New York City’s 44th annual Village Halloween Parade is billed as “The nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world!” This vast and vibrant event sees more than 50,000 costumed party goers, attired in ghoulish fancy dress, line-up at 6th Avenue at Canal Street to set off on a mammoth parade, together with hundreds of puppets, bands of varying musical styles, dancers, circus performers and floats. Founded in 1974 by mask-maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee, this massive public participatory gathering attracts millions of spectators and embodies a different theme each year, this year’s being “Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie”. Master puppeteers Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, together with their posse of official parade puppeteers, will lead the way with a bestiary of flamboyant and fantastic hybrids, closely followed by members of the Manhattan public sporting their own multi-coloured creations.
Legend has it that a wandering Chinese opera company fell ill with Malaria while performing in Phuket, and, in order to beat the disease, adopted a strict vegetarian diet, prayed intensely for purification of their bodies and minds and somehow cured themselves. Having made a miraculous recovery, the group celebrated by originating an annual festival to honour the gods. Attended by thousands, today Phuket’s vegetarian festival celebrates a belief that abstinence from meat during the ninth month of the Asian lunar calendar will bring about good health and peace of mind. However, what the festival is really famous for, is the ritualised mutilation devotees subject themselves to in order to prove their devotion and venerate their gods and ancestors. Whilst most use skewers to pierce both cheeks and thread objects through the holes, for some the festival seems to be an opportunity to see who can have the most bizarre objects sticking out of their faces.
Featuring 243 films hailing from 67 countries, screened in 15 cinemas over twelve days just about sums up the 61st annual BFI London Film Festival, which showcases original movies by both world-renowned and emerging filmmakers. This year’s opening night gala, Breathe, is a moving true story of courage under profound difficulties, courtesy of first-time director and acclaimed British actor Andy Serkis. Also not to be missed, is the American Express Gala, Battle of The Sexes, about the legendary 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs played by Steve Carell. This playful true story of the 1970s gender wars – played out on the tennis court while the world watched – makes for a rousing and funny film. For priority London Film Festival booking, join the BFI from just GBP 35 for a full year’s membership.
The 26th incarnation of Hungary’s Cafe Budapest offers more than one hundred programs at over forty venues across the city – including the city’s enormous cultural complex, Művészetek Palotája – with many offering free entry. Spanning seventeen days, besides the work of Hungarian-born composer Béla Bartók, the other focuses of this year’s festival will be Israel and Jewish art and artists. The festival program always covers an incredibly wide spectrum and showcases a range of musical genres and performance art, from classical music to theatre premieres, popular music and jazz, to dance and visual art, as well as providing a platform for contemporary dance, circus acts, fine arts, design and photography. For 2017, CAFe Budapest affiliated events will again include the Budapest Ritmo world music festival, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Central Europe, the Art Market Budapest, and the Autumn Margin Literary Festival and Book Fair.
Real Italian food oozes intense flavours and unique aromas cultivated for generations. To coincide with the late autumn harvest period of the tartufo bianco, the pretty town of Alba, nestled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy about an hour by car from Turin, hosts its annual international white truffle fair. From early October to late November, Alba plays host to international chefs, gastronomy buffs, oenophiles and travelling foodies all seeking to indulge in the decadent, aromatic and wildly exclusive white truffles. Cleaned, meticulously preserved and shaved sparingly over pasta, risotto, grilled vegetables and just about everything else, the addition of truffles elevates Italian cuisine to new gastronomic heights. Known as the town of one hundred medieval towers, Alba’s original centre is beautifully preserved, so when not feasting on the Italian foods, simply strolling its streets with a gelato in hand is one of life’s great pleasures.
India’s biggest annual celebration – commonly referred to as The Festival of Lights – is an ancient five-day festival of physical and spiritual light, celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika, marking the victory of light over darkness, hope over despair and the freedom of the Sixth Guru. Guru Hargobind Ji was freed from imprisonment in 1619 by Mughal Emperor Jahangir, and at the same time he managed to release 52 political prisoners from Gwalior Fort. Hence Diwali is the cause for much annual reverence and good cheer. An important tradition in India, participants clean their homes before the festival and celebrate with friends and family by sharing food and exchanging gifts. Houses are festooned with electric lights, and at night, candles, lamps, torches and fireworks are lit, providing a spectacular display of light that symbolises the awareness of inner light and the triumph of good over evil.
The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience started out small and has, over time, exploded into a mega-event spanning several days and drawing some massive music industry names. Over the course of its 18-year history, this weekend festival – whose motto is “worship the music” – has hosted thousands of artists and legions of fans from all over the world, attracting mystics, madmen, femme fatales, gods, goddesses and music lovers of all kinds under one collective consciousness. Across the festival grounds of New Orleans’ City Park, Voodoo hosts interactive and immersive large-scale art installations, the Brew Dat Beer Hall, a handcrafted shopping experience at the Market Place, and more. This year’s festival is headlined by Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, The Killers and LCD Soundsystem. VIP and platinum packages offer prime viewing spots and respite from the crowds in comfy lounges with private facilities.
The capital of Queensland is a large, modern metropolis brimming with entrepreneurial zeal, cosmopolitan young people, bohemian nightclubs and world-class restaurants, so it’s little surprise that Brisbane hosts one of the country’s top food and wine shows. Celebrating regionally sourced and locally-produced foods and wines, and showcasing artisan and home-grown produce from within the state and across Australia, Brisbane’s Good Food Show offers everything from master classes hosted by leading chefs Matt Moran, George Calombaris, Adam Liaw, Paul West and Miguel Maestre, to “The Smelly Cheese Project” presided over by a resident cheese expert taking visitors on a cheese appreciation journey that provides a complete sensory experience, and even a live Good Food Theatre stage to learn the hints of the best interstate chefs. For a more exclusive experience, buy a ticket for the Cape Mentelle VIP Lounge and sip unlimited vino from the Margaret River wine region in West Australia.
Dubbed the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate innovations and cocoa expressions, Salon Du Chocolat is a unique happening revered by chocolate aficionados the world over. Now in its 23rd year, the decadent annual chocfest is held in the heart of the French capital at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center, which provides tons of space to host hundreds of international chocolatiers. Visitors have a unique opportunity to discover and taste chocolate products not found anywhere else, courtesy of more than 500 chocolatiers and confectioners hailing from 60 countries on 5 continents, including more than 200 of the world’s greatest pastry chefs and cocoa experts. The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly The Chocolate Fashion Show (on 27th October), when 15 duos of chocolatiers and fashion designers showcase an incredible collection of couture outfits made entirely out of chocolate. New for 2017, The Japan Area will showcase to groups of 30, unusual combinations of Japanese culinary staples married with chocolate.
Arguably the arts capital of the Philippines, Angono in Rizal has continuously attracted art lovers from across the nation, not to mention globally. Originally scheduled to coincide with the festival of Pope St. Clement, the town comes alive every year during Higantes, when towering 5 or 6-metre tall papier-mâché giants – designed to express a person’s character or a unique idea and painted in vibrant colours – parade through the streets much to the joy of vivacious crowds. According to the locals, this practice began when locals in Angono created a dummy to portray a mean landlord who was best recognized by his foul mannerisms and imposing height. For tourists visiting Angono, a detour to the Blanco Family museum gives an insight to the origins of this fascinating festival, including a large collection of giant higantes fashioned by renowned higante designer Argana Tori.
The somewhat sleepy lakeside Indian town of Pushkar, bordering the Thar Desert in the northeastern state of Rajasthan, springs to life every year for a unique and incredibly colourful camel pageant, which coincides with the religious festival of Kartik Purnima which sees thousands of devotees bathe in Pushkar Lake on the last day. Close to 50,000 camels are trimmed, coiffured and decorated in order to be entered into beauty contests and raced. Adorned with silver bells and bangles around their hoofs, and embellished with all manner of vibrant adornments, they are paraded past the golden sand dunes to an excited crowd and intense judging. Aside from the thousands of camels also traded during the course of the fair, other livestock are haggled over, bought and sold, as well as local textiles, arts and crafts, saddles, jewellery and a variety of camel finery and embellishments.
If you enjoy the revelry of swashbucklers combined with a western Caribbean climate complete with beach resorts, varied scuba diving and multitude of snorkelling sites, Pirates Week is undoubtedly the best time to be in the Caymans. Every November, pirates run amok throughout the islands in this family-friendly festival that brings to life the famous Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with simulated pirate invasions, parties and fancy dressed revellers at the end of every gangplank. Whilst festivities take place on Cayman Brac (3-5 Nov) and Little Cayman (7-19 Nov), the main event happens on Grand Cayman (9-13) where five fun filled days will mark Pirates Week’s 40th anniversary. Whilst Heritage Days on each island will bring together each district in one place, for 2017 spectators will also enjoy a series of parades and fireworks displays, street dances, costume contests, sporting competitions, happy hours and music stretching across all three islands.