Every month, Kiwi.com is going to bring you a few ideas for things to do, places to go and things to see in the coming month. So if you want to know the best places to visit in September, here are our suggestions…
Undiscovered Adriatic – Albania
For a few years, Croatia has been the place to be for a European beach holiday. A long, beautiful coastline, wonderful seafood and ancient cities dotted along the clifftops and spilling down to the seafront meant it’s been steadily increasing in popularity to the point where, well, it’s all getting a bit much.
Some will say continue further south into Montenegro, and they’d be right; it’s the same coast after all, and it’s a bit less well-known. Well, we say keep going.
Albania has always been seen as one of the poorest relations when it comes to European countries, and with good reason. Decades of conflict, revolution, infighting, corruption and generally being bashed about left it in a pretty sorry state, but since the turn of the century, efforts have been made to replicate the success of other Balkan nations to integrate into European politics and trade.
It’s still somewhere that people are wary of, but you really shouldn’t be. Ksamil, the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, is still unknown outside the country, and as you wind your way down the coast through traditional villages and stunning scenery, you’ll encounter the beaches at Dhërmi, Bunec and Borsh among many others. Laid-back, surrounded by olive groves and virtually deserted, this is where you should be coming for a bit of September sun.
Family Fun and Festivals – Michigan, USA
The town of Novi plays host to the Michigan State Fair from 30 August to 3 September, and it’s a biggie. Attractions include animal shows – including pig racing! – livestock judging, an amusement park and fairground, live music, all types of food (including something called a Barbecue Boot Camp, featuring a Professor of Meat Science), arts and crafts and much, much more. It calls itself the number one family event in the state, and we’re not bound to disagree.
For something a little more relaxed, that long weekend is also when the Detroit Jazz Festival takes place. The world’s largest free jazz festival (you know, a festival that costs nothing to enter, not a festival of freestyle jazz, although there will most likely be some of that too), the lineup includes everything from organs to vocal groups, big bands, Latin jazz, and performers representing everywhere from Cuba to Japan and across the world.
Doors Open – across Scotland
Across the five weekends throughout September, doors will be opened all over Scotland. Not just any doors, mind you; doors that, at other times of year, are closed to the public. To build an understanding of the history, society and culture of the country, from the ancient to the modern, there are thousands of free events taking place in buildings you wouldn’t normally see inside.
The venues truly are a selection of the weird and wonderful, as well as things you pass every day but wouldn’t have the ability to access, including fire stations, courthouses, police cells, museum storage facilities and such.
Some of the more unusual buildings – and this really is just a small selection of the oddities you can visit – are lighthouses, an underground Second World War monitoring station, mausoleums, windmills, a boatbuilding shed in Aberdeenshire, a dungeon under the town hall in Ayr, and loads more. Couple this with Scottish Archaeology Month, also in September, and the Doors Open Days are supplemented with a programme of talks, walks and workshops across the country. It really is the unseen side of Scotland, and it’s fascinating.
Springtime = wine time – Western Australia
In the northern hemisphere it’s the height of summer, but over the other side of the world, spring and all the pleasant atmosphere that comes with it has sprung. On Australia’s Western Cape, the area around the Margaret River – one of the country’s great wine producing regions – runs tours stopping at vineyards throughout the region where you can learn about the process and sample the wines and other gourmet products on offer.
But if you want to combine that with the Aussie love of physical activity, why not take a kayaking trip down the river? Enjoy a riverside picnic lunch in the Blackwood River National Park before paddling off to finish the day at one of the region’s vineyards or micro-breweries. After all, you’ll have earned that drink!
Otherwise there’s a lot going on in vibrant, sunny Perth during September. The King’s Park Festival runs for the entire month and includes many free events such as live music, guided walks, exhibitions and family activities, all centred around the theme of wild flowers, as this year’s festival is a celebration of the huge variety and beauty in the flora of Western Australia. See thousands upon thousands of the state’s native plant and flower species without leaving the city, leaving you time and energy to experience Perth in all its shiny glory.
Street art, street life – Stavanger, Norway
From 6 to 9 September, Stavanger, on the south-west tip of Norway, hosts a festival celebrating graffiti, street art, and the various branches of art, activism, civic engagement and culture that go with them. There are tours of the city that can be specially tailored to the sort of thing you’re into, as well as film screenings, a permanent gallery to explore, and forums for both creators and curators of street art from across the globe to meet up and exchange ideas, inspiration and contact.
Stavanger itself is a bit of an oddity anyway. It became massively wealthy in the 1970s thanks to an oil boom (even by Norwegian standards it’s still an expensive place to visit today), but once you get through the suburban sprawl, the old centre of the town and the port area is a maze of charming lanes made up of 18th century wooden houses. It’s certainly unexpected.
Ancient teachings for modern times – Qufu, China
The city of Qufu was the birthplace of Confucius, the Chinese scholar and philosopher, and at the end of September every year (from 26 September to 10 October this year), the city holds the International Confucius Culture Festival, bringing together people from all over the world who follow his teachings.
The idea is not just to bring like-minded people together, but to showcase this aspect of Chinese culture to the world through music, dance, parades and workshops. It’s attended by around 12,000 people annually, and many of the events during the festival are run by charitable causes relating to things held dear to followers of Confucius, tackling illiteracy in the poorest areas of China being a prime example.
Exploring the city means seeing the San Kong, the collective name for the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion, the family seat of his direct descendants. Looking a bit further, Qufu is located around 130 km south of the city of Jinan, the provincial capital and City of Springs, named for the 72 artesian springs that can be found in the centre of the city. Jinan is also known within China for its cuisine, the Jinan style being one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. So go, and feast on both delicious food and spiritual knowledge.