Yikes, I blinked and here October is, with its shorter days and its yellow leaves and its pumpkin spiced lattes. Let’s see what October has in store for us, events-wise.
But first, you may wonder why Germany’s beer-fueled Oktoberfest isn’t on the list? Fun fact: Oktoberfest is actually held in September due to the cold weather. Who knew? I guess Septemberfest doesn’t quite pack the same punch. But anyhoo, there is no shortage of magnificent events taking place this month, as you will see!
The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Date: October 1 - 9
The initial 1972 festival had 13 balloons. Last year’s festival had over 600 balloons and 700 pilots. As their website claims, “any local will tell you that October is the most beautiful time of year in New Mexico, made so in large part by the much-anticipated sight of colorful balloons punctuating the skyline. During this season, the sky is bluer, the days are gentler, and the mornings crisper -- almost as though the landscape has taken a deep sigh -- and on the desert’s warm breath sails the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.” Sign me up!
The Virgin Mary (ya, that Virgin Mary) is the cause for celebration for this annual festival. The fifteen day festival wraps up on the second Sunday of October when the city welcomes a procession of more than one million pilgrims as they follow an image of the Virgin Mary throughout Belem.
Salem really leans into its witch trials-laden history in this month-long annual event series that “explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals.” Highlights include The Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, The Mourning Tea, The Dumb Supper: Dinner with the Dead, and more psychic readings that you can shake a stick (er, wand?) at.
This festival has been going strong since 1634 and celebrates the guardian deity at Suwa Shrine. The entire city, including almost 60 neighborhood dance troupes, take part in the three-day celebration which features several performances.
It is widely believed that Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is the day when the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity travels to earth and blesses us with wealth and prosperity. To her, I say, yes please. As India Today describes it, “the lights of Diwali signify a time to destroy all our dark desires and thoughts, eradicate dark shadows and evils and give us the strength and the zeal to carry on with our goodwill for the rest of the year.” And let’s face it, we could all use a little of that!
MassKara Festival – Bacolod, Phillipines
Date: October 23
MassKara Festival dates back to 1980 when the price of sugar, which is a primary livelihood source in the Phillipines, was at an all-time low. And so, as one does when sugar prices are low, the festival was born in attempt to sweeten (ha!) the spirits of the locals. 40 years later it is still going strong with parades, decorations, masks, dancing, and a giant street party, Electric MassKara.
So, obviously Halloween is a thing, something that children (and adults) around the world take part in. New York’s Village Parade stands out as one of the bigger Halloween events though. Celebrating its 49th year this year, the parade annually draws more than 60,000 costumed participants and 2 million spectators. Which trumps trick or treating on your block.
This Gaelic festival marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. This festival goes all the way back, with being first mentioned in Irish literature dating back to the 9th century. This is a pagan religious festival during which Celtics of yore believed that the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world would break down.
Day of the Dead Festival, Mexico
Date: October 31 – November 6
This celebration, which served as the backdrop for Disney’s 2017 film Coco, is a holiday of joyful celebration and remembrance of friends and family members who have passed away – more festive than somber though. Mexico City held the first Day of the Dead parade in 2016, and it has grown every year since. Skulls, flowers, skeletons, costumes, and Ofrendas (which are memorial displays in homes designed to commemorate the lives of loved ones) are all part of the festivities.
This fascinating festival is centered around a phenomenon which occurs around the end of the Buddhist Lent period each year. People gather along a 250 km stretch of the Mekong River to witness thousands of glowing red balls fireballs shoot up into the sky. Legend has it that this phenomenon is attributed to the mythical Phaya Nak, a giant serpent that is believed to live in the river. Scientists have yet to be able to explain the reason for this dazzling spectacle.