Calendar Highlights: November 2008


Water Wings Experience everything wild at the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival (Nov. 4-9) on "America's First Wilderness Frontier," North Carolina's Outer Banks. It's peak migration season, so look out for rarely seen Eurasian wigeons, magnificent frigates and red-cockaded woodpeckers. When you're not finding fowl, hike 214 steps to the top of the 1875 Currituck Beach Lighthouse or kayak through tannin-fed cypress swamps. With more than 100 programs offered throughout 250,000 conservation acres, there's hardly a moment to put down your binoculars.

Floating Fish Three-ton Samurai helmets, gigantic sea bream and huge flying dragons float through crowded streets in Karatsu on Japan's Kyushu island. The 14 hikiyama, or massive floats, leave their homes once a year to star in the Karatsu Kunchi Festival (Nov. 2-4). The wooden structures are lacquered with gold and silver leaf and date as far back as 1819. Listen for the sound of drums, gongs and flutes leading the way as teams of men dressed in traditional Edo Period uniforms heave the floats through the thick sands of Nishinohama Beach to the main town. Until next year, that is.

Caffeine Overload Ten days of pure Kona-flavored, caffeinated bliss? It's any coffee groupie's dream. The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Nov. 7-16) offers 50 coffee-loving events celebrating 180 years of hand-picked coffee tradition. Watch eagle-eyed pros search for perfect coffee cherries in a timed picking contest and then peruse coffee-themed art at the Tasting and Art Stroll, including a stop at the Holuakoa Café. But be sure not to miss coffee's competitive version of a wine tasting at the two-day "cupping" competition. Sleep is not an option.