Everyone enjoys celebrating, so here are 11 of the best October festivals around the world to add to your bucket list!
October is a great time to travel and there are many wonderful cultural festivals around the world held at this time of year. There is no better way to really experience and try to understand a culture than to participate in a local festival. The memories of the music, food, ceremonies and traditions will stay with you forever.
There are so many amazing festivals in October around the world to experience, so here is our bucket list pick of the 11 best October festivals that offer something for everyone.
N.B. We will updating this list regularly, so if you have any festivals or big events in October you think should make the list, please let us know in the comments section.
Did You Know?
- October got its name from the Latin/Greek word octo, meaning eight, because it used to be the eighth month of the year under the Roman calendar.
- October is commonly associated with the season of spring in parts of the Southern Hemisphere, and autumn in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the seasonal equivalent to April in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa.
- October is the month to celebrate World Vegetarian Day (1st), International Day of Non-Violence (2nd), International Beer and Pizza Day (9th), Eat a Pretzel Day (22nd) and Halloween (31st).
“Diwali is the darkest night of the year. And our ancestors have taught us to overcome darkness with light. When the moon is not shining, neither the sun, sky is dark; India glitters.”– Harihar D. Naik –
October Festivals Around the World
Here are the best October festivals and celebrations to add to your bucket list travel calendar.
1. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
- When: Annually in October: 7 – 15 October, 2023 | 5 – 13 October, 2024
- Duration: 9 days
For 9 days in October each year, the skies of the Rio Grande Valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico are filled with a colourful mass of more than 500 balloons. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is not only the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, but one of the top festivals in the world too, and attracts more than 500,000 visitors from around the globe each year.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held at the Balloon Fiesta Park, located about 10 minutes from the downtown area. From dawn until dusk, balloons of all shapes, sizes and colours fill the sky as festival-goers’ crane their necks in amazement.
The event offers something for everyone, from veterans to first-time balloon enthusiasts. It features a variety of activities and attractions that will have you captivated from start to finish. From watching hot air balloons take off and land, to participating in balloon-making workshops, there’s something for everyone at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
The park also offers a variety of activities including hot air balloon rides, a carnival, and a petting zoo. Other events to expect include fireworks, music performances, and night-time glowing balloon flights.
If you’re planning on attending, be sure to check the event website for updated information and ticketing information. Our top tip to help make your experience even better is to make a plan. The balloon festival is huge, and there’s plenty to see and do, but if you want to maximize your enjoyment, it’s important to have a plan. Print out a map of the festival grounds and take it with you, so you know where all the major attractions are.
So whether you’re a fan of hot air balloons or just want to experience something different, don’t miss out on this unforgettable event.
Check availability on accommodation options in Albuquerque
2. Austin City Limits – Austin, Texas
- Where: Austin, Texas
- When: Annually in October: 6 – 8 & 13 – 15 October, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
- Duration: 6 days over 2 weekends
Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) is an annual music festival held in Austin, Texas. The Austin City Limits television series was the inspiration that led to the success of the first music festival. It is now produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces Lollapalooza. The festival features around 150 artists and has an attendance of around 450,000 people.
ACL typically occurs in October and is held at Zilker Park. The festival features and attracts a wide range of artists from across the spectrum.
Eight stages host performers from genres including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and hip hop. Some of the previous artists that have performed at ACL include Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters.
In addition to the music performances, there are food and drinks, an art market, a kid’s area for families, and other activities for attendees.
ACL is a great music festival to attend with lots of great bands playing each year. If you are looking for a good time, add Austin City Limits Music Festival to your bucket list!
Check availability on accommodation options in Austin
3. Berlin Festival of Lights – Berlin, Germany
Recommended by Ali at ‘Berlin Travel Tips’
- Where: Berlin, Germany
- When: Annually in September / October: 6 – 15 October, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
- Duration: 10 days
If you’re looking for a unique festival, look no further than the Festival of Lights in Berlin, Germany. This festival usually takes place in either September or October and lasts for 10 days.
Each year the theme changes, and artists create works of art using lights in motion based on their own interpretation of the theme. These impressive light shows are projected onto Berlin landmarks and other important buildings and attractions. There are dozens and dozens of them from one end of the city to another. Some examples include the TV Tower, Brandenburg Gate, Berliner Dom, various museums, a few embassy buildings, and more.
Since this is a light show, the action begins once it gets dark, which means a little after 7pm this year. If you want to see some of the most popular sights, get there early since there will definitely be crowds. Less well known locations will have fewer people, so it might be worth a little extra effort.
Locals and tourists alike will be out enjoying the artwork, and luckily there’s no entry fee to enjoy the Festival of Lights. Go for a stroll between Brandenburg Gate and Alexanderplatz to admire tons of different pieces, or use transport to reach locations farther away.
Check availability on accommodation options in Berlin
4. Chestnut Festival – Soriano nel Cimino, Italy
Recommended by Annalisa at ‘Travel Connect Experience’
- Where: Soriano nel Cimino, Italy
- When: Annually on the first and second weekend of October: 30 September – 16 October, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
- Duration: approx. 2 weeks
The Chestnut Festival in Soriano nel Cimino, a small town near Rome, is held every year on the first and second weekend of October. The town rises on the slopes of Mount Cimino, naturally rich in chestnut trees.
The festival to which the inhabitants prepare passionately throughout the year has its roots in the 15th Century. One night, with the help of a traitor within the court, the inhabitants of the nearby town of Vignanello tried to conquer the castle of Soriano. The locals defended the walls for the whole night and at the end of a bloody battle, they repulsed the enemies.
Since then, every year the battle is remembered with celebrations in October. Today the Chestnut Festival has a medieval revival character. The inhabitants are grouped into 4 districts, according to the position of their houses (the Rocca, Papacqua, San Giorgio, and Noble Trinity).
The festival opens with a parade in medieval clothes through the main street, sewn by the town’s tailors. Then to parade is the band of the town, winds and drums. In different squares of the village, duels are held between swordsmen and competitions of skill to throw the flags with the coat of arms.
Each district sets up a tavern with long tables where a fixed menu is served with many dishes featuring chestnuts: chestnut soup, stew with chestnuts, gnocchi with ragu and chestnuts, chestnut gelato. It is possible to buy bags of freshly harvested chestnuts and typical sauces at all the stores in the historic centre.
From the square where the festival is held, you can access a large terrace where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Tuscia, a yet-to-be-discovered part of the Italian countryside.
5. Diwali / Dev Deepawali – Varanasi, India
Recommended by Soujanya at ‘The Spicy Journey’
- Where: Varanasi, India + Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka
- When: Annually in October / November / December: 12 November, 2023 | 1 November, 2024
- Duration: 1 day
Dev Deepawali is a Hindu festival celebrated on the occasion of ‘Kartik Poornima’ in the ancient city of Varanasi, not far from Agra in India. While Deepawali or Diwali is a well-known Hindu festival, also known as the Festival of Lights celebrating the victory of Lord Rama over the evil Ravana, there is little known about Dev Deepawali. Loosely translated to ‘Diwali of the Gods’, Lord Shiva is supposed to have killed the evil Tripurasura on this day hence the Gods celebrate Diwali.
The entire city of Varanasi celebrated this festival by lighting diyas (earthen oil lamps) all over the ghats (the bank of the holy river Ganga). Visitors can walk around the ghats, admire the lighting and witness the cultural music and dance performances held at various ghats, particularly the Assi ghat.
However, to get the best views of the lighting, take a boat tour of the river Ganga and watch the lights from afar. While you’re on the boat, do not miss out on witnessing the famous Ganga aarti that is held on the Dashashwamedh ghat – a prayer ritual performed simultaneously by 12 priests. While this aarti is held every day, it feels particularly pious and special on the occasion of Dev Diwali.
In Varanasi, you absolutely cannot miss out on the incredible Varanasi street food such as chaat, samosa, rolls, momos and what not. This festival can be enjoyed in the month of November or December (depending on when the festival falls on the Hindu calendar).
Diwali is definitely one of the festivals in October around the world that shouldn’t be missed!
Check availability on accommodation options in India
6. Durga Puja Festival – Kolkata, India
Recommended by Soumya at ‘Nature Diary’
- Where: Kolkata, India
- When: Annually during the Month of Ashwin (September or October): 20 – 24 October, 2023 | 9 – 13 October, 2024
- Duration: 5 days
Durga Puja is the most magnificent festival in India’s Bengali communities. This famous Hindu festival is usually held for a week in October, which is decided according to the lunar calendar. Though this religious festival is celebrated mainly in Kolkata, West Bengal, it is also organized across other locations in India.
In this Puja, Goddess Durga is worshiped as a powerful female figure, who defeats the mythological evil demon Mahishasura, destroys sin, and brings peace to the world. Thus, Goddess Durga is known as “Mahishasura Mardini”.
In Kolkata, Durga Puja is not just a religious festival. The city transforms into a huge art gallery with thousands of pandals (fabricated decorated structure), idols with incredible artwork, some of which are theme-based and some traditional. Every day during the festival, around 3 to 4 lakh people go out for pandal-hopping.
At the pandals, the food, mainly known as ‘Bhog‘, commonly consists of rice, mixed vegetable curry, a sweet dish, and chutney (a sweet condiment) or Khichadi (a dish made of rice and lentils), and Alur Dom (type of slow-cooked potato curry) served to visitors.
The entire city becomes illuminated, and the sound of drums, crowds of people revitalize the city. During this time, some locals choose to travel across weekend destinations to avoid crowds and get holiday benefits to the fullest.
Check availability on accommodation options in Kolkata
7. Festival of Lights – Luang Prabang, Laos
Recommended by Alissa at ‘Exploring Wild’
- Where: Luang Prabang, Laos
- When: Annually in October – 11 October, 2023 | 11 October, 2024
- Duration: 1 day
Every October at the end of the Buddhist equivalent of Lent, locals and travellers alike celebrate the Festival of Lights (also called Boun Lai Heua Fai) in Luang Prabang, Laos. After a three month period of monastic seclusion for monks and increased focus on Buddhist teachings for lay people, the vibrant city at the heart of central Laos comes alive with light, music, and celebration.
Throughout the festivities, Luang Prabang’s dozens of beautiful wats (temples) are decorated with paper lanterns in a splendid show of light and colour that is both reverent and fun. As darkness falls on the final day, spectators line Sisavangvong Road to watch a parade of elaborate dragon boats flow down to the Mekong River where they’ll be released onto the water. Each boat is handmade by representatives from a local region and decorated with elaborate candles and paper lanterns, and accompanied by musicians and dancers as the parade moves through the town.
To complete the evening, many Laotians launch small banana leaf boats into the Mekong River to appreciate natural spirits and wish for good fortune. Then everyone sits down to enjoy a celebratory meal with family and friends. As a traveller, it’s a treat to be present for the sensory feast of light and music during Boun Lai Heua Fai, as well as the energy of joy and gratitude surrounding it.
Check availability on accommodation options in Luang Prabang
8. Hermosa Festival – Philippines
Recommended by Katherine at ‘Tara Lets Anywhere’
- Where: Zamboanga, Philippines
- When: Annually for the whole month of October in 2023 and 2024
- Duration: 1 month
The Hermosa Festival is one of the grandest festivals in Asia. Held in Zamboanga City in the Philippines, it lasts for the whole month of October and features various displays, competitions, and street dancing. It’s done in honour of the patroness of the city, the miraculous Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar). Attending this festival is extremely fun, and it’s a great way to get to know the city through its culture, history, food, and people.
The highlight of the festival is the Street Dance. Locals go on a colourful parades across the city to show off the traditional dances and outfits of the indigenous people. Whether you’re a casual tourist or one of the photographers who have come specifically to capture this performance, you’ll surely find the street dance entertaining and enjoyable.
Other exciting events include the Regatta de Zamboanga, where traditional boats with colourful sails race across the Sulu Sea; Mascota de Zamboanga, a fashion competition featuring the best modern mascotas or Spanish-inspired gowns; and Chavacano Music Festival, where local musicians show their talent using the city’s lingua franca.
The Hermosa Festival is one of the long-awaited festivals in the Philippines every year. As such, it gets busy – it’s best to book your tickets and accommodations in advance of your visit.
Check availability on accommodation options in Zamboanga
9. Montmarte Grape Harvest Festival – Paris, France
Recommended by Esther at ‘Dreams in Paris’
- Where: Montmarte, Paris France
- When: Annually in October: 4 – 8 October, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
- Duration: 5 days
Paris is known for being a wine haven, and the love and celebration for wine is put on full display in October during the Fête des Vendanges or Grape Harvest Festival in English.
The festival, which brings over 400,000 wine aficionados from all around the world (both locals and tourists alike) lasts for 5 fun days around Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre which is home to the only remaining vineyard in Paris.
Beginning in 1934, every year comes with a unique theme to celebrate the grape harvest while treating revellers to countless entertainment from music, a parade, a ball, choirs, and wine tasting.
Small stalls are also dotted around the Sacré-Coeur Basilica where you can grab some French foods, buy some French wine, or pick up a souvenir. The entire atmosphere feels like a Christmas market but one in October!
There is also a possibility of visiting the vineyard itself if you buy a ticket to Musée de Montmartre since it comes with a guided tour of the vineyard.
Besides tasting wine and dancing to music, an annual wine auction is held to raise money for charity by selling wine bottles locally grown in the Montmartre vineyard.
And to crown the festival, there is a spectacular display of fireworks (usually over the weekend during the festival time)!
So, as you plan to visit the city of love in October, make sure that you add the Grape Harvest Festival in Montmartre to your Paris bucket list.
Check availability on accommodation options in Paris
10. Navratri Festival – India
- Where: India
- When: Annually in September and/or October: 15 – 24 October, 2023 | 3 – 12 October, 2024
- Duration: 10 days
We have added the Navrati Festival to our post on the ‘Best September Festivals Around the World” as it begins in the last week of September.
Read more about the Navrati Festival in India in our post on the Best Festivals held in September Around the World
11. Sun Festival – Abu Simbel, Egypt
- Where: Abu Simbel, Egypt
- When: On the 22 February and 22 October each year: 22 February + 22 October, 2023 | 22 February + 22 October, 2024
- Duration: 1 day
We have added the Sun Festival to our post on the ‘Best Festivals in February” as it is also held on the 22 February each year.
Read more about the Sun Festival in Abu Simbel, Egypt in our post on the Best Festivals held in February Around the World
October Celebrations Around the World FAQs
In Summary – The Best October Festivals Around the World
You can find many October celebrations around the world which are held every year. You will be spoilt for choice if you choose to celebrate at one of the many festivals of October as there are lots of both smaller and larger festivals out there for you to pick from and enjoy. Find the festival you love in the country you love, and dive on in to the celebrations.
What is your favourite October festival around the world and why? Have you been to any of our list of the best festivals in October around the world listed above? Have we missed any famous events during October around the world you think we should add? Post your tips, comments and questions below.
Trip Planners For The Best Of World Travel: Related Blog Posts
Want more info to help you plan your next trip? Check out all the articles we’ve written about the ‘Best of World Travel’ inn all parts of the world.
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