Events

From pumpkins to balloons to live music, there is plenty to explore as autumn makes it arrival and the holidays and a new year near. 

Pumpkinfest in Franklin Tennessee (photo courtesy of Williamson Heritage)

OCTOBER

Seymour Oktoberfest | Sept. 29–Oct. 2, Seymour, IN
The 48th annual Seymour Oktoberfest delivers a lineup of family fun, with contests, music, great food, a biergarten and more. The brat-eating contest calls for hungry volunteers, while the 5K run and baby contest both draw hundreds of participants each year. As the weekend closes out, Oktoberfest is proud to support the community by giving back to area nonprofits. seymouroktoberfest.com

Fall Foliage Train Ride | Oct. 1–31, Nelsonville, OH
Climb aboard the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway for a two-hour tour to see the fall colors in southeast Ohio. On Thursdays and Fridays throughout October, extra train options are added in addition to the railway’s regular schedule, so more visitors have the chance to watch the falling leaves pass by. Cozy up inside the train or take in the scenery from an open-air car. hvsry.org

Apple Festival of Kendallville | Oct. 2–3, Kendallville, IN
Beginning in 1986, this festival quickly became a family favorite and draws an average of 70,000 visitors each year to the Noble County Fairgrounds. The event packs a punch with its large children’s area, demonstration buildings and Civil War encampment as it strives to entertain and educate visitors about American heritage. kendallvilleapplefestival.com

Autumn on Parade | Oct. 2–3, Oregon, IL
Visit beautiful downtown Oregon for the 50th anniversary of this annual fall festival. Named one of the best parades in northern Illinois, this festival also features live music, 180 homegrown and handmade goods in the famers market and craft show, a 5K run, tours of the historic Stronghold Castle and more. autumnonparade.org

Mountain State Forest Festival | Oct. 2–10, Elkins, WV
Celebrate the vibrant autumn colors during one of West Virginia’s largest and oldest festivals. Taking place since 1930, the festivities embrace the best of the region and celebrate the season’s beauty, offering lumberjack contests, a talent show, carnival rides, forestry and wood exhibits, a juried art show, arts and crafts and more. forestfestival.com

 

Band sitting on couch in black and white

Philly Music Fest | Oct. 6–10, Philadelphia, PA
Fans of all music genres will enjoy the 2021 Philly Music festival. This year’s event is expanding to five nights and features a lineup stacked with 19 Philadelphia bands ranging from rock and hip-hop to pop and punk, including The Menzingers, Alex G and Hop Along. Performances take place at five independent venues, including the Ardmore Music Hall and MilkBoy rock club. phillymusicfest.com

Fall Color Sail | Oct. 9–10, Suttons Bay, MI
Set sail out of Suttons Bay and onto Lake Michigan for stunning views of autumn foliage from a different perspective. Climb aboard the 77-foot ship for a scenic, two-hour exploration that includes the chance to raise the sails and help steer the boat during its voyage. fareharbor.com/schoolship

Sugar Creek Arts Festival | Oct. 9–10, Normal, IL
Explore three city blocks of art from more than 100 artists at the McLean County Arts Center’s annual festival. Artists across a variety of mediums display their work and welcome thousands to browse and shop. Two stages of live music and a variety of local restaurants add to the street fair atmosphere. mcac.wildapricot.org/scaf

Country Folk Art Craft Show | Oct. 15–17, Syracuse, NY
The Country Folk Art Craft Show, held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, offers a plethora of artisanal decorations and novelty treasures in a variety of styles and themes. Find an array of items from handmade candles to repurposed furniture throughout the course of the three-day event. Drinks and foods are featured, too. countryfolkart.com

Salt Festival | Oct. 15–17, Union, KY
Centered around pioneer culture before the Civil War, Big Bone Lick State Historic Site invites visitors on a trip to the past during this annual festival featuring re-enactments from the era such as salt-making, blacksmithing demonstrations and Native American drum circles, as well as modern activities including a petting zoo. parks.ky.gov

October Sky Festival | Oct. 16, Oliver Springs, TN
As the filming location for the 1999 movie “October Sky,” this town celebrates the inspiring film each year and raises money for the Oliver Springs Historical Society Museum with an event featuring up to 100 vendors and a rocket launch, which is always a crowd favorite. Visitors are also able to tour historic homes built during the Civil War era. octoberskyfestivaltn.org

Circleville Pumpkin Show | Oct. 20–23, Circleville, OH
Head to south-central Ohio, where the streets of Circleville are transformed into a pumpkin lover’s paradise. Enjoy pumpkin treats in every form — including ice cream, doughnuts, muffins, pie and even sloppy joes. Other festivities include multiple parades, the Miss Pumpkin Show pageant and the largest-pumpkin contest. pumpkinshow.com

West Virginia Book Festival | Oct. 22–23, Charleston, WV
Calling all book lovers! This event is free and open to the public, with writing workshops, family activities and presentations by bestselling national, local and regional authors, including headliners Colson Whitehead, Jon Scieszka, Josh Malerman, Eric Eyre and Denise Giardina. On Saturday, the used-book sale and literary marketplace offer perfect opportunities to connect with other passionate readers. wvbookfestival.org

Wooly Worm Festival | Oct 22–24, Beattyville, KY
Celebrate the worm said to determine the severity of winter at the Wooly Worm Festival in downtown Beattyville. This three-day event gives Groundhog Day a run for its money, featuring a pet show, parade and car show as well as wooly worm races. The champion wooly worm of the weekend is the sole predictor of this year’s winter weather. heartofthekentuckyriver.com

Finger Lakes Beer Festival | Oct. 29–30, Watkins Glen, NY
The Finger Lakes Beer Festival brings more than 40 New York State cideries, breweries and distilleries to Watkins Glen International Speedway. For those 21 and over, visitors can sample favorites and discover new brews, as well as participate in a cornhole tournament and a stein-holding competition. Plus, the Boos and Brews event helps embrace the spirit of Halloween. theglen.com

Pumpkinfest | Oct. 30, Franklin, TN
Williamson County’s 36th annual Pumpkinfest fills Main Street in downtown Franklin with lots of autumn fun, including seasonal food and drinks, live music, a pumpkin patch, a costume parade and costume contests for both families and pets alike. williamsonheritage.org

 

NOVEMBER

Christmas in the Country | Nov. 4–7, Hamburg, NY
Celebrate the season of giving at the 36th annual Christmas in the Country craft event. Located at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, the event has a history of giving back to the community by supporting nonprofits such as Variety The Children’s Charity of Buffalo, while also providing attendees the opportunity to find unique artisanal goods. wnypremierpromotions.com

Winter Festival of Lights | Nov. 4–Jan. 9, Wheeling, WV
Experience this time-honored tradition at Oglebay. Beginning in 1985, the Winter Festival of Lights has grown into one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows, covering more than 300 acres over a 6-mile drive. Families can view 90 lighted attractions, including favorites such as the animated snowflake and rainbow tunnels. wheelingcvb.com

Peddler's Village Apple Festival | Nov. 6–7, New Hope, PA
The 47th annual Peddler’s Village Apple Festival offers a continuous stream of live entertainment, family attractions and activities, and a large selection of apple-flavored food and drinks. Located in the greater Philadelphia region, the outdoor festival provides two days of rain-or-shine fun with free admission. peddlersvillage.com

Winter Festival of Lights | Nov. 13–Feb. 21, Niagara Falls, ON
The 39th annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s largest free outdoor illumination festival. Featuring more than 50 displays of Canadian wildlife, illuminated trees, light shows, dazzling tunnels and more, experience 3 million enchanting lights along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across the falls. wfol.com

 

People cheers-ing at Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer and Food Festival

Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer and Food Festival | Nov. 18–20, Grand Rapids, MI
Treat your taste buds to world-class selections of food and drink from west Michigan-area chefs as well as delicacies from around the world at the Midwest’s largest wine, beer and food festival. Visitors can also enjoy live music at local venues such as The Vineyard, Beer City Station, RendezBREW cafe and more. experiencegr.com

 

People walking through tunnel at Wildlightss

Wildlights | Nov. 19–Jan. 2, Columbus, OH
Take a winter walk on the wild side at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium during Wildlights, when the zoo is illuminated by millions of lights. In addition to strolling through the animal exhibits after dark, families can also enjoy a light show on the water featuring twinkling bulbs, timed holiday music and festive decor. columbuszoo.org

 

Parents and baby at Cheekwood Holiday Lights

Cheekwood Holiday Lights | Nov. 20–Jan. 9, Nashville, TN
Reservations are required for this spectacular display of 1 million lights. Since 2016, visitors have been coming here for s’mores stations, poinsettia displays and art exhibits while celebrating the holiday season. Guests are encouraged to explore the event at their own pace while basking in the festive lights. cheekwood.org

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival | Nov. 20, Chicago, IL
Returning to dazzle the streets of Chicago again this year is the annual holiday lights festival along the Windy City’s Magnificent Mile. Enjoy a parade of over 40 floats led by grand marshals Mickey and Minnie Mouse, all the way from Disney World. After the sun goes down, lights begin to twinkle in the trees and ring in the holiday season. themagnificentmile.com

Southern Lights Holiday Festival | Nov. 22–Dec. 31, Lexington, KY
Nearly 30 years of family fun continues this year at the Kentucky Horse Park. A 3-mile drive includes more than 1 million lights in dazzling displays that are sure to bring Christmas cheer. At the end of the ride, visitors can enjoy a holiday festival complete with visits with Santa Claus, holiday shopping and Christmas decor galore. khpfoundation.org

 

Musicians singing and playing guitar at Country Music Week

Country Music Week | Nov. 26–29, London, ON
The Canadian Country Music Association’s annual convention and awards ceremony is an important event in the Canadian country music industry, offering an opportunity for artists, industry personnel and fans to convene and connect during a week of live performances, family-friendly activities and seminars. The week culminates with the nation’s biggest night of country music: the CCMA Awards at Budweiser Gardens. ccma.org

The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill | Nov. 26–Dec. 30, Clifton, OH
For more than 30 years, Historic Clifton Mill has been ringing in the holiday season with millions of glowing lights across the property. Breathtaking views include the waterfall of lights cascading over the mill and riverbank. After the light tour, visitors can watch Santa prepare gifts in his workshop before taking them out to his sleigh. cliftonmill.com

 

DECEMBER

Holiday decorations at Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show

Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show | Dec. 1–5, Harrisburg, PA
Enjoy the sights, sounds and feelings of the holidays at Harrisburg’s 38th annual Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show. The event gets festive with choral groups, dance troupes and decorated trees, while visitors are welcomed to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts. pachristmasshow.com

Holly Days | Dec. 3–4, Valparaiso, IN
Located in downtown Valparaiso, this festival celebrates the holiday season with music in the amphitheater, ice sculpting and caroling for the whole family to enjoy. Local businesses join the festivities by decorating their store windows with holiday designs, and the tree lighting ensures a hometown Christmas feel. valparaisoevents.com

An Old Kentucky Christmas Carol | Dec. 3–18, Bardstown, KY
Fans of Charles Dickens’ holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol, have a chance to live the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge through a retelling of the tale at the 200-year-old My Old Kentucky Home mansion. After hearing from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, visitors can enjoy cookies, hot cider and a meet and greet with Santa. mokhshop.com

Grey Cup Festival | Dec. 8–12, Hamilton, ON
For the first time in more than 25 years, the city of Hamilton welcomes Canada’s most iconic sporting event, the Canadian Football League’s 108th Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field on Dec. 12. In addition to the game-day experience, fans can enjoy a packed week of music, events and tailgating leading up to the big game. greycupfestival.ca

 

PAST EVENTS FROM THIS SEASON 

SEPTEMBER

Festival of Balloons | Sept. 3–5, Dansville, NY
For almost 40 years, the New York State Festival of Balloons has been a staple of Labor Day weekend celebrations. Held at the Dansville Airport, the three-day event offers crafts and art vendors, rides, entertainment and a food court. The six scheduled hot air balloon launches are the highlight of the weekend. nysfob.com

Toronto International Film Festival | Sept. 9–18, Toronto, ON
The Toronto International Film Festival showcases international and Canadian cinema, featuring more than 100 films. The festival offers in-person as well as digital options, and the schedule includes talks, tributes, interactive experiences and more special events with acclaimed industry guests. tiff.net

Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival | Sept. 17–19, Pittsburgh, PA
The Pittsburgh Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz artists and icons, offering free street concerts, intimate performance spaces, workshops and other special events. Held at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, the festival is a sure way to get your groove on. pittsburghjazzfest.org

Country-A-Fair | Sept. 18, Schererville, IN
This free, family-friendly fair includes a petting zoo, pony rides, potato-sack races, a whipped-cream-eating contest, a range of entertainment and even giant yard games. Part of Redar Park’s Party in the Park series, visitors can also enjoy browsing the work of crafters, grabbing a bite at food trucks and more. southshorecva.com

Frankenfest | Sept. 18, Detroit, MI
Kick off spooky season in Motor City at Historic Fort Wayne. New for 2021, enjoy this visual arts festival showcasing mystical and spooky art exhibitions, and hear from paranormal experts, haunt enthusiasts and literary guests. To top it off, grab a bite from the food truck offerings. Donations support the Make-A-Wish foundation. frankenfest.com

Mothman Festival | Sept. 18–19, Point Pleasant, WV
During the 1960s, the mysterious lore of the Mothman was created. This festival keeps the local legend alive. All ages are encouraged to bring their imagination to celebrate with food, cosplay, live music and more during the free festival. Plus, you can explore the Mothman Museum for an additional price. mothmanfestival.com

 

Crowd holding beers and posing at Octoberfest

Octoberfest | Sept. 24–25, Ludington, MI
Get a taste of German culture in downtown Ludington during the annual Octoberfest. Enjoy pub-crawl games on Friday night and a host of activities Saturday afternoon, including live music and yard games. Sample German-themed foods and cool down with craft beers in the plaza. downtownludington.org

Starved Rock Country Festival of the Arts | Sept. 24–26, Ottawa, IL
Enjoy three days of live music, independent films and art exhibitions at this northern Illinois festival. Visitors can also take in an artisan market, food vendors, a scarecrow festival and activities for children as part of this event that celebrates art and the fall season. fotasrc.org

Southern Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival | Sept. 25–26, Union City, TN
Whether you’re looking for a gift or to treat yourself, explore an array of options during this two-day event. Browse through the vendors displaying their handcrafted creations — including jewelry, pottery, glassware, wood carvings and more — both in the Natural History Gallery at the Discovery Center and outside on STEM Landing. The festival is included with park admission. tnvacation.com