When the weather turns mild and the foliage starts to change, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy some culture before the temptation to hibernate all winter sets in. Here are 25 beautiful fall festivals, cultural events, and local celebrations that take place in stunning destinations around the world.
Concurs de Castells
Witness the fearless creation of giant human towers at this Spanish festival, which is really more of a competition than a festival. Concurs de Castells is a brilliant display of Catalonian culture with music, food, and dancing to go along with the thrill of watching the towers.
Jasper Dark Sky Festival
For three weekends in October, Jasper National Park looks to the heavens in a celebration of the celestial. One of 17 Dark Sky preserves in Canada, Jasper National Park is renowned for its unfettered view of the night sky, which it celebrates every October. Featuring lectures by astronomers, stargazing set to symphony music, nighttime treasure hunts, starlit yoga sessions, and more, this festival is packed with activities that every nocturnal human will love.
Texas State Fair
Fall means state fairs begin popping up across the U.S., but no one goes bigger than Texas. While there are several state fairs across the Lone Star state, the one held in Dallas is considered the unsurpassed king. Pass through the boots of Big Tex, the fair's 55-foot mascot, and explore everything this fair has to offer. From deep-fried cuisine to rodeo shows, musical performances and livestock displays, this state fair has everything you could ask for and more.
London Cocktail Week
Take a tour of 300 of London’s best bars of visit the pop-up Cocktail Village on this week-long exploration and celebration of spirits. The festival pass gets you discounted drinks at a huge number of participating locations, and if you need a break from drinking, there are plenty of live performances and master classes to fill your time.
Held in both the spring and fall, Takayama Matsuri is one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan, and has been designated on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Held at the Hachiman Shrine in old town Takayama, this festival features stunningly decorated floats, performances, and more.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Taste the best wine, beer, and artisan food that California has to offer at this farm-to-table festival. The region’s best wineries bring forth their harvests for sampling and guests can enjoy the results of a professional food competition highlighting Sonoma County’s finest.
Austin City Limits
What was once a small music festival is now one of the best events on the cutting edge of America’s music scene. Experience live music as well as art installations and an array of amazing food options. This diverse and dynamic festival has something for everybody.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The skies of Albuquerque are taken over by the vibrant colors and gorgeous patterns of hot air balloons for this nine-day festival. More than 500 balloons will float through the air, with pilots coming from all around the world. Capture a perfect Instagram-worthy moment before relaxing with live musical performances and food.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival
Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey, Idaho
Become “one of the herd” and sponsor a sheep at this festival celebrating the importance of the sheep industry in building the culture and economy of southern Idaho. The Trailing of the Sheep Festival mentions it'll have “sheep, stories, music, food, hikes, and history” and has been lauded as one of the best fall festivals in the country.
Frankfurt Book Fair
An event important for both networking and culture, the Frankfurt Book Fair is a place to celebrate ideas that move the world. Get swept up in the world of publishing and witness the forefront of the media world at this important literary event.
A colorful celebration reminiscent of Brazil's Carnival, MassKara has been a highlight festival in the Philippines for the last 30 years. Held the final weekend in October, the celebration features food, drink, parades, and performers donning elaborate smiling masks, earning Bacolod the nickname "The City of Smiles."
Amsterdam Dance Event
More than 2,500 artists and 600 speakers grace this combination festival and conference that takes over Amsterdam. This event is absolutely teeming with industry leaders and is a dream come true for those who love the electro dance club lifestyle. Enjoy live performances as well as speakers, film, art, and more.
Harvest on the Harbor
Celebrate the spirit of autumn in Maine at this festival that showcases vendors, artisans, and the local foodie culture that has made Portland such a popular tourist destination. Come hungry, stop by the Lobster Chef Luncheon or Oysterfest Experience, and leave happy. Liquor lovers can sample craft spirits from local distilleries or brunch like a boss on Bloody Marys.
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
Laconia, New Hampshire
Overdose on pumpkin everything with this celebration of all things fall with hay rides, pumpkin carving, zombie walks, pumpkin bowling, and more. The highlight of the festival is the pumpkin tower that stacks up to around 34 feet, but the pancake breakfast, live performances, beer garden, and climbing wall are bright spots too.
Polar Circle Marathon
Looking for an icy challenge? Lace up your running shoes and grab your parka — the annual Polar Circle Marathon is a chance to show off your endurance. Held in remote Kangerlussuaq, Greenland each year, this marathon traverses a frigid tundra, earning it the nickname "the coolest marathon on Earth."
Dia de los Muertos
Mexico City, Mexico
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an important cultural tradition throughout all of Mexico. Join the celebration in Mexico City to see a unique combination of old and new traditions and get swept along in the abundance of activities. You can also see a different side of the holiday from another city like Oaxaca or San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
The coffee heritage of Kona is almost 200 years old, and the harvest is a staple of its agricultural community and economy. Experience the harvest and enjoy a rich cultural tradition of music, dance, and food while you observe demonstrations of Kona’s history.
Pick anywhere in India and you’ll be sure to find a beautiful, vibrant celebration of Diwali, the “row of lights” festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Watch fireworks explode over the bay and take time for introspection before the final day of renewal.
This Australian festival urges visitors to return to the wildlands. Including everything from outdoor adventures to live music, dancing, and relaxing on the beach, this camping festival is perfect for those who want to disconnect and get back to the roots of happiness.
Loy Krathong is an annual Thai festival honoring the Goddess of Water and the Buddha. During this celebration, participants decorate krathongs, traditional floats made of banana leaves and flowers that are released into the water adorned with candles and incense — carrying the hopes and wishes of the maker as they float away. Cultural performances, feasts, and other events also take place. You'll find celebrations across Thailand, but head to Chiang Mai to witness the spectacular release of floating lanterns into the sky.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
New York, New York
Iconic and timeless, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a treasured tradition since its first run in 1924. Featuring massive balloons, marching bands, floats, and musical performances, the parade is a time-honored celebration that marks the start of shopping's biggest season.
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival
Whiteville, North Carolina
Watch the parade, take part in the pecan run, or simply stuff yourself full of delicious pecan dishes at the annual Pecan Harvest Festival in Whiteville, North Carolina. Known as one of the biggest producers of pecans in the area, this festival is an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate their favorite harvest.
Bon Om Touk
Known as the Cambodian Water Festival, Bon Om Touk is a nationwide celebration of the end of the rainy season, that has been observed since as far back as the 13th century. Celebrations occur across the country, though are particularly big at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, where boat races and fireworks can be observed.
This industry festival in Reykjavik showcases new music from both Iceland and abroad. The city comes alive with nonstop performances and festivities — showing just how much the event has grown since its inception as a one-off concert in an old airplane hanger.
Monkey Buffet Festival
It's a monkey feast in a monkey city. Visitors to the annual Monkey Buffet Festival can watch as around 3,000 long-tailed macque monkeys gorge on buffet tables set specially for them by the Phra Pranf Sam Yot Temples in Lopburi. Locals intermingle with the monkeys every day, but this celebration is meant to bring good luck. Witness traditional music and dancing and fill your belly with delicious Thai food while hanging with monkeys.