During the fall foliage season, New England is a popular destination for weekenders and day trippers. In addition to leaf peeping, there are several events—from food festivals to pumpkin chuckin'—for the entire family to enjoy.
Broken down by weekend, here are some of the best festivals, fairs, harvest celebrations, and other fun events September through October 2017, in the six New England states:
September 9-10, 2017
- Brimfield Antique Show—Started in Brimfield, MA, in 1950s, this antique show has become the largest outdoor antique show in the country. With thousands of dealers selling everything from fine antiques to "yard junk," there is plenty to see and buy. Just be prepared to walk—the grounds are vast and you will need more than one day to visit all of the stalls.
- Maine Open Lighthouse Day—Throughout the state of Maine, over 24 historic lighthouses are open to the public for one day. Take this rare opportunity to climb to the top and learn about their history.
- Mud Bowl: Championships of Mud Football—For over 35 years, North Conway, NH, has been hosting the Championship of Mud Football, called the Mud Bowl. Teams throughout New England compete in this three-day touch football tournament played in a field filled with mud; all proceeds benefit local charities.
- Oyster Festival—If you are a fan of this saltwater bivalve, or simply looking for a fun activity for the whole family, head to Norwalk, CT, for the annual Oyster Festival. In addition to plenty of deliciousness on the half shell, there's a variety of live music, kids rides, and arts and crafts.
September 16-17, 2017
- The Big E (Eastern States Exposition)—It's a good thing this Springfield, MA, fair runs for two weeks—you will need that amount of time to see and do everything the Big E has to offer! From live concerts, parades, and a circus show to a butter sculpture display, a carnival midway, and livestock competitions—not to mention all of the food choices—the Big E promises to be fun for everyone.
- Boston Local Food Festival—Touting "healthy local food for all," this festival on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, MA, is free and features food from local farmers, restaurants, food trucks, and fisher-folk. There are also seafood competitions, chef demonstrations, live music, and fun kid zone.
- New Hampshire Highland Games—Discover Scotland without having to cross the pond. This Lincoln, NH, fun-filled weekend event is for the purpose of preserving and promoting Scottish culture while providing exciting events for the whole family from live music, seminars, to competitions—including heavy athletics—and plenty of Scottish goods and food.
- Newport International Boat Show—Whether you are in the market for a new boat or just want to visit picturesque Newport, RI, this international boat show is a wonderful way to enjoy the stunning downtown waterfront. Check out the array of impressive powerboats and sailboats as well as educational seminars and training courses.
- Telluride by the Sea—The Telluride, Colorado, Film Festival heads east for Telluride by the Sea in Portsmouth, NH. View six new movies—fresh from their debut—in three days at the Music Hall in this charming New England town.
- 20th Annual Harvestfest and "Chowdah" Cook-off—Set in the beautiful mountain town of Bethel, ME, this festival welcomes the beginning of fall with a chowder cook-off, apple pie contest, live music, arts and crafts, and farmers' market.
September 23-24, 2017
- Cape Cod Scallop Fest—Come with an appetite for food and fun to this East Falmouth, MA, three-day festival. Enjoy the corn hole tournaments, carnival midway, the car show, live entertainment, and of course plenty of scallops and other delicacies.
- What the Fluff? Festival—Did you know that Fluff was created in Somerville, MA? This "madcap" festival celebrates the invention of this marshmallow-like spread with live music, silly games, and crazy contests—as well as imaginative Fluff recipes.
- Old Deerfield Fall Craft Fair—On the grounds surrounding the Memorial Hall Museum in Old Deerfield, MA, is a fall arts and crafts festival that is sure to delight and impress. Shop for furniture, jewelry and apparel, woodworkings, pottery, and much more while enjoying live music and specialty foods.
- Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival—Ever wonder what happens to a pumpkin that is hurled through the air by a trebuchet? At this annual festival in Stowe, VT, teams compete to project pumpkins to see which travels the farthest. A chili cook-off, food, and beer round out the wild event.
- Vermont Wine and Harvest Festival—Enjoy a weekend of wine tastings in bucolic Dover, VT, featuring local vineyards, as well as specialty foods and unique crafts. The highlight of the weekend is the Grand Tasting at Mount Snow Resort, a day of wine, shopping, live music, and scenic mountain views.
September 30-October 1, 2017
- Great New England BBQFest at Wachusett Mountain—Bring your appetite to this two-day event in Princeton, MA, featuring not only BBQ but also an oyster fest and pig roast. Entertainment for the whole family, plus lively music, craft vendors, a beer tent, farmers market, and scenic SkyRide make for a fun-filled weekend.
- Annual Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade—With a different theme each year, this parade celebrating the beauty of the fall in the Berkshires will delight the whole family. It begins on Curran Memorial Highway in North Adams, MA, and then continues down Main Street culminating on Ashland Street.
- Topsfield Fair—For nearly 200 years this agricultural fair in Topsfield, MA, has educated the public in an entertaining and fun way. Over the course of 11 days, you can see swine racing and swimming pigs, a New England-style rodeo, performing dogs, as well as live music and monster trucks.
- 28th Annual Harpoon Octoberfest—For 21 years old and over, this South Boston Octoberfest celebration won't disappoint, with plenty of Harpoon beer, oompah music, and a variety of food trucks.
October 7-9, 2017 (Columbus Day Weekend)
- Cranberry Harvest Celebration—Watch cranberries being harvested while enjoying some old-fashioned family fun in Wareham, MA. Besides chef demonstrations and a juried marketplace, you can stand in a cranberry bog (with waders, of course) and take a helicopter ride over the beautiful crimson-colored landscape.
- Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta—You've never seen pumpkins like this—and we don't just mean the size of them! Come to Damariscotta, ME, and witness (and participate in) a pumpkin catapult, pumpkin parade, giant pumpkin drop, pumpkin regatta (yes, those are pumpkins as boats!), and the pumpkin derby.
- Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular—Providence, RI, is ready for Halloween. These jack-o-lanterns are more than cutout triangles and teeth—they are truly works of art. Continues through the beginning of November at the Roger Williams Park Zoo.
- 70th Annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival—Celebrate rural life in Warner, NH, with concerts, parades, 5-mile road race, oxen and woodsmen's contest, lobster and chicken BBQ, and so much more.
October 14-15, 2017
- Apple Harvest Festival—Enjoy a weekend of amusement rides, three stages of live music, a 5K run, and plenty of recipes including apples in Glastonbury, CT.
- Bowen's Wharf 27th Annual Seafood Festival—This may remind you more of summer than fall, but if you love seafood and a beautiful setting this historic wharf in Newport, RI, is the place to be. Live bands—from Caribbean music to surf rock—add to the laid-back vibe.
- 33rd Annual Harvestfest and Kidsfest—Horse-drawn wagon rides, festive music, local craft market, plus plenty of local food equal a fun day in York Beach, ME.
- 27th Annual Pumpkin Festival —Bring your jack-o-lantern (or carve one there) to Laconia, NH, for this fun two-day festival. Choose between the 10k and 5k run, try out the zip line, climbing wall, or bungee jump. Or sip a brew in the beer garden while enjoying some live music.
October 21-22, 2017
- Harvest on the Harbor—Appealing to foodies everywhere, this annual food and drink festival in Portland, ME, offers diverse delicacies for every taste. A portion of the proceeds goes toward ending child hunger in Maine.
- Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce—Intended for adults and older children, this amusement park in Bristol, CT, turned haunted graveyard is scary. It is open at dusk Fridays through Sundays in October.
- Head of the Charles Regatta—Come watch rowers compete in this historic regatta that takes place on the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge, MA. Cheer on your alma mater or simply enjoy the collegiate atmosphere.
- Return of the Pumpkin People—Vote for your favorite pumpkin people display on this self-guided tour in Jackson, NH. This creative and amusing event runs the whole month of October.
October 28-29, 2017 (Halloween Weekend)
- Ghosts on the Banke at Strawbery Banke—Kids can trick-or-treat while meeting the ghosts on the Banke. Sea captains, pirates, and 17th-century shopkeepers haunt the historic streets of Portsmouth, NH.
- Spooktacular Chili Challenge—Ready your appetite for some good-tasting chili at this Simsbury, CT, cook-off. Still hungry? There's also a local restaurant competition, beer, wine, and hard cider, as well as live music.
- Vermont International Film Festival—Get your flicks fix at Burlington's 10-day film festival featuring screenings of 45 feature-length films and 23 shorts. Located at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center and Burlington City Arts (BCA).
- 37th Annual Essex Fall Craft and Fine Art Show—Start your holiday gift shopping early at this impressive show in Essex Junction, VT. Admission also includes entry to the Vermont Antique Expo and Sale.