PERTH Feb. 5
This year's edition of the massive festival tour (think Lollapalooza times 10) features Franz Ferdinand, the White Stripes, Iggy and the Stooges, the Magic Numbers, the Go! Team, and Henry Rollins. What began in 1992 as a one-time concert in Sydney has since exploded into a multicity tour with attendance of more than 250,000. Big Day Out also offers an opportunity to hear new sounds from up-and-coming Australian bands. The Perth show features sets from the Kill Devil Hills, the pop-loving quartet the Avenues, and punk outfit Stars Don't Fall. Tickets are $81. Other cities on the tour include Melbourne (Jan. 29), and Auckland, New Zealand (Jan. 20).
Claremont Showgrounds, Graylands Road, Claremont. www.bigdayout.com.
MONTREAL Feb. 16-26
Montreal High Lights Festival
Organizers of the Montreal High Lights Festival (Festival Montréal en Lumière for you Francophones) have accomplished the near-impossible task of making icy Quebec an appealing destination in the middle of February. The celebration of food and music features performances by French actress and sultry chanteuse Arielle Dombasle, international pop sensations Pink Martini, and Quebec's legendary singer-songwriter Michel Rivard. The festival opens with a performance from acclaimed Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard on Feb. 16 at the Théâtre Maisonneuve at the Place des Arts. The food and wine component of this year's festival celebrates the Alsace region of France, and Vancouver. The festival closes with the Hydro-Québec Celebration of Light, an amazing light show that attempts to bring the locals out of hibernation for an evening.
Tickets are available at Spectrum deMontréal, 318 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest.514-908-9090 or 866-908-9090.www.montrealenlumiere.com.
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 11-19
Valentine sex tours at the zoo
This is the one time of the year at the San Francisco Zoo that parents leave the kids at home to attend these adults-only educational tours. For the 17th year, penguin keeper Jane Tollini leads a three-hour tour that details the romantic habits of the zoo's residents. The seven tours are strictly 21-plus, because Tollini's amusing and anthropomorphized descriptions can be truly blush-worthy. This animal sex-ed class also includes chocolates, champagne, and a ''mashed potato bar." The tour, in its 17th year, regularly sells out, so reservations are required. Tickets are $60 per person.
1 Zoo Road, San Francisco. 415-753- 7030. www.sfzoo.org.SYDNEY Feb. 13-March 3
During its bacchanalian Mardi Gras festival, Sydney transforms itself into the gayest, tipsiest place on the planet. Still, culture lurks reluctantly behind the parades, Angelina Jolie drag queens, and snug leather trousers. The Mardi Gras Film Festival offers an international view of gay cinema with the steamy Indian lesbian love story ''The Journey," the edgy French entry ''Le Clan (Three Dancing Slaves)," and the gay US slasher ''Hellbent." There are also screenings of gay and lesbian classics such as ''Paris Is Burning" (1990) and ''Beautiful Thing" (1996). Tickets for each film are $11 and show at the Dendy Newtown and the Palace Academy Twin in Paddington.
011-61-2-9332-4938. ww.queerscreen.com. au.SAVANNAH, GA. March 17-April 2
A strange blend of blues, Americana, and classical, the Savannah Music Festival effectively collects disparate genres and ties them together with a two-week festival and wine gala. Emmylou Harris headlines at the Lucas Theatre on March 18, while André Watts plays Rachmaninoff with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra the following evening. Tickets for most shows are surprisingly inexpensive, beginning at $15. Concerts are at venues throughout the city.
Contact Christopher Muther at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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