I’m back, and I’ve got an event calendar out early enough to use! Say it ain’t so! Plenty of time to write as I’m currently killin’ it in Los Angeles with the Original Friends before kicking off to Australia on November 5th. So if you’re around Melbourne and want to grab a beer, let me know. Of course, you probably don’t care about the personal side of the Elsewhere Man. If you did, you’d be on the About page. Maybe I’ll start using that in a different way…
The theme for this month is Weird and Wonderful. Spooky and Kooky. Music festivals are breathing their last rattling moans of unlife as their season comes to a close (except in Australia, where they’re just gearing up. Perfect timing for me!). Their zombified corpses make the perfect decoration for all the All Soul’s Day festivals around the world, under their various names. They’ll dominate the beginning of the month as you’ll see, but there are plenty of other things to do that don’t involve a macabre fascination with dead people you don’t even know.
For the first time, I’ll say that a lot of these things are totally family appropriate! You can make them as crazy as you want, but most of these are cultural. So even if you’re not all that into the party scene of backpacking, these are still worth checking out. Let’s dive in.
1-2nd – Dia de los Muertos (Oaxaca, Mexico) – In America, Dia de los Muertos is known as the Halloween knockoff with all the fancy face paints. And if you’re in America, hey, go ahead and celebrate it as such. There’s no reason there can’t be a second night of dressing like a slut with no judgment. But in Mexico, the holiday has a much deeper raison d’etre. Personally, I think the idea of welcoming spirits home is more interesting than getting hammered with two dozen people who all came as “cats,” but that’s just me. You’ll find celebrations all over Mexico, but Oaxaca is the biggest.
1-2nd – Fete Ghede (Port-au-Prince, Haiti) – Did you know that the original idea of zombies came from Haitian voodoo? Haiti is as steeped in the supernatural as anywhere, so their version of All Saint’s Day is sure to be a little wilder. In Haitian mythology, the Ghede are rambunctious spirits who do more than rattle windows and close blinds. According to one story, they even mugged the President once. He paid up, which is both the best and the most ridiculous excuse for corrupt money changing I’ve ever heard. It might not be the most stable country in the world, but people said that about all those Frat parties you went to in college, too, and how’d that turn out? Don’t answer that.
1-3rd – The Voodoo Experience (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Aaaand we’re back to music festivals. That didn’t last long. Of all places hoodoolicious and black magic-y in America, New Orleans stands high (it’s gotta stand high in something, right? Uh, that’s a levee joke, not a poverty joke), so come celebrate the spookiest season in the spookiest city that doesn’t involve deserted cabins in the pacific northwest. The lineup’s an odd mixture of rock and electronic, so you may not even see too many witchcore people. Lookin’ at you, Lorde. So talented, so creepy.
2-3rd – HARD Day of the Day (Los Angeles, California) – This one’s for all the people who don’t realize that Day of the Dead is not the same thing as Halloween! Oh, you’ll see a few Sugar Skulls painted on faces, but the vast majority of the people here will be dressed like cats. And by the end of the night, they won’t be dressed like anything at all. It’s a dirty niche to fill, but somebody’s gotta fill it, so if you don’t mind the cultural appropriate of a nice family-oriented Mexican holiday into a sex and drugs fueled monster party, then head to Los Angeles. Just, and seriously guys, don’t go as a fucking cat anymore. Lazy bones.
3-8th – Diwali (Mumbai, India) – If you like pretty lights but don’t need to be on ecstasy to enjoy the light show (lookin’ at you, HARD), then check out Diwali in India. Although, given the nature of visas in India, you’re probably either going or you’re not by now. Diwali is India’s Festival of Lights. It doesn’t have anything to do with Hanukkah, but it does have the same familial focus. So while you’re gonna see a lot of pretty lights during Diwali, it’s probably best to try and make friends with a nice Indian family, where you can see how the home life goes. Just try and wash that shirt you’ve been wearing for six days straight. Just because you’re backpacking doesn’t mean you can forget your manners.
3rd, 15th, 27th – Tori-no-Ichi (Tokyo, Japan) – Tori-no-Ichi is a festival that takes place on certain days in November, the days of the Rooster, in which stalls go up all over shrines so people can buy new rakes. On another note, Raking the Rooster sounds like a euphemism for masturbation. Normally, there are only two days of the rooster in a month, but every so often, there are three, and these are the months that are considered very unlucky. Notice how days there are here? Man, it just gets spookier and spookier! For people like you and me, it probably won’t be the ornate rooster rakes that draw us in – or maybe that’s just me, I’m not one for personal style – but it’s still worth a visit for the atmosphere.
5th – La Diablada (Puno, Peru) – There’s something about demons in early November on this side of the world. Supposedly, this version has less to do with family spirits and spooky specials on ABC Family than it does with celebrating the departure of the devilish conquistadors that once invaded Peru. Comedy aside, if all these traditions formed separately, then their convergent evolutions is pretty interesting. Here, the locals dress like demons and dance on the shores of Lake Titicaca, also known as the most comedically named location since Blueballs, Pennsylvania. Try to stifle your chuckles when the guy dressed like the Devil dances past. Satan doesn’t like it when you chuckle.
5th – Bonfire Night (London, England) – I almost feel bad for Guy Fawkes. Not only did he fail in his revolutionary endeavors, but now his likeness is more closely associated with lonely neckbeards on the Internet who try to sound tough because they can hack a few Facebook pages. Remember, remember the 5th of November indeed. Bonfire Night still has some pizzazz to it, though, so if you really feel like imagining what it would be like to blow up Parliament, and Netflix doesn’t have V for Vendetta, try getting to London. It’s like the Fourth of July. I mean, without the losing your best colony thing. Just leave the Anonymous masks at home. Hot Topic stopped being cool in middle school.
5th – Melbourne Cup (Melbourne, Australia) – I was down in San Diego this past weekend visiting my grandparents. I told them about how I was moving to Melbourne and they told me about the time they went to attend the Melbourne Cup. Now, I’m pretty good at subtext. They’ve told me about their younger days before and never spoke of drinks and parties. So when they tell me they went to bar at 9:55 AM and asked if they could open 5 minutes early, I got the impression of just how crazy their trip actually was. This was in 1969, so it might have changed a fair amount. But given all the gay marriage and socialized healthcare we’re seeing nowadays, I have a hard time thinking it’s become more conservative. Nobody goes to races for the horses except gambling addicts and mobsters. There are events all over town leading up to the actual race, so it’s pretty hard to have a bad time at this carnival.
6-17th – Pushkar Camel Fair (Pushkar, India) – India is an endurance test for the nostrils as it is. All that Indian food combined with, let’s face it, a cultural lack of hygiene (have you seen the Ganges lately?) gives the country a pretty bad stereotype. Add in 50,000 camels, and you might want to stock up on nose plugs. Still, the Camel Fair is basically a county fair on steroids, with all the trappings of an American fair with a South Asian laissez faire twist. That is, they usually give fuck-all about safety. Check out the Cage of Death, where cars and motorcycles zip past each other in a sunken pit damn near horizontally. The camels are all done up like a hooker on her first day, and there’s plenty of “festivities” to go around (read: ganja milkshakes). By the end of the day, you won’t even notice that your nose is numb.
7-17th – Pirate Festival (George Town Harbor, Cayman Islands) – Ever since Game of Thrones, Renaissance Fairs have started to gain some mainstream traction. Turns out, getting dressed up and swordfighting is actually kind of… cool? Well, same thing applies to pirates. Thanks, Johnny Depp. The Cayman Islands’ Pirate Week Festival is essentially a giant party for adults to dress up and act like pirates, complete with rum, swords, ship to ship combat, rum, music, dancing, rum, and rum. The Caribbean is the perfect spot for this kind of thing, so if you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping by. If all those Halloween parties you went to at the beginning of the month are any indication, girls dressed up in pirate costumes are damn good lookin’. It might be the only place you can call them wenches and not get slapped.
8-10th – Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin, Texas) – This is the first legit music festival on this list in a bit… I’ve almost forgotten what kind of jokes I can make about them. Should I talk about drugs more? Make fun of the patrons? Make a smarmy comment about the lineup as if it’s not the same basic lineup as any other major music festival of the year? I could talk about how Texas does music festivals almost as well as it does barbecue and bigotry. But I’m not going to talk about any of those things. I’ve rehashed those jokes far too often in the past couple of installments of this article. So I’ll just say this. Fun Fun Fun Fest. It’s named that for a reason.
8-10th – Electric Daisy Carnival Orlando (Orlando, Florida) – …Scratch all that. I’m gonna make those jokes again. EDC is the biggest electronic music festival on the planet when it takes place in Las Vegas. Realizing they can make money from people who think the knockoff is the real thing, they’ve expanded to other cities and countries. Orlando is its latest endeavor and it pulls in a double audience: those who think they’re going to EDC Las Vegas, and those who think they’re going to Ultra Miami. Not a bad net, huh? This festival may not be on the motor speedway, but even knockoff Louis Vuitton’s look good when you’re not acting like they’re the real thing.
9th – I Love Techno (Ghent, Belgium) – Think of that electronic festival in Belgium you’ve always heard about. It’s huge. People come from all over the world to see world-class DJs and production values so high they rival the audience. Luckily, the franchise is expanding to Geo- Oh, sorry. You were thinking of Tomorrowland? I wasn’t. Heh, gotcha. I Love Techno is another creatively named music festival in Ghent, not too far from Boom and Tomorrowland (though, is anything in Belgium really that far from anything else in Belgium?) that plays, you guessed it, techno. It may be smaller, but it’s packed in some huge names into its small timeframe. I would love to go, and I don’t even love techno. Sorry techno, this is just for fun. It’s not real.
9-10th – Gioco Dell’Oca (Mirano, Italy) – Remember the games you used to play as a kid? Chutes and Ladders in class, tug-o-war on the playground. Well, you know the saying: you have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up. Gioco Dell’Oca, literally the Game of the Goose, is a city-wide celebration of the kind of things that make you hate how much fun kids get to have. Teams dress up in elaborate costumes and play games like sack races, tug-o-war, and ladder climbs. By the way, there’s a flock of geese that chase everybody. Have you ever seen geese? Mean little monsters. Keeps things exciting, not to mention justifies the name. There are children’s events, so maybe don’t treat this like you would Bay to Breakers, but sometimes it’s okay to be a kid again.
12-13th – Festa del Cornuto (Rocca Canterano, Italy) – Well, this is definitely one of the weirder festivals I’m ever going to talk about. And we just got off of one where people get chased around by geese. What the fuck, Italy? This one, Festival of the Horned One, is all about… cuckolds? It’s a festival of lost love, where actors and the real-life spurned take to the streets to mourn and find new love. It’s like the world’s saddest dating convention. Every year, there’s a Patron Saint of the festival, a title held by a famous cuckold. Hillary Clinton once held the title, no joke. It might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for some catharsis and new love, go ahead and check it out.
14-17th – Bear Creek Music Festival (Live Oak, Florida) – Florida has a lot of music festivals lately, and nobody’s gonna hold it against you if you only go to one. Nobody wants to be in Florida that long. This one is actually jam band based, so while it’s a bit smaller on the big name side, it’s just as heaps fun. Your experience with jam bands thus far probably consists of your dad’s stories about following Phish around the country and partaking in absolute truckloads of, uh, good vibes. It’s probably where he met your mom. I’m sure you had a fun upbringing. If you want to follow your family, check this one out. I hear good vibes are going for $40 an eighth in Florida these days.
16-30th – Primavera Sound Touring Party (Multiple Cities) – I might be the only person like this, but I actually love the anticipation of a thing more than the thing itself. Things can disappoint but your hopes for it are pure. It’s why I still enjoyed that one Christmas where my parents gave me a bunch of presents that turned out to be clothes I already owned. And Primavera Sound, the Spanish music festival, is one of those things I’m looking forward to. And in anticipation for it, the promoters are holding a traveling party to build up anticipation. A party in anticipation for a party? Rewarding those who are looking forward to something by giving them something early? Well, slap me irons promoters, you’ve got me frothing.
17th – Loi Krathong (Chiang Mai, Thailand) – Loi Krathong is one of the biggest festivals in Thailand and definitely a must-see. It’s not so much a party as it is a cultural celebration, so don’t go in thinking you’re gonna be splashing water around like that other Thai festival you’ve heard so much about. It’s more like Diwali in India (this article’s getting meta already!) in that it’s all about lights, and the best way to see it is to get to know a Thai family. Celebrations take place all over the country (and the surrounding ones, actually), but the biggest and best one is in Chiang Mai. There’s not much to say about the festival that the following picture doesn’t, so I’ll shut up and leave you with this one:
22-24th, 29-Dec 1st – End of an Era (Camber Sands, UK) – This is another two-part festival, which, okay. I get why the two-parter is catching on. You make a shitload more money without having to spend more on infrastructure and brand building. But I would argue, is diluting the brand and alienating your fans (just look online at the fights over which weekend of Coachella is better) the best answer? It detracts from the spectacle. When the Tupac hologram came out at Coachella in 2012, I had no idea what to think. People at the second weekend did. I’ll write a full article about my thoughts on this soon enough. But yeah. End of an Era Fest. Camber Sands. Check it if you’re ’round.
23rd – Harbourlife (Syndey, Australia) – Notice an uptick in the number of Australia events? I can’t tell if it’s because Oz is going into it’s summer season or I’m just noticing them more now that I’m moving there. Or maybe they’re throwing more festivals because I’m moving there. The Truman Show was just a pilot for my life, guys. Anyway, Harbourlife is a relatively small electronic show, but they’ve got Jacque Lu Cont there. Ol’ Jacque is responsible for the first remix I actually liked better than the original song, as I’ve linked there. Plus, you’ve got the Sydney Opera House in the background. I’m really excited to move there, you guys.
23rd – Miami Reggae Festival (Miami, Florida) – Okay, seriously. I’m running out of Florida jokes now. I’m trying really hard not to resort to talking about old people and their inability to hear, because that’s just low-hanging fruit. I may talk about some dirty stuff on this blog, but I have standards. So. If you thought the jam festival up top was full of good vibes, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Combining a city like Miami with a reggae festival may just be the greatest thing ever. They even bill themselves as a family-friendly festival. Bring your kids! Just don’t let them eat any of the candy, or brownies, or just about anything not sealed in a vacuum bag. Family friendly. Reggae festival. okay. Maybe if we’re talking about Bob Marley’s family.
24-28th – High Times Cannabis Cup (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – Now it’s just too easy. I know I said that this month’s guide was going to be a lot more family friendly and cultural. Weed is part of Amsterdam’s culture. I was there in February and found a place called the Rembrandt Seed Bank & Headshop, which is really just a great statement on the relationship between the city’s classical artistic heritage and the modern zeitgeist youth culture has impressed upon it. Yeah, I bet that’s the statement he was going for. Yeah… High Times is the world famous weed magazine, Amsterdam is the weed capital of the world, and a competition is just brilliant. This might just be the most potent combination since Willy Nelson hung out with Snoop Dogg.
25th – Lopburi Monkey Banquet (Lopburi, Thailand) – This month has been an interesting mix of the normal and the weird, but I’d say this festival falls pretty safely on the weird side. The Lopburi Monkey Banquet is literally that – locals preparing food for a forest full of monkeys, setting the table for them, and then simply watching as they take their places and begin to eat. Monkeys are a key part of the town, and this is just one way for the locals to show their appreciation for the creatures that continuously steal food from them and terrorize their children for looking at them the wrong way. If monkeys were people, they’d probably post that stupid Marilyn Monroe quote about having to handle them at their worst to deserve them at their best. Come on monkeys. You’re not people.
29-Dec 8th – Warped Tour Australia (Multiple Cities) – When I was in middle school, 12 years old, I had a pretty rough time. Not a lot of friends. I found release in a lot of emo-style pop-punk. Taking Back Sunday was my jam. Of course, I grew out of that phase. But I still get a little nostalgic every time I hear a full grown dude push a little whine into his voice while his friends finger their guitars like confused middle schoolers on a date to the movies. And I do still wear a lot of Vans and Converse. The Warped Tour is pretty popular in America, and I’m sure it’s big in Australia too. You’ll have to check the website to see if it’s coming to a city near you, but if you’re feeling nostalgic for those Yellowcard-backed moments of getting shoved into lockers, try to meet up.
30-Dec 1st – Stereosonic (Perth/Sydney, Australia) – I think I’m starting to understand Australian music festivals. Rather than have a bunch of different ones, they just have a few names that they stick onto festivals taking place around the same time in different cities. Stereosonic (how’s that for redundant?) takes place in both Sydney and Perth, swapping lineups on each day. They’ll do the same thing in a couple months with Big Day Out, which is basically six festivals all over the country. Why don’t they just pick different names? Create a few different brands? Competition is the spice of life. Or maybe that was music itself. Who knows?
30th – Holi One (Miami, Florida) – If it were any other capper, I wouldn’t even include it. Miami’s had enough festivals this month, and if you’re there you’re probably already gonna go to one. People don’t go to Miami just for the weather (okay, maybe some do). But this one is pretty cool. Holi, as you’ll find out in the coming months, is an Indian holiday involving the pandemonic, unbridled joy of throwing colorful powder at each other. There are color runs based on the same idea. This is an entire music festival. So not only do you get to listen to some amazing bands, but you get to take out your aggression against people you dislike by covering them in terrible combinations and laughing it off. You sneaky bitch. You knew red didn’t go with those green pants.
For Future Reference – Tickets for Optimus Primavera Sound (Porto, Portugal) go on sale on November 1st. It’s only the VIP tickets for now, but 150 euros, it’s a steal. OPS is the sister festival for the previously referenced Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. A lot of festivals for next year are starting to reveal their lineups, so keep your eyes open.
That’s it for this month. Catch you later! And, oh yeah, Partake of the World.