Festivals offer an amazing opportunity to experience a country and its traditions. You may have been to a city or region before but when you do so during a festival, it opens up a whole new world. The vibe is different, you discover newer food and treats. Plus there are local customs that celebrate a change of season – from summer to fall.
Sure, you may need to plan a bit in advance in some cases, and be okay with encountering more crowds. But who doesn’t love a bit of colour and adventure? Especially as we embrace fall, and get ready for the winter?
We have done the research for you, and put together a list of five fall festivals. And don’t worry if you fancy one but can’t go this year. Just save the post and add them to your travel goals!
Diwali is popularly known as the festival of lights. A pan-India festival, it is a happy collage of customs, colour, light, and delicious food. It truly brings families and communities together.
What can you expect as a tourist when you are in India during Diwali? You can look forward to entire cities being lit up with fairy lights, lanterns, clay diyas or earthen lamps, strings of marigolds and rangolis (traditional patterns filled with colours and made outside of homes, shops, and offices.) There are lot of fireworks and bursting of crackers, feasting and snacking on festival-special food, great discounts and bargains on most items, including clothing. There are also traditional ceremonies and rituals — families pray to the goddess of wealth (Lakshmi) and temples and public monuments are decorated in a special manner.
This year, Diwali falls on October 24, and usually this fall festival last for five days. You can have an immersive experience by spending Diwali with a local family, no matter which city in India you are at. Many tour operators, hotels and travel counsellors arrange custom tours and packages which help you get an intimate experience of Diwali. From sampling Diwali delicacies, to being a part of ceremonies and dressing up in Indian attire — you can do it all.
Hachiman Matsuri, Japan
This is the annual autumn festival of Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine. The shrine, home to the guardian deity known as Ujigami, plays an important part in the lives of the people of this region. Ujigami is supposed to have protective powers, and under its benevolence the residents feel safe.
The Hachiman Matsuri festival showcases 11 floats and there’s something very special about them. You will be able to see, in the floats, gold phoenixes, beautiful carvings and intricate, traditional embroidery. Once the floats are all lined up together, they are a sight to behold. It is also a must to watch the mechanical puppets known as Karakuri Hounou. These puppets are a part of the floats and a great attraction among the crowds. People throng the streets to see floats, puppets and mechanised dolls. At nighttime, various lanterns are lit up and everything looks bright and beautiful.
This fall festival falls on October 9 and 10 annually, and you can go on to explore other regions and parts of Japan after you’d a fill of the festivities. There are travel packages that take you on the golden triangle tour of Japan but in a reverse order. Which means that you can visit some of the popular attractions of Tokyo & Kyoto, and also explore the rural areas of Japan.
Oktoberfest may need no introduction, but do you know how this popular festival that is celebrated in Munich, and many other parts of the world now, came to be? It is believed that the first Oktoberfest was held in 1810. That’s when the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince took place. At that time, the festivities began on October 12th and went on till the 17th. Of course, now this autumn festival is celebrated in September and it’s largely because the month offers better weather.
Oktoberfest is back this year after a hiatus of two years and you can find all the information here. If it’s your first time, expect to be bowled over by the amazing vibe and all the beer tents, parades, concerts, events, stalls and fairground rides.
The ‘O’zapft is!’ will happen on 12 noon, September 17th and the festival runs till October 3, 2022.
Feria de Cali, Colombia
This salsa festival is in December, so it’s technically not a fall festival. But it would be good to start planning now if you fancy salsa, good music and Colombian food. Cali, Colombia plays host to this five-day festival where you can enjoy Latin folk music, different concerts and carnivals. There are tons of dance performances and parades as well so there’s plenty to do during the days and nights.
The carnival starts with a big firework display on Christmas Eve. On 25th, the opening concert paves the way for many more concerts as well as the salsa marathon called Salsódromo. Going on for five hours, the parade stretches to over a kilometer and you can watch hundreds of national and international salsa dancers making their moves. On 27th, there’s usually a super concert where some of the biggest Latin names perform. You also have the Carnival de Cali Viejo which falls on the 28th. That’s when different carnivals carry out their parades and you will be enveloped in a warm embrace of colour, music and costumes.
We suggest that you start shopping for good dancing shoes, stunning carnival costumes and end the year with dancing, Latin music and gastronomical delights. You won’t be disappointed!
Find the details of the Feri de Cali, 2022 here.
La Mercè Festival, Barcelona
A five-day festival held in honour of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, the Le Mercè is like one, big street party. This fall festival traces its origins to 1902, and its present version boasts of many fun events and activities. There’s the fire run (two different versions for adults and children) which takes place at dusk. That’s when the fire breathing ‘dragons’ and ‘devils’ roam the street with sparklers and more. The devils are special community groups in Barcelona and during festivals, they dress up in costumes and take to the streets. What fun!
Then there’s the formation of human tower, the giants parade, and a projection show. The giants parade is a great crowd puller and is often accompanied by percussion groups.
This year the festival will be held between September 23rd to 26th.
There are so many other festivals in fall – from the Moon Festival in China to the Lantern Festival in Thailand and several more! Who said fall is boring? If you have been to any, do give us a shout please.