While the more popular October events tend to revolve around beer stein-clinking partygoers at Oktoberfest or pigskin aficionados for college football season, the brisk fall month has a lot more to offer. We’ve scoured the globe, from Shanghai to Sin City to curate a list of five attendance-worthy events intended to explore the outdoors, indulge in culinary feasts and ogle at classic cars.
Make your way to the East Coast for Nantucket’s premier fall festival celebrating all things cranberry. Put on by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, the 11th annual festival pays homage to the fruit that’s been grown on the island since 1857. The foundation now owns and operates the last two commercial cranberry bogs on Nantucket (which produce two million pounds of the fruit annually), and the festival is a great opportunity to learn more about the tasty treat. Not only can you munch on various foods such as natural cranberry bread, chocolate covered cranberries and cranberry bog honey, you can even tour the bogs with a cranberry expert who will explain the ins and outs of cranberry farming, as well as answer any questions you may have. But it’s not all about the cranberries, either. Kids will enjoy an onsite petting zoo (think goats and ducks), antique tractor displays, hay rides and live bluegrass music. October 12
Where to stay: Nantucket Island Resorts. After a long day of cranberry-filled festivities, rest your head on a bed at one of Nantucket’s charming hotels, including White Elephant Village, which offers 25 residences (one-, two-, and three-bedroom) that are ideal for families and the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Wauwinet.
Calling all car enthusiasts — this Shanghai-based event is for you. The first annual Bund Classic — and first international Concours d’Elegance in China — will be a celebration of immaculately preserved cars that’s sure to draw some of the world’s biggest collectors. The three-day affair, put on by luxury events group China Rendez-Vous Ltd., will take place on the lawn at No. 1 Waitanyuan (the former English Consulate on the Bund) and Five-Star The Peninsula Shanghai, where you can get up-close-and-personal with more than 40 classic automobiles such as a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 and 1963 Porsche 356 Super 90. Additional events include a wine and cigar tasting, Façonnable fashion show and a seminar on the impact of Chinese investors on the classic car industry. Although entry for the events will only be distributed to qualified collectors, you’re bound to catch a peek of the festivities — and maybe even the cars — if you’re in the area. October 18-20
Where to stay: Fairmont Peace Hotel. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is just a quick walk on the Bund from The Peninsula Shanghai, and features an impressive Art Deco design dating back to the 1930s. Post up with a drink at The Jazz Bar, whose live jazz band still consists of six original members who have played for famous faces throughout the years, including former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Between the scenic New Mexico setting and the beauty of the balloons, this nine-day festival was practically made for picture-perfect moments. Now in its 41st year, the gathering has come a long way since its inaugural installment with only 13 balloons. Pilots from around the world now descend on the city’s Balloon Fiesta Park (the launch field is the size of 54 football fields) to showcase nearly 600 balloons, and it’s truly a sight to behold. Wake up early to witness the Dawn Patrol, a daily 6 a.m. launch during the festival of a dozen balloons that have a choreographed inflation to music and ascend high into the sky as the sun begins to rise. At the end of the day, the breathtaking Balloon Glows involve a synchronized lighting up of the balloons, creating the scene of giant ornaments floating in the dark. The list of fun events continues with the Special Shape Rodeo (expect balloons shaped like elephants, fire engines, four-leaf clovers and dragons) and post-Balloon Glow fireworks show. October 5 to 13
Where to stay: Los Poblanos. This organic farm and accompanying historic inn is only a 15-minute drive from Balloon Fiesta Park. Dating back to 1932, the property was designed by architect John Gaw Meem (known as the “Father of Santa Fe Style”) and sits on 25 acres of lavender fields. This year, the third annual Bikes & Balloons Tour (occurs on the same days as the Fiesta) is partnering with the inn, so the start and end point for the 16-mile trip is Los Poblanos.
There’s no denying that Las Vegas is home to a plethora of high-end restaurants, and the fourth annual Food & Wine All-Star Weekend will bring some of the chefs at their helms all under one roof. The epicurean extravaganza will take place at three of the powerhouse hotels in the city — MGM Grand and Four-Stars Bellagio and ARIA Resort & Casino. The food-focused activities run the gamut in terms of cuisine, from sushi to seasonal, and are headed up by some of Las Vegas’ best celebrity chefs. Make your way to the Grand Pool at MGM Grand for the All-Star Burger Bash (October 5), an event that will feature 10 of the restaurants within the resort whipping up burgers, and a chefs judging panel (Joël Robuchon, Michael Mina, Ho Chee Boon) will use their seasoned palates to help pick the best of the bunch. For a more intimate setting, opt for the Harvest Dinner with chef Michael Mina (October 5), served on the Grand Patio at Bellagio. Aside from your seasonal meal, you’ll wash everything down with wine pairings from Far Niente Estate in Oakville, Calif. October 4-6
Where to stay: ARIA Resort & Casino. The Four-Star hotel spans a massive four million square feet but is also eco-friendly. Expect to find sustainable touches such as reflective rooftops and reclaimed materials, and plenty of natural light married with neutral tones makes it a soothing oasis among the bright lights of the city.
We’d be remiss not to mention some sort of Halloween event on this list, and North Carolina’s Fearrington Village is the place to be for families during this time of spooky tomfoolery. A slew of activities will occur in the village center, from a special storytime reading at McIntyre’s Books to savoring themed edible goodies. Walk around with the kids in tow to spot the hundreds of pumpkins hand-carved by property gardeners, staff and chefs from Five-Star The Fearrington House Restaurant. You can also sway to the sound of live bluegrass band Guilty Pleasures. A more formal but still family-friendly dinner will be served at the Fearrington Granary, too, and dishes from previous years have included butternut squash soup as well as beef stew with fall vegetables. No Halloween event would be complete without the proper sweet offerings, so The Goat will serve tasty treats such as “Eerie Eclairs” and “Cobweb Caramel Apples.”
Where to stay: The Fearrington House Inn. The quaint Five-Star rated hotel blends in perfectly with its rural surroundings, and its proximity to the Halloween festivities makes it a great choice for an overnight stay. Plus, scenic sights abound during the autumn months, where the property’s oak, pecan and magnolia trees are in prime fall foliage mode. October 30
Photos Courtesy of iStock, Fairmont Peace Hotel VFM Leonardo Inc and ARIA