From Switzerland to Thailand here’s where to go and where to stay there this October
What: COMBAT DES REINES
Where: Martigny, Valais, Switzerland
When: First week October
The Valais area in Switzerland is well known for its pistes but every Autumn something much odder occurs. Erdinger cows fight each other to decide which beast will be ‘queen’ of the herd. The fighters stomp and snort before charging each other, locking horns and trying to push their opponent backwards. Odd as it sounds local farmers have organized battles since the 1920s and the cow-fighting circuit has become such big business that some farmers can earn more from the sport than their herds’ milk- and meat-production. Now let’s be clear, these bovines are feisty creatures, and they’ve been battling each other this way on their own for centuries. The major competitions nonetheless are a big pull here in southern Switzerland – Martigny’s Foire du Valais festival always features a huge rodeo-style cow battle attracting thousands of spectators with owners able to win big prize money. For it’s quirkiness alone it’s worth a visit.
Where to stay in Switzerland
What: MATCHMAKING FESTIVAL
Where: Main St, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland
When: September through October
Lisdoonvara, or Lisdoon for short, only has about 1000 inhabitants but is known for two things: its spas and tradition of matchmakers or basadóiri. Pay their fee and these date-arrangers in the past would help unlucky singles find a partner. Traditionally, around September when the harvest was over lonely men with cash in hand would come into town in search of love and so came about the Matchmaking Festival. Today there’s still a traditional basadóiri – Willie Daly – to help set you up but also loads of other events from amateur horseracing, lots of drinking and pub craic to keep you interested as well as more modern mating rituals including a speed dating weekend as well as country dancing weekend.
Where to stay in Ireland
What: CÍRIO DE NAZARÉ
Where: Praça Justo Chermont, Belém, Brazil
When: Second weekend of October
For some crowded craziness why not join the largest fiesta on the River Amazon, and Brazil’s biggest event after Carnaval, at Círio de Nazaré – a festival revolving around the a small statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth). Pilgrims come to honour the sculpture, said to have been created in Nazareth, performed miracles in Portugal before finding its way to Brazil in 1700 and the site of the Belém’s Basilica de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré. The statue is taken from its home in the Catedral de Sé to Icoaraci and then carried back in a river procession of hundreds of boats. The next morning millions of people fill the streets to accompany the image back to the basilica, a journey that takes five hours over 3.5km, with thousands trying to get to close to the carriage holding the statue. It’s a sight to behold and an experience to join in. Of course after all that sweating and praying you’ll want to chill out on a beach somewhere. See the link below for the perfect places.
Where to stay in Brazil
What: HATCHING OF BABY TURTLES
Where: Punta Mita, Mexico
When: Late September through October
Cute baby animals may be all over the internet, but they’re also all over Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Each year, thousands of turtles make the journey to here to lay their eggs. Join local conservationists from the Banderas Bay Turtle Protection Programme on their moonlight vigils to protect the hatching baby turtles from predators. This is a great opportunity to take part in a drive to protect Mexico’s coastal ecosystem, whilst also admiring the pluckiness of these ‘hatchlings’ as they waddle their way back to the ocean.
Where to stay in Punta Mita
What: VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
Location: Jui Tui temple, Th Ranong, Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand
When: 13-21 October
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is incredible during the annual Vegetarian Festival where the local Chinese community celebrate the beginning of ‘Taoist Lent’ when devout Tao followers abstain from eating meat. There are parades and performances, religious offerings and processions focused around the five Chinese Temples on the island of which Jui Tui Temple is the oldest. But be warned, this festival is not for faint hearted, as devotees perform some disturbing yet amazing acts of self-mortification. Walking on hot coals, climbing knife-blade ladders, piercing the skin with sharp objects and more. There are deafening firecrackers, ritual dancing, tea drinking and lots of prayer. Lots to see then – though of course this is Phuket, South East Asia’s St Tropez so may just want to hang out at the jaw-dropping beaches instead.
Where to stay in Phuket