The days are getting shorter; you’re dreaming about the chilly temps of fall, and best of all, it’s nearly time to celebrate the best that autumn brings: pumpkins, Oktoberfests and apple cider galore. We’ve brushed off our list of the best fall festivals in the country, and this year you’ll be able to find an interesting fall festival or two—including a medieval fair, a glow-in-the-dark parade and a German Beer Hall set under a famous bridge. Scroll down to see them all.
Dumbo Oktoberfest - Brooklyn, NY
No, this is not a celebration of the famed elephant. It’s the DUMBO Improvement District’s transformation of the Manhattan Bridge Archway into a traditional German beer hall featuring festive music, contests, photo ops and themed food. Enjoy Smitty’s Polka Band with a punk rock edge, the Street Beat Brass Band playing traditional German Oompah hits and BB and the Polkahouse complete with costumes, tubas, accordions and more. While you’re tapping your feet, dine on a festive menu of pretzels, brats (traditional and veggie) with sauerkraut and Sixpoint beers on tap.
Dates: Oct. 4-5, 2019
Luminata – Seattle, WA
Celebrate the autumnal equinox at Green Lake Park to bid farewell to summer and move gently into autumn with an illuminated celebration featuring numerous lanterns of all shapes and sizes. People really get into this by creating their own contribution with homemade glowing umbrellas, luminous costumes and music parading around the lake. The local artist set up glowing displays as well for this free event.
Date: Sept. 21, 2019
The Maryland Renaissance Festival - Crownsville, MD
Revel Grove is your “passport to merriment” say the folks at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Here you’ll experience events and shows that you won’t see anywhere else: jousting competitions, jugglers, artisans performing works of Shakesphere in just 20 minutes, mimes, dancers and more. Feast on such delights as Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick, Beef Fingers with White Peppered Gravy and Steak on a Stake. If you want to get in on the act, costume rentals are available.
Dates: Sept. 7 - 20, 2019 (weekends)
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, pumpkin bowling, kiddie rides, hayrides, live music, craft vendors, the Jumpin' Jack car show, 5K and 10K races, the zombie walk, children’s games and a bunch more.
Dates: Oct. 18-19, 2019
Balloon Fiesta – Alburquerque, NM
Balloon 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 and a one-day music festival on October 12.
Dates: October 5-13, 2019.
Pumpkin Festival – Stone Mountain, GA
Come to Stone Mountain Park at night to experience special not-so-spooky glow-in-the-dark fun. “Play by Day” enjoying the regular attractions and special fall entertainment. Stick around after dark to “Glow by Night” by taking a journey through classic storybook tales that come to life in 10 new themed areas featuring 40 scenes with glowing lights, massive carved pumpkins, bubbles, fog and more.
Dates: Sept. 21 – Nov. 3, 2019
Linde Oktoberfest - Tulsa, OK
Willkommen! You won't want to miss one of the largest Oktoberfests in the country and this year, it celebrates 41 years of fun. Held at River West Festival Park, this event brings together international German bands, Bavarian delicacies, authentic arts and crafts as well as games and competitions for the entire family. Don't miss the Dachshund Dash and the Costume Parade!
Dates: Oct. 17-20, 2019
Fall Festival – Towsend, MT
The Townsend Rotary prides itself on this three-day festival presenting one of Montana’s largest car shows, lots of live music, an old fashioned fireman’s pancake breakfast in the park, a brat-eating contest, the tapping of the fall fest keg, a fall decoration contest, face painting, bounce houses and more activities to keep the young-uns busy.
Dates: Oct. 4-6, 2019
Salmon Days - Issaquah, WA
Salmon Days is celebrating 50 years titled, "In Our Wildest Streams." This annual event 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 250 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. 5-6, 2019
Circleville Pumpkin Show - Circleview, OH
Since 1903, the Circleville Pumpkin Show has always been held on the third Wed.-Sun. in October. Every year, people come from miles around to see the largest pumpkins on display. (In 2014, a 1,964 pound pumpkin was here. It's tough to beat that one!) You'll also find the largest pumpkin pie, various parades featuring over 40 floats and over 50 bands, live entertainment, the chance to partake in the pumpkin toss and enjoy many pumpkin spice-flavored treats.
Dates: Oct. 16-19, 2019
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival - Whiteville, NC
The Annual North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival features the Pecan Run, the Columbus Cooks pecan cooking competition (with a focus on young cooks), the festival parade, live entertainment, the Tri Beach Cruisers car show, a lot of craft vendors, an art show, an antique tractor show, of course, pecans galore!
Date: Nov. 2, 2019
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. 19, 2019
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! For the month of September, the arboretum is presenting "Fall is for Fairy Tales" twice a day, every day. Take a seat in the wondrously large bird’s nest and listen to a tale of adventures surrounding nature and science. Then in October, a scavenger hunt will be held every Thursday throughout the pumpkin village. Complete the hunt and you'll get a ticket for a “Charlie Brownie” from the Terrace Café.
Dates: Sept. 1 - Oct. 31, 2019
The Festival of Pumpkin Nights - Santa Rosa, CA
The Sonoma County Fairgrounds will glow with Jack-o’-lantern grins for three and a half weeks. At Pumpkin Nights, you will venture along a half-mile walking path, where you’ll discover the Forbidden Pumpkin City, a pirate’s cove, and more fantastical lands built using over 3,000 hand-carved real and artificial pumpkins. The celebration continues with entertainment and games in Pumpkin Central, the festival area. There’s also food, beverages, screenings of A Nightmare Before Christmas and other activities for the whole family.
Dates: Oct. 10 - Nov. 3, 2019
The Great Northwest Oktoberfest – Whitefish, MT
This year marks the 10th annual event taking place under the Oktoberfest Bigtop at Smith Fields. If you’re a kid, you get in for free; anyone over the age of 12 needs to chip in $5. You’ll be entertained with great German music and a few crazy contests including log sawing, keg throwing, stein holding, and for the kids, a chicken dance-off. Lots of beer, bratwurst, sandwiches and soups too. The kids will especially enjoy the hot dog with mac & cheese plate.
Dates: Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 2-5, 2019
Tecumseh Appleupmpkin Festival - Tecumseh, MI
The 26th 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, bounce 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.
Dates: Oct. 12-13, 2019
Day of the Dead - Petaluma, CA
Remember the Disney/Pixar film Coco? You can experience something similar throughout the month of October as 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 Nov. 2, led by giant puppets.
Dates: Oct. 6-Nov. 2, 2019
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. 9-13, 2019
Pumpkin Party – Nebraska City, NE
Arbor Day Farm is presenting a no-scare Halloween party rain or shine that includes hayrack rides to the pumpkin patch, an “unnatural” Halloween Hike along the Tree House Trail, face painting, discovery rides through the farm, Halloween crafts, a corn maze and lots of candy for the kids (If you’re good, they might even give you some too.). Get in costume and join the fun.
Date: Oct. 26, 2019
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, but 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 is 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. 12-13, 2019
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. 18-20, 2019
Fall for Greenville – Greenville, SC
This three-day smorgasbord of food and entertainment will feature over 45 local restaurants and more than 60 musical acts performing on six stages. It’s kind of a big deal. Here you can sample wines, learn about local beers and watch some great chefs showing off their skills. Admission is free, and you can get a sheet of 10 “taste tickets” for just $5. Be sure to take the kids to the Shipt Kids’ Area too to try out the Wacky Slide, swings and visit Toddler Town.
Dates: Oct. 11-13, 2019
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. 11-13, 2019
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. 1-3, 2019
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 a good cause. All proceeds (after expenses) go back into the community and to other local, state and national charitable organizations.
Dates: Oct. 5-6 and 12-13, 2019
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 a giant pumpkin carving contest, live music, a fruit pie-eating contest, family activities, seasonal produce, food, wine, cider, beer and local arts & crafts from nearly 120 vendors on the scenic Hood River waterfront. Kids will love the activity area, complete with a rock wall, bouncy houses, face painting and other activities.
Dates: Oct. 11-13, 2019
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!
Dates: Sept. 27-29, 2019
Santa Fe Harvest Festival - Santa Fe, NM
The 47th Annual 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. 5-6, 2019
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 49th 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 five-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. 19-20,2019
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 too.
Dates: Oct. 8-12, 2019
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. 18-20, 2019
Oktoberfest – Leavenworth, WA
The folks living in Leavenworth say that their Oktoberfest is the next best thing to being in Munich and here it is a big deal stretching over three weekends. The events start on Saturday when the Muenchner Kindl leads the procession of village people carrying different countries flags and a colorful bandwagon playing traditional Bavarian marches and polkas. Enjoy watching the tradition of “tapping the keg,” four stages of live entertainment, German dances and enjoy a Mug Root Beer float. Lots of beer, bratwurst, and pretzels too. Bring the kids to Kinderplatz with its own climbing wall, bouncy houses and L-Bow the Clown.
Dates: Oct. 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19, 2019
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. 26, 2019
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.
Dates: Nov. 1-3, 2019
—Jeffrey Totey with Gabby Cullen, Amber Guetebier, Mimi O’Connor
Feature image: Brittney Burnett via Unsplash