Fall is right around the corner, and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it, celebrating everything from the season to neighborhoods to medieval times. Enjoy local art and culture, pick pumpkins and take a hayride on the farm, eat turkey legs with characters straight out of the 16th century. Most of the hoopla begins in a couple weeks, but you can start planning now with this list of fall festivals. (And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the National Book Festival — I’ll post details for that soon — but if there are any other good ones I’ve missed, feel free to let me know in the comments.)
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, Md.
When: Weekends through October 21
Admission: Thru 9/16: $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 1 – November 4, 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, corn maze, animals, hill slides, and plenty more. And right now, you can get it all at a discount with this LivingSocial deal: Get four general admission tickets for $20!
Adams Morgan Day Festival
Where: 18th Street NW, between Columbia and Florida Avenues
When: September 9
Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. The 34th 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. The Green Pavilion will house eco-friendly wares and vendors. The Health & Fitness Pavilion will showcase clinic and hospital services, holistic and exercise regimens, and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Little ones will love the Kids Fair at the Marie Reed School field with loads of games, bounces, face painting. Details and the schedule of performances are available on the festival website.
Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends
Where: Markham, VA
When: September 8 – October 28
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 is open September 24 – November 6, 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 scattered 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 15 – November 4, 9am – 6pm daily
Admission: $8.95/weekdays, $14.95/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.
H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE
When: September 15, 12-7pm
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving corridor has lots to celebrate this year — the completion of the streetscape project, the opening of many new businesses along the corridor, and the survival of the businesses that have been part of the community for years. The event will feature live entertainment on five stages, 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.
Celebrate 17th Street
Where: 17th Street NW, from Riggs Place to P Street
When: September 22, 12-6pm
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 22-23, September 29 – October 31, 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. (That’s right, 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 22, 11am – 5pm
Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. This years details will be available soon, but we can likely count on 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). And chefs from all branches of the military will be back again for a Military Culinary Competition. Check their website soon for updated info.
Butler’s Orchards 32nd Annual Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, Md
When: Saturdays & Sundays September 29 – October 28, 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!
Where: Southwest DC (several venues)
When: September 29
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.
Great Country Farms Fall Harvest Festival
Where: Bluemont, VA
When: September 29 – October 28, 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 Fall 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
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 22-23, which will include apple-picking, wagon rides, a cow train, and music. Next is the Apple Harvest Festival October 6-7 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 27 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: September 29, 10am – 7pm & September 30, 10am – 5pm
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.
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds
When: September 29, 11am – 10pm & September 30, 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 6, 11am – 3pm
The neighborhood’s 6th annual festival will celebrates the season and the community. There will family activities, live entertainment, local artists and vendors, food, and fun. Check back for more details soon.
Larriland Farm Fall Festival
Where: Woodbine, MD
When: All through October, Weekdays 9am – 6pm, Weekends 9am – 5pm,
Admission: Free, but there may be fees for some activities
Enjoy the changing colors of the season as you select a pumpkin, pick apples from the orchard, take a hayride (weekends only), and find your way through a straw maze. Kids ages 4-9 can play in the Boo Barn filled with animated (but not too scary) ghosts and goblins.
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 caramel apples.