Time flows, seasons pass, festivals never change. In November, interesting festivals around the world have the sole purpose: to have fun!
THE COLOGNE CARNAVAL
One of the biggest festivals of Germany starts in Cologne at 11.11 on 11th day of the 11th month every year: The Cologne Carnival is also known as “the fifth season”. In the morning of November 11, as a part of the city culture, the streets of Cologne are filled with people wearing different carnival costumes and celebrating the beginning of the fifth season. In this period of the year, Cologne is flooded with tourists who come from within the country and abroad in order to experience the carnival spirits. Lasting for days, the carnival is paused at Christmas period and in February the carnival celebrations continue from where they stopped in a more exciting way. The first day of the carnival is spent by singing the traditional carnival songs and consuming Kölsch, a type of beer special to Cologne. On this day where the official opening of the fifth season is celebrated, participants covered in different attires link arms and make a circle singing all together. Name of one of the classic songs of the carnival is “Tramway number 18 goes today to İstanbul”. The song tells the story of a Cologner dreaming about going to İstanbul while he was sitting on the tramway, and it also indicates the multi-cultural side of the Cologne Carnival. The celebration starts with Wieberfastnacth, the Women’s Carnival, on Thursday which is before the beginning of the lent. Women put their pompous dresses on and gather at Altermarkt. At the carnival going on in an entertaining environment, women have right to cut the ties that men wear on their necks and to kiss them.
RICHTERSWIL TURNIP FEST (RICHTERSWIL RÄBECHILBI)
Could the harvest season of such an ordinary vegetable like turnip be turned into a festival? If turnip grows in a country like Switzerland, then yes! Richterswill town with the population of 12 thousand located on the coast of the Zürich Lake organizes an amazing festival every year in November with the first turnips harvested. Turnips are carved and enlightened with candles; house windows and the streets are decorated with those chandeliers. Additionally, the cortege consisting of vehicles ornamented with turnip chandeliers goes all around the town in the evening. Concerts and contests are held. Richterswill has entered the Guinness World Records with their chandeliers in 1998. The festival opens with the concert at the town square at 16.00 and the cortege starts moving at 18.30.
WATER FEST (BONN OM TOUK)
Tonle Sap, one of two biggest rivers in Cambodia, achieves the impossible every year. While it flows from north to south, it changes its direction on November. Even this phenomenon seems unbelievable, the reason is actually very simple: While The Mekong River is flowing with the plenty of water that it carries during the rainy season through the Tonle Sap River, towards the Tonle Sap Lake located at the very center of the country, the current changes direction when waters of the Mekong lessen in the dry season. The day when the river starts to flow in the opposite direction, it is celebrated with huge festivals in Cambodia. The biggest Water Festival is held in the capital city Phnom Penh. During the celebrations, the population of the city jumps from 1,2 million to 2,5 million; the daily life completely stops and everyone focuses only on the celebrations. The peak point of the festivals is the boat competitions. More than 500 rowing teams from all countries participate in the competitions that have been held since 12th century. Sizes of the boats change between 30 persons to 100 persons. The contests last for 3 days and 45 thousand competitors participate in total. The competitors with the attires of their own cities create a riot of colors. At the time of the festival, street food stands gather at the river bank. Snack-sellers sell fried cockroach, polychaete, frogs and spiders. Grilled banana is one of the most popular street tastes. Bananas salted and grilled until browned are very good at suppressing the hunger. The festival is also the symbol for the opening of the fishing season.
PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR
Being in the lists of “the most interesting places not to miss” of world travel media and “places you should go before die”, Pushkar Camel Fair in India is a huge event where thousands of bovine animals are sold, especially camels. While camels are being bought and sold on one hand, on the other hand, worshipping continues at the shore of the sacred lake. This fair is like a relief from the poverty and cruel desert conditions for Hindus. Women chuckling in their colorful sari on Ferris wheels, stands filled with the curious shoppers, poets and bards telling heroic tales for the ones who are circling them, movies shown at tent cinemas, dinners prepared with the fall of darkness, camp fires shining in the desert like stars… According to the legend, the Creator God Brahma dropped his lotus flower from his hands while he was looking for a place for the sacred sacrifice ritual, and then, a lake arouse there. While approximately 200 thousand pilgrims participate in this festival held every year in order to honor the Lord Brahma, along with them, about 50 thousand camels and bovine animals gather at Pushkar town located at the side of the Marusthali Desert. Being empty and gloomy in a big part of the year, Marusthali Desert witnesses an unusual human flood and riot of colors during this festival. The most crucial point of the festival is Kartik Purnima; it is namely when vows are made with rituals. This is also the closing of the festival. At Ghats, bathing starts with the dawn. Bursting at the seams, after the bathing ritual the believers make long queues to worship Brahma. You witness the most romantic and impressive views of Pushkar at the night of full moon. Little leaf boats with flowers and oil lamps put in them are set free on the sacred lake. It reminds the sacredness of this modest little town with the flickering reflections on the water like thousands of stars.
BONFIRE NIGHT FESTIVAL
In Lewes, which is a peaceful town with the population of 16 thousand in the East Sussex region of the UK, a special parade is organized every year at the beginning of November since 1650. Roads of the town are closed to traffic at 17.00. People of Lewes wearing colorful costumes and taking big torches in their hands make a long cortege. In this cortege, women and men make different teams. Colors of the clothes of each team are the same. All night, fireworks are set off. Barrels filled with pitch and fired are rolled down the hill. Then those barrels are thrown in River Ouse with a ceremony. Meanwhile, a costume contest is held. Even though all of these celebrations look similar to the festivals begun after the assassination attempt against Guy Fawkes in medieval England, it has nothing to do with it. It is related to the murder of Protestants at the village during the slaughter started by Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry the 7th, which was one hundred years before this event. The night is illuminated with fires, the evil is being dismissed. Drinks are swilled to stay warm!
MONKEY BUFFET FESTIVAL
On the last Sunday of November every year, one of the most interesting festivals of the world is held at Lopburi town located at the north of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. At the “Monkey Buffet Festival”, a gigantic open buffet filled with fruits and vegetables is set up for 3000 monkeys living there. The audience attending the most important touristic event of the region experiences a great joy by watching this view from distance. One of the most interesting festivals of Thailand, Monkey Buffet Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Lopburi town every year.