As summer has ended, you may think that festivals are finished too. Well, not exactly. This new season also brings a wide range of exciting and unique celebrations. The leaves fall, but the fun remains.
Let’s find out about cool festivals happening this autumn that you may not know about!
Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
We have mentioned previously Oktoberfest in Beer around the world article, but it is never too much to remind you how incredible this festival is. Held in Munich, this beer festival ground includes numerous beer tents. Inside, you’ll find live bands and plenty of free-flowing beer served in large tankards. This festival takes place at the end of September and the beginning of October and it is a great way to celebrate autumn!
Day of the Death, Mexico
Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a world-renowned Mexican holiday that commemorates deceased loved ones on November 1st and 2nd. This autumn festival is also known as All Saints’ Day.
This is a lively celebration full of bright colors and food, as streets are decorated with colorful flower displays and paper cutouts. Street vendors sell candy skulls and local women paint their faces to resemble Catrina, a skeleton symbol of the Day of the Dead. Many families build home altars in memory of their loved ones who have died and provide their favorite foods and drinks, flowers, candles, and clothing (known as ofrendas) are placed around the altar to celebrate their lives. In fact, it is believed that the Day of the Dead is the only time of year when the spirits of the dead can return to Earth.
Diwali, India's greatest celebration, is a festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the human ability to overcome. It plays a huge role in the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and some Buddhist cultures, and even though they have different significance for each religious group, all the celebrations have in common are family meals, fireworks, illuminations and lots of sweet treats. This 5 day celebration, also counts with strings of jasmine hanging around homes and pouring colored sand in front of doorways in the shape of lotus flowers as a symbol of welcome. The exact dates are not the same for each year as it is determined by the position of the moon – but it usually falls between October and November. In 2023 many families will celebrate on 12th of November.
Mid-Autumn Festival, China
The Mid-Autumn Festival also recognized as The Moon Festival, occurs on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, aligning with the full moon in the period spanning September to October.
This festival spans a three-day national holiday in China, during which families come together to partake in the festivities and admire the intricate illuminations adorning major cities throughout the country. Another cherished tradition associated with the Moon Festival involves savoring Moon cakes, a special pastry created exclusively for this occasion. The guiding principles of the Moon Festival encompass gathering with loved ones, expressing gratitude, and offering prayers. Many view the Moon Festival as an auspicious time.
La Mercè Festival, Barcelona
Every year on September 24th, Barcelona throws a massive bash called La Mercè, and it's a real blast! This shindig is all about celebrating the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy and has been a thing since way back in the Middle Ages. Picture this: street parades, live tunes, fireworks that light up the night sky, and the pièce de résistance - human towers, which is this cool tradition you'll only find in Catalonia!
If you happen to be in Barcelona during La Mercè, get ready for some serious excitement. You can’t skip gigantic wooden giants. Yep, you heard that right. These massive puppets operated by real people strut their stuff through the streets during the festivities, and it's a sight you won't want to miss!
Loy Krathong Lantern Festival, Thailand
You've got to check out Loy Krathong, better known as the 'Lantern Festival' – it's hands down one of the most stunning autumn shindigs you'll ever witness! This fantastic event happens on the night when the full moon graces the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, which usually falls in November. While Loy Krathong is celebrated all over Thailand, the real showstopper happens in Chiang Mai, where the lantern displays will blow your mind.
People traditionally release these floating lanterns called Krathong into rivers or send them soaring into the night sky. It's like a symbol of hitting the reset button and hoping for all the good vibes and prosperity to come your way. The cool thing is, this festival is super inclusive. Visitors are totally encouraged to get in on the action – you can either buy one of those lanterns or get crafty and make your own. Joining this shared ritual is a memory you won't forget!
Nuit Blanche, Paris, France
Jean-Baptiste Gurliat/ Ville de Paris
If you're into art and culture you will love Nuit Blanche! While the event used to take place on the first Saturday of October - this year was held on June 3rd. It's an extraordinary autumn fest that happens once a year. For just one night, Paris throws open the doors of its museums, galleries, and venues, and they stay open until the wee hours. And the best part? It won't cost you a dime to explore some of Paris' most iconic spots under the cover of darkness.
But that's not all – this 'White Night' extravaganza goes above and beyond. Public transport keeps chugging along, so you can hop around the city with ease. Plus, there are live performances happening all over the place, adding an extra layer of magic to the night.
Trust us, if you're an art and culture enthusiast, Nuit Blanche is a must-see event and has spread around the world, with events in over 120 cities.
Samhain, the ancient Celtic tradition, is the ancestral precursor to what we now know as Halloween. This festivity has deep historical and cultural roots, celebrated as a significant turning point in the Celtic calendar marking the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter.
During Samhain, on 31st of October, communities would come together to light bonfires, creating a symbol of protection and warmth against the encroaching darkness of winter.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Samhain is the fruitcake known as Barmbrack. This special treat was more than just a tasty dessert; it was used as a fortune-telling game. Hidden within the loaf were various tokens, each carrying a distinct meaning. For instance, finding a coin meant wealth was in your future, while a ring signified marriage or romance. This tradition added an element of excitement and divination to the celebration, making Samhain a time not only for revelry but also for reflection on the mysteries of the future.
Shichi-Go-San, which translates to "Seven-Five-Three," is a traditional rite-of-passage festival that holds a special place in Japanese culture. It's essentially a grand day of celebration for youngsters at the ages of three, five, and seven, focusing on their growth and development.
These specific ages are revered because they mark crucial milestones in a child's journey into adulthood. In addition to their significance, the numbers seven, five, and three are considered lucky in Japanese tradition, adding an extra layer of meaning to the festivities.
Every year on November 15th, families come together for Shichi-Go-San. The children, dressed in stunning traditional kimonos (with boys wearing hakama), accompany their families to Shinto shrines for prayers and make sure to capture this momentous occasion with lots of photographs.
Now, here's the sweet part: Shichi-Go-San wouldn't be complete without the "Thousand Year Candy," known as Chitose Ame in Japanese. This candy isn't just delicious; it's loaded with symbolism. The candy's red and white colors represent longevity and good health, while the gift wrapping often features drawings of turtles and cranes, both of which symbolize a long life. So, when the children enjoy this candy, it's not just a treat—it's a wish for a happy, prosperous, and lengthy life. What a delightful way to celebrate the future of the youngest generation!
Guy Fawkes Day (Bonfire Night), UK
Come November 5th, you'll find gatherings across the UK where people come together to light up bonfires and set fire to effigies of a man – all while enjoying delightful food and drinks. But what's the occasion? Well, November 5th is a date that commemorates Guy Fawkes' ill-fated attempt to assassinate an English king.
Back in 1605, on that fateful day, Guy Fawkes was part of a group of plotters who were apprehended while scheming to eliminate King James I of England. This notorious event is known as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Since then, Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, has been a day to celebrate the thwarting of that assassination plot. It's a public holiday in the UK, and most Brits mark the occasion with bonfires, fireworks, and scrumptious fare like sausages, baked potatoes, and apples.
But here's the iconic part of this autumn tradition: the burning of an effigy, symbolizing Guy Fawkes himself. Many Britons also extend the festivities over the weekend, making the most of their Bonfire Night celebrations. It's a lively and historical affair that brings people together to remember a pivotal event in history.
Thanksgiving, USA and other regions
Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the United States. However, similar holidays and harvest festivals are celebrated in other countries and regions, such as Canada, Liberia, Grenada and Norfolk Island, although with different dates.
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Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It originated with the Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for a harvest feast in the 17th century.
Key traditions include a grand feast with turkey, parades, football, the pardoning of a turkey by the President, Black Friday shopping deals, and a focus on volunteerism and giving back to the community. It's a time for families to gather, express gratitude, and enjoy each other's company, emphasizing values of thankfulness, togetherness, and generosity.
Autumn is a season of changing colours, shorter days and lower tempertatures but don't make those conditions stopping you to enjoy all these worlwide autumn festivals and celebrations.
Happy celebrations and happy travels!