November hot list: 5 essential experiences

This month, see ghosts in Mexico city, fireworks in London, and manta rays in Mozambique.

There’s much more to this month than turkey and stuffing. With cooler weather on its way, many travelers are turning their attention to adventures in warmer climes. From decorating sugar skulls in Mexico City to making symbolic offerings in Chiang Mai, here’s what to experience and where to do it in November.

Greet the returning dead

November 2 | Mexico City, Mexico

Catch an explosion of color when Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead—a UNESCO-recognized treasure of Intangible Cultural Heritage—is celebrated in Mexico City. The festival combines Aztec and Catholic traditions to honor those no longer in the realm of the living. Altars, or ofrendas, comprised of marigolds and family photos, help reunite spirits with their living friends and family. Sample pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, a sweet loaf often featuring anise seeds and decorated with bones and skulls made from dough. Then join revelers in vibrant costumes as they pour into the streets for parades and parties.

<p>A Catrina and Catrin pose before an <i>ofrenda</i>, an altar set for deceased loved ones. Ofrendas display portraits, crosses, candles, flowers, incense, and water, a refreshment for the spirits who have made the long trip home from the hereafter.</p>

A Catrina and Catrin pose before an ofrenda, an altar set for deceased loved ones. Ofrendas display portraits, crosses, candles, flowers, incense, and water, a refreshment for the spirits who have made the long trip home from the hereafter.

Photograph by Austin Beahm, National Geographic Your Shot

Find Bavaria in the Lone Star State

November 1–10 | New Braunfels, Texas

Founded by a German prince looking to start a colony in what was at that time the Republic of Texas, New Braunfels—a 40-minute drive from San Antonio—remains one of the most historic German-American communities in the United States. At the annual Wurstfest, travelers and locals celebrate the city’s Bavarian roots with carnival rides and German fare including sauerkraut-laden bratwursts, schnitzel, and steins of beer.

See London aglow

November 5 | London, United Kingdom

Inspiring the nursery rhyme “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night, commemorates the foiled plot to bomb the Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. In commemoration of this event, London lights up with stellar fireworks displays and bonfires along River Thames and around the city. Pro tip: The night can be long, so before turning skyward tuck into a meal at the River Walk Market, near the iconic Battersea Power Station. (Click here for explosive images of Guy Fawkes Day celebrations.)

Say goodbye to regrets

November 11–13 | Chiang Mai, Thailand

During Loi Krathong, rivers in Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, turn ethereal as thousands of tiny boats (krathong) drift down the waterways like twinkling stars. To welcome the new season, celebrants symbolically release their fears and regrets on boats laden with flowers, incense, and candles. Afterward, parades, musical performances, and fireworks displays take over. Sustainability tip: If you want to make an offering of your own, look for boats made of banana bark and leaves to lessen your environmental impact.

Swim with manta rays

November | Tofo, Mozambique

Shed your autumn attire for beach gear and glide alongside manta rays in an aquatic ballet near Mozambique’s Manta Reef. Tofo, a coastal town, draws divers and snorkelers eager to watch dolphins, whale sharks, and humpback whales glide through its pristine waters. November is prime time in the Indian Ocean to see manta rays and view other sea creatures circling the reef, but make sure to keep a respectable distance. (This conservation biologist shares her favorite places to spot mantas.)

Starlight Williams is an editorial researcher and writer at National Geographic. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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