Autumn delight at Clarke’s Elioak Farm
Fall is right around the corner, and so are the many festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to art to historic times. You can have a blast on a farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst gorgeous autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date (and mostly reprised/updated from previous years — I’ve been posting fall fest round-ups for a decade!), will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 24
Admission: Thru 9/12: $21/age 16+, $11/age 7-15
9/14-10/20: $28/age 16+, $13/age 7-15 | free/6 & under
This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century tudor village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Huzzah!
Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under
September may mean back to school for many, but at Great Country it means back to the farm for freshly pressed cider and apple picking. You can celebrate it with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in our 12-acre play area, and some educational fun in the What’s Regenerative Agriculture Corn Maze. As you meander the paths, learn about how the deep roots in the soil can keep the farm’s food and environment as healthy as possible. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races, and cider pressing demos, too!
Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 7
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 adorned 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 even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: September 3 – October 31
Admission: $11/weekdays, $15-17/weekends, free/2 & under
Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD, with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more. Dates to note: September 11-12: Military and First Responders Appreciation Weekend | September 18-19: Touch a Tractor | September 25-26: Apple Harvest Festival | October 1-31: Pumpkin Harvest Festival.
Where: NoMa, DC
When: September 8-18
For six days, this international mural festival brings together local, national, international artists for a 10-day outdoor festival to create larger than life works of art. The goal is to “make the city a brighter and more vibrant place, while sharing art and creativity from around the world.” Find wall locations on this Google Map to see works in progress, and plan to join the family-friendly opening event at Alethia Tanner Park (227 Harry Thomas Way NE) on September 12 from 12-4pm.
Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 11, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee
The 45th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations. This year’s event also includes a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic inside the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). Fairfax Health will offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer Vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up from 11am – 4pm.
Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 12, 12-6pm
Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.
National Dance Day Festival
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 16-18
Celebrate the joy of dance and movement at the Kennedy Center! Head to The REACH plaza for the 12th year of the National Dance Day Festival which includes free performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more from local organizations.
National Book Festival
When: September 17-26
This may be the event that I’m most bummed won’t be back in person this year, but it’s one that definitely warrants inclusion here. The Library of Congress’ wonderful annual National Book Fest will be virtual, but offering an extended 10 days of book-related events and opportunities onlines. Audiences are encouraged to create their own festival experience during the “Open a Book, Open the World”-themed event. Over 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be participating — view the list of them here.
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. This year’s Sunflower Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field will be open September 17-26 (closed Monday). Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.
H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 18, 12-7pm
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is returning! This one is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do. In past years, the event has featured loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.
Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 18-19, September 25 – November 7
Admission: $7-20 depending on dates
This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling grounds that contain multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and much more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.
Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 18-19
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under
At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as experts demonstrate period crafting techniques. And you can see General Washington in the General’s Tent. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!
Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 18 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under
Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. Some of the festivities are add-ons, so plan to spend extra. They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the big corn maze. It’s EPIC.
Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $35-40 for the 5k
Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. There will be arts and crafts, pony rides, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!
Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 18 – Ocotber 31
Admission: $15.95-19.95/adult, $13.95-16.95/child, free/2 & under
The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups, and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more. It’s also a great place for a fall birthday party. Get $2 off Mon-Thurs admission after 2pm by subscribing to their email list!
Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 18 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$17.50, depending on time/day
With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 18-19
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under
Enjoy a fabulous weekend of the visual and performing arts with 160+ artists booths, 35 performers on four stages, activities for kids, great food, wine & beer, and much more. Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the 30 acre sculpture garden, explore the excitement of the Tent Circle and the Arts Building, then wander the shady Wooded Path to find artists and activities nestled in the beautiful woods. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.
Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Weekends September 24 – October 31
The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more! Note: They are now offering Farm Fun Fridays with hours 1-6pm.
Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $28/child, $6/adult
Celebrate the season and have fun at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the whole fam for all kinds of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, a learning maze, bouncy fun, and more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions on weekends. Visits will be offered in 90-minute sessions.
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 25
This free neighborhood festival is organized by and for the residents of Petworth, but all are welcome to enjoy. Celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods, festivities include Petworth history storytelling, live music and performers, kids activities, tasty food, and a dog show. View the schedule here.
PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 25 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under
The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.
Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 25 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $8/Friday, $10/weekends
Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and note that only pumpkin picking and pony rides are available Monday – Friday.
Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 25-26
Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 50th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.
Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, September 25 – October 31
Admission: $10-15/weekdays, $12-17/weekends
Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on 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 cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)
Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under
Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Oinkintucky Derby pig races; a cow train; wagon rides to pick pumpkins; five mazes; big slides; rope swings; tractor rides; and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, one of the largest u-pick patches in the area. See allllll of the many activities 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! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $8/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under
The Frederick Fairgrounds once again will be 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, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 2
It’s that time of yea… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your dachshund, and head to The Wharf to celebrate Oktoberfest! Join a day of German-inspired food and specials at the many riverside restaurants and shops. There will be food and drink specials to enjoy — more deets to come soon!
Oktoberfest: Battle of the Polka Bands
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 2, 1-5pm
Break out your lederhosen and dirndls and head to The Boro to celebrate Oktoberfest featuring a Battle of the Polka Bands! This unique, family-friendly fete will feature a battle of the bands-style competition where traditional and modern polka groups will go head-to-head to be crowned the fan favorite! Guests of all ages are invited to take part in even more themed activities, like photo booths, craft stations, and a variety of outdoor games located all around the park.
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 3, 11am – 7pm
The American Turkish Association of Washington, DC, is bringing Aegean Türkiye to the District. Join them on District Pier for the free Turkish Festival with a theme this year of Turkaegean, meaning Coast of Happiness. The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, fortune telling, cultural events and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 2, 2-6pm
Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 60 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day. RSVP if you’re planning on going!
Art on the Avenue
Where:Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 2, 10am – 6pm
Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Numerous artists — jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians — will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival — there will be crafts especially for young festival-goers to enjoy and take home. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.
College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 9, 12-6pm
Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family. Details for 2021 are still to come, but past years have included live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, a variety of performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and much more.
Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 9-10
All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District is transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation. “Art Fair Sourcebook” and “Sunshine Artists” have recognized the event as one the most important in the country, and over 45,000 attendees agree! In the past there has been a Kids’ Tent with art activities especially for them, but it remains to be seen if that will return this year (will share updates!).
Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 9-10 & 23
There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 9-10, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: multiple varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 23 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.
Kids Euro Festival
Where: Venues around the District
When: October 9 & 16
You don’t have to cross the pond to enjoy European entertainment! Consider your passport to continental entertainment as the 14th Annual Kids Euro Festival brings art and cultural events right to DC. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the exciting acts that perform, Usually in-person over several weeks, the festival is modified this year due to Covid. There will only be two Family Days on October 9 & 16 featuring live acts and activities hosted by performers from a variety of EU Member States! You can enjoy even more online.
Where: 8th Street SE |Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 23
There’s no Barracks Row Festival this year; instead, you can support local 8th Street SE businesses this October, Munich-style. Join for a day of live music from a traditional Oompah band and more fun. To keep neighbors safe and adhere to social distancing recommendations, they won’t be closing down the street or having outside vendors.
Pumpkins in the Park
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 30
The 8th Annual Pumpkins in the Park is back. The middle block of Canal Park will be transformed into the neighborhood’s very own pumpkin patch as the community is invited to pick their pumpkin in a safe, socially-distanced fashion (no more than 15 people in the pumpkin patch at one time) while supplies last. After selecting your pumpkin and enjoying live music, free take-home decorating kits will be available (also while supplies last), so that you can make your pumpkins your own.
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too. More details available soon!
Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!
An early Cox Farms visit … this little guy now measures up to FARM!