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10 must-see events happening around the world in November

16 November 2018

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As Bonfire Night sparks into a blaze of action and then quickly fades into a smoky haze, you may be left wondering what there is to the rest of November other than cold, dark nights.

Perhaps you need some inspiration to warm you up and motivate you to have more fun? Or even make some travel plans for next year?

The rest of the world doesn’t seem to mope their way through the 11th month in quite the same way as we do and, okay, that might be because some of their climates are a little less chilly. But, you never know, their November enthusiasm may just be infectious, whatever the weather.

So, here’s some encouragement in the form of 10 must-see events happening around the world each November.


La Calaca Festival, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende’s La Calaca Festival is all about getting involved. This explosion of colour, music and art unites interactive arts installations, arts organisations, individuals and local business and attracts visitors from all around the world. Awash with creativity, the festival is inspired by Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It’s a celebration, punctuated with music and parties along the way and is known as one of the most energetic and unique of the Dia de Los Muertos events.

Dusseldorf Karneval, Germany

Dusseldorf’s carnival season kicks off each year in the city’s Old Town in a very unusual way. On November 11, at 11.11am on the dot, the carnival joker known locally as Hoppeditz, awakes and hops out of a giant mustard pot, ready to give a speech. The speech, known as the Narrenschelte, or joker’s scolding, is deliberately insulting and funny and is followed by a rebuttal from the Mayor of Dusseldorf, who has been observing the ceremony from the Town Hall balcony. What follows is a day-long party across the whole city. The long carnival season ends on Ash Wednesday, with the ceremonial burning of an effigy of Hoppeditz.

Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand

Arrive at the Phra Prang Sam Yottemple ruins in Lopburi on the last Sunday in November and you’ll be greeted by the sight of a sumptuous banquet. You’ll be disappointed, however, if you’re expecting to tuck in because the feast has been laid on for someone else – to be exact, thousands of macaque monkeys who live in Lopburi and are thought to bring good luck to the area. The Monkey Buffet Festival opens with a ceremony performed by dancers in monkey costumes. When the guests of honour arrive, sheets are stripped from the tables to reveal nearly two tons of fruit and vegetables. The lucky monkeys dig in as the humans look on.

Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, Canada

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November 3 sees the lights switched on at Niagara Falls, at the start of an 8km long route through the stunning Niagara Parks, Dufferin Islands and surrounding landscapes. Breathtaking light displays include 15 3D Canadian Wildlife exhibits, Noah’s Ark and more than 50 light strewn trees in Dufferin Islands. It’s a winter wonderland that has become an important holiday tradition for people from around the world, not just the locals. The festival runs until the end of January, just don’t mention the electricity bill.

Tori-No-Ichi, Japan

A 24-hour market held at the Otori Shrine in Asakusa, Tori-no-Ichi kicks off at midnight on November’s day of ‘Tori’. Tori is the rooster in the 12 Zodiac signs, a sequence of animal names used in Asian cultures for counting years, months, days and hours. Around 100 stalls line up inside the shrine, selling good luck rakes (said to gather good fortune), as well as 800 more food stalls in the shrine’s grounds. The rakes are sold as ornaments, meant to bring prosperity and good luck in business. Could be where the phrase ‘raking it in’ originated…

Macau Grand Prix, China

Known for being the only road race for both cars and motorbikes, the Macau Grand Prix was originally created in 1954 as a treasure hunt around the streets of the city. The 3.8 mile circuit is now home to one of the most challenging races in the world, combining fast straights and tight corners, narrowing at one point to a width of just seven metres. The event runs over four days, featuring the famous Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and the main event, the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix.

Pirate Festival, Cayman Islands

For a week in November, each of the Cayman Islands is invaded by pirates, prompting much revelry and the odd bit of plundering. Festivities begin in Cayman Brac but really pick up when they move on to Grand Cayman where the days are filled with music, parades, competitions, games and fireworks. Next, the festivities move on to Hog Sty Bay in George Town, where pirates invade and capture the Governor. A barbecue in Little Cayman rounds off the event, where islanders bid farewell to the marauders for another year.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, USA

Macy parade

The world’s largest parade could be held nowhere other than New York. It’s big, it’s brash, it’s on TV and it’s a real spectacle. Presented by US department store Macy’s, the tradition began in 1924 as a much smaller affair. Today, it’s best known for the elaborate and frankly huge balloons of well-known cartoon characters that join the floats, live music, cheerleaders and marching bands from across the country. The TV coverage features performances by both established and emerging musicians, plus New York institution The Rockettes give an annual performance.

Bon Om Touk (Water Festival), Cambodia

Bon Om Touk celebrates the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and the end of the rainy season. For three days in November, Phnom Penh hosts daily and nightly celebrations. They attract several million people each year, with residents from every town and province taking part. The big event is the Pirogue longboat race along the Sisowath Quay – this typically features as many as 400 racing boats, decked out in bright colours and rowed by around 40 men, usually monks. Thronging crowds also stay for the spectacular fireworks display.

Dubai Rugby Sevens, UAE

Founded in 1970, the tournament is the longest running sports event in the Middle East. Held annually at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai, it is the first leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series and the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. 100,000 rugby fans flock to witness the edge-of-the-seat entertainment, and it’s not all about rugby – there are food stalls, dedicated family stands and activities and even an aqua park and circus workshops. At night, there’s live music at the popular concert series Rugby Rocks.