Autumn brings a cornucopia of celebrations across the nation, from harvest fetes to Oktoberfests. Most festivals were canceled last year due to COVID-19, so expect extra jubilation now that they’re back. With the pandemic remaining unpredictable, however, it’s still wise to check on updates before making travel plans, and to buy tickets online in advance to avoid disappointment at sold-out events. Here are inviting options to suit various interests.

  • LIST
  • |
  • 9Photos
  • item 1 of Gallery image Oktoberfest Zinzinatti PHOTO BY: Brian Douglas Stills Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Cincinnati, Ohio; Sept. 16-19 With Munich canceling its iconic Oktoberfest this year, Cincinnati is laying temporary claim to the title of world’s largest celebration of German beer, food and music. Established in 1976 to celebrate the German heritage of southwest Ohio, the event now can attract more than 500,000 revelers downtown enjoying brews in a beer garden, oompah bands and bratwurst, sauerkraut balls, soft pretzels and pickled pig’s feet. Not to be missed: The Running of the Wieners, featuring dachshunds sandwiched between large buns.
  • item 2 of Gallery image The Beatles displayed on pumpkin at the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular PHOTO BY: Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Providence, R.I.; Sept. 30-Oct. 31 When night falls, amble past more than 5,000 carved and painted pumpkins aglow on the Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Wetlands Trail. This year’s Spectacular theme: musical hits over the last 150 years, from ragtime to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop. Pumpkins will depict artists, instruments and music genres as a soundtrack plays. The trail (adult tickets $17-$21) takes about 45 minutes to traverse and is wheelchair accessible. The adventurous get a bird’s-eye view of the display on a zip line. Event tickets must be bought in advance online.  
  • item 3 of Gallery image International Balloon Fiesta PHOTO BY: MHLAIBF2017 International Balloon Fiesta Albuquerque, N.M.; Oct. 2-10 For nine days in the desert, hundreds of thousands of attendees watch competitors fly up, up and away in more than 500 multicolored hot air and gas-filled balloons at this famed annual event. Competitions include the grueling America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race that can finish as far away as Canada and contests where balloonists attempt to drop markers on targets. Photographers love the 7 a.m. mass ascensions and evening balloon glows, with tethered aircraft lighted from inside. Days end with fireworks. Scope out team skydiving, chainsaw carving exhibitions and musical acts. Or book a ride in a balloon.
  • item 4 of Gallery image bottles of apple cider PHOTO BY: The National Apple Harvest Festival The National Apple Harvest Festival Biglerville, Pa.; Oct. 2-3 and 9-10 A costumed Johnny Appleseed will stride among 300 booths at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in tiny Biglerville, about 10 miles north of Gettysburg in south-central Pennsylvania. At this celebration of all things apple, meander past food and crafts booths on Candy Apple Lane, Macintosh Circle, Cider Press Alley and Apple Butter Way. Bite into apple pie, strudel and fritters. Then take an orchard tour, view vintage cars or go on a hayride. Tickets are $9 for those 60 and older; $10 ages 12-59.
  • item 5 of Gallery image Trailing of the Sheep PHOTO BY: Carol Wallet Trailing of the Sheep Festival Sun Valley, Idaho; Oct. 6-10 Talk about counting sheep! Follow 1,500 ewes and rams trotting down Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho, on the way to winter pastures during this annual tribute to the area’s sheep ranchers and herders and their history. Watch sheepdog trials, learn to make woolly little lambs and hear tales about Western sheep-raising traditions. For the Love of Lamb offers samples from area restaurants for $20. A folklife fair includes demonstrations of sheep shearing, displays of sheepherders’ wagons, and dances of the Basque, Scottish and Peruvian immigrants who shepherded the region’s rich culture.
  • item 6 of Gallery image Fall for Greenville PHOTO BY: CHELSEY ASHFORD/City of Greenville Fall for Greenville Greenville, S.C.; Oct. 8-10 This small city is making big waves in the food world. Taste why as more than 40 eateries, some with James Beard Award-nominated chefs, dish out samples at booths up and down Main Street at this fantastic culinary festival. Unlike at many foodie fests, there’s no admission fee, and most dishes cost $3-$6. Restaurants vie for the Silver Spoon, awarded to the best savory offering, and the Sugary Spoon for outstanding dessert. This year’s 250 entries include maple bacon funnel cake and octopus lollipop with lemon sauce. Two dozen regional craft breweries and more than 60 musical acts also are on tap.
  • item 7 of Gallery image Rocking horse PHOTO BY: Oscar Pallares St. Charles Scarecrow Festival St. Charles, Ill.; Oct. 8-10 Pared down by the pandemic last year, this homage to handcrafted straw men and women west of Chicago is retaking the field in full force. A “Scarecrow Stroll” guides visitors past 100 bird deterrents placed in front of businesses. Vote for your favorite or apply to create your own. Pumpkin carving and crafts also are draws for the crowds (more than 70,000 have flocked here in peak years). Take home a “Scarecrow in a Box” kit assembled by Boy Scout Troop 60.
  • item 8 of Gallery image table of diners at the San Diego Food & Wine Festival PHOTO BY: Edgar Lima Garrido San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival San Diego; Nov. 11-14 Winemakers, restaurant sommeliers, craft cocktail mixologists, brewery reps and cookbook authors congregate at this spirited celebration. The Nov. 12 Grand Decant (tickets from $75) spotlights 500 wines from 200 domestic and international wineries, while experts give lessons in making creative quaffs. Local chefs compete for the title of “most awesome taco” on Nov. 14. Sip tequila while voting for your favorite. Will mahi-mahi take down pork belly?
  • item 9 of Gallery image Two women displaying mugs a the Old World Market PHOTO BY: Rachel Hershberger Christmas Market Elkhart Lake, Wis.; Dec. 3-12 Europe’s famed pre-Christmas celebrations of crafts and culture have spawned a number of American Yule markets. Among the more charming: Old World Christmas Market, celebrating its 23rd year in 2021, in this tranquil village an hour’s drive north of Milwaukee, in a heated tent the length of a football field at the Osthoff Resort. White lights twinkle and the scents of grilled bratwurst and hot mulled wine perfume the air. Craftspeople from across the Atlantic sell German carved nutcrackers, Russian nesting dolls and Czech blown-glass ornaments. Adult admission is $7; children 14 and under enter free with a paying adult.

Comments are closed