Autumn excitement is at an all-time high. Between the apple orchards, pumpkin patches and fall festivals, you’re moving faster than a kid in a corn maze. To whittle down your choices, here are this weekend’s best picks for family events.


Washington Park

UniverSoul Circus
Next stop: the big top. One of the top three circus acts in the country will make your head spin with ice skating, tightrope walking, Caribbean dancing, aerialists, acrobatics, quick-change artists, tigers and elephants. What makes this circus different is that its music spans genres including pop, R&B, Latin, hip hop, jazz and gospel. Thru Oct. 6. $19-$30. All ages. Event details.

West Town

Design Harvest Festival
Reap the sights and sounds of a vibrant street fest devoted to home and garden design — and bring the kids along for the ride. Christy Webber Farm & Garden Center is hosting a kids’ area featuring free tractor hay rides, a petting zoo, a mini hay maze, build-your-own scarecrows, pumpkin carving demos, apple cider and other fall delights. Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (kids’ area open until 4 p.m.). Held on Grand Ave., from Damen Ave. to Wood St. $5 suggested donation for admission. All ages. Event details.

Lincoln Square

Music-Making Workshop With Dan Zanes
This BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument) event puts you in the fun, melodic company of kindie rock all-star Dan Zanes. It’s a social music-making workshop for all ages featuring sing-a-long, conversation and playing together. Fri., 5:30 p.m. Old Town School of Folk Music. $15. All ages. Event details.


5K Run/Walk to Support Children With Special Needs
Power up for kids with special needs on a run/walk in support of Camp Red Leaf, a day and overnight camp for children and adults with developmental disabilities, and emotional and behavioral needs. Participants receive a T-shirt and medal, enjoy a post-race party, and can tour and learn more about Camp Red Leaf. Sun., 9:30 a.m.-noon. $35/runner; $10/Mile Fun Run (kids 12 and under), $5/Kids’ Fun Run. All ages. Event details.

Lincoln Park

“Animal Secrets” Exhibit
Experience nature from an animal’s point of view. You’ll activate your senses by exploring a replica of a dark woodland cave, engage in role play to help animals find food and build homes, examine real plant specimens, and see how you measure up to a life-sized bear and raccoon. Thru Jan. 21. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Included in museum admission of $9/adults; $6/ages 3-12; ages 3 and under free. All ages. Event details.


Build-Your-Own Scarecrow Day
Wagner Farm is an outdoor living history museum that gives you an inside look at farming and rural life in Glenview during the first part of the 20th century. As part of its series of fall festivals, you can build your own hay-filled friend. They provide the straw and the know-how; you provide your big imagination. Sat., noon-3 p.m. $5/scarecrow. All ages. Event details.


Donley’s Wild West Town Fall Festival
Have a rootin’-tootin’ time at a Fall Festival thrown at a cowboy theme park. The fun includes spooky train rides, a pumpkin painting contest and Halloween sing-alongs. The park is an attraction in itself, with a mine-car roller coaster, mini canoe rides, shooting ranges and a Wild West themed show in an outdoor theater. Weekends thru Oct. 27. $16 (includes all rides and activities). All ages. Event details.

What are you doing to celebrate fall this weekend? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Kelly Aiglon

Photo: UniverSoul Circus