October in New England: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Plan a Visit During this Vibrant Month of the Year

October Colors in Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

October is the best month in New England—by far. You could spend an entire lifetime in the Northeast and still be amazed by the colors that erupt each autumn. A single tree that has turned just the right shade of fall coral or a deep and lustrous red can literally cause a leaf lover to gasp. And each individual leaf is a masterpiece meant to be saved and shared (here's how to request a free fall leaf if you can't get to New England).

Fall foliage is far from the only reason to love October in New England. This is the month when the calendar is so filled with festivals, sporting events and fun things to do, you could never do them all in a lifetime of falls. Just seeing cheery orange and spooky white pumpkins at roadside stands is enchanting. New Englanders embrace Halloween with unparalleled fervor. Get to all of the 5 Best Pumpkin Festivals in New England, and you'll be able to say you watched giant pumpkins fall onto old cars, raced a pumpkin in a Pumpkin Derby and even attempted a new Guinness World Record at the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia. There are haunted houses and Halloween attractions throughout the region that will tingle your spine, too.

This is harvest season in New England, a time when everything tastes scrumptious... especially cider donuts. A time to pick your own apples and pumpkins at New England farms. A time to make fall comfort foods at home. A time to be prepared for any weather, from summerlike days to early coatings of snow. New Englanders know that winter follows fall, so they make the most of every moment, as the world turns golden all around them. October in New England is truly an experience to savor.

New England Weather in October

Average October Temperatures (Low / High):

  • Hartford, CT: 42º / 63º Fahrenheit (6º / 17º Celsius)
  • Providence, RI: 44º / 63º Fahrenheit (7º / 17º Celsius)
  • Boston, MA: 47º / 61º Fahrenheit (8º / 16º Celsius)
  • Stockbridge, MA: 37º / 60º Fahrenheit (3º / 16º Celsius)
  • Killington, VT: 35º / 55º Fahrenheit (2º / 13º Celsius)
  • North Conway, NH: 34º / 57º Fahrenheit (1º / 14º Celsius)
  • Portland, ME: 39º / 59º Fahrenheit (4º / 15º Celsius)

October is a transitional month, when autumn peaks and fades, and winter looms. As days grow shorter and nights get longer, temperatures start to fall. This month can be very unpredictable with weather ranging from warm summer temperatures to occasional snow. It is even possible for a hurricane to make its way to New England in October, bringing damaging winds and rain that can be particularly problematic in coastal regions. New England is bigger than it looks on a map, and rainfall totals can vary widely, but to give you an idea of what to expect, Boston gets an average of 3.8 inches of rain during October. 

What to Pack

As October progresses, temperatures begin to slide, so be sure to bring layers along on your trip. Even if the day will be warm, nighttime temperatures may be rather cold. The farther north you travel, the colder the temperatures will be. Make sure to check the forecast while packing. You may want to bring along a warmer jacket, an umbrella and boots to be prepared for any weather. 

October 2019 Events in New England

There's non-stop fun on tap at October events in New England. Here are some top events to attend this month:

  • October 1-31: Salem Haunted Happenings
    Throughout the month of October, "Witch City" Salem, Massachusetts, celebrates its spooky history with seances, graveyard tours, haunted attractions and more.
  • October 3-November 3: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
    Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, hosts a nightly display of more than 5,000 artistically carved pumpkins.
  • October 4-5: Harpoon Octoberfest
    Celebrate fall with German food and music (and beer, of course!) at Harpoon Brewery's annual Octoberfest in Boston.
  • October 4-14: Topsfield Fair
    This agricultural fair in Topsfield, Massachusetts, is celebrating its 201st year in 2019. For 11 days, visitors can ride the rides, see shows, feast on fair food, and view agricultural exhibits including New England's best display of giant pumpkins.
  • October 5-6, 12-14: Connecticut Renaissance Faire
    Spend a day with knights in Lebanon, Connecticut, this fall.
  • October 5-6, 12-14, 19-20: King Richard's Faire
    The biggest Renaissance fair in New England has enthralling entertainment, giant turkey legs to gnaw on and more Medieval merriment.
  • October 12: North American Wife Carrying Championship
    This madcap race is inspired by a 19th-century Finnish legend, and the championship in Newry, Maine, determines the North American winners who then compete for the world championship title.
  • October 12-14: Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta
    Giant pumpkins go on parade, fall from the sky, and become motor and paddle boats. And that's just the start at this one-of-a-kind, over-the-top Maine festival always held Columbus Day weekend.
  • October 17-20: Harvest on the Harbor
    Portland, Maine's a foodie city, and this multi-event harvest celebration culminates with an incomparable culinary market.
  • October 18-19: New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
    Famous for its jack-o-lantern towers, there's so much more to this annual, pet-friendly fall festival held in Laconia, New Hampshire. Carve a pumpkin or two and get in on the fun.
  • October 19-20: Wellfleet OysterFest
    Enjoy an abundance of oysters, plus music, crafts, and more at this annual festival in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
  • October 19-20: The 55th Head of the Charles Regatta
    New England's most famous crew meet attracts world-class rowers and thousands of spectators to the banks of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge.

Best Destinations for October in New England

October is truly a glorious month to be on the road anywhere in New England. Chasing peak fall foliage is a favorite pastime. You can check fall foliage reports online to locate places to see the region's best leaves. The three-day Columbus Day holiday weekend is typically THE busiest weekend of the year in New England. Avoid it if you hate crowds; get here if you want to join in the fun at annual events like the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta in Maine.

Here's one idea for a memorable October vacation: Begin in Providence, Rhode Island, where you will marvel at the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. Your Fall-a-Palooza's next stop is Killington, Vermont. Be sure to take a scenic gondola ride while you're in Killington. Continue on to East Charlotte for the Tractor Parade, which takes place on October 13 in 2019.

October is also the month to visit Salem, Massachusetts, which capitalizes on its not-so-pretty past as the scene of America's most famous witch hunt.

If you're looking for kid-friendly Halloween happenings, head to Pumpkintown USA in Connecticut, or visit the Pumpkin People in Jackson, New Hampshire. October is also a wonderful month for art lovers. The Paradise City Arts Festival is Columbus Day weekend in Northampton, Massachusetts, or enjoy meeting artists on a scenic drive during the Granby Artists Association's Open Studio Tour in Connecticut (October 19-20) or the Cape Ann Artisans October Open Studios Tour (October 12-14) in Massachusetts.

More October in New England Travel Tips

  • Columbus Day weekend is usually the busiest weekend of the year in New England, so be sure to book accommodations far in advance.
  • Visit a cranberry bog during their harvest in October. There are 400 bogs in Massachusetts.
  • Autumn is pumpkin season in New England! Pick your own pumpkin at one of the region's many pumpkin patches, then use these pumpkin carving patterns to make cool jack-o-lanterns.
  • If you'll be spending time in the car, be sure to download some of these fall songs to create a New England Leaf Peeping Playlist. And print these fall leaf coloring pages to entertain the kids.
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