More than 100 authors, illustrators, and poets will be part of the Festival weekend focusing on “Books That Shaped the World.” Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more reading-related activities. In 2012, over 200,000 people attended over the two days of the event.
If you were following KFDC last year, you might remember this is where Owen got to meet and interview one his favorite authors, Mary Pope Osborne, who writes the oh-so-popular Magic Treehouse series. And while that was a special opportunity, it really is possible to meet many celebs of the book world, even exchange some words with them.
Several pavilions will be set up throughout the Festival where visitors can enjoy a variety of activities and entertainment set up by book category — Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life, Poetry & Prose, Graphic Novels & Science Fiction — as well as special programs. The Pavilion of the States salutes the literary traditions of all 50 states, the Library of Congress Pavilion provides an inside look into the workings of the world’s largest library, and a Book Sales Pavilion gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors. The Let’s Read America Pavilion offers lots of activities for children and families to enjoy, including story time, live entertainment, and arts & crafts.
If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there (Owen author Kevin Henkes, creator of the How Do Dinosaurs… series Mark Teague, and Smash Crash author Jon Scieszka are among the children’s book writers). And there’s bound to be a writer — or many — that you parents will be excited about, too. I know there are several on the list that I can’t wait to see. Have a look for yourself and start planning your Festival weekend.
The National Book Festival will will be held on the National Mall between 9th and 14th streets on Saturday, September 21, from 10am to 5:30pm and on Sunday, September 22, from 12pm to 5:30pm, rain or shine. The event is free and open to the public.
The corn maze at Montpelier Farm is, in a word, EPIC
There are so many things to love about fall, crisp weather, the brilliant colors of foliage, and football (for many) among them. And then there are the festivals, celebrating everything from the season to city neighborhoods to farm harvests to medieval times. Here’s where you can join the autumn fun all throughout the area over the next couple of months. (And if this list looks familiar, that’s because it’s from last year, but with updated dates and details.) Happy Fall!
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, Md.
When: Weekends through October 20
Admission: Thru 9/17: $17/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15. 9/22-10/21: $22/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15. Free for ages 6 and under.
Take a day trip back to medieval times at Renn Fest. Besides the amazing variety of entertainment — jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters and sword swallowers, juggling acts, Celtic music, and much more — walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in puffy shirts in a 16th-century village as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of mead is an interesting little jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy (well, maybe not the mead). Get a little more background on the event here and here, both previous posts about my love of Ren Fest.
Montpelier Farms Fall Festival Where: Upper Marlboro, Md When: September 7 – November 3, Fridays 5-11pm, Saturdays 10am – 11pm, Sundays 11am – 7pm Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, $8/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under
Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, and more. A tip based on our experience last year: Do not, I repeat, do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.
Adams Morgan Day Festival Where: 18th Street NW, between Columbia and Florida Avenues When: September 8 Admission: Free
Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse community. The 35th Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival offers a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. Arts on Belmont will feature original artisans and a variety of art mediums. And various stages throughout the neighborhood will showcase local live entertainment that all ages can enjoy. Details and the schedule of performances are available on the festival website.
Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends Where: Markham, VA When: September 2 – October 22 Admission: $10/ages 3 and up, free for ages 2 and under
The website promises a wonderful farm experience, and from the looks of it, they’ll make good on it. The long list of amusement includes hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). The apple picking also comes highly recommended.
Fall Weekends at Clark’s Elioak Farm Where: Ellicott City, Md. When: Ongoing; Pumpkin patch open September 21 – November 3, 10am – 5pm daily Admission: $5, babies 1 and under are free
This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds spattered with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and more. On fall weekends, guests can also enjoy special activities like pumpkin coloring and crafts, a teddy bear visit, a reptile show, and gem mining. Face painting and pit beef are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ticonderoga Farm Fall Pumpkin Festival Where: Chantilly, VA When: September 21 – November 3, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $8.95/weekdays, $14.95 or $16.95/holiday and weekends
This festival has all the trappings for a fun on the farm: hayrides, swings, Noah’s Ark playground, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more (seriously, see the entire list here). The Cow Pow Train, Jump and Bounce Pillow, face painting, and some children’s games are available weekends only, but there’s obviously plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week. For a peek at it all, see this post about their Winter Festival.
H Street Festival Where: H Street NE When: September 21, 12-7pm Admission: Free
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving corridor is always a big one. If you don’t mind crowds, there is a lot to see and do. The event features lots of live entertainment, including a kids stage; art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is guaranteed to be difficult.
Celebrate 17th Street Where: 17th Street NW, from Riggs Place to P Street When: September 14, 12-6pm Admission: Free
This free event celebrates the 17th Street Corridor and surrounding community with musical performances throughout the afternoon, artist vendors, a pet zone, a kids zone, exposure for non-profit groups, and appearances by city officials to celebrate the community and businesses.
Cox Farms Fall Festival Where: Centreville, VA When: September 28 – November 5, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $9/weekdays, $14/weekends, $17 prime weekend for ages 2 and up
This festival is huge. So big that they actually have a Tips & Resources page on the website to help guests prepare and navigate their way around the sprawling venue that contains five slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and more. It’s a blast, especially the giant slide that takes you swooping down several humps over a hillside. (I know firsthand because parents can enjoy many of the festival activities just as much as kids.) There is also a Kiddie Zone, especially for little ones aged 5 and under.
Barracks Row Fall Festival Where: 8th Street SE, Capitol Hill When: September 28, 11am – 5pm Admission: Free
Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy tours of the historic barracks, live entertainment, a petting zoo, food and art vendors, and tons of fun for kids (clowns, magicians, face painting, and more). The DC State Fair joins Barracks Row Fall Festival again, this year showcasing unique categories: Funkiest-Looking Vegetable Grown in DC, Best Home Brew, Best Bike Accessory, Best Pie, and more.
Butler’s Orchards 32nd Annual Pumpkin Festival Where: Germantown, Md When: Saturdays & Sundays September 28 – October 26, 10am – 5pm Admission: $10, free for children 2 and under
Kids will love jumping in the hayloft, hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food costs extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!
SW ArtsFest Where: Southwest DC (several venues) When: September 28 Admission: Free
This annual celebration will highlight art and culture in Washington’s smallest quadrant, Southwest. The lineup of festivities will include a central art market, music, dance, film screenings, walking tours, and more. Find more details here.
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival Where: Great Country Farms When: September 28 – October 31, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $10/adults $8/kids weekdays, $12/adult $10/kids weekends, ages 2 and under are free
Great Country is known for it’s awesome festivals, and the Pumpkion Harvest is sure to be no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a schedule of activities here.
Marker-Miller Orchards – Multiple Festivals Where: Winchester, VA When: Several weekends in September and October Admission: Free
There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with three different festivals taking place. It starts with the Fall Farm Fun Festival September 28-29, which will include apple-picking, wagon rides, a cow train, and music. Next is the Apple Harvest Festival October 12-13 offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. Finally, October 26 is the Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.
20th Annual Fall For Fairfax KidFest Where: Fairfax County Government Center When: October 5, 10am – 7pm & October 6, 10am – 5pm Admission: Free
This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, entertainment and activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee.
Frederick’s Oktoberfest Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds When: September 28, 11am – 10pm & September 29, 11am – 6pm Admission: $5, free for ages 2 and under
The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, musical entertainment, and they claim they have a few more tricks up their sleeves just to keep everyone surprised. (See a schedule of kids activities here. This all benefits Frederick County charities.
Columbia Heights Day Festival Where: Harriet Tubman Elementary School Field When: October 5, 10am – 6pm Admission: Free
The neighborhood’s 7th annual festival will celebrate the season and the community. There will family activities, live entertainment, local artists and vendors, food, and fun. More detailsand the schedule of events is available here.
Homestead Farm Fall Festival Where: Poolesville, Md When: October – exact dates TBD Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities
While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! Of course, you still pay for pumpkins and cider. And can’t-miss caramel apples.
I love Ren Fest. Make that, love love LOVE it. No, I’m not one of the hardcore who dresses up and speaks in the vernacular (though I am considering going in garb this year), but I love mingling among them, admiring their elaborate period attire, listening to the delightful sound of their antiquated dialect, and watching them portray life as it was in the 16th century.
Then there’s the faire itself, which abounds with activity and entertainment that appeals to a range of ages and sensibilities. In my opinion, one can’t not like Ren Fest. (Yes, I feel so strongly about it that I used the double negative.) And for the record, my kids are just as enchanted by the medieval magic.
Anyone who’s been reading my blog for awhile likely knows this already. I’ve written about Ren Fest several times over the years and have recommended it in Weekend Round-Ups even more. So, for background on this must-go event, see this post and this one. And for a peek at what to expect and tips on making the most of the experience, see this one recapping a visit there last year.
Here’s the best part: The 2013 Maryland Renaissance Festival begins THIS weekend, August 24-25, and it will run every weekend through October 20. It’s open rain or shine from 10am – 7pm. Admission from August 24 – September 17 is $17/adults, $15/seniors, $8/ages 7-15, free for 6 and under. From September 21 – October 20, it’s $22/adults, $19/seniors, $10/ages 7-15.
*Some dates to note:
– This weekend, August 24-25 is Children’s Weekend, when all kids ages 11 and under get in for FREE!
– September 7-8 is Pirate Weekend when all are encouraged to dress in their pirate best, and you can enjoy the music of The Pyrates Royale, The Rambling Sailors, and more.
– September 21-22 is a Scottish Celebration.
– October 5-6 is an Irish Celebration.
– October 19-20 is a Jousting Competition.