This article first appeared on Ker & Downey on August 20, 2013. It has been updated with 2017’s festival dates.
Ker & Downey loves a party, and no matter where you go in our big, beautiful world, you’ll find a reason to celebrate. Cooler weather on both hemispheres means more outdoor fun, and these notable events in Ireland, India, Argentina, and Thailand will leave you ready to explore. Read on for more fall festivals and celebrations across the globe.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – August, 2017 Dates to be Confirmed
Singles looking to mingle head to County Clare for this annual social mixer full of dancing, racing, and a chat with matchmaker Willie Daly. The festival is the oldest matchmaking event in Europe, drawing crowds of over 20,000 people to local pubs and hotels.
Bonn Pchum Ben – Spirits of the Dead Fest – September 19 – 21
The annual Pchum Ben Festival, or Feeding of the Spirits Festival, is one of the most traditional festivals in Cambodia. This is a 15-day festival in which people dress in traditional clothing and visit their local temples to make food offerings to monks in exchange for the monk’s assistance in blessing the souls of the deceased family member or friend. Supposedly, the spirits of the dead roam the earth during this 15-day period.
Bumthang Festival – November 3 – 6
The Bumthang Festival, more commonly known as Jambay Ihakhang Drup for the old monastery it is held in, is an annual celebration in the valley of Bumthang. The monastery is believed to be one of the 108 monasteries built by Tibetan king Songsten Gampo, in the Himalayas. Built in 659 AD, it is one of the oldest landmarks of the arrival of Buddhism in Bhutan. The unique festival includes a fire blessing ceremony where locals run under a flaming dry grass gate and culminates with the “Dance of the Treasure” at midnight. This sacred dance is performed by monks wearing only a mask and it is believed that people who witness the dance are cleansed of their sins.
Beijing Music Festival – mid October – mid November
Each year artists from China and around the world converge in Beijing for the annual Beijing Music Festival, a celebration of classical music from China and the world. The festival, which began in 1998, runs from mid-October to mid-November with about 30 performances. A variety of music is showcased, from opera and chamber music to classical jazz. In addition, there are free children and student concerts and Master classes where thousands of students learn from well-known Chinese and international artists.
Gauchos Festival – November 2017 Dates to Be Confirmed
In a tradition dating back more than 70 years, the tiny Argentina town of San Antonio de Areco celebrates the traditions of the gaucho with parades and rodeo activities in the town square.
Cape Town International Kite Festival – 2017 Dates to be Confirmed
Each year the lawns and skies of Muizenberg play host to Africa’s largest kite festival, attracting talented kite makers and kite fliers from around the world. The two-day festival is complete with kite making workshops, stunt kite flying, kite battles, and craft and food stalls. Proceeds form the event benefit Cape Mental Health, who strive to make mental health care a reality for people in resource-poor communities.
Diwali – October 19, 2017
One of the most revered holidays in the Hindu religion, India celebrates Diwali, a five-day festival, with family traditions, decorated houses, and fireworks. During the five day, Indians light clay lamps outside of their homes, signifying the triumph of good over evil and protection from spiritual darkness.
Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night – November 5
On the 5th of November, the skies over Great Britain will be ablaze with fireworks and bonfires to celebrate the foiled attempt of Guy Fawkes and fellow Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605 with gunpowder filled barrels placed in the basement. For his part in the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes was arrested, tortured, and executed. Each year the failed attempt is commemorated with fireworks and bonfires burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes.
Yi Peng – 2017 Dates to be Confirmed
This festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, features live music and dance but is best known for the incredible release of thousands of lanterns into the sky. The festival of lights is meant as a time to make merit, moving from darkness to light.
Monkey Buffet – 2017 Dates to be Confirmed
Each year since 1989 thousands of monkeys have descended on long tables piled with fruits, vegetable, and sticky white rice for the annual monkey buffet festival in Lopburi, Thailand. Founded by Yongyuth Kitwattananusont, a local hotelier, the festival is held at Pra Prang Sam Yot, an overgrown Khmer temple and headquarters to a large population of long tailed macaques to drive local tourism. According to legend, the monkeys are descendants of Hanuman, a heroic monkey with human traits who founded Lopburi and must be honored. Regardless, this festival earns a spot as strangest in the world.
For more information about a fall festival or any destination that Ker & Downey travels, contact your travel professional.