Autumn and Halloween Activities for Nashville Residents and Travelers

Nashville Skyline
••• Nashville comes alive during the month of October. Ray Sandusky / Brentwood, TN / Getty Images

In October, there are some incredible events in and around Nashville, including some of the best and most well-liked activities. During the pumpkin-everything season, Nashville offers tons of festive opportunities to celebrate the Autumn season and favorite Halloween holiday. There is an unlimited supply of haunted houses, ghostly tours, pumpkin patches, fall foliage hikes, and even special corn mazes to explore in the middle Tennessee area. Families, couples, and friends will enjoy this list of over 20 events celebrating arts and culture, Oktoberfest, nature, music, and more.

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    Photo Credit: USN

    This event began over a decade ago as a desire to bring artists and their artwork to the University School of Nashville for a school fundraiser. It has now evolved into a nationally respected art show that attracts loyal patrons and newcomers to view work by a carefully selected group of talented emerging and established artists.

    The show has included work by artists such as Katherine Stratton Miller, Bennet LeMaster, and Josh Yazdian, and changes every year. An array of mediums such as jewelry, painting, mixed media, and sculpture is presented in the show. There are also additional events the weekend of the gallery show for parents, students, alumni, and community members.

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    Photo Credit: Artober

    Artober Nashville is a month-long celebration of arts and culture in Nashville, designed to inform and inspire the community’s awareness of and participation in the array of activities during the month of October.

    This program falls under NowPlayingNashville, a program with hundreds of arts and cultural events such as visual and performing arts, music, festivals, family events, and more. Some trending events have included Country Rising, Jefferson Street Art Crawl, Music City Pub Crawl, and the CMA Music Festival.

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    The Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition (TBCC) puts on several events throughout the year to raise money for their various fundraisers. Events vary annually, though some October events have included the following: 

    • The Stones River Jeep Club Meeting & Save the Maracas Dinner
    • Hendersonville Low's Boat Raffle
    • Save the Tata's Tennis Tournament at Hillwood Country Club
    • Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational BBQ
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    Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development/Gary Layda

    Formally known as Celebration of Cultures, the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival celebrates and embraces the cultural diversity of the community by encouraging understanding, appreciation, and respect for the cultures of the Greater Nashville community. This free festival includes a fun-filled day of music, dance, food, children's activities, a marketplace, and other educational components.

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    Clarksville Oktoberfest

    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Johannes Simon

    Clarksville Oktoberfest is held the first weekend of October. Upwards of 10,000 individuals attend this festival with true German flair, which features authentic German food, music, dancing, and fun. Tickets are cheap, parking is free, and pets are not allowed.

    Entertainment from German musicians like the Prost and Die Mitternachters attend annually, and guests are encouraged to put on any traditional clothing they have for this event.

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    Photo Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    This event is held normally the first weekend of October, in Historic Collinsville, and features nineteenth-century, living-history, costumed tour-guides, and battle reenactments. The event also includes a variety of pioneer activities including a special children's day of hayrides, face painting, and games.

    Historic Collinsville is a great place to visit to see a living history museum in action. These authentically restored log houses even have outbuildings from the 1830's.

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    The Commodore Quake is Vanderbilt University's Homecoming festival. This annual event takes place every October and the festivities are sure to generate buzz beyond the campus borders every year. The Quake has a tradition of showcasing hit music's most popular acts such as Migos and SZA, with tickets selling out fast.

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    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    The Fall Charity Golf Scramble is hosted annually by the Kiwanis Club of Madison or Knoxville and is normally held in the middle of October. This event raises money for a variety of charities, such as scholarships, to be awarded at the end of each school year. It’s a great opportunity to skip work, play 18 holes in the fall sunshine, and support the local community.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Johannes Simon

    The Germantown Oktoberfest is filled with music, dancing, arts & crafts, historic home and church tours, antique exhibits and much more. There are heaps of authentic German music, food, and drinks to be found during this annual event, held the second Saturday in October.

    This Germantown event is actually two separate events: one is the Oktoberfest and the other is the Germantown Street Festival, but both are held in Germantown and during the same weekend.

    Considered Nashville's oldest and largest festival and the second largest Oktoberfest in America, this annual tradition goes back to 1980. Admission is free to the German Beer Festival and Street Fair and VIP tickets are available. Over eight draft beer stations and German beer gardens are available in the heart of Music City.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Sergio Dionisio

    The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art hosts their annual “Goblins in the Garden” event every year in late October, right around Halloween. Preschoolers and young goblins are invited to wear their favorite spooky or zany costume and head out to Cheekwood for a trick-or-treat trail in the Color Garden, themed art and science activities, and a Pumpkin House photo booth.

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    © Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    The Grand Ole Opry hosts its annual Birthday Bash every October at the Grand Ole Opry House by offering a star-packed homecoming celebration. This includes tons of entertainment including backstage tours, autograph sessions, and free music in the Opry Plaza. This weekend event also includes food trucks, live performances by popular artists, activities like picnics and bingo, and more.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Sergio Dionisio

    The Tennessee State Museum’s annual ghost story festival, Haunted Museum, is normally held the week before Halloween. This is a free family-oriented event that normally takes place during daylight hours.

    Kids can enjoy a "ghost trail" throughout the museum featuring surprises, crafts, and beverages. Ghost stories about Tennessee's past like the Bell Witch, Cherokee spirit Spearfinger, and more are told. Additional storytelling activities and prizes are given throughout the trail.

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    Photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    This annual championship cook-off is held every year in Lynchburg, usually in the third week of October. All recipes feature Jack Daniel's, and festivities include food booths, games, crafts, pig races, music, and more.

    There are over seven individual category competitions and 90 international teams competing for the Grand Champion title. Additional events like the 7 Mile Run and 5K Run/Walk took place in the morning, with a parade happening in the evening. Live music from bands like Lost In Tyme Bluegrass Band play and judges review categories like "Jack Daniel's Sauce," "Pork Ribs," and "Home Cookin' from the Homeland" on Saturday.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jerome Pollos

    The NAIA Pow Wow and Fall Festival, beginning on the third Saturday in October, attracts people from all over the state of Tennessee. This event is billed in Indian Country as the largest Pow Wow east of the Mississippi.

    Each October, Indians from around the nation gather to share a part of their culture and educate people through Native American arts and crafts, paintings, pictures, clothing, and food like Indian tacos, chili, fry bread, and more.

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    Photo Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    Nashville Tennessee Home Decorating and Remodeling Show is an annual event often held the first week of October at the Nashville Convention Center. The event features displays of over 300 home-related products for kitchens, bathrooms, and other projects. Homeowners can also find contractors, remodeling inspiration, and the chance to chat with experts.

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    Copyright Photography by Nora

    The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) presents its annual Songwriter Achievement Awards every year in mid-October. The awards include the NSAI Song of the Year, which is determined by the song that gets the most votes during a ballot called the "Ten Songs I Wish I'd Written."

    This is the world's largest not-for-profit songwriters trade association established in 1967. Over 5,000 members are active across the U.S. and other countries to help protect the rights of professional songwriters and more.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chris Hondros

    Usually held late in the month of October, PhreakNIC is Nashville's annual hacker convention offering an entire weekend of hacking, panel discussions, and more. The convention is open to anyone with an interest, including the general public. Sessions have included talks and demonstrations about DKEY, Haskell, MSP, and more.

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    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    The annual R.O.P.E Awards are normally held in early October and offer a great award show that features some of Nashville's finest musicians. The R.O.P.E organization stands for Reunion of Professional Entertainers and started in May 1983. R.O.P.E allows fellow artists and musicians to get together, have fellowship, and socialize since many works show out on the road.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tim Boyle

    The Rollercoaster Yard Sale is normally held the first weekend of October. This four-day grassroots extravaganza offers 150 miles of yard sales, crafts, antiques, handcrafted quilts, produce, southern foods, BBQ, entertainment, flea markets, and more. It spans from Mammoth Cave, KY to Byrdstown TN and allows shoppers to enjoy the breathtaking fall foliage from Highway 63 to Highways 52 and 111.

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    Photo Credit: Nora Mayor

    Every Fall season, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center plays host to the annual region's Free Day of Music. The popular event invites the entire community to Schermerhorn Symphony Center to enjoy free musical performances all day long and into the night. The event is usually held in the first days of October and features a wide variety of local ensembles performing throughout the day.

    The event features more than 20 performers, including the Nashville Symphony, and features arts and crafts, an Instrument Petting Zoo, food vendors, and a beer garden.

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Scott Barbour

    The Al Menah Temple Shrine Circus has been held at the Municipal Auditorium for years. Normally, this four-day run is held in the first days of October. The Al Menah Circus has been around since 1944 from a desire to help underprivileged children and the greater community.

    In the past, the Saturday morning matinee allowed kids from low-income houses and orphanages to attend performances for free, including food, soft drinks, souvenirs, and more. Today, the show is still created for the same purposes at the expense of the Nobility and its sponsors.

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    Photo Credit Getty Images/Matthew Simmons

    The Southern Festival of Books is held the second full weekend of October in downtown Nashville. The festival is free, with no tickets or reservations required, and plenty of authors hand sign their books.

    This is a three-day celebration of the written word that welcomes over 200 authors across the U.S. for readings, panel discussions, and more. Genres include fiction, history, mystery, and food, among others.

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    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    Visitors can expect two days of living history at the annual Tennessee History Festival at Bicentennial Mall. Costumed interpreters from every era in Tennessee’s history will be on hand demonstrating techniques, military tactics, cooking demonstrations, and other period trades. The event depicts history topics like Spanish exploration, British military, labor reform, and civil rights.

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    More than 15,000 people attend this annual event, held the second weekend of October in Watertown. It showcases hundreds of exhibitors that display items ranging from flea market items, clothes, arts and crafts, and more.  Attendees can enjoy the Excursion Train experience, antique shopping, local cuisine, and hundreds of booths with collectibles, tools, and more.