Whether it’s the chance to enjoy one-of-a-kind festivals, uncrowded sightseeing or off-season rates, there are many reasons why November is a great month for travel. It’s the ideal time to visit regions where the weather is at its most comfortable in the fall and to witness the autumn celebrations that are unique to a particular place. The following places to visit in November offer opportunities for memorable travel experiences during or around this autumn month.
Located in the Caribbean Sea, the British Cayman Islands are popular travel destinations year round, but the month of November holds special appeal. The Pirates Week Festival features dozens of pirate-themed dances, games, parades and sport events held throughout the three islands. Natives and visitors alike dress up as pirates, corsairs and privateers to join in the fun. The harbor at George Town plays host to a mock pirate invasion where the terrors of the high seas are captured, put on trial and banished from the island. The start dates for Pirate Week change from year to year, but the festivities are usually held during the second week of November.
Since 1905, the city of Richterswil has played host to the largest annual turnip festival in Switzerland. Known as the Räbechilbi, the event is held on the second Saturday in November. Tons of turnips and other root vegetable are hollowed and decorated with designs, and more than 50,000 candles are used to illuminate them from the inside out. The lanterns are used to decorate houses, shops and churches. The Räbechilbi’s main event is a procession where marching bands and floats adorned with the turnip lanterns parade through town.
An ancient Hindu festival, Diwali is celebrated all over India around the new moon of the lunar month of Kartika on the Hindu calendar, which falls between mid-October and mid-November. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is observed by people of all religions and is one of India’s most popular holidays. The five-day festival offers opportunities for families to dress up in their best attire, decorate their homes with lights and celebrate the spiritual victory of light over dark with parties, fireworks and gift-giving. Diwali marks the beginning of the shopping season as well, so it’s a great time for visitors to find bargains.
Held on the fourth Thursday in November, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of New York City’s grandest spectacles. The three-hour event features floats, marching bands, clowns and live animals, but the biggest stars are the parade’s mammoth-sized helium balloons featuring cultural icons like Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and Hello Kitty. The parade also includes live performances from the Broadway shows. While some prefer to brave the crowds and low temperatures for an up-close look, a popular way for visitors to experience the event is to stay in a hotel facing the parade route.
Located about 725 km (450 miles) to the east of Bangkok near Thailand’s border with Cambodia, Surin is home to the Surin Elephant Round-Up that takes place each year on the third weekend in November. The festival begins on Friday morning with a procession of hundreds of elephants that march from the outskirts of town to Sri Narong Stadium in the south end of the city. Along the way, the trained animals are treated to offerings of food laid out on the road. Elephant shows continue at the stadium throughout the weekend, culminating in a grand finale that includes around 2,000 performers decked out in traditional attire.
Although it’s only a small island, Bora Bora is arguably the most beautiful place in the South Pacific if not the world. Surrounded by a crystal-clear lagoon bordered by a barrier reef, the island features two dormant volcanic peaks covered with lush vegetation. The best time to visit this tropical paradise is in November or April when most of the tourists are gone but the weather is still warm and welcoming. Bora Bora’s seaside resorts are available at reasonable rates during November, offering visitors another reason to visit the island that explorer James Cook called the “pearl of the Pacific”.
Each year in the state of Rajasthan, around 200,000 people and 50,000 camels come together in the town of Pushkar for the annual camel fair. The week-long festival is held on the full moon of the Kartika lunar month on the Hindu calendar, which occurs in October or November. Over the years, the fair has become more than just a place where farmers buy and sell camels. It’s evolved into a full-scale festival that includes camel races, sports events, carnival rides and even moustache competitions. The populace is friendly and engaging, and visitors are often invited to participate in the festivities.
November to April is Thailand’s dry season when cooling breezes blow west from China. The pleasant weather is perfect for the coinciding Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals held in the northwest province of Chiang Mai. Each year on the full moon of the Thai lunar calendar, usually in November, thousands gather to float handmade baskets ornamented with candles, incense and mementos on the river, decorate ancient temples with hanging lanterns and release Lanna-style lanterns into the air. The city of Chiang Mai is a great place to enjoy the annual spectacle of floating lanterns.
It may only be a small Canadian town, but Churchill draws huge crowds every year to see its most famous inhabitants, the polar bears. Nicknamed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” Churchill is located in the Manitoba province on the Hudson Bay shore. In addition to polar bears, Churchill is also a popular destination for viewing beluga whales, birds and the aurora borealis. The best time to see polar bears in Churchill is October and November when the bears migrate to the shores, hunting for marine food. The tourism industry here provides tours and vehicles called tundra buggies for the safety of both tourists and the bears.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a national holiday throughout Mexico, but few communities in the country celebrate the festival with more exuberance than the indigenous people of Oaxaca. During the three-day celebration, families gather at cemeteries to honor their ancestors. Graves of departed loved ones are decorated with flowers and decorative skulls, and the families sing songs, tell stories and share food like Pan de Muerte, a traditional Day of the Dead bread. Colorful sand paintings are created all over Oaxaca to commemorate the occasion. The celebration starts on October 31 at midnight and continues through November 2.