Fall is a great time for road trips and weekend getaways in Washington State. Much of September and October can be sunny and dry, making street fairs and outdoor events pleasant. A fun fall festival may be all the reason you need to plan that trip or weekend getaway.
Many often focus on regional food and drink, making them an extra fun way to get to know Washington, including the annual beer-and-sausage events surrounding Oktoberfest.
If you're visiting Washington State this autumn, you won't want to miss these unique celebrations of everything from fall foliage and seasonal harvests to county fairs and local art. No matter where you're staying in the state—whether you're staying in Leavenworth or Yakima—you're never too far from one of these annual fairs and festivals that take place during September, October, or November each year.
There is not one Oktoberfest in the state, but many! These fall-themed celebrations focus on food, fun, beer, games and more. Sometimes they're family-friendly, other times they are 21+ only. So no matter where you are in Washington State come late September or early October, check the local events and see if there's one near you. Oktoberfests of note include Leavenworth, where the entire town turns into one giant Oktoberfest for most of October; Fremont Oktoberfest in Seattle in late September (which also has family-friendly times and even dog-friendly days!); Oktoberfest Northwest at the Washington State Fairgrounds; and Spokane Oktoberfest.
This long-running festival brings a grand parade complete with royalty and marching bands, food-related contests, children's activities, and live music to Leavenworth, a town worth visiting any time of year. And, of course, autumn leaves. To really get an eye-full of the autumn beauty in the area, head up into the mountains surrounding Leavenworth and take in some leaf peeping while you're there.
A whopping 75% of hops used to make beer in the US are grown in and around Yakima, Washington. This calls for a celebration! Yakima's Fresh Hop Ale Festival, which takes place on October 5, 2019, is one of the top 10 beer festivals in the country and celebrates all things beer and hop related. Enjoy some top-notch beer tasting along with local foods and beverages, as well as crafts booths and live entertainment.
Spokane's Green Bluff farms and orchards host this apple harvest celebration, complete with fresh apple products like cider and baked goods, which are reason enough to come enjoy this one. Other festival fun includes mazes, crafts booths, kiddie train rides, a BBQ, and pumpkin picking. The Apple Festival fun takes place over several weekends in late September and October.
There are many county fairs that take place in Washington State in the autumn, and they're all good fun to attend, but the Washington State Fair is in a league of its own. It's one of the largest fairs in the country and brings with it tons of rides, animals, shows and headlining concerts, and fair food. There is so much going on that you might not know where to start, but it's a lot of fun to just show up and start wandering and see what you discover.
Every October, Whatcom County artists and craftsman open their studios to the public during two weekends for the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour. This makes for a great opportunity to drive down country backroads and discover new parts of Washington while getting a behind-the-scenes look at local creators' work. Events for this year's tour will take place on October 5 to 6 and 12 to 13, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you don't feel like driving yourself, you can also ride along to both city and country studios with the Bellingham Brew Bus on Saturdays for just $10 per person.
Much of what defines the Northwest shows up in fall festivals one way or another. Case and point - seafood in Port Angeles. The Olympic Peninsula community of Port Angeles celebrates the bounty of the sea each fall with crab feeds, chowder cook-offs, a grab-a-crab tank, and chef demonstrations. In addition to all the seafood, there are arts and crafts booths, a fun run, artist competitions, a wine and beer garden, and live entertainment.
Tacoma has a long-running history of celebrating its arts scene during the fall. What used to be Art at Work became Tacoma Arts Month a few years ago, but still includes the studio tour for which it is most known. Meet the artists, see them at work in their studios, and learn about a variety of art forms from printmaking to pottery and beyond. Each studio has some sort of hands-on activity to try as well.
If you love chocolate, there's no finer festival. The Northwest Chocolate Festival is nothing but chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Chocolate producers from near and far offer tastes and chocolate for purchase. By the end of the day, you will not only have tried most likely more types of chocolate than you ever imagined existed, but you also will have learned a lot about the chocolate industry.
On October 13, 2019, the One Sky, One World Kite Festival will return to Washington's Long Beach Peninsula for a full day of kite-flying fun along the Bolstad Approach. Coinciding with kite flying events around the world, the One Sky, One World event in Long Beach advocates for global unity while presenting a colorful display on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Since the first event took place in Denver, Colorado, in 1985, the One Sky, One World International Kite Fly for Peace has spread to dozens of countries around the world, making an impact on local communities through outreach, engagement, and relief efforts.