, sucka!

Parties Not On Our List
1) Anything involving Brooklyn hipsters, including but not limited to kickball, tall bikes, and the Idiotarod

2) The midwinter feast of Thorrablot in Iceland: burned lamb's head and ram-testicle cakes?

3) Festivities that include the words "spring break" and "Daytona Beach"

4) The Rainbow Gathering: 5,000 hippies, zero sanitation infrastructure. Enough said.

17,600 FEET, NEPAL
Everest Base Camp
[Spring & Fall]
Situated below the Khumbu Icefall, Base Camp resembles a wilder, dirtier Chamonix. On site at any given time: an ex–Playboy bunny, rich Texans, Japanese retirees, and at least one former acid-dealing Scotsman. In the Nalgene Scotch or fermented mare's milk. The Circus Climbers converge on the mountain in April to begin summit bids—but not before excessive drinking, pickup baseball games, and the occasional Sherpa striptease. BYO Collapsible party tent, bottled oxygen, case of 25-year-old Macallan.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Camp 4
[All Summer Long]
The notorious epicenter for dirtbag climbers since the heyday of Yvon Chouinard. These days Chouinard sightings may be rare, but the dirtbag legacy lives on in the form of Hans Florine and the Huber brothers. In the Bottle Full Sail Pale Ale. Warning Don't expect open arms, but a case of beer can do wonders. BYO Ropes, haul bag, sleeping bag.

MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE
Bonnaroo
[June 12–15]
Love child of Woodstock and Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo is spread across 700 acres and serves up one of the most diverse band lineups of any summertime music festival. Last year's roster featured shows by the Police, Wilco, and Ben Harper. In the Dixie Cup Magic Hat Circus Boy Hefeweizen. Tip Call yourself a "music blogger" (who isn't these days?) and try to finagle one of the festival's much-coveted media bracelets. Last year, lucky journos were treated to press-only acoustic shows by Cold War Kids and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Alec Ounsworth. BYO Pimped-out RV, collapsible party tent, and kegerator.

STURGIS, SOUTH DAKOTA
Sturgis
Motorcycle Rally
[August 4–10]
Break out the leather chaps. The weeklong rally includes nearly half a million bikers and a dizzying array of fashion shows, full-contact street fighting, coleslaw wrestling, and tattooed flesh. In the Flask Jack, Jim, Johnnie, or George. The View Watch the mad cavalcade from a balcony at the historic Franklin Hotel, in Deadwood. At night, Buffalo Chip offers camping, cabins, World War II Russian tank rides, and the Miss Buffalo Chip pageant. BYO '79 Harley Shovelhead chopper with ape hangers, "Mama" in cutoff ass pants.

BLACK ROCK CITY, NEVADA
Burning Man
[August 25–September 1]
Let's face it: You hate Burning Man because, deep down, you want to go. And who wouldn't have a good time in a clothing-optional, free-for-all art carnival in the desert? In the Jerry Can Water to combat the 107-degree heat. The Party All around you. Drop those inhibitions, break out the body paint, and mingle at the Booby Bar or Barbie Death Camp & Wine Bistro, where they serve full-flavored California merlot while dismembering the iconic American doll. BYO Tent, sunscreen, pink unitard, and glow sticks.

Games On

At these sports events, the crowd always goes wild

KEY WEST, FLORIDA
Acura Key West 2008
[January 21–25]
A five-day, ten-race sailing bonanza that averages 260 boats and 3,000 sailors. What You're Drinking Painkillers. "I'm on the List" Pay $75 to hop on the 125-foot Liberty Clipper, a luxe yacht that follows the racecourse and offers prime viewing and entertainment. Blend in by wearing a purple knit polo (collar popped), pleated khaki shorts, and Sperry Top-Siders (no socks). Sure Bet The onshore party tent, called the Big Top, is in Old Town Key West. Mingle with international sailing competitors and industry execs while sipping cocktails and watching replays from the day's races. Or head to Sloppy Joe's bar, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. premiere-racing.com

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA
U.S. Open of Surfing
[July 19–27]
The best high-stakes surfing and bikini watching in the continental U.S. What You're Drinking Tequila. "I'm on the List" The Saturday night after finals, the winning surfer hosts a private party. Last year's champ, C.J. Hobgood, had a barbecue at a rented house in Huntington Beach. Let's hope he wins again. For an invite, buy a lot of cool stuff at the Goods Surf and Skate shop, in Indialantic, Florida, co-owned by Hobgood. Sure Bet Duke's Huntington Beach, for a surfside view of the break and buckets of ice-cold Corona. usopenofsurfing.com

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
The Kentucky Derby
[May 3]
A 133-year-old tradition featuring high-society women in funny hats—and a few very fast thoroughbreds. What You're Drinking Mint juleps. "I'm on the List" Doublemint Gum Twins Patricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla Barnstable host the annual Barnstable Brown Gala at Patricia's estate, on Spring Drive. Donate $50,000 and odds are good that you'll get in. Sure Bet Join more than 1.5 million people at the Derby Festival, a two-week countdown to the races that starts with a fireworks display over the Ohio River and ends with a massive parade. kentuckyderby.com

ASPEN, COLORADO
Winter X Games
[January 24–27]
Four days of sheer mountain madness, especially in halfpipe and slopestyle skiing and boarding. What You're Drinking Red Bull and vodka, in no particular order. "I'm on the List" Every night, sponsor Target hosts a VIP party with a TBD famous DJ at the slopeside Target Chalet at Aspen Highlands. Past freebies have included iPods, digital cameras, and flat-screen TVs. Sponsored riders Shaun White and Simon Dumont create the 75-person guest list each day. Sure Bet Eric's Bar, on East Hyman street. expn.com

IOWA
RAGBRAI
[July 20–26]
A mesmerizing tour of Iowa pavement as you cycle an average of 471 miles across corn fields. What You're Drinking "The Champagne of Beers" from a plastic cup. "I'm on the List" Last year, Lance Armstrong hosted a private reception and concert for cancer fundraisers at the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls. He'll likely do the same this year. To get in, donate a recognizable sum to the LiveStrong Foundation—and don't forget your yellow bracelet. Sure Bet The support vehicles—colorfully painted converted school buses—are party machines. Some have decks, full bars, and hot tubs. ragbrai.org

The Best of Times in the Worst of Times

Even in the creepiest of locales, a war correspondent found an excuse to celebrate

JOE CLAIMED TO HAVE TAUGHT IDI AMIN how to box, and he didn't tolerate any trash talking about his protégé.

"Like this business about Amin eating people," Joe, a towering Irishman in his mid-sixties, growled, gulping down the rest of his ninth or twelfth Guinness. "That was just some concoction of his enemies."

In the autumn of 1986 there wasn't much to put Kampala, the war-ravaged capital of Uganda, on the top of anyone's social circuit. Idi Amin was long gone, yet Kampala was still a creepy place. I was a fledgling journalist, but the skills honed in my former profession—bartender—had convinced me there had to be a party going on somewhere.

I found it in the basement of the British High Commission. Every Saturday and Wednesday night, the downtown space became the watering hole of the city's white expatriate community, filled with diplomats, relief workers, shady businessmen, and old colonial-era hangers-on like Joe. In one corner was the dartboard. Behind the bar, two men in shirtsleeves deftly poured draft beers. It was fun—a swirling, staggering mass of people enjoying themselves to the din of old British pop tunes—in a place where fun was a rare commodity.

The reason the Kampala pub has stuck in my mind is that, for the first time, I truly understood the function of partying: It's about transcending everyday concerns, about being transported to a place where all is immediate and intense and unguarded—and where, with any luck, all will be forgotten by morning. As an outsider, I was instantly accepted and taken into others' confidence.

As in the case of Joe. Late that evening, after the Guinness had poured far too freely, he admitted that, yes, it probably was true that Amin had killed his son and eaten his liver. But then he wagged a finger. "But as far as him eating bodies, I think that was probably greatly exaggerated."

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