October festivals that can’t be missed

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Want to start your fall off with some excitement? Adventure is just around the corner: Just book a trip to enjoy one of these fun October festivals around the world.

Tubingen Duck Race, Oct. 11, Germany

October festivals that can't be missed
Don’t forget your rubber ducky for this German race (Image: drothamel)

It’s quite a sight to watch thousands of rubber ducks float their way down the River Neckar as crowds of onlookers cheer in delight, and this is exactly what unfolds every October in Tubingen. Germans have been enjoying this lighthearted festival for more than a decade, and you don’t have to be a local to “compete,” either: Just bring your own rubber duck, make sure it has your name and number written on it and set it free on the water. Don’t have a duck? Not to worry: ducks are available for rent, too. This isn’t just a floating parade, though — it truly is a race, and the winner stands to take home €10,000 (about $12,600) worth of prizes.

Fight of the Queens (Combat des Reines), Oct. 5, 12, Martigny, Switzerland

October festivals that can't be missed
Combat des Reines in Switzerland (Image: redoutable1)

Calling this annual event a fight may be a stretch. After all, no blood is spilled and no animals are hurt during this longstanding ritual. Farmers bring their cows to vie for the title of “queen” of the herd in what can best be described as a sort of sumo wrestling for bovines. Two contestants stand off against each other, trying to push the other out of the arena. If the cow gets distracted or wants to leave the arena in search of some grass to chew on, though, they’re free to do so.

Oktoberfest, Sept. 20 – Oct. 5, Munich, Germany

October festivals that can't be missed
Oktoberfest in Munich (Image: Polybert49 used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

If you consider yourself a beer lover, then it’s likely that Oktoberfest is on your travel bucket list. Every year, Munich transforms into a larger-than-life, beer-fueled party during this iconic event that runs through early October, and it’s not too late for visitors to book a flight to Munich to join the crowds that will wind up drinking more than 1.5 million gallons of beer over the course of Oktoberfest. This famed German festival was first celebrated in 1810 to celebrate the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig. Horse races were the premier event, but as time wore on, Oktoberfest evolved into the drinking fest it is today. This year, the beer flows freely at 14 tents.

Bridge Day, Oct. 18, The River Gorge, West Virginia

October festivals that can't be missed
The New River Gorge Bridge (Image: Jason Pratt)

Thrill-seekers, mark your calendars for October 18, when the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia closes to auto traffic and becomes a hotbed of extreme sports. Bridge Day is a one-day festival in which adrenaline junkies conquer the 876-foot-tall bridge in a myriad of extreme ways, including rappelling, bungee jumping and BASE jumping, which entails jumping with a rapid-deploying parachute. Bridge Day is the only day that BASE jumping is allowed on the New River Gorge Bridge, but if you’re not feeling quite as adventurous, you can always stick to spectating — Bridge Day draws tens of thousands of onlookers.

Halloween, Oct. 31, Multiple Locations

October festivals that can't be missed
A Day of the Dead skull (Image: Lake Mead Imagery used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

All around the world, ghoulish costumes set the mood for a night of celebration on Halloween. In the U.S., you’ll find plenty to enjoy, whether it’s a local Halloween party or the frightful festivities at theme parks like Universal Studios, Knott’s Scary Farm or Six Flags. Ireland also erupts in festivals in honor of Halloween, including the Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival from Oct. 17 through Nov. 2 in County Meath. In Mexico, the “Day of the Dead” celebrates the deceased with altars, colorful skulls and offerings from Oct. 31 – Nov 2. Meanwhile, visitors in Japan can check out whimsical costumes during the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, just outside Tokyo.

(Main image: drothamel)

October festivals that can’t be missed was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.