Cool, but sunny and dry weather makes fall the ideal season to take a road trip through Washington State and check out some local street fairs and fall festivals. With the focus often on local artists on regional food and drink, a festival-filled weekend getaway in Washington is an excellent way to get to know the state, especially when beer and sausage are involved. No matter where you go—whether you're passing through Leavenworth or Yakima—you're never too far from one of these annual fairs and festivals that take place annually between September and November.
In 2020, many of these festivals may be postponed or altered. Be sure to check the organizer's official website for the latest updates.
There is not one Oktoberfest in Washington, but many, and these German-inspired celebrations focus on food, fun, beer, games, and more. Sometimes they're family-friendly, other times they are 21+ only. Some of the most popular festivals can be found in Leavenworth, Washington's traditional Bavarian town, and Fremont, which is closer to Seattle, and they usually kick off in late September. In Western Washington, you'll find Oktoberfest parties in Spokane and at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
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.
In 2020, artists will open their studios by appointment only and social distancing will be enforced.
Every October, Whatcom County artists and artisans 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.
Many of these events have been canceled or will be held virtually in 2020.
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. In October, you can 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 typically has some sort of hands-on activity to try as well.
This event was canceled for 2020.
This long-running September festival brings a grand parade complete with royalty and marching bands, food-related contests, children's activities, and live music to Leavenworth, a fascinating town worth visiting any time of year, but especially during the fall. To get an eye-full of the autumn beauty in the area, head up into the mountains surrounding Leavenworth, which are rich in natural beauty.
This festival was postponed until 2021.
A whopping 75 percent of hops used to make beer in the U.S. is grown in and around Yakima, Washington, which calls for a harvest celebration in October. Yakima's Fresh Hop Ale Festival is one of the best-attended 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.
The state fair was postponed to 2021.
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 in September 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.
This festival was postponed until 2021.
The Olympic Peninsula community of Port Angeles celebrates the bounty of the sea each October with crab feeds, chowder cook-offs, a grab-a-crab tank, and chef demonstrations at this annual festival. 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.
This event was postponed to May 2021.
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.