November is a time of transition. Winter is coming to the North (don’t tell the Starks), while the South is gearing up for another wild Summer, because Hot Christmas is a thing and it’s actually pretty awesome singing carols on the beach at night. But more importantly, it marks the month where I’m finally being kicked out of Australia. I guess they just couldn’t handle me. Or anybody with specific year-long visa restrictions, but come on, let me have this. On to New Zealand! And more importantly, on to November’s festival calendar! There was a marked increase in Southern Hemisphere events once I moved to this side of the Equator, so expect that to continue into year 2 down here. Let’s get started.
The Elsewhere Man’s Top 5
9-18th – Cairo International Film Festival (Cairo, Egypt) – Remember when Egypt basically caught on fire with protests, leaders were ousted, leaders were put in, leaders were ousted, etc? That was all because of the lack of good movies in the country. It’s true, check Wikipedia. Luckily, the protests were successful, and the Cairo International Film Festival was born. Check out some great films from all over the world (Hollywood ain’t got a lock on this) under the backdrop of pyramids and a river so big there’s no denying it. I may have fucked up a pun in there somewhere.
20-22nd – Cherry Festival (Ficksburg, South Africa) – I remember when I was living in Washington DC. The cherries blossomed every spring, turning the whole city pink, and I thought it was awesome. Then some punk kid told me that everything I knew was a lie, and that the best cherry blossoms were actually in Japan. Dick got to live there, I guess. Well now that I travel, I’ll say that the best cherry blossoms are actually in South Africa, and there’s a big festival to go along with them to boot! Take that dickhead! Let’s see you one up that!
12th, 24th – 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. 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.
6th – Guru Nanak Jayanti (Amritsar, India) – This festival celebrates the birth of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru and founder of the religion. It’s one of the most important celebrations in all of Sikhism. Normally that would mean I’m going to make fun of it to no end, but Sikhs are genuinely the nicest people in existence with the coolest headgear of all and I’d just feel dirty. Besides, they already get enough shit from idiots who mistake them for Muslims. Let them have this one. The Sikh state of Punjab goes all out for weeks leading up to the event, but on the day itself, there are lights and celebrations. If you’re one of those idiots who think they’re Muslims, you should go just to learn a thing or two.
7th – Yi Peng & Loy 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.
30th – 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.
5th – Lewes Bonfire (Lewes, 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 Lewes or 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.
5-9th – Iceland Airwaves (Reykjavik, Iceland) – Finally, something in Iceland. It’s my brother’s favorite country and I’ve been looking for an excuse to go for some time now. It’s a beautiful land of volcanic landscapes, waterfalls, and crazy geology. Of course, that’s all during the summer. During late October, it could very well be a snowy apocalypse of ice and frosty dander. But that’s okay because one of the stages for the festival is literally in the Blue Lagoon, a giant hot spring. Don’t worry about the cold when you’ve got hot beats in hot water.
7th – J-Dag (Copenhagen, Denmark) – Oh god, it’s like a Homer Simpson Dream Sequence. J-Dag is the annual launch of the Carlsberg’s Christmas Beer, which ordinarily wouldn’t be the cause for such song and dance. But here in Copenhagen, this launch is accompanied by literal song and dance – brewery employees drive around to all the bars and pubs, dropping off cases of the stuff, singing and being merry, everybody drunk and joining in as they crack their first of the season. The Christmas beer is only available for ten weeks of the year and yet is the brewery’s fourth best selling, if that tells you anything. I’ve always said that Christmas Cheer is simply the sober mind’s memories of being drunk (I’ve never said that before), and this is just proof in the 5.6% ABV pudding.
8th – 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.
8-9th – 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.
9-10th – 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.
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 in irons promoters, you’ve got me frothing.
23-27th – Cannabis Cup (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – I like to try to make these guides at least a little cultural, but hey, weed is part of Amsterdam’s culture. Last time I was there, I 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. I ended up smoking too much and staring at a fish tank for an hour thinking they were dinosaurs, so if you plan on competing, make sure your tolerance is a little higher than mine.
24th – Krampusnacht (Klagenfurt, Austria) – See, in America, when a kid misbehaves, we tell them that Santa is going to bring the coal instead of presents. But the Alpine countries think kids won’t behave unless you give them the fear of death: enter Krampus, the demonic Lex Luthor to Santa’s Superman, a horned beast who kidnaps naughty children during the Christmas season, carrying them away to eat. Probably not too fun for kids. But for adults, who obviously take great pleasure in the torment of children anyway, it’s a blast. The Krampuslaufen is the equivalent to a modern Santa Pub Crawl, where everybody dresses up like the monsters, gets hammered, and sprints across town. Try to tell which is a costume and which is simply a drunk who vomited on himself.
1-2nd – Dia de los Muertos (Oaxaca, Mexico) – Here we go: the big guns. Dia de los Muertos is kind of like Halloween, except dressing up like a slutty version of something normal would probably be frowned upon. It’s very cultural but very nice to see. Of course, it has a huge following in Mexico, and Oaxaca may be the best place to experience it. However, pretty much every city in Latin America, all the way down to South America, celebrates it in some capacity, so if there’s some mad cartel violence and you wanna bail, there’s always another party out there.
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.
1-2nd – HARD Day of the Day (Pomona, 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.
5th – Fall Opening Day (Del Mar, California) – The summer opening day of the Del Mar Racetrack is a huge deal in America, analogous to the Melbourne Cup down below. Lots of big hats and classy drunks, and I think there are apparently some horses running around as well. Those big hats (and apparently horses) have become popular enough that they can’t fit entirely in one season. Also another turf track closed and gamblers need their fix. So anyway, it’s going to be a smaller affair than the gigantic Summer meet, but the 14-stake fall meet will still offer a lot of big hats if you’re in the area and need a fix.
6-16th – Pirates Week (George Town, 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.
7-9th – 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.
7-9th – 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.
8th – Camp Flog Gnaw (Los Angeles, California) – If you’re a music fan, you are probably aware of Tyler, The Creator. And if you’re aware of his existence, you’re undoubtedly aware that he is batshit fucking insane. Like, dude starts riots because he can and terrorizes random offices on a whim. So there’s no telling what will actually happen at Camp Flog Gnaw, his art collective Odd Future’s carnival event. The only member of the OFWGKTA crew not on the bill is Frank Ocean, otherwise known as the most reasonable member. But if Tyler can channel that insanity in a good way, like when he got Kanye out for a surprise performance, then this will be a big success.
8-9th – Bacon Fest (Eaton, Pennsylvania) – I’ve never really understood the obsession with bacon. I mean, it’s great. But there are people out there creating bacon cologne. Bacon cologne. People go to clubs thinking women are sexually attracted to bacon. And some people probably are. Fucking bacon. People in Pennsylvania are fat, so it makes sense that they would have the biggest festival actually celebrating the stuff. If you’re one of those people who literally eats bacon wrapped salad, then you’re probably willing to go a bit out of your way to see what gets cooked up here.
13-16th – 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.
22nd – 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.
27th – Thanksgiving (New York City, New York) – When I was in America, Thanksgiving was one of the biggest holidays around. A time to absolutely stuff your face with food and enjoy time spent with family. Then I went abroad, and nobody even knew what Thanksgiving was, and when I was sent money to put together a nice dinner for the occasion I wound up spending it all on alcohol. Oops. If you’re on the opposite side of that track, and you’re a foreigner in America for Thanksgiving, then you should probably do the same thing. Blow that cash on beer and enjoy some football!
1-9th – Newtown Festival Week (Sydney, Australia) – When EDC moved to Las Vegas, it was a big success, and the city turned the entire week leading up to it into “EDC Week,” because just not enough people die during the festival itself. Newtown Festival in Sydney is on a similar principle, apparently, and hopefully without the deaths. It’s a small but loved event, and the week leading up to it has this year been turned into one big celebration of local music and art.
4-14th – Melbourne Cup (Melbourne, Victoria) – Last time I was in San Diego, I visited my grandparents 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.
8th – Harbourlife (Sydney, NSW) – I saw the Opera House for the first time yesterday when I got to Sydney. Pictures don’t prepare you for it; it really is regal. Just awe-inspiring. So it makes sense that Harbourlife doesn’t take place there, because the tiny little electronic show is basically the epitome of things that don’t belong in a regal setting. This year has Kygo playing, the creator of the Tropical House genre, so check it out some Summer loving before it really starts.
28-30th – Paradise (Marysville, Victoria) – It’s a lofty title to live up to. Paradise is located in a tiny corner of Victoria so small the last time somebody drove through they were lost. But maybe that’s the point. The little boutique electronic festival is far enough removed from the world that it very well may be paradise. It features all homegrown acts plus an onsite indoor nightclub, giving it that grimy, personalized feel. And since everybody else will be at the next festival on the list, you’ll have it all to yourself. Just you and the dirty, dirty people that couldn’t get Stereo tickets.
29-30th – Stereosonic (Sydney/Perth, NSW/West Australia) – Rather than have a bunch of different ones, Australian festival 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?) has installations in every major city (Sydney and Perth take place this month). 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?
1-7th – 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.
1-7th – Jubilee Week (Piura, Peru) – I’m going to be making a concentrated effort from now on to include more South American events. And not just because I plan on going there next year. It’s sorely underrepresented in this column almost every month. And sure, it has fewer music festivals, but the cultural stuff is just as awesome. Jubilee Week is as close to a real music festival as you’re gonna get in this country (barring any actual ones I haven’t found yet), where the whole town gets together for street music and other displays. It’s a good yin to La Diablada’s yang if you want to try and hit both this week.
7th – Brazilian F1 Grand Prix (São Paulo, Brazil) – There are very few things that could make me interested in guys in little dildo cars going around a track real fast. Alcohol happens to be one of those things, and luckily, it seems to be one of the few things omnipresent at these F1 races. I went to the Grand Prix in Melbourne last year and while I never actually saw a Formula One car, I did watch the vibrations cause bubbles at the bottom of my drink. I can only assume that that atmosphere of “classy, but here to party” extends to all F1 Grand Prixs, so I fully expect this event to be like City of God meets Ricky Bobby, minus the hick.
7-Dec 6th – Señor de los Milagros Bullfight Festival (Lima, Peru) – So, I’ll say flat out that I’m against most bullfights. Some nowadays are going green, simply dancing around the bulls and doing them the courtesy of not brutally murdering them afterwards. But those, as far as I know, are in Spain. Try as I might to pretend otherwise, I don’t know everything about the rest of the world, so this could very well be a cultural, yet kinda ass-backwards event. Check it out at your own risk.
8-11th – Fashion Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – I’ve met a couple of Brazilians in my time. I don’t know what they put in the water there, but it needs to be given to pregnant mothers as a neonatal supplement. Good lord are they attractive people. So say what you want about Paris Fashion Week, but I’ll take a Brazilian rump over a pale rail every time. They’re all about shallow representation of self there, so it goes without saying that the country’s biggest fashion show is a good chance to get rejected by all the beautiful women you please.
9th – Día de la Tradición (San Antonio de Areco, Argentina) – I know two things about Argentina. One, that lots of nazis fled there after WWII, and two, that they also have lots and lots of cowboys. I can only assume that these two things are related, and we can expect some nazi vs. cowboys movie coming out in the near future. In the meantime, though, you can at least get entertainment from the latter during the Día de la Tradición, also called the Cowboy Festival. Although the lawlessness and self-reliance of their heyday has eroded, the Cowboy Festival is a chance to return to the roots and really see what it was like to live in constant fear of bandits.
15th – Pride (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – And now let’s swing to about the furthest fucking side of the spectrum from cowboys sitting on a desert plain eating beans from a can. Pride in any country is a crazy parade of sex and modern identity, but the major cities of South America definitely turn it up a notch compared to the prudish United States. Buenos Aires is one of the coolest cities on the continent, so their Pride parade is bound to be a gay old time.
16-Dec 7th – Argentine Open Polo Championships (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – Last year, Veuve Cliquot Champagne hosted a polo open in Los Angeles. I was in Southeast Asia, crawling around, dirty, tired, hungry, and I watched on Facebook as all my friends put on big hats and sipped champagne flutes under a clear blue sky (although, like horse races, I didn’t see any pictures of actual horses). That was just a quick little event. The Argentine Open Polo Championships is one of the largest polo competitions in the world, and considering the long horseback tradition (see: two events up) in the country, it’s sure to be a great time.
22nd – Primavera Fauna (Santiago, Chile) – Well would you look at that, South America actually does have some music festivals! Who would have guessed it this close to Antarctica? As far as I can tell, this festival has nothing to do with the Primavera festival brand – Primavera Fauna means “Spring Animals,” which I can only assume is a description of the horny festival bros coming out of hibernation for the first big festival of the summer creeping season. Jokes aside, it’s a music festival. On a continent so heavily inundated with cultural events, it will be nice to kick back and act like you’re home for a bit.
23-24th – Music Wins Fest (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – Like Primavera Fauna, Music Wins Fest is actually a pretty huge modern music festival, drawing in big names from all over the world. Tame Impala is headlining, which should be interesting considering how just earlier this year, Buenos Aires-born pop star Pablo Ruiz sued them for allegedly plagiarizing one of his songs for their hit, “Seems Like We Only Go Backwards.” Hopefully they cover one of his other songs. That would be forward movement.
28-29th – Popload Festival (São Paulo, Brazil) – If you’re unable to make it down to Music Wins Fest or Primavera Fauna (maybe you actually managed to bag a model at Fashion Rio and didn’t want to leave), then you’re still in luck. These South American festivals borrow lineups from each other and the bands are essentially doing a Che Guevara border tour of the continent. They’re all playing at Popload, and although you’ll miss the Pablo Ruiz cover from Tame Impala, something tells me you’re not going to miss out on much when you’ve got all of Brazil behind you.
And that’s November. Don’t forget to tweet me @theElsewhereman with anything I may have missed. Peace out!