October is well-known for its over-the-top celebrations featuring food and beer, but what do you do to cure your Ocktoberfest hangover? Go to more festivals. There are a variety of unique and colorful festivals around the world that are vastly under-appreciated. If you’re looking to go somewhere original this November, try one of these:
Dia de los Muertos, Mexico
Photo by Flickr user laihiu
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates the dead by honoring them with hand-made altars and paper-maché statues. The festival begins Nov. 1 and lasts several days, during which families cook elaborate feasts and create in-home altars to honor their relatives and children who’ve passed on to the next life.
The celebration culminates when residents parade their altars through the streets. It’s a vibrant parade that provides an excellent look into the Mexican culture.
If you are concerned about traveling to Mexico due to recent drug-related murders reported in the mainstream media, consider this: The FBI reports that more than 150,000 people cross the border every day. In 2012, 71 U.S. citizens were reported murdered in the country, which per capita is fewer than cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Miami.
Bald Eagle Festival, Alaska
Photo by Flickr user asokolik
The Bald Eagle Festival celebrates the bird’s coming back from the brink of extinction. Held every year in Haines, Alaska, by the American Bald Eagle Foundation, it offers a rare chance to see one of the world’s largest gatherings of the bald eagle. Each year, thousands of eagles come to the preserve to dine on spawning salmon.
After a short ride from downtown Haines, you can enjoy them as nature intended. There are also festival activities in Haines, including photography workshops and a Klukwan cultural tour.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Photo by Flickr user Marina & Enrique
The Pushkar Camel Fair is India’s largest, attracting farmers, traders and merchants from all over. Thousands of people (and camels) attend, and there is music, art, dancing and shopping, as well as camel safaris, competitions and cultural displays—including the unique dressing-up of the camels, sheep, cows and other animals traded at the fair. The five-day festival in Rajashtan is both captivating and colorful.
This festival is held outdoors, and most festival-goers stay in Swiss-style tents on site. Hotel rooms are in limited supply, and if you plan to camp, bring necessities like extra food and supplies just in case. A doctor is on call, but it’s smart to bring band aids, sunburn cream and bug bite spray. Also consider buying a satellite phone, because cell reception may not be available through most foreign carriers and you won’t find a cell phone plan in town.
Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand
Photo by Flickr user AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker
Tourists in Thailand learn first and foremost that the friendly, cute monkeys have a penchant for picking people’s pockets and walking off with valuable items. So, these macaques get an annual feast in hopes of turning their skills toward attracting tourists.
Banquet tables are filled with fruit and set up in the streets, and huge pyramids of fruit and food are built. The monkeys climb and gorge themselves silly. Entertaining and fun, you’ll fill a memory stick with the funniest pictures you may ever take. The festival is in Lopburi, which is also home to some intriguing ancient ruins. You can explore cultural icons and enjoy the antics of a local nuisance all in one trip.
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