October 2018 Festivals and Events in the Washington, DC Area

The Washington, D.C. area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host so many fun annual festivals and special events throughout the month of October. For activities that will put you in the mood for fall, consider checking out:

  • Pumpkin Festivals - Find out where the best pumpkin patches and fall festivals are in the Washington, DC area.
  • Best Halloween Events - Throughout the month of October, get spooked at a haunted house, romp around a pumpkin patch or go on a haunted city tour. Find the best Halloween events in the Washington, DC area.
  • Oktoberfests Near Washington, DC - Find German folk festivals with great beer, food, and live entertainment.
  • Corn Mazes in Maryland and Virginia - Stroll through a giant corn maze and find puzzle pieces that will complete your own maze map. This is a great family activity.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to events in the DC area. Keep reading to map out your weekend with food fairs, street festivals, road races, car and boat shows, and more family-friendly activities. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

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    Mount Vernon Estate
    © Mount Vernon Ladies Association

    Enjoy wine-cellar tours and live music, and don't miss an exclusive evening tour of the Mansion and cellar. Advanced tickets are required. (October 5-7, 2018, 6-9 p.m.; George Washington's Estate & Gardens)

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    Annapolis Boat Shows 

    Visit Downtown Annapolis and check out the latest in boats and boating accessories. This is recognized as one of the world’s largest and most prestigious sailboat shows. (October 4-8, 2018; Annapolis City Dock) 

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    Bethesda’s famous food and music festival features more than 60 restaurants and five stages of live entertainment. More than 40,000 attendees visit each year. (October 6, 2018; Woodmont Triangle) 

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    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com

    Go back in time at this medieval village with crafts, food, live performances, games, turkey legs, and more historic fun. (Weekends through October 21, 2018; Crownsville, Maryland)

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    Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute 

    Get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Zoo's world-renowned science, research, and animal care. This facility is only open to the public one day a year. (October 6, 2018; Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute, Front Royal, Virginia)

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    Taste of DC
    © Taste of DC

    The event will feature tastings and dishes from more than 65 of Washington D.C.’s best restaurants, eateries, and food trucks, a beer garden, and the chance to get up close and personal with local chefs. (October 26-27, 2018)

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    © Army 10-Miler

    One of America's biggest 10-mile races attracts 20,000 runners each year. The race begins around 8 a.m. at the Pentagon. (October 7, 2018)

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    The regional celebration of literature and the arts features events at George Mason University's Fairfax, Virginia Campus and at multiple locations throughout the capital region. The festival welcomes nearly 150 authors including some of the nation’s most exciting and provocative writers. (October 10-13, 2018)


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    Bethesda Row Arts Festival
    Photo courtesy of Bethesda Row Arts Festival

    More than 190 artists display a wide variety of artwork and crafts throughout Bethesda Row. (October 13-14, 2018)

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    OPUS Merriweather/Facebook 

    Popular outdoor concert venue Merriweather Post Pavilion transforms into a haven for art and music lovers with the second annual OPUS Merriweather. This festival enlists groundbreaking artists and musicians from across the world to create immersive art installations and unforgettable performances. High-tech art will include treetop projection mapping. Top D.C. chefs will also whip up food in OPUS Merriweather's Culinary Village. (October 13, 2018 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Merriweather Post Pavilion, free, RSVP at opusmerriweather.com

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    Christopher Ziemnowicz (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

    See a display of more than 500 antique and classic automobiles. There's also a car sales area and a flea market. (October 20, 2018, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Rockville Civic Center grounds)


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    Takoma Park Folk Festival
    Photo © Rachel Cooper

    The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a free annual festival featuring music and dance from around the world on different stages in Takoma Park, Maryland. The festival also includes dance workshops, children’s activities, a crafts show and ethnic food from around the world. Kids will especially enjoy folk singers, interactive musical games, dancing and storytelling. (October 7, 2018. Takoma Park)

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    Live animals, tram tours, and research displays at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. (October 6, 2018, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

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    Visit bats, spiders, owls, and other animals at the zoo while trick-or-treating at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Enjoy animal encounters, keeper talks, festive decorations, and haunted trails at the annual National Zoo’s Halloween celebration. Advance tickets are required. (October 19-21, 2018)

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    Photo © Getty Images

    View the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, Children's Garden, and South Lawn of the White House in this twice-annual tradition. This event happens over weekends in the spring and fall. The White House website advises to check back in October for the exact dates. 

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    Mount Vernon Ladies Association 

    Celebrate the season at historic Mount Vernon with horse-drawn wagon rides, wheat treading in the 16-sided barn, a straw bale maze, early-American games, music, and demonstrations. (October 20-21, 2018)

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    Kids Euro Festival

    The event includes more than 200 free performances around the city staged through the cooperation of Washington-based European Union embassies and more than a dozen major local cultural institutions. This festival is geared to children from ages 2 to 12. (October 20-November 4, 2018)

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    Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

    The annual race includes a full weekend of events including the Health and Fitness Expo, Healthy Kids Fun Run, and Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival. Cheer on the finishers at this huge race. (October 27-28, 2018)

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    Washington International Horse Show/Facebook 

    Capital One Arena, Washington, DC. The world-class equestrian competition features top riders, Olympic veterans, and superstar horses at the nation's capital for thrilling show jumping, boutique shopping, educational events, and more. (October 23-28, 2018)

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    DC High Heel Drag Queen Race

    Each year, thousands of spectators flock to Dupont Circle to watch costumed drag queens show off their elaborate Halloween costumes and race down 17th Street. (October 30, 2018)

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    Udvar Hazy Museum
    Photo © Eric Long/OIPP, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

    National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Join creepy space aliens, mysterious astronauts, and ghostly pilots for safe, indoor trick-or-treating. Visitors will enjoy story times, face-painting stations, hands-on activities, karaoke, simulation games and robotics demonstrations during this museum event. (October 20, 2018, 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.)