The best places to travel in October

Sep 29, 2022

From traditional Bavarian oompah bands in southern Africa to experimental music in the palazzi of Venice, October's sounding like a whole lot of fun. The month is looking pretty dazzling, too, with psychedelic foliage, horseback eagles and everything in between. So pack your dirndl and dancing shoes, and hit the road.


A full century has passed since this country was a German colony, but—what with old habits dying hard—Oktoberfest Namibia (Oct. 27 – 29) remains a full-fledged lederhosen and brau bash right here at the doorstep to the Namib Desert, a party worth joining for the improbability factor alone. One of Oktoberfest Munich's traditional bands plays Windhoek for the occasion, so grab a glass of locally-brewed Festbier and start slapping those leather-bound knees in your best approximation of a Schuplattler dance. There’ll be tons of Bavarian eats—think brezen (pretzels), würstl (sausages) and schweinebraten (roast pork). And though you may work some of it off at fairground games that range from log-sawing to beer mug-hoisting, you'd do even better to hike up and run down some of the planet's tallest (and most devastatingly beautiful) dunes. Don't leave without checking out the abundant local wildlife: October happens to be a great time to safari through Etosha, Namib-Naukluft and Skeleton Coast National Parks.

Muskoka & Algonquin Park, Ontario

The Muskoka Marathon (Oct. 1) occurs during the best of the fall colours. The run follows the Muskoka river in a beautifully scenic space near Bracebridge, an it's a Boston marathon qualifying event, plus a great place to experience small-town warmth. Feast your eyes on October’s psychedelic fall foliage in Ontario's Algonquin Park, then indulge your palate at the Bala Cranberry Festival (Oct. 14-16). An arts and crafts show with hundreds of exceptional vendors, live music, entertainers and attractions, cranberry-inspired food and kids activities will take place. Muskoka is full of stories… especially ghost stories, and Souls of the Shield (Oct. 20-30) will feature plays unearthing the paranormal and exhuming spectral voices. 


The local Art Biennale may hog the limelight, but Venice Music Biennale (Sept. 14 – Oct. 6) is an experimental music fest that’s well worth the jaunt. In a stunning lineup of centuries-old venues, you'll hear everything from human-robotic fusion to a blend of 17th-century chamber music and electronica. To round out your listening tour with something more traditional, book tickets to Apollo et Hyacinthus and/or La Fille du régiment, both at the iconic Gran Teatro La Fenice during the month. A short walk away, at the swank Experimental Cocktail Club, toast to your time here with an impeccable Bellini.


The Michelin stars will be twinkling over Oahu at Hawaii Food & Wine Fest (Oct. 21 – Nov. 6). Though you'll eat absurdly well for the duration, the grand finale is the event to catch: The Art of Food & Wine features Michelin-starred chefs who've come from as far as Tokyo (and as near as Honolulu). If beach grub and beer is more your thing, don't miss Bourbon, Brews & BBQ (Oct. 28) when the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel hosts 10 excellent chefs from across the U.S. And if last night’s revelry starts to catch up with you, chill by the infinity pool of the stylish Halepuna Waikiki


Give yourself the red carpet treatment, and snag some tickets to this year’s Chicago International Film Festival (Oct. 12-23). There’s an exciting roster, including opening night at the Music Box Theatre with renowned Chicago filmmaker Steve James’s A Compassionate Spy, which follows the remarkable story of University of Chicago graduate Theodore Hall’s involvement in the Manhattan Project, and his passing of crucial military secrets to Soviet intelligence in hopes of saving the world. Keep the culture theme going at Open House Chicago (Oct. 15-16), when you can get VIP access to more than 350 iconic buildings, not least Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park masterpiece: Unity Temple. (For the total building binge, tack on an architectural river cruise.) Then recharge with an espresso martini at Lazy Bird: a speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the basement of the stylish Hoxton Chicago.


If you thought the documentary version of The Eagle Huntress was riveting, check out the live-action version Oct. 1-2, when Kazakh hunters gather in the westernmost province of Mongolia for the Golden Eagle Festival. Mounted on elaborately-decorated horses, and brandishing keen-eyed eagles with seven-foot wingspans, these burly bearded men (and the occasional woman) compete in hunting, horseracing, and kokbar: a horseback tug-of-war. Most tours of Mongolia start and finish in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where you should catch a traditional throat-singing performance at Tumen Ekh Song and Dance Ensemble (nightly at 6 pm). And don’t leave the city without swinging by the Kempinsky Hotel for a glass of bubbly, and a plate of the local delicacy: Khuushuur (pan-fried dumplings).

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