From hot air balloons to pumpkins flying through the air and sheep parading through the streets to more traditional fall fun, such as corn mazes and Oktoberfests, these 11 fall festivals across the USA offer plenty of family fun.
Fun Fall Festivals
Leaves clothed in brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange dance in the crisp cool breeze. Pumpkins are ready for picking. Amusing scarecrows are popping up everywhere. Wagons loaded with bales of hay standby for hayrides. And family-friendly fall festivals are kicking off around the United States in celebration of one of the most colorful seasons of the year.
What’s not to love about pumpkins, corn mazes and scarecrows? With summer behind us and fall on the way, it’s time to celebrate. We’ve got the scoop on 11 of the best fall festivals across the country. Get ready for candied apples and pumpkin chucking—it’s fun for the whole family!
- Duluth Fall Festival: Duluth, Georgia, September 28-29
- National Apple Harvest Festival: Arendtsville, Pennsylvania, October 5-6 & 12-13.
- Oktoberfest: Leavenworth, Washington, October 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19
- Harvest Fair: Santa Rosa, California, October 4-5
- Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival: Miami, Florida, October 26-27
- The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: Croton-on-the-Hudson, New York, September-November
- Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 5-13
- Trailing of the Sheep: Sun Valley, Ketchum & Hailey, Idaho, October 9-13
- Nantucket Cranberry Festival: Nantucket, Massachusetts, October 12
- World Championship Punkin Chunkin: Rantoul, Illinois, November 1-3
- Skelly’s Farm Market Fall Festival: Janesville, Wisconsin, September-October
Duluth Fall Festival: Duluth, Georgia
Dating back more than 50 years, the Duluth Fall Festival brings live music to two entertainment stages. There’s also a full-fledged carnival with rides like the Dizzy Dragon, a Ferris wheel and the Rio Grande Train Ride. This town-wide annual event kicks off with the Duluth Donut Dash 5K. More than 375 vendors showcase local handicrafts and plenty of delicious local foods. Carnival dates: September 26-29; Festival dates: September 28-29.
National Apple Harvest Festival: Arendtsville, Pennsylvania
Located in the heart of Pennsylvania Apple country, just a few miles from historic Gettysburg, the National Apple Harvest Festival has been celebrating fall and apples for more than 50 years. Held over two weekends at the South Mountain Fairgrounds, the festival includes live music, puppets, face painting, a petting zoo, an antique auto show and more. You’ll find Topper the Clown strolling the grounds. The barbershop quartet, Past Time Harmonaires entertains with old fashioned tunes. And if you’re looking for a new craft, check out the chainsaw carving demos. Of course, there are apple pies, candied apples, apple jams and even an apple queen. October 5-6 & 12-13.
Oktoberfest: Leavenworth, Washington
No need to jet off to Germany for a taste of Oktoberfest. This Bavarian-style town in Washington State brings Oktoberfest to the United States. Held over three October weekends across four venues, Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest kicks off with an opening procession followed by the traditional Keg Tapping Ceremony by Leavenworth’s mayor. Plan on hanging around and checking out the live entertainment from local musical act Musikkapelle Leavenworth who will be joined by other musical groups from the US and Germany. Kids are welcome until 9 pm, after that it’s all about the grown-ups. October 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19.
Harvest Fair: Santa Rosa, California
Marking its 45th year, the Harvest Fair celebrates the other side of fall—the harvest. Held in Santa Rosa, this is a celebration of the bounty of Sonoma County. Award-winning food & wine share the spotlight with craft beers. What could be tastier?
There’s plenty of family fun too with cow-milking contests, a classic car show, a pumpkin patch and an apple slingshot. You can even make your own an EasyBake Pumpkin Pie. The KZST World Championship Grape Stomp Competition rounds out the weekend. October 4-5.
Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival: Miami, Florida
Florida might not have fall foliage, but that doesn’t stop the Sunshine State from celebrating the season with a pumpkin festival. Join the fall fun at the Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival where thousands of pumpkins await. Live shows, carnival rides, pumpkin decorating stations and a kid-friendly corn maze keep the whole family entertained. When you work up an appetite, head to the Pumpkin Food Court where you’ll find pumpkin funnel cake, pumpkin curry shish kabobs, mini pumpkin pies, and even pumpkin pizza. While the kids play, grown-ups can cool off with a cold one from one of the Pumpkin Beer Bars. October 26-27.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: Croton-on-the-Hudson, New York
More than 7,000 pumpkins are ablaze at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in New York’s historic Hudson Valley. Set in an 18th-century landscape, artfully hand-carved pumpkins are illuminated and displayed throughout the fall. Highlights for this year include the Headless Horseman, swooping jack o’lantern bats, a pumpkin carousel twirl and the pumpkin windmill whirl. There’s even a 25-foot-tall jack o’lantern Statue of Liberty. New this year is the Museum of Pumpkin Art where classic paintings take on a pumpkin likeness. It’s a dazzling display unlike anything you’ve ever seen. September 20-22; 26-29; October 3-31; November 1-3; 8-10; 15-17; 22-23; 29-30.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Each October for nine days, Albuquerque is home to the world’s largest hot air balloon festival as more than 500 balloons blanket the skies with thrilling displays of shapes and colors. Pilots take excited riders along the Rio Grande for a close dip called the “Splash and Dash” as well as toward Old Town Albuquerque. In addition to balloon rides, the festival features fly in competitions, fireworks and a music fiesta. October 5-13.
Trailing of the Sheep: Sun Valley, Ketchum & Hailey, Idaho
In perhaps one of the most unusual fall festivals, the towns of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, turn the annual relocation of livestock from the mountains to winter pastures into a celebration at Trailing of the Sheep. Here, the sheep are the main attraction as sheepherders lead the fluffy parade down Ketchum’s Main Street.
Led by sheep ranching families and herders, this cultural gem includes spinning and weaving demonstrations, music and dancing by traditional performers, local food and beverages and 80 vendors selling unique arts and crafts. At the Folklife Fair in Hailey, kids’ activities include Kids’ Fluff where the youngsters can explore fiber arts at their own level. October 9-13.
Nantucket Cranberry Festival: Nantucket, Massachusetts
In Nantucket, the fall colors aren’t only in the trees. Cranberry bogs roll out the red carpet for the 16th annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival. Learn about the history of cranberry farming. Grab some waders, get into the bog and help with the traditional wet harvest. Kids’ activities include sack races, face painting, tug of wars and a Berry Bouncing Machine. Sample tasty cranberry treats along with other New England classics as you enjoy the music and the spectacular fall foliage. October 12th.
World Championship Punkin Chunkin: Rantoul, Illinois
Need to see a pumpkin fly? Head to Rantoul, Illinois this November for the World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition. In existence since 1986, the Punkin Chunkin Championship moved to Illinois from Delaware this year, bringing with it all the flying pumpkin fun. Participants use homemade contraptions like air cannons, catapults and trebuchets, to hurl pumpkins through the air.
The event also includes a chili cookoff, live music, food vendors and fireworks. If you want to sleep close to the action, rustic campsites for RVs and tents are available. November 1-3.
Skelly’s Farm Market Fall Festival: Janesville, Wisconsin
For more than 100 years, the Skelly family has been farming the land in Janesville, Wisconsin. When fall arrives, they share the farm with the community at a festival that lasts from mid-September through Halloween. Offering all the best fall activities, there’s pumpkin picking, apple cannonballs, hayrides, an a-maze-ing obstacle course and the world’s first corn maze featuring Smartphone GPS.
There are two high-tech mazes to choose from. Ideal for families, the Adventure Maze is home to friendly scarecrows that help guide and share fun stories along the way. Older children and adults looking for the ultimate challenge can attempt the Impossible Maze—and here you just might need that GPS! Be sure to sample the apple cider donuts, pumpkin pies and all the other farmers market goodies on site. Mid-September – October 31.