Weather enough for you?
National Weather Festival: A trip to Norman in November would be a learning vacation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The University of Oklahoma hosts this annual festival, where fun, smart people gather to do weather balloon launches, explore the National Weather Center offices, learn weird things about the environment, and take part in something called the Storm Chaser Car Show, which is basically a display of cars that have been used to spot some of the worst storms. The awards to these vehicles beaten up by some serious natural disasters include “most hail damage’’ and “most working sensors.’’ 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 120 David L. Boren Blvd., www.norman.noaa.gov/events/nwf09/
OCT. 30-NOV. 1
Temple Bar Chocolate Festival: If you’ve been on the hunt for travel deals, you’ve probably noticed that tickets to Ireland are starting to come cheap. That’s what happens when the temperature drops. Last-minute travelers with a sweet tooth may want to consider a visit to Dublin. Annual Temple Bar chocolate festivities include truffle-making classes, a lesson in cocoa beauty treatments, and a look at chocolate in film. There will also be a chocolate-inspired art display at the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre. Many of the events are free, so all you need is one of those cheap-flight-and-hotel packages. Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, www.templebar .ie/home.php
Celebration of Darwin: Here’s another learning experience in a cool place. Science types (and interested non-science types) will gather at Virginia Tech to talk about Charles Darwin for an entire day. Yes, it’s a lot of academic discussion, but there will also be plenty of mingling. The day ends with a performance by Virginia Tech’s Theatre Workshop of “Living Darwin,’’ a show about the English naturalist born in 1809 (sharing Lincoln’s birthday) and who published “On the Origin of Species’’ 150 years ago. $100, 540-231-2559, www.cpe.vt.edu/darwin
Maine Brewers Festival: New England gets its fair share of leaf peepers this season. It also gets its fair share of beer sippers. In Portland, you can sample a number of New England brews including Sebago, Federal Jack’s, and Gritty McDuff’s. There will also be local bands to keep you entertained while you sample. A note: We hear it’s worth getting the ticket package that includes dinner with the brewers. Ticket packages $32 to $99. Portland Expo Center, 2060 North Marine Drive, 503-736-5200, www.mainebrew.com
New Year’s Eve: It’s sort of cool to think about experiencing the start of 2010 before the rest of the planet - even at the end of a long, expensive trip. Events include the Hollywood Ball, where Australian folks will walk a red carpet dressed up like American movie stars. You’ll be able to wear something strapless; it will be warm over there. The night includes dancing, food, and visible fireworks. Amora Riverwalk Hotel, 649 Bridge Road, www.newyearseve.com.au/nye-events/melbourne/lifes-a-ball.html. MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN
Events are sometimes canceled, rescheduled, or sold out; check online. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.