Four festivals worth travelling for this autumn

From whale watching in South Africa to Phuket's famous vegetarian festival, strike while the time is right with these upcoming fiestas

AIBF 2017

Here are four festivals to visit at the weather cools down...

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico, USA

Over 500 hot air balloons rise into the skies at the world’s largest festival of its kind, which runs from October 6-14.

A range of events over the nine days include balloons being illuminated during the night and a long-distance gas balloon race, which extends from Canada to the USA. For more information visit

Hermanus Whale Festival, South Africa

Now is peak whale-watching season in the coastal village of Hermanus near Cape Town, and it is a prime place from which to see southern right whales because they can be viewed from land. Running until September 30, the Hermanus Whale Festival is the oldest and largest festival on the "Cape Whale Coast". There is also family entertainment, music and a series of talks. See for more information.

Golden Eagle Festival, Mongolia

MONGOLIA - 2017/10/01: A group of Kazakh Eagle hunters and their Golden eagles on horseback on the way to the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In the Bayan-Ulgii province, located in the peaks of the Altai Mountains, Kazakhs and their golden eagles (berkut) stage an annual competition to test speed, agility and accuracy. Mongolia’s Nomadic Trails company offers an organised tour to the festival, which runs from October 6 to 7. See for more details.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand

Devotees of the Nine Emperor Gods leave a Chinese shrine in a trance during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival in the southern province of Phuket on October 3, 2016.
Southern Thailand's gruesome vegetarian festival got under way on October 2 and devotees throughout the week will show their religious devotion through ritualistic self-mutilation and pain trials, including running over hot coals and piercing their bodies with an astonishing -- and stomach-turning -- variety of objects.  / AFP PHOTO / LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

This festival is not for the faint-hearted. A 10-day-long celebration of the meat-free world, from October 8 to 17, features not just some of the most realistic and tasty meat substitutes found anywhere, but street processions featuring extreme bodily impalements, firewalking and holy rituals. Though its origins are unclear, it is believed it was brought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group, which fell ill with malaria while on the island. See for more information.


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