Washington, D.C., and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host many fun annual festivals and special events throughout the month of October. From pumpkin festivals and corn mazes in Maryland and Virginia to Halloween and Oktoberfest events in the Capital Region, there are plenty of great events to get you in the mood for fall.
Map out your weekend trip to D.C. with a choice of food fairs, street festivals, road races, car and boat shows, and tons of family-friendly activities.
George Washington's Estate and Gardens, known as Mount Vernon, hosts the annual Wine Festival and Sunset Tour event from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly from Friday through Sunday, October 11–October 13, 2019. At the event, taste unlimited samples from 20 Virginia wineries and learn the history of winemaking at Mt. Vernon.
During the Wine Festival, you'll also enjoy wine-cellar tours and live music, and don't miss an exclusive evening tour of the Mansion and cellar while you're there. Advance tickets are required to attend and are available online.
Visit Downtown Annapolis' City Dock and check out the latest in sailboats and boating accessories during the annual United States Sailboat Show. Taking place October 3–6, 2019, this is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious sailboat shows with over 100 boats on the water.
Boating enthusiasts can board and check out new models from almost every major sailboat manufacturer, talk to industry representatives, and see the latest in boating products and services at the many vendor booths and displays.
On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Bethesda brings more than 60 restaurants and five stages of live entertainment offering jazz and traditional dance troupes from around the world, 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. Going on rain or shine, the festival is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the Taste of Bethesda is free but, of course, you'll want to taste. Taste tickets are sold on-site in bundles of four tickets for $5. Food servings cost one to four tickets.
Go back in time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, a medieval village with crafts, live performances, period games, event foods like turkey legs, and plenty of historically-based fun. Street entertainers roam the grounds to surprise visitors and entertainers perform on ten stages during the event. You'll enjoy many returning popular performers like Shakespeare’s Skum with short, spirited renditions of the Bard’s most popular plays and A Fool Named “O”, the mime. Minstrels, magicians and costumed actors performing daring feats of skill will keep you spellbound. A favorite is the thrilling jousting troupe with a field full of horses, men in armor, and chariots.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival begins its 43rd season August 24, 2019, and runs Saturdays and Sundays and Labor Day Monday through October 20, 2019, in Crownsville, Maryland.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Zoo's world-renowned science, research, and animal care facility at the Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The 3,200-acre institute is the headquarters for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s conservation science initiatives and is normally closed to the public. This facility is only open to the public one day a year—the first Saturday in October (October 5, 2019)—so you won't want to miss this unique opportunity to explore the natural sciences up close.
October 26 and 27, 2019, at Audi Field, area foodies will flock to Taste of D.C. on Restaurant Row featuring tastings from over fifty of the area's best restaurants, a huge beer garden, and two stages of live music and culinary entertainment such as chef demos and classes. There are opportunities to mingle with local celebrity chefs as you savor their offerings. Food truck cuisine options often include a wide variety of food such as barbecue, Cajun, chicken and waffles, Peruvian food, and more.
Each restaurant will feature at least one tasting item priced between 1-3 Taste Tokens, in addition, select menu favorites are available for up to 8 Taste Tokens.
One of America's biggest 10-mile races attracts 20,000 runners each year. The October 13, 2019 Army Ten-Miler begins at 8 a.m. at the Pentagon and participants race alongside U.S. service members, military veterans and their families, through iconic vistas of Washington, D.C., landmarks.
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. Saturday evening you can carbo-load at the pasta buffet traditionally attended by the Sergeant Major of the Army, Sergeants Major of the Reserve and Guard, and more than 900 runners from around the world, as well as Wounded Warriors.
All race proceeds benefit Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs of the U.S. military.
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, taking place October 10–12, 2019, welcomes nearly 150 authors including some of the nation’s most exciting and provocative writers. Featured speakers include novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and New Yorker writer and bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z, David Grann.
Touted as the area's largest art show, more than 200 artists display a wide variety of artwork and crafts throughout Bethesda Row during the annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival in Bethesda, Maryland. You'll find wearable fiber art and jewelry, art glass creations, woodworking, as well as photography and canvas-artworks.
This family-friendly event, taking place October 12 and 13, 2019, 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 such as jewelry-making. New for 2019 is a "StARTer Gallery," for local and emerging artists as well as novice collectors.
On Saturday, October 19, 2019, from11 a.m.–3:30 p.m., see a display of more than 550 antique and classic automobiles during the annual Rockville Antique & Classic Car Show at the Rockville Civic Center grounds in Maryland. Enjoy the shining beauty of cars from Packards to Ferraris displayed by their owners and over 32 classic car clubs. There's also a car sales area, food and drink for purchase, and a flea market.
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 taking place Friday, October 18, 2019 to Sunday, October 20, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Enjoy animal encounters, keeper talks, festive decorations, and haunted trails at the annual National Zoo’s Halloween celebration. Advance tickets are required.
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. Visitors can discover the beauty of the South Lawn of the White House. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, and the White House Kitchen Garden will also be accessible to guests.
The grounds will be open on Saturday, October 19, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 20, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
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.
The event, included with admission, takes place October 19, 2019–October 20, 2019, from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Taking place October 26, 2019 through November 10, 2019, 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.
Touted as one of the largest performing arts festivals for children in America, you'll be entertained by many of Europe's children's entertainers. Each fall the festival brings two weeks of free performances, concerts, movies, storytelling, puppetry, dance, and so much more to Washington, D.C.
Also known as "The People's Marathon," the annual Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) includes a full weekend of events like the Health and Fitness Expo, Healthy Kids Fun Run, and the Marathon Finish Festival. Ranked as one of the largest marathons in the US and the world, runners of all experience levels from all 50 states and more than 60 countries participate.
There are multiple events located around the Washington, D.C., area. The MCM, MCM Kids Run and MCM10K are hosted in Arlington, VA, and the District. The Historic Half occurs in Fredericksburg, VA. The MCM Event Series is hosted on, or near, Marine Corps Base Quantico in Prince William County, VA.
The day of the marathon, October 27, 2019, cheer on the finishers of this huge race series or participate yourself—just be sure to register in advance (registration takes place each March) if you plan to run.
Each year, the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., hosts a world-class equestrian competition featuring top riders, Olympic veterans, and superstar horses. More than 500 prize-winning horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to compete for more than a half a million dollars in prize money.
The 61st Anniversary Washington International Horse Show returns October 22–27, 2019, and includes thrilling show jumping, boutique shopping, educational events, social events, and more.
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 and their friends show off their elaborate Halloween costumes and race down 17th Street from one bar to another on the Tuesday night before Halloween (October 29, 2019). Now, being managed by the City, the parade is at 7 p.m. and the race, itself, starts at 9 p.m. The Facebook page has photographs from past events.
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. In 2019, the event takes place October 26 from 12 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Join creepy space aliens, mysterious astronauts, and ghostly pilots for safe, indoor trick-or-treating. Visitors also can enjoy storytimes, face-painting stations, hands-on activities, karaoke, simulation games, and robotics demonstrations during this museum event.