The days are growing shorter and the night’s longer—fall is here! And the best part? So are the celebrations that come along for the season. From giant pumpkin boat races to skeleton-fests to apple cider galore, we’ve picked our favorite fall festivals for you to visit in 2018. Scroll down to see how many you’ve been to!
Tulsa Oktoberfest - Tulsa, OK
Willkommen! This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Tulsa Oktoberfest celebration at the new River West Festival Park. Cram-packed with German bands, Bavarian delicacies, authentic arts and crafts as well as games and competitions for the entire family, you won’t want to miss one of the largest and favorite Oktoberfests in the country.
Good to Know: Don't miss the Dachshund Dash and Costume Parade on Sunday!
Dates: Oct. 18-21, 2018
Salmon Days - Issaquah, WA
Salmon Days is a celebration of the return of salmon to their “birth-waters” as well as Issaquah’s history, culture and diversity. Each year the festival attracts over 275 artists and craftsman, presents five stages of live music and entertainment, sporting events and a “field of fun” that isn't just for kids.
Dates: Oct. 6-7, 2018
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival - Laconia, NH
Laconia likes to think of itself as kinda a big deal in October. Each year at the Pumpkin Festival, over 40,000 attendees help create a 34-foot-tall “Jack-o-Lantern Tower” while also partaking in fantastic food, beer garden, climbing wall, kiddie rides, hay rides, live music, craft vendors, children’s games and a bunch more.
Dates: Oct. 12-13, 2018
Balloon Fiesta – Alburquerque, New Mexico
Ballon pilots from all over the county fly in to be a part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. As the largest ballooning event in the world, it features over 500 hot air balloons. Adding to the fun will be special balloon glows, a special shape rodeo, laser light shows, chainsaw carvings, fireworks, a car show, and Music Fiesta, a one-day music festival on October 13.
Dates: October 6-7 and 13-14, 2018.
Circleville Pumpkin Show - Circleview, OH
Since 1903, the Circleville Pumpkin Show has always been held on the third Wednesday-Sunday in October. Every year, people come from miles around to see the largest pumpkins (in 2014, a 1,964 pound pumpkin was on display!), the largest pumpkin pie, see various parades (featuring over 40 floats and over 50 bands), enjoy live entertainment, partake in the pumpkin toss or other activities and enjoy many pumpkin spice-flavored treats.
Dates: Oct. 17-20, 2018
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival - Whiteville, NC
The 26th Annual North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival features the Pecan Run, festival parade, live entertainment, a car show, a cooking contest, craft vendors of course, a lot of pecan pie!
Date: Nov. 3, 2018
West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta—Tualatin, OR
If you’ve never seen anyone sit inside a giant pumpkin and then race it across a lake dressed in costume, then you obviously haven’t been to the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta. This free, one-day festival is jam-packed with fun, including the weigh-off of the giant pumpkins and other monster-sized vegetables; performances by magicians, clowns and musical acts; a costume contest; pumpkin pie eating contest; pumpkin bowling and pumpkin golf; food trucks and the giant pumpkin race.
Date: Oct. 20, 2018
Autumn at the Arboretum— Dallas, TX
Featuring 4,500 Chrysanthemums, along with 150,000 other fall blooming plants, and the internationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village (featuring an additional 90,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds) plus the outstanding Children’s Adventure Garden, this fall festival is something else! Special themed activities happening every weekend too!
Dates: Sept. 22-Nov. 21, 2018
The Festival of Pumpkin Nights—Auburn, CA
Once again, the Gold Country Fairgrounds will glow with Jack-o’-lantern grins for 19 straight days. Immerse yourself in lands such as the Harry Potter-esque Pumpkin Passage; the pirate-infested island of the Rum River Pirates island; they protect their pumpkin-y treasure; Dia de los Muertos where you’ll find a pumpkin mariachi band and sugar skulls hanging overhead and even The Great Pumpkin Reef—think mermaids, bubbles, coral and (of course) pumpkins! There’s also food, beverages, movie screenings, and activities for the whole family.
Dates: Oct. 17-Nov. 4, 2018
Tecumseh Appleupmpkin Festival—Tecumseh, MI
The 25th annual Appleupmpkin Festival is held in conjunction with Kapnick Orchards Apple Festival, so you get two festivals in one! Not only will you find midway rides, carnival games, bouncy houses and craft stations, you’ll also be treated to a tractor show, straw maze, helicopter and monster truck rides, an entire scarecrow making tent and more. There’s also an antique street fair and flea market, and an arts and crafts show if you want to get a little shopping in. The kids will also love the Tecumseh Middle School 7th & 8th Grade Haunted House, that includes a low-scare Monster House for toddlers and early elementary kids, a Mad Scientist for upper elementary and for those brave older kids, a Haunted Maze.
Dates: Oct. 13 & 14, 2018
Day of the Dead—Petaluma, CA
Throughout the month of October, Petaluma comes alive with the dead. This celebration of remembrance begins with ofrendas (altars) throughout the charming downtown and continues each week with lively events including Aztec dancers, Ballet Folklorico de Petaluma Paquiyollotzin, food, art and more. The whole festival culminates in a Candlelight Procession on Oct. 28, lead by giant puppets.
Dates: Oct. 1-Nov. 2, 2018
Trailing of the Sheep—Ketchum, ID
Following a flock of sheep may sound like something out of a nursery rhyme, but did you know it’s also one of the most beloved fall festivals in the United States? Celebrate the history of sheep ranchers in Idaho at this five-day event filled with non-stop fun: multicultural performers, storytelling, cooking classes, sheepdog trials, folklife fair, weaving demos and over 50 local artisans selling crafts and art. The spotlight event (of course) is the Big Sheep Parade, where you and your family will view the spectacle of over 1,500 sheep wandering down Main Street in Ketchum.
Good to know: The Parade Picnic at Irving’s Hill is a great spot to enjoy local fare and watch the sheep make their annual trek.
Dates: Oct. 10-14, 2018
Stillwater Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Weigh-Off—Stillwater, MN
This bucolic little town on the shore of the St. Croix River not only gets a ton of gorgeous fall color this time of year, it also hosts one of the best fall festivals around. Kids can come in costume and join in the Costume Parade which takes the children trick-or-treating to all the local downtown businesses. There’s a chili cook-off and microbrew tasting along with other craft and food vendors, but the highlights are the pumpkin-themed activities. Cheer on local businesses as they compete in the Pumpkin Pull (imagine being hooked up like an ox to haul giant pumpkins) and the Pumpkin Regatta—a race up the St. Croix in giant hollowed-out pumpkins for boats.
Good to know: Locals know to stick around 'til the end of the fest, for the giant pumpkin drop: prize-winning pumpkins are hoisted on a crane and dropped to the sidewalk below. You can scramble in and get your share of giant pumpkin seeds for your own garden!
Dates: Oct. 13-14, 2018
Glastonbury Applefest—Glastonbury, CT
It's one of the state’s most popular festivals for a good reason: there are more than 150 craft booths, tons of amusement rides, a pie bake-off and pie-eating contest, a petting zoo, road races, a beer garden and pony rides. Literally, something for everyone.
Dates: Oct. 12-14, 2018
Scarecrow Festival—St. Charles, IL
Scaring crows is for the birds. Over 100 hand-crafted scarecrows show up at the Scarecrow Festival in downtown St. Charles every year, and while some are designed to spook, most are charming for all ages. Visitors have a hand in the awards (vote-as-you-view in five categories), and after voting, there's enough family-friendly entertainment to last an entire weekend. Now in its 33rd year, there's more than just scarecrows to admire. Live music, a petting zoo and of course, the popular make-your-own scarecrow station returns in 2018.
Dates: Oct. 5-7, 2018
Franklin County CiderDays—Franklin County, MA
Held throughout the county in early November, this is the festival if you love apples! Go on orchard tours, taste fresh apples and cider (including hard cider), learn about the history of apples, take workshops including medicinal uses of apples and apple cider, learn and observe cider making, attend the Harvest Supper and—when you’re done with all that—get some holiday shopping at the many craft vendors.
Dates: Nov. 2-4, 2018
Sonoma County Harvest Fair—Santa Rosa, CA
Awesome weather isn’t the only reason families flock to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair every fall. There’s also fantastic food, world-class wine, and fun on the farm; the World Championship Grape Stomp, an Easy Bake Pumpkin Pie Bake-Off, grain mosaics, pumpkin bowling and planting succulents are just a few of the highlights for your crew.
Good to know: The tasting pavilion is home to the most amazing regional wines, beer and food but it’s 21 & up. Toss a coin with your partner to see who goes in first.
Dates: Oct. 5-7, 2018
The National Apple Harvest Festival—Adams County, PA
Apples are a fave fall, and southern Pennsylvania has been celebrating since 1962. At this two-weekend event, you’ll find apples cooked up in more ways than you’ll have thought possible: apple cider, applesauce, pies, jellies, pancakes, syrup, candied apples and much more. Work up an appetite at the Kid Country Building where your tiniest festival fans will enjoy face painting, harvest magic shows, and apple pie-eating contests. There are hayrides, a petting zoo, Native American dance expos, ballet performances, an antique auto show, over 300 arts and crafts vendors and a ton of family-friendly live music performances.
Good to know: Your money goes to good cause. All proceeds (after expenses) go back into the community and to other local, state and national charitable organizations.
Dates: Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14, 2018
Hood River Harvest Fest— Hood River, OR
There are 14,000 acres of commercial pear, apple, cherry and peach orchards in Hood River County, so it’s no surprise the biggest fall festival in the Columbia River Gorge happens here. For three days in October, attendees enjoy live music, family activities, seasonal produce, food, wine, cider, beer and local arts & crafts from nearly 125 vendors on the scenic Hood River waterfront. Kids will love the activity area, complete with bouncy houses, face painting and other activities. They’ll get a kick out of watching world-record giant pumpkin carver Scott Cully craft detailed designs into a 600-pound pumpkin, and there’s even a petting zoo from the local 4-H club.
Dates: Oct. 12-14, 2018
Warrens Cranberry Festival—Warrens, WI
Looking for the world’s largest cranberry festival? You’ll find it in Warrens, Wi—over 120,000 people show up each year. Wander through 850 arts & craft booths and enjoy contests like Guess the Weight of the Largest Pumpkin, Best Scarecrow, Biggest Berry, Marsh Medallion Hunt and more. Tasty eats are everywhere and include unusual offerings like cranberry cream puffs and deep-fried cranberries on a stick. One of the coolest things to do at the festival is to take a tour of the cranberry marshes. You’ll visit two local marshes, walk into a cranberry bed, and learn all about the growing process. Local eats including fresh cranberries, wine and other products can be bought at the end of the tour!
Good to know: Buy your tour tickets early as they usually sell out by noon.
Dates: Sept. 28-30, 2018
Santa Fe Harvest Festival—Santa Fe, NM
The Harvest Festival in Santa Fe is held at El Rancho de las Golondrinas—a living museum similar to Williamsburg, VA—and there are 200 acres to explore. Wander through over 30 buildings, see ponds and waterways, spot animals, and check out agricultural fields that produce traditional crops like corn, squash and peppers. During the Harvest Festival, visitors encounter “villagers” going about their daily routine: crushing grapes, stringing chilies, making tortillas, weaving cloth. Traditional Southwestern music and dance is also a festival highlight, as well as an artist market with New Mexican crafts, mule-drawn wagon rides, and more. Rated one of the best harvest festivals in the country, families will learn about the rich culture of the Southwest.
Dates: Oct. 6-7, 2018
The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival—Half Moon Bay, CA
The self-proclaimed World Pumpkin Capital gives other harvest festivals a run for their money with the combination of a small seaside community and pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! Now in its 48th year, you'll find top crafters and artists from around the country, hours of live music including a family state, a Great Pumpkin Parade, the World's Biggest Pumpkin Sculpture (a 5-ton mosaic pumpkin), a haunted barn for some scare-factor, pie eating contest, and so much more. Bring some cash to snap a photo with the festival's winning giant pumpkin.
Dates: Oct. 13-14, 2018
Floresville Peanut Festival—Floresville, TX
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and when it comes to festival royalty, Queen Tunaep and King Reboog (yup, peanut and goober spelled backward) are no exception—since the late '30s the festival court has donned be-jeweled and be-ribboned gowns and capes that make Queen Elizabeth look like an amateur. But the glamorous get-up of the Bohemian Blooms Court is not the only fun for families in Floresville during the festival. There’s the Goober Games, which is filled with kid faves like sack races, peanut toss, and musical peanut, the parades are worth a watch and be sure to check out the Courthouse Lawn to see the South Texas Gunslingers.
Good to know: Got a sitter? The music goes late into the night, and folks will be dancing!
Dates: Oct. 9-13, 2018
Fall Festival of Leaves—Bainbridge, OH
Fall wouldn’t be the same without the changing of the leaves. The tree-covered hills in southern Ohio are the perfect spot to capture the view, and since 1968, thousands of folks have gathered for three days of fun. There are four skyline drives to take in the beauty of the leaves: Buckskin Loop, Paint Vista Loop, Pike Lake Loop and Redbush Loop. Kids will love both the live pet show and the stuffed animal pet show (with categories such as largest, smallest, most unusual, most lovable), and the kiddy tractor pull. Adults will love the flea market, tribute bands, 5K run and more.
Dates: Oct. 19-21, 2018
Socrates Sculpture Park Halloween Harvest Festival—New York City, NY
This free festival changes every year, and 2018’s theme is inspired by Fet Gede, the Haitian festival of the ancestors. It'll include the New York chapter of Konfederasyon Nasyonal Vodouyizan Ayisyen (K.N.V.A), including a Gede song workshop, card readings, mini altars in the landscape honoring aspects of the Gede pantheon, and a procession culminating in a special dance and drum performance.
Date: Oct. 27, 2018
Louisiana Pecan Festival—Colfax, LA
Celebrating the rich agricultural history of pecans (the harvest goes all the way back to pre-colonial times) the Louisiana Pecan Festival has grown from a Frontier Days theme in the early ‘70s to a three-day festival filled with fun for the whole family. The weekend kicks off with Children's Day with games, petting zoo, fun jumps and rock walls. Arts and crafts booths, cooking contest, carnival rides, great food, musical entertainment, the Grand Parade, and fireworks show on Saturday night is followed by the Street Dance. Be sure to hit up The Country Store, where you can pick up homemade pecan pies, pralines, jams, jellies, local honey and of course, pecans.
Good to know: Don’t miss a performance by the Louisiana Pecanettes—the festival's ambassadors.
Dates: Nov. 2-4, 2018
—Jeffrey Totey, Gabby Cullen, Amber Guetebier, Mimi O’Connor