Many people travel to places all over the U.S. to chase the fall colors and fall foliage that beautifully cloak entire regions throughout autumn. And while doing so, they can also attend local events that highlight the area's unique cultural facets. In the South, they have the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta in New Mexico and the Austin Wine and Food Festival in Texas. Up in the northern part of the U.S., they have the Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Idaho and Warrens Cranberry Festival in Wisconsin. But what are the best fall festivals in the East Coast?
Along the East Coast are also some amazing fall events that land in the New England region. But if you're wanting to explore areas outside of that region, check out the other festivals on our list that are just as worthy!
The Best Fall Festivals in the East Coast
1. Punkin Chunkin Festival
Did you know that there are competitions held to see who can launch pumpkins the farthest? Although pretty common in the Northeast area, the city of Howard annually holds this festival in Pennsylvania. On Saturday, October 16, 2021, contenders will show up to Bald Eagle State Park with their own catapults, trebuchets, and even air cannons to hurl their own squashes and gourds across a lake. It's held by a volunteer-run fire company that supports first responders in helping people in need.
2. The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze
In Hudson, New York, explore the ultimate spooky pumpkin patch by wandering through an 18th century landscape that's littered with more than 7,000 illuminated jack o' lanterns. The annual event is the ultimate pumpkin festival that comes with synchronized lighting in the pumpkin carvings and an original soundtrack, so that you can enjoy a performance not seen anywhere else. Tickets are sold in advance for the following dates, so make sure to grab some before they sell out: September 17-October 31; November 3-7, 10-14, 18-21, 2021
3. Sea Witch Festival
If you want to celebrate Halloween in the East Coast, then head to Delaware on October 29-31, 2021. Between Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, the annual event is great for the whole family, where kids can dress up and go on the Trick-or-Treating Trail to fill up their candy baskets. You can even dress your pet in a costume and join in a parade, as well as indulge your children in the numerous kids' activities that are offered.
4. Harvest on the Harbor
Dive into all the culinary specialties the Northeast has to offer by heading to Portland, Maine, on November 4-7, 2021. This fall fest will showcase some of the best foods and drinks from local restaurants, farmers, eateries, bars, and distilleries. With plenty of booths to explore ranging differently both days, you can decide which day you want to attend based on what you're in the mood to try. But if I were trying to attend this event, I'd probably end up buying tickets for all the days.
5. The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place
Another family-friendly event, dress up with the kids and visit the Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place. From Saturday, September 18- Sunday, November 7, 2021, the Sesame Place Theme Park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, will be transformed into the ultimate Halloween playground, where kids can enjoy their own little scarecrow festival, trick-or-treating, photo opportunities with the Sesame Street characters, and more.
6. Hersheypark in the Dark
In Hershey, Pennsylvania, this small town event is another great festival to take the kids along with. With plenty of carnival rides, trick-or-treat adventures, and wild zoo visits, you'll definitely get your Hershey's chocolate fix! The animals you'll see won't be from any petting zoo, and most of the food vendors are chocolate-inspired. You can visit Hersheypark in the Dark on October 15-17, 22-24, & 29-31, 2021.
7. Food Network & Cooking Channel Food & Wine Festival
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If you're looking for an event that dwells more on wineries, breweries, cooking demos, and more, then head to New York City for the town's biggest food and wine festival. Held by the famous Food Network & Cooking Channel, you can guarantee that the best wines, brews, and foods will be there. You'll also get to check out the best cooking demos by some of the most renowned chefs in the U.S. and taste what they're teaching you first-hand. The festival will be held between Thursday, October 14- Sunday, October 17, 2021.
8. National Apple Harvest Festival
The next few festivals are worth mentioning for what they have to offer, even though they have already passed or been cancelled this year due to COVID-19. The first event to note is located in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania and was held this year on October 2-3 and 9-10. As the name implies, the entire fest honors the crisp fruit and includes hay rides, apple pie contests, apple cider, and much more.
9. Adirondack Balloon Festival
The South has the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico, but if you want an amazing aerial view in the Northeast, then head to Queensbury, New York. This event was already held on September 23-26 of this year, but if you can start planning for next year if you want to ride a hot air balloon around town or see a multitude of them flying high in the sky.
11. Shenandoah Autumnfest
In Virginia, the Shenandoah Autumnfest is the ultimate festival for food and beer. With over 35 craft brews, plenty of wines and spirits, a traditional Virginia whole hog barbecue demo and tasting, and a chicken cook-off, you'll be quite satisfied and full when the event is over. Located on the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, the event has already passed. But plan to come visit next year if you're quite the barbecue fan.
12. Martha's Vineyard Oyster Festival
If you're looking for a classy event to attend during autumn, head to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The festival is a four-day long affair that offers a unique experience you won't find anywhere else besides the island of Edgartown. It celebrates the flagship's rich tradition of farming and fishing by offering foods and drinks from local craft vendors, farmers, fishermen, oyster producers, and more. The festival was not held this year due to COVID-19, but is expected to return in 2022.
Have you ever been to one of the best fall festivals on the East Coast? Share your experience with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!