There's no better way to celebrate the change of seasons each autumn than with a festival. From quirky themes (ghost town!) to iconic mainstays (state fair!), we've rounded up the best family-friendly fall festivals around the U.S.
Buena Park, CA | May 26-Sep. 3, 201
Ghost Town Alive! has returned to Knott’s Berry Farm for the summer complete with bandits, cowboys, robberies, judges, a good ol’ western hoedown and much more! Guests can visit the beloved town of Calico and experience an authentic western adventure by becoming a star in this summer’s story of the Wild West, where the power to unlock adventures is in the hands of every guest. Ghost Town Alive! runs on select days now through September 3.
Joshua Tree, CA | Oct. 4-7, 2018
Merging its funky desert style with an internationally acclaimed lineup of musical artists, this three-day (and four-night) family-friendly festival is a global music experience. The festival melds the overwhelming spirit of desert freedom with powerful music from around the world to create a lighthearted oasis for music lovers. Magically magnificent art installations, a robust Kidsville schedule, the heavily shaded Music Bowl, a full spectrum of yoga classes from sunrise to sunset, 27 different Music Playshops, a late-night astronomy theater and a World Market further inspire, intrigue and invite festival-goers.
Des Moines, Iowa | Aug. 9-19, 2018
This internationally acclaimed fair is the largest event in the state and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States. This year, check out the giant Ferris wheel, bumper cars and other classics, the famous Iowa butter cow (yes, it’s a cow sculpture made entirely of butter), or the amazing fair foods. Concerts and performances will occur throughout the event, including big names like Reba McEntire, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line. Annually attracting more than 1 million visitors worldwide, the Iowa State Fair is Iowa’s celebration of the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement.
Louisville, KY | Oct. 29-31, 2018
Equestricon is the first and only premiere horse racing lifestyle event designed to celebrate the sport of racing with its fans. An international horse racing convention, fan festival and trade show all in one, Equestricon brings together fans, stakeholders, industry insiders and horseplayers to participate in a lively atmosphere of engagement, discussion and entertainment. The festival will include concerts, meet and greets, and workshops.
Chattanooga, TN | Aug. 23–Oct. 25, 2018
Chattanooga’s newest music series kicks off in August 2018. The 10 weeks of free live music on the lawn of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center will feature local, regional and national talent. Performers include Big Freedia, Ingrid Woode & the Woode Tribal Orchestra, Chante Cann and Jason Eskridge. Organizers encourage onlookers to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Food and beverage vendors will be on-site.
Seattle, WA | Oct. 11-14, 2018
Based at the Museum of History and Industry on Lake Union, a new world of light and color will encompass South Lake Union for five nights, showcasing an international video mapping presentation and light art installations from Northwest and international artists. These events are free to the public and open to all ages.
Berkeley, CA | Aug. 25, 2018 (10AM – 5PM)
Returning for its 19th year, the sidewalks along Shattuck Ave. in the Gourmet Ghetto in North Berkeley are the target of artists young and old during the Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival on Saturday, August 25. Guests can enter the chalk art contest transforming the sidewalks into a “chalktastic” masterpiece for a cash prize. While the artists are at work, guests can also sample more than 25 forms of chocolate from picante habanero chocolate gelato, chocolate profiteroles, dark chocolate truffles, Oreo shakes, chocolate ganache and more. In the mood for something savory? Try the chocolate chicken kabobs.
St. Louis, MO | Sept. 14-Sept. 16, 2018
The 14th annual award-winning Taste of St. Louis is a regional event with patrons, restaurants, chefs and vendors coming from all over the St. Louis region and beyond. The event is free to attend and showcases 30 of the region's best restaurants, the Chef Battle Royale culinary competition, free music concerts, regional artists, a “kids’ kitchen” area, a market with local vendors, fresh samples and more.
Albuquerque, NM | Oct. 6-14, 2018
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for families. For more than three decades, the first week in October brings the smell of roasting chiles and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air. Hundreds of vibrantly colored hot air balloons drift through the desert sky. Kids of all ages will become awestruck over the Balloon Glow, a magical event in which the balloons are lit from within like colorful paper lanterns. Visit on October 11 for Kids Day.
Gettysburg, PA | Oct. 6-7 & 13-14, 2018
The National Apple Harvest Festival, held during the first two full weekends in October, celebrates beautiful crafts, great music and wonderful food for over 50 years and counting. The festival has something for everyone with hundreds of arts and crafts dealers, demonstrations, contests, food stands and entertainment. The festival is located in the heart of Pennsylvania Apple country, just a few miles from historic Gettysburg and is within a two-hour drive of Washington D.C., Baltimore and Harrisburg. Special attractions include the Apple Auditorium and antique cars, steam engine displays, orchard tours, petting zoo, craftsman demonstrations, and appearances by the Pennsylvania Apple Queen, all included in admission.
By Bridgette Langdon