Folk dances, art festivals and haunted happenings make the month of October the perfect time to plan your next journey. Nature and culture both beckon, as temperatures turn crisp and favourable. Whether you’re soaking in the sun on Spain’s Mediterranean coast or enjoying musical performances in a chilly Jodhpur, here’s what to see and do in October.
Detour from ever-popular Barcelona to Tarragona, a seaside city brimming with UNESCO-listed sites, sweeping views of Spain’s Mediterranean coast, and Catalan heritage. In October, avid fans hold their breath as teams from around the world soar to unfathomable heights creating human towers or castells—a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The festival also features live music and traditional dance performances.
October 5–November 11
A smorgasbord of fine dining, historical sites, trendy storefronts, and pulsating nightlife, Lyon—founded more than 2,000 years ago—is an epic adventure waiting to be explored. This fall, the Lyonnais celebrate the 150th anniversary of Vogue des Marrons, a month-long festival celebrating the first hot chestnuts and white wine of the season. Embrace your inner child as you run through haunted houses, snap photos with the Vogue des Marrons mascot, and munch on roasted chestnuts.
As the temperatures begin to drop, October is one of the best times to explore Albuquerque’s rich Native American and Spanish heritage, which influences its Southwestern art and food scene. This is also the time to see the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest annual gathering of hot-air balloons. From traditional to alien-shaped, more than 500 balloons sail through the sky, and, as evening falls, eight teams from around the world compete in the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race to see who has travelled across the longest distance in a helium-filled balloon. Musical performers such as country star Justin Moore provide the soundtrack.
With a hot drink in your hand to cope with the slight chill in the air, take in the musical extravaganza under a full moon night at the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, touted as ‘Asia’s Best Fortress’ by Time Magazine. An annual event and a global crowd-puller, the four-day long musical festival offers a rich itinerary of Rajasthani folk dances and a Rajasthani acrobatic circus along with a range of musicians from across the globe including Armenia, Reunion Island, Mali, Hungary and Ireland. Making news (and music!) overseas with Sir Mick Jagger acting as official patron, the festival has been endorsed by UNESCO as “Peoples Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development.”
For those who prefer the reel world to the real world, the 21st edition of the annual Mumbai Film Festival is where you should be this October. While the premier festival is your gateway to watching some of the most critically-acclaimed yet-to-be-released films, it also offers you the opportunity to interact with award-winning directors, producers and actors. With its history of star-studded guests that have included the likes of Brad Pitt and Darrin Aronofsky—the week-long film festival always has a pleasant surprise up its sleeve.
Between trekking through silky sand dunes and spotting drowsy desert animals such as oryx, bat-eared foxes, and Burchell’s zebras, taking a safari into the Namib desert can be an unforgettable experience. But night is when the desert truly comes alive. Before letting the sandman whisk you away, watch as the Orionids meteor shower lights up the sky with remnants of Halley’s Comet around 2 a.m.
If you’re lucky, a walk through the streets of Arunachal Pradesh during the local festival of Tawang could chance you upon a 100 locals performing ‘Keng Chham’—a pagan dance to ward off evil, which has been passed down the generations. Turn another corner, and you may witness a young man throwing what looks like a 5 kg heavy stone as far as he can. This is the local sport of ‘Pong-Gor’ or what we know as ‘Shot-Put’—where the one who throws the stone the farthest, is hailed the strongest. The Tawang Festival is a chance for travellers to experience first-hand the unique culture, customs and traditions of the many tribes in the state.
Starlight Williams is an editorial researcher and writer at National Geographic.
Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.