La Calaca
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
31 October – 2 November 2018

Looking for some culturally oriented Halloween festivities? Head to historic San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, where the traditional Día de Muertos is observed with an artistic twist.

So much more than just a day to freak out your friends and family, throughout Mexico, the Day of the Dead is about remembering loved ones who have passed. Combining elements of pre-Columbian religions and Christianity, the celebrations centre on the belief that the souls of the dead come back to visit once a year, reuniting with their families who set up colourful altars for them in their homes and visit the cemetery to commune with them. In San Miguel de Allende in central Guanajuato state, the festivities have taken on a more artsy vibe, with musical performances, live art installations, cemetery tours, costumed processions, all-night parties and more, revelling in the vibrant culture and traditions of Mexico. There’s no wrong way to remember the dead and reflect on our inescapable mortality, while also celebrating the beauty of life.

5-9 November 2018

Across the Indian subcontinent, the “festival of light” is the most significant event on the calendar – akin to Christmas in the West – celebrated for its religious meaning for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, as well as marking the end of the summer harvest season with feasts, gifts and prayers.

The religious story behind Diwali differs according to where you are: in northern India it’s about King Rama’s return after vanquishing Ravana; in southern India it’s the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura; in western India it centres on Lord Vishnu’s victory over demon King Bali, sending him to rule the underworld. But no matter who you ask, Diwali holds the same spiritual meaning: it’s a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. The trappings of festivity are everywhere, with homes festooned in jasmine flowers and candles, and vibrantly coloured sands shaped like lotus flowers formed into welcome mats for visitors. Women wear their best, most colourful saris, and fireworks brighten the darkness of night. Diwali is celebrated even by those who are not religious, marking the occasion as a time of post-harvest abundance, renewal and inner enlightenment – and foreign visitors are heartily invited to do the same.

Iceland Airwaves
Reykjavik, Iceland
7-10 November 2018

What started 20 years ago as a party in an airplane hangar has become a favourite for in-the-know festival fans looking for a more intimate, authentic experience.

Set during the atmospheric time of year when Iceland gets only a few hours of sunlight a day, this unique festival is less about big-time headliners and more about discovering your next favourite band, while taking in the side programme of art and fashion events, too. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary edition of Iceland Airwaves, so expect an epic line-up of activities and artists – particularly timely this year, the organisers have committed to a gender-equal roster featuring just as many women artists as men. Don’t miss the programme of free off-venue shows, where you can catch the same artists and chill with locals without purchasing a ticket or waiting in long lines.

[Photos by Alexander Matukhno]

San Francisco International Hip Hop Dancefest
San Francisco, California, USA
16-18 November 2018

Hip hop beats in rock-loving San Francisco? It sounds as mismatched as orange juice in your Cheerios, but hear us out.

Introducing a live-and-love San Fran attitude to the combative world of professional dance, this is the world’s first-ever non-competitive hip hop event, created simply to celebrate the artistry of a dance movement. Watch as talented dance companies from around the world strut their stuff, and get involved with master classes that let you try the steps out for yourself; there’s also a kids freestyle circle for future hip hop legends to show what they’re made of. Be sure to grab a few tickets to the Festive Bash on Sunday, where you can raise a glass to the event’s 20th anniversary.

[Photo at left by Dance Plus, Photo at right by Kyle Adler]

Strawberry Fields
Tocumwal, New South Wales, Australia
16-18 November 2018

Quality over quantity is the order of the day at this small-scale EDM festival in the middle of the Australian bush, about 240 kilometres from Melbourne.

The line-up focuses on local names, and the crowds are purposefully small – so as to promote a sense of community – but there’s still something for everyone. In need of some zen time? Attend a sunset yoga session or grab a brew in the Tea Lounge. Feeling a bit warm? Take a dip at the festival beach along the Murray River. Looking to get creative? Join a workshop on screen printing, dance or nutrition in The Village. Want to catch some culture? Check out the art gallery and admire the open-air art installations – a lot of the on-site art was funded through grants to encourage participation from up-and-coming and amateur artists. Relaxed, refuelled and ready to rock, enjoy incredible sets by eclectic Australian artists around the clock.

[Photos by Duncographic]

[Photo at top by Alexander Matukhno]

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