Road Trip in Fall

9 Northeastern Fall Festivals Totally Worth the Trip

Sure, summer along the northeast Atlantic coast is gorgeous, but fall is really the region’s time to shine. Come September and October, leaves turn to breathtaking shades of apricot, gold, and fiery red. The days are still warm and sunny, but with just the right touch of coolness in the air. And – oh! – the food. Harvest season yields the crispest apples, pumpkins aplenty, and loads of other delicious produce, and cooler seas mean shellfish is at its best. Your generic pumpkin spice latte might hint at the flavors of the season, but for an authentic experience, here are 9 fall festivals and country fairs in New England and Canada that deliver the best autumn has to offer.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival, Various Towns, Vermont

Not only is Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom one of the most beautiful spots in New England, it’s one of the prettiest places in the world. Located on the border of Canada, this region is prime leaf-peeping territory, and the Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival (October 2–8) couldn’t be more quaint. This week-long event http://www.nekchamber.com/media/2017%20NEK%20FFF.pdf travels through seven towns, with driving tours that take you off the beaten path through hillside country roads to meet artisans at their homes, where they’ll feed you soup and sandwiches. Musical acts, family-style barbecues, historic mill visits, pancake breakfasts, and maple syrup sugar houses are all on the agenda. Sign up for as many – or as few – activities as you wish.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, Laconia, New Hampshire

With more than 20,000 jack-o-lanterns, the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival is a sight to behold. This two-day event (October 13th–14th) brings more than 40,000 people, 50 food and crafts vendors, live bands, carnival rides, and kids’ games together to celebrate all things fall in the town of Laconia. Last year’s event brought glory to the state’s Lakes Region when the festival regained its Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Lit Jack-o-Lanterns Displayed”; efforts are in place to keep that title for 2017.

Freeport Fall Festival, Freeport, Maine

Best known as the home of L.L. Bean, Freeport, Maine is a bustling town on the southern coast. Its annual Freeport Fall Festival (October 6–8), brings together more than 125 New England artists and makers, live music, and fantastic local food, including a “Chowdah Challenge,” where visitors sample and vote for Freeport’s best chowder. Hosted on the L.L.Bean campus and the Freeport Village Station Plaza, the event is free and includes activities for the whole family. While you’re there, take a stroll through the hundreds of great stores, outlets, and boutiques located within walking distance of the festival, then hit up Maine Beer Company, one of the best local breweries around.

Fall Foliage Festival, Boothbay, Maine

Take a ride through history, while enjoying peak foliage season in Boothbay, Maine, when you visit the 50th Annual Fall Foliage Festival over Columbus Day weekend (October 7–9) at the Boothbay Railway Village. Beautiful crafts are front and center on the quaint Village Green, but a ride on the narrow gauge steam train is the real highlight, as you pass by gorgeous surroundings. Artisan demonstrations, live music, and a pumpkin carving contest add to the fun for all ages.

The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts

Officially called The Eastern States Exposition, but known to all as simply “The Big E,” this massive multi-state fair held in West Springfield, Massachusetts is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard. Cooking expos, circus spectaculars, parades, country music, antique tractor shows, and an incredible butter sculpture are all part of the fun. But the fair is a functional expo, too, with farmers and ranchers participating in daily livestock shows and agricultural demonstrations. When you’ve had your fill of fair food, craft vendors, and carnival rides, move along to the competitions, where young steer workers, 4-H clubs, alpaca farmers, sheep dog handlers, cider millers, wreath makers, and far more come together to be judged on their crafts. From September 15 to October 1, nothing says fall in New England like The Big E.

Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 43rd Annual Harvest Fair, Middletown, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island has become a year-round destination for tourists, and autumn is one of the best times to visit. Just four miles from the touristy city center, the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown offers country charm and respite. Warm and sunny days make the end of September the perfect time for this nature preserve’s old-fashioned Harvest Fair (September 30–October 1), with it’s pony rides, mud pit tug-of-war, and greased-pole climbing contest. Food trucks and vendors bring farm-fresh local treats to the scene, alongside a beer garden and craft tents. Potato sack races, kids’ crafts, and Native American song and dance make this a beautiful way to spend a fall day with your family.

Fall Flavours Festival, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island offers all the beauty and coastal charm that any traveler could want along the Atlantic Ocean. From the beginning of September through October 1, the Fall Flavours Festival attracts visitors and locals alike with the culinary delights of the island. Events include mussels and lobster boils, grilled cheese challenges, beachside feasts, and brewmasters dinners. Want to get more hands-on? You can head to Culinary Boot Camp or pick potatoes, catch lobsters, and harvest oysters with the pros. Celebrity chefs, including Lynn Crawford and Corbin Tomaszeski of the Food Network, among many others, head up several events. While there, don’t miss out on the island’s gorgeous fall foliage. Stroll the red clay roads, which are lined with brightly colored leaves, or rent a bike and hit the 270-mile Confederation Trail; built on old railroad tracks, it passes through the woods and along the coastline.

Pumpkin Festival and Regatta, Windsor, Nova Scotia

In western Nova Scotia, size matters – especially when it comes to pumpkins. The town of Windsor describes itself as Big Pumpkin Country, and that’s no joke. At its annual Pumpkin Festival and Regatta (October 9), the pumpkin weigh-in contest frequently yields entrants at over 1,000 pounds, and it’s not unheard of for blue ribbons (well, orange, actually) to go to gourds weighing more than a ton. Brave souls also race across Lake Pezaquid in massive, hollowed-out pumpkins, paddling for prizes in their painted makeshift vessels. Pretty autumn leaves serve as the perfect backdrop for spectators of all ages to cheer them on.

Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Northeast of Windsor, Cape Breton Island comes alive for leaf peepers and music lovers alike when the Celtic Colours International Festival conjures the spirit of the Emerald Isle for nine days. Musicians from around the world share stages with Cape Breton’s best singers, dancers, and storytellers during concerts, activities, and events held in celebration of the community’s rich Irish heritage. The festival will be held October 6–14, when the leaves of Cape Breton have fully blossomed into vibrant in red, yellow, and orange splendor.

Northeastern Fall Festivals by date:

September 1–October 1
Fall Flavours Festival, Prince Edward Island

September 15–October 1
The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts

September 30–October 1
Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 43rd Annual Harvest Fair, Middletown, Rhode Island

October 2–8
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival, Various Towns, Vermont

October 6–8
Freeport Fall Festival, Freeport, Maine

October 6–14
Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton, Novia Scotia

October 7–9
Fall Foliage Festival, Boothbay, Maine

October 9
Pumpkin Festival and Regatta, Windsor, Nova Scotia

October 13–14
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, Laconia, New Hampshire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *