October 6: The Navratri Festival in India culminates with Dussehra, marking the end of the battle between Rama and Ravana. In the evening, archers shoot flaming arrows at fireworks-filled effigies of Ravana and his evil brothers, which ignite and explode in a most spectacular fashion.
October 8: Santa Barbara celebrates its maritime heritage with the annual Harbor and Seafood Festival. Festival goers can feast on lobster, crab, barbequed tuna and other fresh, local seafood, and enjoy activities such as free cooking demonstrations and boat rides.
October 9: Siena has the most famous Palio in Italy, but the hamlet of Balconevisi boasts the quirkiest. Instead of racing horses, residents of the town’s four contrade (districts) pit goose against goose in the Palio del Papero. A street market with crafts and local delicacies keeps spectators entertained until the race begins.
October 12-23: Perhaps the best time to visit Berlin, Germany, is during the annual Festival of Lights (pictured above), when monuments, squares and boulevards all over the city are bathed in wild colors. It’s possible to enjoy the display on foot, of course, but you can also join an organized “Lightseeing” tour by bicycle, boat or bus. Or for something more private, reserve your own horse-drawn carriage or limousine. The “Lichterglanz” at the rococo Sanssouci Palace on October 15 is sure to be particularly memorable, with costumed performers and, of course, specially lit galleries.
October 14-16: Three delightful pursuits come together in Virginia’s Hot Air Balloon, Wine and Music Festival, held in the Shenandoah Valley near Millbrook. Hot air balloons launch at both dawn and dusk, ensuring that one can enjoy sampling the local wines and microbrews at a civilized hour.
October 16: In honor of the goddess Draupadi, Hindu devotees walk barefoot across a bed of hot coals during the Theemidhi Festival at Singapore’s Sri Mariamman Temple. Though white-hot, the four-meter long pile of embers will (in theory) not burn the pure.
October 22: Bonfires and huge torches light up Kurama, a small town near Kyoto, during the Kurama-no-Hi-Matsuri (Fire Festival). Nine-foot-tall “watch fires” blaze at strategic points, and men clad in traditional thongs carry huge pine torches — some more than 15 feet long — through the streets.
October 22-23: Surrounded by rolling hills swathed in picturesque vineyards, the Burgundian town of Chablis shows off its famous whites during the annual Chablis Wine Festival. Purchase a glass for a small fee, and wander from stall to stall sampling a wide variety of these wonderfully crisp, minerally wines.
October 30: Numerous cities host costume parades for Halloween, but surely none does it better than New Orleans. The Krewe of Halloween Parade features elaborately creepy floats and plenty of over-the-top costumes winding their way through the atmospheric decay of the French Quarter. The Monster Bash costume ball follows.