With Autumn now truly in its stride, we are experiencing blustery days and treated to cosy nights. We also have one very important date in November – Guy Fawkes’ Night – and are always presented with many different ways to celebrate this steadfast occasion. However, if you’re not a fan of the deafening sounds of ear-blasting fireworks and are not particularly phased by standing around a fire in fields or allotments, then read on for some inspiration and dare to be different this November.
A Weekend Away
Watch illuminated floats at Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, Somerset
Yes, I know this couldn’t get more Bonfire Night-orientated, but if you do love a bit of tradition around 5th November, then head to Somerset to experience something different – the West Country tradition of ‘squibbing’ at the UK’s largest winter carnival, Bridgwater. Squibbing? What is this, I hear you ask! Well, it’s a truly explosive tradition in which hundreds of fireworks on sticks are held out along the road, giving the illusion of light raining down. It looks spectacular and eerily other-wordly.
But this carnival doesn’t just explode when the sun goes down. Oh no – brace yourself for a 10am start on the day of the carnival to see a dazzling array of jugglers, stilt walkers, street theatre, marching bands and varying entertainment for all ages to enjoy.
If you’re still not sure, bear in mind that Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival has now won two tourism awards and is improving with each year it runs.
So what are you waiting for?! Head to down South for this unusual, fabulous and unique experience.
For more information, visit the website.
Skate At Somerset House
Fancy kicking off the winter festivities early? Then get your skates on to Somerset House’s grand 18th-century courtyard – the jaw-dropping setting for an impressively regal ice rink.
You don’t have to have the talents of an Olympic ice-skater to enjoy and get the most out of this trip. Even ice-skating novices will love this 900-square-metre outdoor rink. But aside from ice-skating, there’s lots of other entertainment on offer including the Fortnum’s Lodge which offers champagne, mulled wine and scrumptious winter dining including raclette, smoked salmon, cheese fondue and mince pies (obviously) and if you fancy throwing some shapes later on in the evening, try out Skate Lates which showcases music nights and hosts top DJs.
Note that Somerset House also houses art exhibitions so be sure to take a peek at the artistic talent on offer.
And…if that isn’t enough to warm up your November evenings, then head to the Christmas Arcade at Somerset House which sells items from certain themes – this year’s is chocolate…Surely that alone is enough to tempt you to visit Somerset House in November!
For more information, go the website.
To The Dam
Visit Amsterdam in November and you’ll be able to have the run of Amsterdam’s popular attractions and restaurants. You’ll also be able to take advantage of low air fares and accommodation rates, but, just like good old Blighty, days are short at this time of the year and weather blustery with showers so pack appropriately. There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam, you’ll hardly notice the elements.
You can’t go to Amsterdam in November and not welcome The Arrival of Sinterklaas (Intocht van Sinterklaas). Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is a Father Christmas – type Dutch character adored by children and adults who circles the capital on a white horse and stops off in several squares to greet his fans.
However, if you’ve had enough of Christmas season already, then immerse yourself in the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) which transforms Amsterdam’s city centre into a veritable paradise for documentary film fans in mid- November each year.
IDFA is a respected international film festival that brings together many great films (many in English or with English subtitles), dedicated fans and talented film-makers. You’ll be treated to films which tell extraordinary stories about life – often revealing and moving, shocking or humorous.
The festival programme can be found on the IDFA website.
A Week Or More Away
Seeking some sun, serenity and sophistication in November? There aren’t any school holidays in the diary so therefore, beaches, hotels and aircraft are liable to be calm. Not forgetting, many destinations offer discounts in what is traditionally a quiet period ahead of the Christmas rush.
A country that ticks all the boxes (plus only 3 hours away from the UK) is Malta which boasts an average high temperature during November of 21C, so it’s a perfect temperature to relax on the beach or by the pool during the day. However, temperatures can cool to 14C at night, so don’t forget to bring a jumper!
Malta also offers a wonderfully cultural experience, especially in Mdina which is a medieval maze-like, fortress city. Lose yourself in the narrow streets, listen to the clip-clopping sounds of horses’ hooves echoing through the city, and be prepared to be wowed by this city’s character and charm. Choose from a range of walking tour options or treat yourself to a horse and carriage ride and make sure you visit the quaint museums – particularly the Knights of Malta Museum which offers an interactive experience and shows a 3D movie to explain more of the history of the country.
If you’re going to Malta, you just have to take the short ferry ride over to Malta’s quieter sister, Gozo. Here, you can hire a car to see this stunning island in one day and enjoy a truly tranquil experience, stopping off to see the remote and idyllic beaches and tasting traditional cuisine at one of the island’s exquisite restaurants.
Sri Lanka not only offers idyllic beauty and warmth in November, but also offers value for money; the high-season has just begun but flights are still at low-season rates. The end of November would be the best time of the month to visit, when it’s mostly dry across the popular Cultural Triangle and southern coastline.
You can make this a holiday to quench whatever your heart desires. If its complete relaxation that you need, then head to the miles of beautiful coastline which surrounds jungles and ancient ruins, quaint tea estates and amazing wildlife-rich national parks. Take a look at this Guide To The Best Beaches in Sri Lanka for inspiration.
Sri Lanka is the perfect place to combine sun and culture. To make sure you get the most out of this superb holiday, spend eight days of your trip on an organised tour such as The Splendour of Sri Lanka tour. You’ll start the expedition in Katunayake, a city near to the airport, and you’ll finish in Colombo which is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. In between, you’ll travel through 11 stunning destinations in Sri Lanka to experience its culture and paradise. This is a small group tour that includes accommodation in hotels, an expert guide, meals and transport for around £700 for eight days.
Coast to coast cycling holiday in Costa Rica
This is a holiday for those who thrive on adventure! Imagine cycling along the magnificent Costa Rican coastal highway, viewing the country’s incredible Pacific views and beaches and then venturing into exquisite tropics; exploring coffee farms, banana plantations, volcanoes and rainforests. At a cost of around £3000 for 15 days, you can book an organised cycling tour and immerse yourself in the authentic and breath-takingly beautiful Costa Rican coastline with a small group of like-minded people.
Not only will you cycle through some of the country’s most stunning scenery, but you’ll also hike in the historic Manuel Antonio National Park and enjoy a full day to navigate the waterways of Tortuguero National Park in search of its diverse wildlife.
You’ll then travel to La Fortuna, also known as La Fortuna de San Carlos, which is undoubtedly one of Costa Rica’s most famous destinations because it is at the centre of an array of geological wonders that include the spectacular Arenal Volcano, which can been seen from almost every vantage point in the town and the Catarata de La Fortuna, a mesmirising waterfall pouring from a 70m high cliff.
So there you have your pick of what to do in November and hopefully you can draw some inspiration from the selection above. November should be a time to look after yourself and address your needs before the demands of December set in. But whatever you choose to do, enjoy yourself and make some lasting memories.
About the Author
My name is Natalie Blackburn and I’m a busy 36 year-old mum of two under five. I am from, and still live, in the vibrant city of Manchester. Since entering into my thirties and becoming a parent, I developed an interest in good financial planning, and coupled with my passion for writing, I have lovingly created the blog that you read on Sophisticated Savers.
Other interests of mine include reading (autobiographies are a particular favourite) and running (but only if I am pushed to, so I wouldn’t really call it an interest, but just wanted to sound as though I was quite fit!) and yoga (that is a real interest!). Wine and chocolate are also my real interests, and the occasional travel when I have the time.