Attending good festivals whilst abroad is akin to experiencing a holiday within a holiday – the normal rules of real-life simply don’t apply. Some may offer a fascinating glimpse into another culture, steeped in rich history and tradition. Others might take you into a world of fantasy where fancy dress and parades are the order of the day. And others still may simply encourage you to let your hair down and dance ‘til dawn. Whatever your tastes, there’s a big old world out there, filled with festivities that cater for every taste. Here are some of our favourite festivals in October – which one will you choose?
If you like your beer then Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer festival, is the place for you to be. A 16-18 day folk festival running from September through to October every year, the festivities kick off with the Brewer’s Parade and the ceremonial opening of the virgin barrel by the lord mayor. The rest is a swirl of traditional Bavarian dress, long trestle tables and pint upon pint of the amber nectar. The festival also houses a collection of funfair rides just in case you fancy a spin on the Ferris wheel for a view of Munich at night.
Melbourne Festival, Australia
Head Down Under this October to enjoy one of Australia’s flagship international arts festivals in the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Melbourne. For 17 days, attendees can revel in world-class performances and exhibitions from both national and international artists held in a variety of venues across the city. Whether it’s theatre, music, dance or circus acts which pique your interest, your inner culture vulture is sure to be satisfied by the myriad of exciting shows on offer.
Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is celebrated in spectacular style all over the world. But to experience the true cultural roots of the festival, you need to travel to India for five days of fireworks, firecrackers and simply fantastic food. Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, the light driving back the darkness without pulling a single punch. Whether you head to the royal city of Jaipur to admire the illuminated markets, the holy city of Varanasi to watch ghostly lanterns float away on the River Ganges, or the historical city of Delhi where sizzling street food stalls will vie for your attention with the cascading lightshow overhead, Diwali in India offers a magical experience you won’t soon forget.
The Village Halloween Parade, USA
For people of all ages, Halloween is one of the top events in the autumn calendar, a chance to indulge your dark side with a little bit of fancy dress and a whole lot of imagination. New York City offers revellers the chance to participate in one of the most famous Halloween festivals in the world – the Village Halloween Parade. Each year, on All Hallow’s Eve, people of all ages dress up in fantastical costumes to parade and dance their way through streets decorated in a Halloween theme. Colourful floats, creative performances and talented musicians provide the entertainment along the way before ending the night at costume parties put on throughout the city.
River festival, Laos Cambodia and Thailand
The full moon of late October or early November marks the end of the Buddhist Lent, otherwise known as Vassa. After months of fasting and meditation, the monks view it as a time to celebrate – Laos, Cambodia and Thailand with their significant Buddhist population tend to agree. As the monks leave their monasteries, they are honoured with alms, gifts and candlelit processions whilst illuminated boat processions and longboat races are also a common part of the festivities.
To further add to the magical ambience, the River Festivals are often accompanied by natural phenomena. On the Mekong Delta, orbs of flame burst out of the river, it is thought due to flammable natural gases released from the river bed whilst in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, while boat races battle the reversing current as the Tonlé Sap suddenly changes its direction at this time every year.
If you’re feeling festival-ready and preparing to head off abroad this October, don’t forget to purchase your travel insurance and make sure that, no matter what the experience has in store, you are safely covered against a range of eventualities.