Open Ticket Fun Fall Festivals, International Style Stephanie Spitler

I love a good pumpkin patch as much as the next girl, but sometimes you need to get out of that autumn (hayride) rut and look around for some different options. Corn maze…done it. Apple picking…check. Hiking around and looking at the changing leaves…ok, this one never gets old, but it’s definitely been done.

And while you might not be able to hop on a plane and head over to Europe (I know I sure can’t), knowing what’s going on in other places can provide inspiration for seeking out a new kind of fun here at home. We covered Oktoberfest here last week, but everyone’s heard of that, so I wanted to explore some lesser-known autumn events this time around. So get your adventure shoes on and hit the road this fall. You may not be able to get to these great festivals, but there’s probably something interesting going on right around the corner.

Frankfurt Book Fair (October 9-13): Ok, so since the Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest of its kind in the world, it doesn’t exactly qualify as a “lesser-known event.” But I love books. I love Germany. So of course I’m going to include a German book fair in my festival round up. It’s a huge event for the publishing industry, so it’s jam-packed with authors and editors and publishers, making deals and being seen. But during the weekend the Fair is open to non-publishing insiders (also known as private visitors; this means you). And if you visit on the last day of the Fair (Sunday, Oct. 13), the publishers are allowed to sell their books for retail. So bring a big tote bag and get reading!

Grape Throwing Festival (Mallorca, Spain): You’re too late to attend the 2013 Festival, since it’s held in September, but if you’re interested in getting to hurl grapes at tons of people (and also enjoy parades, bands, wine tasting, and a rocket launch from the village square to kick the whole thing off) then you should book your flight for next year. This grape-crushing tradition has been going on since the Romans, though, so if you need a little more time I’m sure the fiesta will still be going strong whenever you can get there. Fun fact: the festival started as a way to get rid of grapes that weren’t suitable to be made into wine.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: During the first week of October, the skies around Albuquerque become a lot more colorful. This New Mexico town hosts a celebration of ballooning that draws participants and guests from all over the world. Hundreds of hot air balloons will fill the skies during the festival, along with competitions and special nighttime events. This balloon festival is unique, too, because you can actually stroll among the balloons in the park and talk to the pilots. The Fiesta is also the starting point for America’s Challenge, a long-distance balloon race.

What cool fall festivals have you been to? And which ones are on your must-see list?

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  1. There’s also a chocolate festival in Northern Italy and a Wine Festival just outside of Rome the first weekend of October.

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