There are loads of festivals in September to add to your festival calendar. The summer might be coming to an end, but the amount of great festivals you can have fun at isn’t.
September festivals are some of my favourite – it’s that beautiful time when summer is ending, autumn is rolling in, and with it’s the second best time of year for new starts. So wrap up the summer with your friends and get everyone to sign up to one of these great festivals in September.
Festivals in September
There are many worldwide celebrations in September, so let’s go through a few of some of the best…
1. Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
Many are led to believe, due to the name, that Oktoberfest occurs mainly in October, but truthfully it only ends in October. This awesome German festival is celebrated all across the Western world, beginning September 17 and ending October 4. Unlike most festivals, Oktoberfest is a beer festival, and all celebrations and traditional festivities revolve around indulging in some of the local brews.
If you’re not a beer fan, you can still enjoy the atmosphere and traditional foods of Oktoberfest, from German breads and sausages, to other local delicacies (like pork knuckle) that go well with the golden drinks. The main point of this festival is to have a good time, so enjoying the beer is most recommended!
It can be celebrated just about anywhere in the world, particularly in Western and Eastern Europe, but the original and joyous streets of Munich are always a unique and wonderful way to experience it.
You can read about my awesome experience of Oktoberfest in Munich here. I’ve also written up a guide to how much you’ll spend at Oktoberfest too. Honestly, partying at Oktoberfest is one of my most favourite experiences ever. This is one of my best festivals in September, if not the whole year.
2. La Mercè – Barcelona, Spain
Spain has loads of festivals to enjoy. Each one with a vast culture and tradition. If you happen to be around Barcelona around September from the 23rd to the 25th however, then chances are that you’ll catch the La Mercè celebrations. It’s a festival with largely religious origins, having started out as a way to honour the ‘Virgin of Grace’ (Mare de Déu de la Mercè), the patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona.
Despite its localised origins, people from all over the world are invited to partake in the hundreds of events that decorate the city around this time. Parades march through the streets and fireworks dye the sky in beautiful colours. Plenty of traditional foods and drinks are available to try too, though it’s mainly a festival of arts and dance!
One of the most unique parts of La Mercè are the Human Towers, known as ‘castellars’. People (usually men) train to be able to create huge towers with layers of people – they can get so high!
They’re usually topped with children, who climb up the adults below to crown the ‘castellar’ like an angel on a Christmas Tree. They’re pretty amazing to see, if only to feel your heart beat faster!
3. Lake of Stars – Malawi
They get the biggest names in African music to come along and perform in the intimate setting. Over 60 acts perform on 4 stages on the beach on the edge of Lake Malawi. It’s all kinds of magical and one of the best festivals in September.
I lost my voice at Lake of Stars Festival because everyone just wants to talk, and sing, and dance. This is a small festival – one for the free spirits who know a good beat.
The acts will stay to enjoy the festival and mingle with the audience. A great opportunity to have a chat with your favourite.
As well as one of the coolest festivals in the world, it’s also one of the friendliest. Seriously, you can’t sit down without making friends. Every year is a different setting, making each experience totally individual. Means you have to go more than once!
Lake of Stars Festival is one of the most popular African festivals, and I’ve been!
4. The Venice Film Festival – Venice, Italy
No doubt one of the most famous film festivals in the world, the Venice Film Festival always takes place in September, this year from September 1 to September 11. It’s often considered to be one among the ‘Big Three’ worldwide film festivals, revered alongside the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Berlin International Film Festival in June. It’s a unique opportunity to see some excellent films, plenty from independent directors and studios.
The 2021 festival is set to be the 78th of its kind, and if you’re a fan of film, then there’s no reason to miss out on this one. Alongside the gorgeous streets of Venice, you get to experience a festival wholly dedicated to the art of filmmaking, and of culture, with film titles featured from all around the world. This cultural September festival is a great one to mark on your calendar.
5. Mid-Autumn Festival – China
Known to be one of the biggest celebrations held annually in China, the Mid-Autumn festival is an event of great cultural and traditional importance. It always takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, set this year to occur on September 16, primarily celebrating one of the world’s greatest pieces of symbolism – the moon.
In this festival, the moon is celebrated as a symbol of peaceful times, and is best commemorated under the silvery light of the full moon.
It’s a festival that goes back around 3,000 years, and is heavily steeped in tradition. Participating in this event means you’ll have plenty of opportunities for stargazing, moon watching, lighting lanterns and incense burners, as well as enjoying the local cuisine!
Moon cakes are a particularly traditional food for this festival in September.
6. Regatta Storica – Venice, Italy
Yet another September festival set in the gorgeous city of Venice – all the more reason to visit the city during this month of the year. Regatta Storica, however, is a much older celebration than its film festival, dating all the way back to 1489. From parades ripe with colour and various mask designs, to boat races along the Grand Canal and delicious foods aplenty.
There’s a heavy emphasis on history during the festival, with plenty of gondoliers properly decked out in 15th century attire. And not just them!
You’ll find plenty of people celebrating the occasion with typical Venetian masks and historical clothing, in this annual water pageant. It always takes place on the first Sunday of every September, and is considered on of the city’s most important annual events. You can join in to, and be a part of history.
7. Hermanus Whale Festival – Hermanus, South Africa
Perhaps among the southernmost festivals in the world is a fairly eco-friendly focused one, that pays great attention to the celebration and return of whales to the local waters. It’s known to be the only Enviro-Arts festival in South Africa, that focuses on whale watching – particularly the return of the Southern Right Whales, who always come back around this time of year.
It typically takes place annually around the end of September towards the beginning of October, and is a week-long event that usually ends up attracting up to 150,000 people. By far the biggest event in all of Hermanus – a small town, not too far off from Cape Town.
The event has been going on since 1992, and with the town’s beautiful coastlines, wonderful culture and absolutely welcoming attitude to visitors, it’s a must-see September event.
8. Mid-Autumn Festival in France – Montpellier, France
The French coastal region of Languedoc is known to be one among the country’s most beautiful, as well as most historical. This makes it the ideal region for the Autumn Festival, mainly celebrated on the beach in Montpellier, with plenty of musical festivities, cultural foods, as well as impressive displays of horsemanship to gawk and awe at.
The festival in September is also held in Paris, and in both or all locations, takes place on September 21, having been founded back in 1972 as an original effort to bring people together and make arts of all kinds accessible to all people. In Paris, this is celebrated through street theatres and performances, musical endeavours, as well as various events that celebrated such artforms as film and visual arts.
If you’re a fan of artistry, of any kind, then this is the festival for you.
9. ViniMilo – Sicily, Italy
If you’re looking for something more akin to Oktoberfest, where you can enjoy some quality alcohols in a more adult and exotic environment, then no doubt you’re going to want to try the ViniMilo Festival on the island of Sicily, in Italy. This festival is all about wine, and features plenty of events and activities that mainly incorporate the fanciful art of wine tasting. If you like wine over beer, then this is definitely the festival for you.
It’s also often known as the Etna Wine Festival, and takes place annually in the city of Milo beginning towards the end of August, and continuing on into mid-September. The majority of this festival is held during September-time, so even if you join in late, you’re still guaranteed to see the best of the celebrations!
It’s a very traditional festival, providing you the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Milo landscapes, as well as its many historical hotspots and deliciously aromatic wines.
10. Fiesta Rey En Jaume – Majorca, Spain
This is another event that starts in late August but is largely celebrated through September, from August 29 until September 8. It’s highly historical and very traditional, however, celebrating the liberation of Majorca in 1229 from the Christian kingdoms. As such, you’ll find plenty of the celebrations to include some historical re-enactments and traditional cuisines!
From dances and sports, to traditional fiestas and parades, it’s a very unique and interesting way to experience Spain.
The re-enactment battles themselves are held towards the end of the festival, on Playa Grande beach and Calo d’en Pellicer beach. On the final Sunday of the celebrations, as well, you can expect to have the entire experience topped off with a grand bout of delicious foods and delightful fireworks.
Festivals in September
September festivals are popular, with almost every country celebrating at least one a month.
Find the festival you love in the country you love, and dive on in to the celebrations. Enjoy traditional foods and events at your leisure – festivals are one of the best way to get stuck into a culture, and to try and understand it in a short amount of time. Have fun!