TRAVEL IDEAS: NOVEMBER

 

November is a funny month for travel. Most people are aware that the holiday season is coming soon, with breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, and so they stay put for the rest of the month. But smart travellers know that there are plenty of deals to take advantage of around this time in lovely warm destinations such as the Caribbean, Oman and Mauritius before the Christmas rush and prices spike. November also offers an array of festivals and events that shouldn’t be overlooked. There are sporting events, food-centric holidays, festivals of light and some downright odd celebrations. Visiting a new place during a festival can be a great way to get an inside look at traditional food, music and art, and to learn more about the local culture...

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The Pukshar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India, is by no means the only camel fair. It is, however, one of the largest in the world. At its heart, the Pushkar festival is precisely what the name suggests — an annual gathering of people who want to buy or sell camels (along with other livestock). Over the years, it has also become a tourist attraction, so that there are now more spectators than camels. A camel race kicks off the event, which is particularly fun to watch. The dates of the Pushkar Fair vary each year, as they coincide with the Hindu calendar, but usually fall in late October or early November. In 2018, the festival will run from November 15 - 23. Diwali, commonly known as the “festival of lights,” also takes place in November. During the five days of Diwali, clay oil lamps are lit and kept going throughout each night while members of the household clean, and firecrackers are set off. All this is meant to drive away evil spirits and invite in good spirits. Diwali is an important holiday to Hindus, and also a holiday for Jains, so it’s celebrated in many parts of the world outside of India, too. The starting date for Diwali varies with the Hindu calendar, but it usually falls in October or November. In 2018, it begins on November 7.

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Australia’s biggest horse race may take less than four minutes to run, but other races and events also take place in the time leading up to and just after the Melbourne Cup — so if you like horse racing and a festive atmosphere, Melbourne is the place to be in early November. The Melbourne Cup is so popular in Australia it’s been called “the race that stops a nation,” with more than 100,000 people watching it live at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Other events around the race include a parade and three other major races within a week. The Melbourne Cup is held the first Tuesday in November each year, which in 2018 is November 6. 

November brings a double whammy for the foodie faithful in New Zealand. Taste of Auckland lets you watch the city’s hottest chefs in action and sample their signature dishes whilst the Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic gets you up close and personal with local food producers and winemakers, as well as chefs (stay at Cape Kidnappers, you won't regret it). Think spring lamb and fresh-picked strawberries — remember, November is springtime here.

 
 
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The Iceland Airwaves music festival is an ideal time to experience the anything-goes spirit of Reykjavik. Aside from the main stage, the city hosts many free events in alternate venues. It’s also the start of the rainy season, but you can enjoy many of the country’s attractions, like hot springs, in any weather. Plus, November offers the chance to spot the Northern Lights.

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In the Caribbean there a festivals a plenty - Anegada (the least-visited of the BVIs), has its Lobster Festival, part of the BVI Food Fete, and you can sample what chefs do with the island’s famous crustacean. On Provo’s Blue Hills beach in Turks and Caicos, watch the pros try to set a new world record for conch knocking (getting the critter out of its shell) — part of the annual Conch Festival, celebrating T&C’s most famous delicacy (pronounced “konk”). Then dig in and vote for the best chowder, salad, and other conchy delights. Conch-etitions allow both home-kitchen cooks and restaurant chefs to vie for bragging rights, and a mojito-making contest lubricates the fun. We also want to mention that our very favourite Caribbean private island, Petit St Vincent, has an incredible stay 7 pay 5 offer running at this time, with low season prices ahead of the Christmas rush. 

 
Alice Callander