The Best Fall Harvest Festivals Across the United States
Ah, fall. A time for changing leaves, cooler temperatures, back to school, and pumpkin spice everything. Even if you graduated school a while ago, there’s just something about autumn that feels like the perfect time to start a new routine. One thing you should definitely put on the agenda? Fall festivals.
There’s more to celebrating fall than visiting a pumpkin patch and getting lost in a corn maze. Depending on where you live in the country, fall is the perfect time of year to find unique, seasonally themed fall festivals that are catered to your interests.
So grab your hot apple cider and your plaid flannel shirt – it’s time to discover the best fall festivals across the United States.
1. National Apple Harvest
- When: October 6-7 & 13-14, 2018
- Where: Arendtsville, Pennsylvania
It’s not just pumpkins in the fall – it’s also time to harvest apples. The National Apple Harvest takes place right outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Festival attendees can participate in all kinds of apple-themed activities such as bobbing for apples, noshing on apple dumplings and other treats, and picking their own apples to take home. There’s also entertainment like Native American dancers and live music.
Next: Harvest on the Harbor
2. Harvest on the Harbor
- When: October 16-21, 2018
- Where: Portland, Maine
Driving through New England to do some leaf peeping? Then you’ll want to detour north for Maine’s incredible Harvest on the Harbor. The four-day festival kicks off in mid-October and draws a crowd of 5,000 to Portland. There you’ll find some of the state’s finest foods like locally sourced seafood, beer, and wine. There are even competitions such as “Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant and “Lobster Chef of the Year.”
Next: Bourbon and Brewfest
3. Bourbon and Brewfest
- When: October 13, 2018
- Where: Bowling Green, Kentucky
It’s amazing how well bourbon, beer, and the advent of fall go together. Drive an hour north of Nashville and you’ll find one of Kentucky’s best autumn festivals, where you can enjoy select craft brews from the region, hand-picked Kentucky bourbons, live entertainment, food vendors, free rides and much more. Don’t miss out on Bowling Green’s own White Squirrel Brewery along with way too many other quality vendors to mention.
Next: Leavenworth Oktoberfest
4. Leavenworth Oktoberfest
- When: October 5-6, 12-13, and 19-20, 2018
- Where: Leavenworth, Washington
Always wanted to visit an Oktoberfest celebration in Germany? Save yourself a plane ticket and head to an authentic United States version instead. This lively German-themed fall festival offers themed activities, delicious food options, and live music, all in a Bavarian town setting.
Next: Wellfleet OysterFest
5. Wellfleet OysterFest
- When: October 13-14
- Where: Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Celebrate shellfish in Cape Cod! This festival allows fishermen to show off their finest catches such as seafood chowder, clams, and of course delicious oysters. There are also artisans showing off their crafts.
One thing you don’t want to miss? The annual shuck-off. That’s when competitors are given 24 oysters to shuck in the fasted time with the best outcome (no broken shells or sliced fingers). The best shucker so far can perform the task in under two minutes.
Next: Wine and Chile Fiesta
6. Wine and Chile Fiesta
- When: September 23-30, 2018
- Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta isn’t all spicy, but it is a lot of fun. This five-day festival runs on tradition and highlights 75 of the city’s best restaurants in a whirlwind of cooking demos, wine tastings, and special luncheons and dinners. The whole thing ends on a high note at the Santa Fe Opera House where you can sample small bites from 75 local restaurants and 100 national wineries.
Next: Trailing of the Sheep Festival
7. Trailing of the Sheep Festival
- When: October 10-14, 2018
- Where: Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey, Idaho
It’s not just about pumpkins. It’s also about… sheep?
This highly unique festival seeks to preserve sheep ranching and herding tradition by providing an amazing event unlike any you’ve seen before. At Trailing of the Sheep, you’ll find delicious culinary creations, wool wares for purchase, cooking classes, a sheep parade, and live music. Watch in wonder as the hills fill with sheep during this tight-knit, extraordinary event.
Next: New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
8. New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
- When: October 12-13, 2018
- Where: Laconia, New Hampshire
No list of fall festivals would be complete without a pumpkin-centric one. This October weekend extravaganza attracts more than 40,000 visitors who come for the breathtaking 34-foot jack-o’-lantern tower. There’s also food and craft vendors, live bands, a beer garden, horse-drawn hay rides, pumpkin carving, kiddie rides, pumpkin bowling, and so much more to see and do.
Next: Adirondack Balloon Festival
9. Adirondack Balloon Festival
- When: September 20-23, 2018
- Where: Glen Falls, New York
Whether you have the opportunity to ride in a hot air balloon or not, watching them all ascend is truly a sight to behold. This not-for-profit event is celebrating its 46th year and is free for all to enjoy. It’s great for kids of all ages who want to experience a bit of magic in the air.
Next: Sonoma County Harvest Fair
10. Sonoma County Harvest Fair
- When: October 6-7, 2018
- Where: Sonoma, California
Did someone say wine? This festival highlights some of the best with winery competitions, a World Championship Grape Stomp, cow-milking contests, and so many other fall-themed events. People come from all over for the food, wine, and world-class entertainment.
Next: North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival
11. North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival
- When: October 26-November 3, 2018
- Where: Whiteville, North Carolina
Do you know where your pecans come from? Autumn isn’t just for pumpkins and squash – it’s also harvest time for pecans, and Whiteville is one of the top producers in the state. Take part in the festivities with parades, musical entertainment, and house tours along with plenty of scrumptious pecan-themed food sampling.
Next: Warrens Cranberry Festival
12. Warrens Cranberry Festival
- When: September 28-30, 2018
- Where: Warrens, Wisconsin
You’ve found it: the world’s largest cranberry festival happens every year in Warrens, drawing crowds exceeding 100,000 visitors. While you’re there, experience marsh tours, shopping, crafts, contests, a parade, and plenty of cranberry seasonal treats.
Next: Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello
13. Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello
- When: September 22, 2018
- Where: Monticello, Virginia
Thomas Jefferson was considered the nation’s first foodie, and this festival at his former residence fully honors that distinction. Enjoy garden tours, gourmet tastings, chef demos, gardening lessons, a petting zoo, and much more while you’re there.
Next: Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival
14. Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival
- When: September 30, 2018
- Where: Stowe, Vermont
The fine art of chucking pumpkins has skyrocketed in popularity during recent years. At this event, there are three rounds of competitive pumpkin chucking, which involves contestants launching the pumpkins using trebuchets. There’s also music, a chili cook-off, a cornhole tournament, and kids activities.
Next: Scarecrow Festival
15. Scarecrow Festival
- When: October 5-7, 2018
- Where: St. Charles, Illinois
You and the kids can enjoy live music, homemade artisan dishes, a craft show, carnival, and a petting zoo all while walking around and picking your favorite hand-painted scarecrow. The event offers free admission and is a treat for all ages.
Next: Madison County Covered Bridge Festival
16. Madison County Covered Bridge Festival
- When: October 14-15, 2018
- Where: Winterset, Iowa
This festival pays homage to the famed bridges of Madison County with a parade, quilt show, arts and crafts vendors, games, and live entertainment. It’s like a history lesson with a generous side of fun.