October Festivals and Events in the Washington, D.C. 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 that it's hard to choose which ones to attend.

From pumpkin festivals and corn mazes in Maryland and Virginia to the best Halloween and Oktoberfest events in the Capital Region, there are plenty of great events to get you in the mood for fall. However, those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to events in the D.C. area.

Map out your weekend trip to D.C. 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.

01 of 20

Mount Vernon’s Wine Festival & Sunset Tour

Mount Vernon Estate
© Mount Vernon Ladies Association

Each year during the first weekend of October, George Washington's Estate and Gardens known as Mount Vernon hosts its annual Wine Festival and Sunset Tour event from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly from Friday through Sunday. 

During the Wine Festival, enjoy wine-cellar tours and live music, and don't miss an exclusive evening tour of the Mansion and cellar while you're there. Advanced tickets are required to attend and are available online.

02 of 20

Annapolis Sailboat Show

Annapolis Boat Shows 

Visit Downtown Annapolis' City Dock and check out the latest in boats and boating accessories during the annual Annapolis Sailboat Show, which takes place over the first weekend in October. This is recognized as one of the world’s largest and most prestigious sailboat shows with over 100 participants on the water.

03 of 20

Taste of Bethesda

On the first Saturday of the month, Bethesda brings more than 60 restaurants and five stages of live entertainment for its annual Taste of Bethesda food and music festival. More than 40,000 attendees visit each year for this event, which is held at Woodmont Triangle in downtown Bethesda.

04 of 20

Maryland Renaissance Festival

jousting1.jpg
© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com

Go back in time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, a medieval village with crafts, food, live performances, games, turkey legs, and more historic fun. The Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place on weekends through late October in Crownsville, Maryland. 

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05 of 20

Conservation Discovery Day

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 at the Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute in Front Royal, Vermont. This facility is only open to the public one day a year—the first Saturday in October—so you won't want to miss this unique opportunity to explore natural sciences up close.

06 of 20

Taste of D.C.

Taste of DC
© Taste of DC

Each year over the last weekend in October, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK Stadium) Grounds host an Oktoberfest celebration called Taste of D.C. The event features 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.

07 of 20

Army Ten-Miler

© Army 10-Miler

One of America's biggest 10-mile races attracts 20,000 runners each year. The Army Ten-Miler begins around 8 a.m. at the Pentagon on the second Saturday of October and weaves through the streets of the nation's capital.

The Ten-Miler event also features a special expo at the D.C. Armory all weekend long that features great deals on clothing, shoes, accessories, and other health and fitness items. The Old Guard Drill Team and Fife and Drum Corps also perform throughout the event.

08 of 20

Fall for the Book Festival

The Fall for the Book Festival is a regional celebration of literature and the arts that features events at George Mason University's Fairfax Campus in Virginia 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 and takes place over the second weekend in October.

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09 of 20

Bethesda Row Arts Festival

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 during the annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival in Bethesda, Maryland. This family-friendly event also features some of the area's best musical acts and street performers as well as several local food vendors and a variety of hands-on kids' activities.

10 of 20

OPUS Merriweather

OPUS Merriweather/Facebook 

Popular outdoor concert venue Merriweather Post Pavilion transforms into a haven for art and music lovers with the annual OPUS Merriweather event, which takes place over the second weeked of October each year.

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.

11 of 20

Rockville Antique & Classic Car Show

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

See a display of more than 500 antique and classic automobiles during the annual Rockville Antique & Classic Car Show at the Rockville Civic Center grounds in Maryland. There's also a car sales area and a flea market.

12 of 20

Takoma Park Folk Festival

Takoma Park Folk Festival
Photo © Rachel Cooper

The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a free annual event 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 can also enjoy a variety of folk singers, interactive musical games, dancing, and storytelling throughout the event, which takes place on the first Saturday of the month.

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13 of 20

Boo at the Zoo

Visit bats, spiders, owls, and other animals while trick-or-treating at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. during its annual Boo at the Zoo event. Enjoy animal encounters, keeper talks, festive decorations, and haunted trails at the annual National Zoo’s Halloween celebration. Advance tickets are required. 

14 of 20

White House Garden Tour

white-house-garden.jpg
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. The White House Garden Tour event happens over weekends in the spring and fall. The White House website advises to check back in October for the exact dates this year. 

15 of 20

Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Days

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. Taking place at the Pioneer Farm in Mount Vernon, this annual event also features a variety of 18th-century activities and reenactments.

16 of 20

Kids Euro Festival

The Kids Euro Festival includes more than 200 free performances around Washington, D.C. Made possible by 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, but all are welcome to attend.

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17 of 20

Marine Corps Marathon

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

Also known as "The People's Marathon," the annual Marine Corps Marathon includes a full weekend of events like the Health and Fitness Expo, Healthy Kids Fun Run, and the Marathon Finish Festival. Cheer on the finishers of this huge race or participate yourself—just be sure to register in advance if you plan to run.

18 of 20

Washington International Horse Show

Washington International Horse Show/Facebook 

Each year, the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. host a world-class equestrian competition featuring top riders, Olympic veterans, and superstar horses. This event also includes thrilling show jumping, boutique shopping, educational events, and more.

19 of 20

D.C. High Heel Drag Queen Race

What started as a silly game between friends in the 1970s has now grown to attract thousands of spectators to Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. Here, costumed drag queens show off their elaborate Halloween costumes and race down 17th Street from one bar to another on the Tuesday night before the holiday.

20 of 20

Air & Scare at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

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

The National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, hosts an annual Air & Scare event each year in October. Join creepy space aliens, mysterious astronauts, and ghostly pilots for safe, indoor trick-or-treating. Visitors also can enjoy story times, face-painting stations, hands-on activities, karaoke, simulation games, and robotics demonstrations during this museum event. 

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