10 Spooky and Unusual October Events Around the World

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Bucket List Worthy  

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf
Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf

When carved pumpkins are dotting doorsteps and jumbo bags of candy start dominating grocery stores, North Americans know that fall has arrived. And if you’re like many other Canadians and Americans, you’ve probably got the cold weather, back-to-school blues. So take some time to cheer up and creep yourself out a little bit this fall by heading to one of these unique and spooky October events around the globe.

1. Fight of the Queens (Combat des Reines) — Switzerland

Photo credit: Brigitte Djajasasmita
Photo credit: Brigitte Djajasasmita

Martigny, Switzerland offers one of the country’s strangest sporting events every spring and fall. Martigny’s famous Fight of the Queens takes place during the first week of October, and the “queens” are simply aggressive Erdinger cows. The cows battle each other in front of a large crowd to determine which one reigns as the queen of the herd. And animal lovers don’t need to worry — no blood is shed in the battle.

Dates: October 5 and 12, 2014

2. Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival — Ireland

Photo credit: Greg Clarke
Photo credit: Greg Clarke

You probably haven’t heard about the underrated Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival in Derry, Ireland, but it’s one of the spookiest and largest in the world. More than 50,000 costumed carnival goers take to the streets, and pubs have been known to deny drinks to those who aren’t dressed in costume. Fireworks, parades and the creepy Curious Carnival of Lost Souls are just a few of the must-see attractions.

Dates: October 26 to November 3, 2014

3. Vegetarian Festival — Thailand

Photo credit: Binder.donedat
Photo credit: Binder.donedat

Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival may not have anything to do with Halloween, but it’s one of the month’s most disturbing events to watch. The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket Town marks the beginning of Taoist Lent, and many participants display acts of self-mortification, such as piercing their skin with sharp objects or walking on hot coals. The processions, cultural performances and religious offerings are something travelers (who aren’t squeamish) should see at least once.

Dates: September 23 to October 3, 2014

4. MassKara Festival — Philippines

Photo credit: oleyography
Photo credit: oleyography

The MassKara Festival is a less spooky October event held in Bacolod, Philippines, also known as the “City of Smiles.” Nearly 500,000 Filipino residents don grinning masks and take to the streets to celebrate the completion of the city’s charter as well as the the rich history of the Philippines.

Dates: October 20 and 21, 2014

5. Fantasy Fest — United States

Photo credit: Cayobo
Photo credit: Cayobo

There’s always a party happening in the Florida Keys, so it’s no wonder that Halloween is pretty happening. The ten-day-long festival leads up to Halloween night with elaborate parades and parties. The leather fetish bash “Dungeons and Dragons” and Monster’s Ball featuring serpents and other freaky creatures are just a couple of the many spooky and not-so-spooky events.

Dates: October 17-26, 2014

6. Entenrennen (Duck Race) — Germany

Photo credit: Michael Panse
Photo credit: Michael Panse

Entenrennen may not be spooky, but it certainly is unusual. This unique contest, held in early October, involves roughly 7,000 rubber duckies competing for first place in a race down the Neckar River in Alleenbrücke, Germany. The winner receives a $1,500 holiday voucher and plenty of other prizes are available for close contenders. Gather along the river bank to cheer on the participants or enter your very own rubber ducky in the race.

Date: October 11, 2014

7. Toronto Zombie Walk — Canada

Photo credit: Kat N.L.M.
Photo credit: Kat N.L.M.

Over 1,000 Toronto residents and visitors take to Nathan Phillips Square for one of the scariest Halloween parades on the planet. The Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade attracts zombie enthusiasts and costume junkies from around the world for a day of creepy zombie events and plenty of downtown Toronto fun to follow.

Dates: October 25, 2014

8. Navaratri Festival — India

Photo credit: Suchana Seth
Photo credit: Suchana Seth

The Navaratri Festival is held in many different parts of India and is celebrated in numerous ways. The entire festival takes place over the course of nine nights with the tenth day being Dussehra. The nights leading up to Dussehra are filled with dancing and vibrant performances, and on the tenth day, massive effigies of the demon Ravana are burned to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Many of the burnings involve lavish displays of flame throwing, explosions and fireworks.

Dates: September 25 to October 3, 2014

9. Okunchi Matsuri — Japan

Photo credit: Julian
Photo credit: Julian

The Okunchi Matsuri festival in Nagasaki has long been regarded as one of Japan’s most unusual festivals. Japanese ports were closed to foreigners in the 17th century, and only a few Chinese and Dutch ships were able to stop and trade in Nagasaki. The Okunchi Matsuri festival honors the relationships with the two countries by combining traditional Dutch dance and Chinese dragon dances in unique street fairs, parades and dances.

Dates: October 7-9, 2014

10. Festival of the Dead — United States

Photo credit: Bill Couch
Photo credit: Bill Couch

Salem, Mass., just north of Boston, is well known for the famous Salem Witch Trials, and the city’s creepy history has made it a hot-spot for Halloween enthusiasts. The month-long Festival of the Dead offers a psychic fair, vampire masquerade ball, witchcraft expo and the famous Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball. Visit during the month of October, and you may see fires burning on the city’s hilltops as witches gather around to cast spells. Less spooky events include costume contests and live musical performances.

Dates: October 1-31, 2014

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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