October Festivals and Special Events in the Southeast

Autumnal Activities from Alabama to Virginia

Stone Mountain Park Georgia
••• The aerial tram at Stone Mountain in Georgia. Stone Mountain Park

October is a beautiful month to embrace the fall season in the Southeastern US by attending one or more of the many fun festivals and special events taking place throughout the region. From food celebrations--including apple season--and cook-offs to state and county fairs to music festivals, there is no shortage of things to do down South celebrating the Autumn months. Here is a taste of some of the fun fall activities for you to choose from.


Alabama Festivals and Events

  • National Shrimp Festival
    October 12-15, 2017 - Gulf Shores, Alabama
    One of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals, National Shrimp Fest is held each year during the second full weekend in October. It features more than 250 fine art, arts and crafts, and retail marketplace vendors, as well as the traditional sand sculpture contest--plus, of course, lots and lots of shrimp! New this year is the Little Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant, open to girls from Baldwin County between pre-K to 6th grade.
  • Kentuck Festival of the Arts
    October 21-22, 2017 - Northport, Alabama
    This two-day outdoor juried art festival is host to more than 270 folk, visionary, and contemporary artists and expert craftspeople from throughout the United States. You can also enjoy performances by legendary musicians, children’s art activities, and unique Southern and ethnic food specialties.
  • Greater Gulf State Fair
    October 27-November 5, 2017 - Mobile, Alabama
    Having been around since 1975, the Greater Gulf State Fair has a bit of everything—from traditional fair midway fun with more than 30 thrill rides to livestock exhibits and farming up close in "The Barn," plus multicultural entertainment and activities at the Century Bank Arena. You can find fun for the whole family in "Family Land," including rides, games, and a petting zoo. And you'll never go hungry at "The Chomping Grounds" where there are plenty of food choices. 

    Georgia Festivals and Events

    • Stone Mountain Park - Annual Pumpkin Festival
      September 29-October 29, 2017 (Fridays - Sundays) - Stone Mountain, Georgia
      Located at Georgia's most popular attraction, this favorite fall festival takes place at Stone Mountain Park during scheduled fall weekends, offering plenty of kid-friendly activities such as a carnival and storytelling, plus entertainment for the whole family—including a pie eating contest!
    • Georgia National Fair
      October 5 - 15, 2017 - Perry, Georgia
      Promoting the state's heritage since 1990, this family-oriented fair showcases Georgia's agriculture and culture with livestock shows, horse shows, and home art and fine art competitions. You can also enjoy a concert series, a circus production, plus exciting rides. Each fun-filled day ends with a fireworks show.
    • Atlanta Chili Cook Off
      October 7, 2017 - Brookhaven, Georgia
      The 6th annual chili cook off event offers a day of chili tasting from over 75 restaurants and teams, as well as live music from local bands. General admission includes unlimited chili samples, whereas VIP tickets feature that plus open bar, early admission, and a swag bag.
    • Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
      October 13-21, 2017 - Hiawassee, Georgia
      This 9-day event features musical performances, an arts and crafts show, educational demonstrations, a flower show, and the popular Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers' Convention.
    • Taste of Atlanta
      October 20-22, 2017 - Atlanta, Georgia
      Now located in Historic Fourth Ward Park, this 3-day "foodie adventure" features delicacies from 90 neighborhood restaurants. Enjoy food and drink from local chefs, as well as cooking demonstrations and entertainment. 

      Kentucky Festivals and Events

      • The St. James Court Art Show
        October 6-8, 2017 - Louisville, Kentucky
        Home to the largest collection of Victorian homes in the United States, Historic Old Louisville provides a lovely setting for this expansive, juried fine arts and fine crafts show each fall.
      • October Court Day
        October 13-16, 2017 - Mount Sterling, Kentucky
        Eastern Kentucky's annual trading days, initiated in the 18th Century and known as the granddaddy of all flea markets attracts over 100,000 people to buy and sell arts and crafts from the people of Mount Sterling while enjoying food and music. 

      North Carolina Festivals and Events

      • North Carolina Seafood Festival
        October 6-8, 2017 - Morehead City, North Carolina
        In its 31st year, the North Carolina Seafood Festival features plenty of seafood, of course, but also musical entertainment, arts and crafts, and rides along the Morehead City waterfront. You can also check out the boat show, enter a fishing tournament, watch cooking demonstrations, and end the day with a fireworks display.
      • Riverfest
        October 7-8, 2017 - Wilmington, North Carolina
        Wilmington, North Carolina, celebrates life and culture on the Cape Fear River during Riverfest, featuring fun for all ages, including live entertainment, a street fair, exhibits, and food vendors. The third annual Miss Riverfest will also take place, and each day ends with fireworks.
      • Festifall
        October 1, 2017 - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
        Downtown Chapel Hill celebrates fall with a fun street fair on West Franklin Street, featuring arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment for all ages, hands-on activities, and local food.
      • MUMFest
        October 13-15, 2017 - New Bern, North Carolina
        The award-winning family festival kicks off with a live concert and features an array of attractions, including live entertainment, amusement rides, activities for kids, roving dance troupes and street performers, local arts and crafts, food vendors, and more.
      • Swansboro Mullet Festival
        October 14-15, 2017- Swansboro, North Carolina
        Fried, broiled, stewed...you can get mullet any way you like it at the charming Swansboro's annual mullet festival. Beginning with a parade, the festival features great food, arts and crafts, beach music, and lots of family fun.
      • Carolina BalloonFest
        October 20-22, 2017 - Statesville, North Carolina
        In addition to enjoying the sites of 50 colorful hot air balloons, which launch twice daily, the balloon festival also includes competitions and flights, a balloon glow, aviation displays, activities for kids, arts and crafts, entertainment, and wine and beer gardens.
      • The Barbecue Festival
        October 28, 2017 - Lexington, North Carolina
        Attracting more than 100,000 barbecue lovers, this festival celebrates and serves just one kind of barbeque—Lexington style. After sampling in the barbecue tent, check out the impressive sand sculpture and car show extravaganza. 

      South Carolina Festivals and Events

      • Annual Fall House and Garden Tours
        Various dates from October 5 through October 29, 2017 - Charleston, South Carolina
        Explore some of Charleston's oldest and most notable examples of architecture in an array of styles during this annual event, presented by the Preservation Society of Charleston. Self-guided tours bring you through six private homes (or only their gardens in some instances). Tickets are limited. 
      • Beaufort Shrimp Festival
        October 6-7, 2017 - Beaufort, South Carolina
        This celebration of the shrimping industry held in historic downtown Beaufort features plenty of local shrimp dishes from 15 neighborhood restaurants, as well as fresh shrimp to buy and take home. Begin the day with the 5K walk/run, and enjoy plenty of entertainment and contests—including a shrimp peeling competition for the kids. 
      • Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens
        October 27-29, 2017 - Beaufort, South Carolina
        A selection of private homes and gardens, representing three centuries of architecture, welcomes visitors during this popular annual three-day festival featuring self-paced tours. On the first day, stroll among six historic homes, savor regional specialties prepared by local chefs in five different private homes on day two, and on the last day tour one of St. Helena Island's plantation houses. 

      Tennessee Festivals and Events

      • Harvest Festival - Dollywood
        September 29-October 28, 2017 - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
        Enjoy free concerts (included with admission price), arts and crafts artisans, pumpkin sculptures at the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, and special regional food during this popular annual Southern gospel festival. 
      • National Storytelling Festival
        October 6-8, 2017 - Jonesborough, Tennessee
        Attend the world's premier storytelling festival, featuring tales of all kinds told beneath big festival tents and nighttime stars. Festival also includes Midnight Cabaret, Ghost Stories, and Story Slam.
      • Museum of Appalachia Tennessee Fall Homecoming
        October 6-8, 2017 - Norris, Tennessee
        Held at the historic Museum of Appalachia, Tennessee Fall Homecoming is one of the nation's largest and most authentic old-time mountain, craft, and music festivals. It's a weekend of evening concerts, historic demonstrations, and family fun.
      • Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue
        October 27-28, 2017 - Lynchburg, Tennessee
        One of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world, this food competition features teams from across the United States and around the world competing in the categories of pork ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, and chicken. 

      Virginia Festivals and Events

      • Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour
        October 6-8, 2017 - Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia
        Celebrate the history of wine in Virginia at George Washington's historic estate overlooking the Potomac River. Sample a variety of wine while enjoying the sounds of blues music as you relax on the east lawn. 
      • Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife
        October 7-8, 2017 - Newport News, Virginia
        Enjoy a weekend of traditional crafts, trade demonstrations, traditional folk entertainment, and food vendors. Spend time browsing the juried crafts, country store, and children's activities.
      • Peanut Fest
        October 5-8, 2017 - Suffolk, Virginia
        Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Suffolk's premier festival which honors the city's devotion to peanuts. There are plenty of family activities, including amusement rides, concerts, contests, a demolition derby, a motorcycle rally, fireworks, and so much more. 
      • Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival
        October 6-9, 2017 - Cape Charles, Virginia
        This annual festival on the southern tip of the Delmarva Penninsula offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the unique Eastern Shore area during the spectacular fall migration of millions of birds. The weekend is complete with guided tours, hikes, boat trips, workshops, a photography contest, and more.
      • Richmond Folk Festival
        October 13-15, 2017 - Richmond, Virginia
        Celebrate the richness and variety of American culture with music, dance, crafts, storytelling, and food along downtown Richmond's riverfront. 
      • Fredericksburg Fall Arts and Crafts Festival
        October 21-22, 2017 - Fredericksburg, Virginia
        Explore a wide variety of hand-made arts and crafts, baskets, ceramics, specialty foods, clothing and accessories, jewelry, and so much more.
      • International Gold Cup
        October 28, 2017 - Great Meadow near The Plains, Virginia
        Enjoy the thrill of up-close steeplechasing at the International Gold Cup Races. The 79th running of the International Gold Cup horse races offers a full day of fun, including tailgating and hat competitions, terrier races, and shopping.
      • Virginia Beach Craft Beer Festival
        October 21-22, 2017 - Virginia Beach, Virginia
        Enjoy craft beer sampling on the beach at 31st Street Park on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Tickets include sampling craft beers from over 50 breweries, a commemorative cup, and live entertainment. 
      • Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
        October 21-22, 2017 - Mount Vernon, Virginia
        Travel back in time with wagon rides, wheat treading, a straw bale maze, early-American games, and 18th-century music and dancing. Located at Pioneer Farm.