Forget Oktoberfest! There are tons of other fall festivals around the world. Never will you have to attend the same festival more than once if you don’t want to!
Beignet Fest, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the ultimate carb festival. This festival is in early October at New Orleans City Park. You can find any type of beignet here from sweet to savory and anything in between. There is music, other kinds of food, and the best part of this festival is that it benefits the Tres Doux Foundation for kids with developmental delays and disabilities. Eat some beignets, drink some classic NOLA cocktails and listen to some great music in this beautiful city! There’s some hotel packages on the festivals website: beignetfest.com. But the rooms seem a little spendy so my suggestion would be Airbnb or staying at one of the many hostels you can find in NOLA (they aren’t all “hostel-like”).
Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, USA
In the 1800’s in southern Idaho, like so many places “out west” in the United States, mining was a big deal and really what drew people west. Eventually, mining ran out and a new industry replaced it. You guessed it! Sheep! Aside from the fact that sheep are exceedingly stupid, they have given mankind food and fleece basically forever, so it’s not surprising that the Europeans brought them to the new world.
The Scottish and Basque influences increased the popularity and success of the sheep industry in southern Idaho and surrounding areas. This festival is in honor of those people and the sheep industry which saw Idaho through the Great Depression. Eventually development came, as it does, and the paths and areas used for grazing were closed off by paved roads and expanding cities. This forced some creative planning for local sheep farmers to move their sheep around their normal grazing areas.
The festival includes food, drinks, storytelling, music, a sheepdog competition and culminates in the parading of 1,500 sheep through the towns on their way to their winter grazing areas. It’s like the running of the bulls, only with dumb, docile, fluffs of fleece. You can even sponsor a sheep! Or a sheep dog! I’d recommend staying in Sun Valley, but there is a great transportation service throughout all the towns involved in the festival. There’s a great list of lodging options on the festivals website: trailingofthesheep.org.
Open Kitchen Ljubljana, Slovenia
Every Friday from mid-March until October there is an open-air festival full of food, crafts and clothing with music and all kinds of fun in the Central Market in Ljubljana. I would never have known about it had I not happen to be in town to visit the imposing Ljubljanagrad, the fortress overlooking the Central Market. We tried a lot of food that I can’t pronounce (and I tried, people, I really tried) and it was all delicious.
This festival celebrates local, traditional Slovenian food. Did you know that a large percentage of Slovenians are beekeepers? We found so many things that were made of, or with, honey or beeswax. It was very cool and inspired me to come home and keep my own honeybees. This is a very cool place and a pretty awesome on-going festival. The best view of the Central Market is from Ljubljanagrad.
Onam Festival, Kerala, India
This fall harvest festival welcomes the spirit of King Mahabali, or so the legend goes. It’s said that under his reign, the land and people were healthy and wealthy, but his popularity challenged the gods and they cut his life short with the caveat that he would be granted an annual visit to his people. This is a colorful festival (aren’t all Asian festivals colorful?) full of good food, visits with family and friends, games, boat races, music and dancing. The locals go all out in the interest of letting their beloved King’s spirit know that they continue to prosper.
Olivagando, Magione, Italy
I LOVE OLIVES. Olives and olive products are a staple in Mediterranean food so it stands to reason that there is an Italian festival, Olivagando, that celebrates them. This festival is held alongside the Feast of Saint Clemente, patron saint of metalworkers and blacksmiths. The highlight of the two-day festival in November is the olive oil made from la dolce agogia, an Umbrian olive varietal.
You can enjoy olive oil tastings, workshops, art, markets, horseback tours (count me in!), singing, dancing and storytelling among many other things. I heard about this festival when I visited Florence last year and hope to return to Italy one day to join in on the festivities.
There are many, many other festivals and events to attend in the fall. There’s a matchmaking festival in Ireland and Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) in Peru. I challenge you to see as many as possible!