by Alanna Smith
Content Quality Editor
If you're anything like us, then you're probably ready to break out the pumpkins and candy bowls as soon as the first leaf hits the ground. In America, autumn marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday season.
Should you find yourself traveling this September through November, you can check out these fantastically fun fall festivals all over the globe!
Lisdoonvarna, Ireland | September
What is it about the tiny town —which has a population of about 700 people—that draws tens of thousands of visitors every fall? That would be the Matchmaking Festival, a month-long event that has been around for 150 years.
Come September, single visitors flock to Lisdoon for music, dancing, drinking, and the advice of a 70-year old matchmaker who’s been responsible for about 3,000 marriages. All are welcome—there is even a weekend for LGBTQ singles looking for a match.
China, Taiwan, Vietnam, & More | September or October
The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and surrounding countries. It always coincides with a full moon, hence the name.
The holiday is a time for family, thanksgiving, paper lanterns, and of course, eating moon cakes. These round pastries are traditionally filled with lotus seed paste, but modern recipes may substitute in ice cream. In some places, like Hong Kong and Vietnam, visitors may witness an iconic dragon or lion dance.
South Korea | September or October
Chuseok is a three-day celebration that falls around a full moon. Families honor their ancestors and share feasts during this harvest festival. People generally return to ancestral towns in order to pay their respects by maintaining gravesites and laying out special food offerings.
Living participants chow down on songpyeon, a sticky rice cake shaped like a half-moon stuffed with sweet fillings and steamed over pine needles. Older merrymakers enjoy a liquor made from fresh rice.
Iran & Canada | October 1 & 2
Mehregan is a harvest festival that has been around for several thousand years. Celebrated in the ancient Persian empire, and now in modern-day Iran and Iranian communities throughout Canada, the festival celebrates friendship, love, and gift-giving.
In contemporary celebrations, families will set a table with a colorful tablecloth. Traditional objects placed on the table include the spice marjoram, a frankincense burner, a mirror, candy, flowers, and seeds like pistachios and lotus seeds.
National Apple Harvest Festival
Arendtsville, PA, U.S. | October 7 – 15
For anyone who fancies a true taste of Americana, the National Apple Harvest Festival is the place to be. Apples are about as American as...well, you get the idea.
Celebrating its 53rd year, this festival attracts around 25,000 visitors a day to enjoy rows and rows of vendors, crafts, games, and every conceivable apple-based creation. Check out "Cider Press Alley" for sips of both regular and hard cider.
South & Southeast Asia | October or November
This five-day Hindu festival is a celebration of light over darkness. Families cover their houses with candles and string lights, and decorate their doorsteps with a mandala-like design called a rangoli. Normally made from colored sand, it is meant to invite Lakhshmi, the goddess of prosperity, into a home.
Traditions vary across the region—in Nepal, for example, Diwali involves feeding street dogs and decorating them with flower necklaces.
Guy Fawkes Night
United Kingdom | November 5
If you’ve ever heard the rhyme “Remember, remember, the fifth of November,” then you may have heard of Guy Fawkes Night. This holiday commemorates the arrest of Guy Fawkes, a man who planned to blow up London’s House of Lords and assassinate King James I in 1605.
People across Great Britain lit bonfires in a celebration that eventually ballooned into a night of revelry and mischief. While things have calmed down in recent years, you can still find parades, bonfires, and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes across the U.K. on November 5.
Loi Krathong/Yi Peng
Thailand | November
This festival is actually composed of two Thai holidays: Loi Krathong, from the southwest, and Yi Peng, from the north. Both fall on the same day, which is normally the first full moon in November.
For Loi Krathong, people gather along riverways and launch small boats filled with offerings and candles, making a wish as they do so. For Yi Peng, thousands of sky lanterns, called khom loi, float into the night sky in a gorgeous glowing parade.