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14 Best Fall Festivals in the United States

It’s almost that time of year, my favorite season, offering everything from fall activities like apple picking to visiting pumpkin patches and corn mazes, while the air is fresh and crisp and the scent of cinnamon and cloves is practically everywhere. There are also many fall festivals held across the country that are worth planning on visiting around or perhaps just enjoying as a day trip close to home. These are some of the best you’ll find across the country, from the foggy California coast to New England with its breathtaking autumn foliage.

Leavenworth Oktoberfest - Leavenworth, Washington Oktoberfest - Leavenworth, Washington
Credit: Oktoberfest - Leavenworth, Washington by leavenworth.org

Leavenworth Oktoberfest - Leavenworth, Washington

The Bavarian town of Leavenworth hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration that runs on Fridays and Saturdays from late September through mid-October. It takes place throughout the Bavarian Village, with three entertainment stages at the beer gardens located at Leavenworth Festhalle and Front Street Park providing live entertainment that includes everything from a Bavarian and a polka band to a professional yodeler and folk artists. There will be lots of vendors, Bavarian foods, beer gardens, free games and a bouncy house for the kids, and a 10,000-square-foot Kinderplatz with a 62-foot Ferris wheel.

Official Website
Dates: September 29-30, October 6-7, & 13-14, 2023

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati - Cincinnati, Ohio Oktoberfest Zinzinnati
Credit: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati by Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati - Cincinnati, Ohio

If Weiner dog races and bratwurst peak your interest, consider heading to downtown Cincinnati which hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the U.S. It’s been taking place since 1976 and now draws over 700,000 attendees, with the event occupying six blocks near the banks of the Ohio River. The Running of the Weiners is one of the highlights, with some 100 dachshunds in hot dog costumes racing each other. There’s a bratwurst-eating championship, the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, live music, and all sorts of German specialties like soft pretzels, sausages, and potato pancakes that can be washed down with a stein of German beer.

Official Website
Dates: September 14-17, 2023

Flaming Leaves Festival - Lake Placid, New York Flaming Leaves Festival
Credit: Flaming Leaves Festival by Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex

Flaming Leaves Festival - Lake Placid, New York

One of the most charming towns in Upstate New York, Lake Placid is an ideal destination in the fall. It’s surrounded by some of the most vivid autumn hues, with the shores around the lake filled with birch, beech, oak, and maple trees that burst into bright orange, yellow, and red. In early October, you can enjoy leaf-peeping and the Flaming Leaves Festival, which includes live entertainment and activities for the whole family. There’s live music, crafts, food, and beer vendors, and you can watch elite ski jumpers soar overhead at the FIS Continental Cup with gorgeous high peaks in the backdrop. Chairlift rides are available for a bird’s-eye view over it all too.

Official Website
Dates: October 6-8, 2023

Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival - Custer State Park, South Dakota Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival
Credit: Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival - Custer State Park, South Dakota

The Black Hills are mostly made up of Ponderosa pines, but there are also aspens, birches, and box elders that provide splashes of vibrant color in the fall, everywhere from Spearfish Canyon to Custer State Park, which hosts the three-day Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival in late September every year. It’s incredible to witness – you’ll feel the ground rumble as if there is an earthquake and see the dust fly as the massive herd thunders across the landscape. Watch the cowboys and cowgirls round them up, enjoy the chili cook-off, and browse the 150 arts and crafts vendors. There are many other things to do in the park too, including fantastic wildlife watching and hiking.

Official Website
Dates: September 28-30, 2023

Elk Fest - Estes Park, Colorado Elk Fest
Credit: Elk Fest by Visit Estes Park

Elk Fest - Estes Park, Colorado

While there are many Oktoberfest events and harvest festivals, the Elk Fest offers something a bit different. Held in Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, it celebrates the town’s large elk population and the elk rut, or mating season. The animals are often seen roaming the streets and lounging on the golf course, as well as in the national park. Leaf peepers will find plenty of color to enjoy in town and in the park, whether by scenic drive or a hike. The family-friendly event includes live music, food trucks, craft beer, vendors, and bugling contests in which festivalgoers attempt to imitate an elk’s sounds using a bugle tube. A highlight for many is the festival’s Native American dancing, storytelling, and music.

Official Website
Dates: September 30 – October 1, 2023

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival - Half Moon Bay, California Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival
Credit: Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival by Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival - Half Moon Bay, California

For decades now, residents of California’s San Francisco Bay Area have been traveling to the coast to enjoy the many fall activities offered in Half Moon Bay. It’s one of the most popular places to find the perfect pumpkin, and it also hosts the annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. It all begins with the pumpkin weigh-off on the second Monday of October, and on the weekend that follows, attendees can enjoy pumpkin beer and unique pumpkin foods like pumpkin mac ‘n cheese, pie-eating, costume contests, a haunted house, and the Great Pumpkin Parade. With the weather often pleasant enough here this time of year, afterward, you can enjoy time at the beach too.

Official Website
Dates: October 14-15, 2023

Calaveras Grape Stomp & Gold Rush Street Faire - Murphys, California Calaveras Grape Stomp
Credit: Calaveras Grape Stomp by Calaveras Winegrape Alliance

Calaveras Grape Stomp & Gold Rush Street Faire - Murphys, California

The small California town of Murphys, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in the heart of Gold Country, packs a punch when it comes to things to do, and it comes complete with a fabulous historic Main Street with wine-tasting rooms, unique boutiques, ice cream and candy shops, and more. This is an annual event usually held in early October that attracts many to enjoy a grape stomping competition and the Gold Rush Street Faire. It’s a full day of fun for the entire family, with many channeling their “inner Lucy and Ethel in a true, down and dirty grape stomp competition.” Watch the stomping in Murphys Community Park and enjoy the vendors that line Main Street to celebrate the harvest with arts, crafts, grapes, and more. There are over two dozen tasting rooms for sampling some of the best of the more than two dozen wineries here as well.

Official Website
Dates: October 7, 2023

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - Albuquerque, New Mexico Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Credit: Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta by Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - Albuquerque, New Mexico

The world’s largest hot air balloon festival takes place in Albuquerque over nine days in October every year. It’s been around for more than a half-century, drawing 800,000 to New Mexico’s largest city at a time when the weather is pretty much always perfect and the skies are bright blue, providing a gorgeous backdrop for countless hot air balloons. There are opportunities to go up in one yourself at sunrise as well as enjoy themed balloon “rodeos” and various other competitions along with live music, chainsaw carving demonstrations, fireworks, and lots of food and drink.

Official Website
Dates: October 7-16, 2023

Fall for Greenville - Greenville, South Carolina Fall for Greenville
Credit: Fall for Greenville by Fall for Greenville

Fall for Greenville - Greenville, South Carolina

The largest food and music festival in upstate South Carolina, Fall for Greenville takes place over three days in mid-October, spanning eight blocks on Main Street in downtown Greenville. It features 80 different acts across six stages, showcasing local, regional, and national acts of multiple music genres, including everything from country, rock, and pop to hip-hop, jazz, pop, folk, reggae, bluegrass, and more. In the wine garden, you’ll have 50+ wines to choose from, while the beer garden includes over 50 local, regional, and national craft beers. There are more than 250 different menu items available from Greenville area residents along with food competitions, live cooking demonstrations, and an area for kids spread over a city block with a carousel, funhouse, slides, and more.

Official Website
Dates: October 13-15, 2023

Cornucopia - Kansas City, Missouri Cornucopia festival
Credit: Cornucopia festival by Cornucopia

Cornucopia - Kansas City, Missouri

Cornucopia offers fun for the whole family at its Cornucopia festival in the Power & Light District of Kansas City. Running over three days in mid-October, it’s the city’s main fall festival, and admission is free. You’ll be able to enjoy lots of the region’s famously delicious barbecue, carnival rides, Kansas City Chiefs football watch parties, live music, face painting, pony rides, a silent disco, and plenty of food with lots of fall flavor.

Official Website
Dates: October 13-15, 2023

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival - Stowe, Vermont Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival
Credit: Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival by Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival - Stowe, Vermont

The Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is just what it sounds like, a festival focused on “chuckin’ pumpkins.” Taking place in October, competitors gather at Stowe Events Field in Stowe with their DIY trebuchets to see who can chuck one the farthest. It takes place when the colors of fall are splashed across the surrounding forested landscape and also includes a craft fair, activities for kids, a chili cook-off, food trucks with items like tacos and pizza, and live music. It’s not only fun, it’s for a good cause with funds raised going to support ending domestic and sexual violence. As it draws around 1,000 visitors every year, if you need accommodation, be sure to book in advance.

Official Website
Dates: October 1, 2023

Maine Harvest Festival - Bangor, Maine Maine Harvest Festival
Credit: Maine Harvest Festival by Maine Harvest Festival

Maine Harvest Festival - Bangor, Maine

The Maine Harvest Festival takes place a bit later in the season as compared to most, celebrating the harvests of hundreds of local farmers and artisans who created handcrafted goods throughout the region. It’s held in mid-November, bringing chefs, distilleries, and wineries who show off their highest-quality products. Stephen King fans will want to explore beyond, too as his spine-chilling novel IT was inspired by Bangor, his hometown.

Official Website
Dates: November 18-19, 2023

Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival - Jackson, Wyoming Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival
Credit: Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival by Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival - Jackson, Wyoming

There are many reasons to enjoy a fall getaway in Jackson Hole, including the abundant wildlife, breathtaking autumn hues, and miles of hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park. For the most unforgettable escape, plan your visit around the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, one of the premier cultural festivals in the Rocky Mountains. It takes place just before the official start of fall, bringing events like the Jackson Hole QuickDraw & Auction when internationally recognized Western, wildlife, and landscape artists head to the Town Square to create incredible works of art in 90 minutes. Their finished pieces go to auction, held right on the Town Square. Afterward, stick around for a while to enjoy the many other fall delights.

Official Website
Dates: September 6-17, 2023

Cambria Scarecrow Festival - Cambria, California Cambria Scarecrow Festival
Credit: Cambria Scarecrow Festival by Cambria Scarecrow Festival

Cambria Scarecrow Festival - Cambria, California

The unique Cambria Scarecrow Festival is hosted throughout the seaside villages of Harmony, San Simeon, and Cambria on the Central California coast. It kicks off on October 1st every year when hundreds of whimsical and very imaginative scarecrows can be seen lining the streets, lingering through October 31. The conclusion brings the Salute to Scarecrow party for a fun Halloween night of costumes, music, wine, and food.

Official Website
Dates: October 1-31, 2023

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