There are loads of festivals in November to enjoy. This is your penultimate month to make the year one to remember, what are you going to do about it?!
Winter is coming, and according to the hyperbolic news reports, it’s going to be a tough one. Only one way to get through it – festivals!
Have you ever thought about going to a festival in November? Let me introduce you to some of the best November festivals around from super cool music festivals in Iceland, to letting off lanterns in Asia. It’s time to plan your winter travels, and with a festival at the heart of them, you could really end the year on a high!
Best Festivals in November
Her are the festivals I’d go to in November if I had the time and money…
1. Iceland Airwaves, Iceland
November 3rd to 6th 2021
I’ve been wanting to go to this for so, long. Rolling Stones magazine describes it as ‘the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar’, while Flora the Explorer says ‘you’re more than likely to spend half your time in the company of the very bands you’ve just seen performing’. Argh – too exciting!
Adding to its coolness is the fact that Iceland Airwaves started off in 1999 in an airplane hangar. It soon outgrew that and now takes place in an area just outside of Reykjavík in early November. I want to see Asgeir, so bad.
While temperatures may be cool at that time of year, I can guarantee the acts are pretty hot with some of the biggest names in music popping up on the Airwaves’ stages. Iceland Airwaves is definitely one of the coolest festivals in November around the world.
2. Lewes Bonfire, England
First week of November
For the majority of the UK the 5th November means cosy bonfires, a quick round of sparklers and a munch on a toffee apple. For me, growing up, it was all down to the Barton-under-Needwood Bonfire (my village) for a whole night of drying to dodge the wayward rockets and fitting myself out in as many headband / neckband glo sticks as possible, while begging mum for the money for a soggy burger.
For the town of Lewes, near Sussex, Bonfire Night is a little more extreme. Flaming torches are the necessary accessory as the townspeople march through the streets dressed as Vikings, smugglers and any other bad boy character they can think of. They drag behind them a burning barrel of tar while occasionally chanting the odd ‘kill the pope’ in unison.
This medieval state of affairs is all to honour the 17 protestant men who were burnt at the stake in Lewes after the failed 1605 gun powder plot led by Guy Fawkes. For those with a love of pyromania, it’s a must.
It’s not the fire that’s drawn me in moth-like, it’s the thought of all those viking men wandering the streets with their testosterone all out of whack.
I did make it to Day of the Dead Festival last year though –
amazing, incredible, awesome and all those words times seven. It takes place in October and November throughout Mexico, every year. It’s one of the most impressive and symbolic festivals in the world.
3. BaconFest in Pennsylvania, USA
First weekend of November
Bacon strips, bacon strips, bacon strips – best line of any cookery show ever (not seen Epic Meal Time?).
Whether its served with beans, in a roll, on a burger, lathered in sauce, with a fry up, round a prune, or a prawn… there’s not much bacon doesn’t go with. For US-based Babe lovers Pennsylvania’s BaconFest is a chance to make their way through all things streaky, smoked and cured in the name of getting in the spirit.
Across one weekend (November 7th and 8th) BaconFest puts together a pork-packed schedule full of bacon-loving events to entertain the little piggies as well as the big ones.
For anyone with a sense of style there’s the bacon costume contest (I’d definitely make a pig’s ear of that – ahaha), then there’s the pig race (trot on) and, for those who love a tipple, there’s even the bacon cocktail class (I have nothing).
What makes BaconFest all the better is that it pushes a good cause; to support local independent farms and get fresh farm food onto tables.
4. Chang Mai Lantern Festival, Thailand
I can’t imagine how equally ethereal and grounding it must feel to be stand side by side with your fellow festival goers on a beach and look up look up to see the release of thousands of lanterns over Chang Mai, Thailand.
A bucket list must, Yi Peng and Loy Krathong are two sacred events held annually to honour the Buddha. While you’ll find similar lantern release rituals taking place across Asia on November 25th, it’s Chiang Mai’s greenery and scenery that make it the most spectacular place to be.
Locals light their lanterns and set sail to small boats made from banana stalks filled with incense and flowers. This symbolises the act of letting go of negativity, which, let’s face it, we could all be doing more than once a year.
5. Blackpool Christmas Lights, England
End of November festival
As November gets underway so does the run up to Christmas and out comes the traditional food, presents and twinkly lights. Most UK towns have some sort of seasonal display to chat about but it’s Blackpool that tries to do it better than everyone else, with the world famous (?!) Blackpool Illuminations.
On the 21st of November, Blackpool amps up their usual low-key lighting display to showcase a more rambunctious selection, which includes beaming reindeer and sparkling Santas. To mark this annual occasion, the city holds a Christmas party afternoon from 3pm until 6pm. Along with the 10metre tree, the Christmas bulbs will remain a-glowing in front of the Blackpool tower until Santa has been and gone.
They always invite a special guest to turn them on at this November festival too, let’s see who it is this year shall we?
6. VooDoo Fest, New Orleans, USA
Put the dolls away because, despite the name, the only thing you stick a pin in at VooDooFest is your Facebook location to show off to aaalll your friends that you’re at this epic music festival.
New Orleans celebrates Halloween with a weekend of international music acts. Although you’d expect a line up of renowned jazz acts from this soul city, more mainstream artists can be heard, along with up and comers, with past performances from Tiesto, Nine Inch Nails and 50 Cent.
Across six stages in the Mississippi lagoons, it’s costumes on and party up for the full three days. As part of the whole Louisiana experience I’d also get stuck into the alligator bites and po-boys I’ve read so much about for the true NOLA experience.
New Orleans is an incredible place to visit – check out my top tips for a cheap New Orleans experience here.
7. Niagara Falls Festival of Lights, Canada
November 14 ish to December 30 ish
I saw Niagara Falls once, back in 2004 when I was a counselor at summer camp a few hours away. God it was incredible. Also, Jim and Pam on The Office makes me love it even more.
I went on the Maid in the Mist ride and hearing the power of the water cascading all around me was amazing. Nature at its most impressive.
As if the four million cubic feet of water cascading down a 50 metre drop isn’t enough of a phenomenon, the November Festival of Lights adds strobes and dramatic tunes that I imagine would be one of the most incredible sights ever.
From mid November right through until mid December, the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights cranks up the Christmas spirit with a 5km illumination route covering Niagara as well as the Dufferin Islands.
The latest digital technology projects vivid images to a powerful playlist over a 15 minute period on repeat between 6 and 9pm.
8. New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, USA
While the turkey is roasting and the elasticated pants are ready on the hanger, nothing says Thanksgiving like the giant balloons and hundreds in fancy dress at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Have you ever seen the photos?
The annual march runs from the upper east side to midtown, and while it’s also fun to watch on TV, I’d love to be in on the festive buzz of being in Manhattan for the live action. Sure you may get a bit squished and only catch a glimpse of half the fascinating floats, but the three hour holiday event is a fast forward into the festive season. Make sure to grab some roasted cashews en route from a street vendor for that authentic American feel.
9. Diwali, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka & more
4th November 2021
Diwali is also known as the Festival of Lights – a November celebration of good overcoming evil. The date fluctuates depending on the year, although it usually falls around October or November, and it’s celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists across many countries.
Wherever you are, you’ll see loads of lights, candles, and fireworks and each day of the five day fest is dedicated to doing something different whether it’s shopping, decorating, or spending time with family.
Given there are so many Hindus, this is one of the most important world festivals in November, as well as the whole year.
10. Strawberry Fields, Australia
End of November
Festivals where the glitter and fancy dress prevail usually have the best atmosphere. Australia’s main contender is Strawberry Fields.
With a focus on creative expression, this is the electronic music festival for anyone who likes their November festivals wonderfully wacky. It’s easy to bond over a face full of glitter.
The Strawberry Fields crowd is a loving bunch with high fives and hugs for anyone who wants to join. It’s grown from techno and psytrance to be more inclusive, but the friendly core still go to set the tone.
11. Kite Festival, Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala
Oh I love a good kite festival, and the town of Santiago Sacatepéquez in Guatemala knows how to put one on. The traditional Kite Festival is their way of celebrating All Saints Day on 1st November.
Visit and you’ll see hundreds of colourful giant kites flown in the skies above the cemeteries – it’s a stunning site to witness.
12. Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan, India
The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the most important festivals in India. Every November the lunar cycle decides when the lakeside town of Pushkar reinvents itself as one of the biggest camel festivals in the world.
This isn’t just a day event though, the Pushkar Camel Fair goes on for 12 days, with the first 5 dedicated to buying and selling the animals.
It’s not just about the camels, especially after day five – there are plenty of other fun things to do in Pushkar and at the festival to keep you busy.
13. Kendal Mountain Festival, England
Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st November (ish)
The Kendal Mountain Festival is a great celebration of all things outdoorsy in the beautiful Lake District. Throughout the weekend you can expect a wide ranging programme of films, competitions, tips, tricks and advice on The Great Outdoors. You can also find out more about the Lake District, and experience some of the adventure for yourself.
“Over 80+ speakers and 15 specialist sessions providing exclusive footage, inspiring stories and adventures from world-renowned speakers, pro athletes and local amateurs.”– KENDAL MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL
This is one of the most unique festivals in November, and a real chance for you to see the Lake District (and the world) through the eyes of some super passionate adventurers.
READ MORE: The Best UK Adventure Weekends
14. Dia de Todos los Santos, Spain
Here’s another way to celebrate All Saint’s Day around the world. This time, we’re in Spain. Dia de Todos los Santos sees devout Spanish Catholics visit cemeteries to celebrate those that have passed – much like the Day of the Dead Festivals on this day in Mexico.
Join in the festivities at this November festival and you’ll get to enjoy tasty cakes, special treats and a celebratory vibe giving thanks for the people they’ve had in their lives, rather than them leaving.
Festivals in November
Going to a November festival is a great way to end the year in style, relaxed and ready for all the fun December brings. Transport is simpler than travelling in the heart of winter, thanks to the weather, and if you’ve still got a bit of money to spend before rinsing it all on Christmas presents.
November festivals are a GREAT idea – but which one are you going to choose?!
Know of any other good celebrations in November?
NEXT MONTH? The Best Festivals in December Around the World