As the weather gets cooler and the leaves turn, incredible fall festivals start to crop up all over Massachusetts. Whether you want to revel in the unique tastes of the season (apple cider doughnuts, anyone?) or catch some amazing al fresco entertainment in the crisp fall air, these local festivals are sure to put you in the autumn spirit.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Douglas Octoberfest, Douglas (Oct. 1)
This lively downtown street fair has been drawing crowds for years. Stroll between vendors peddling delicious seasonal treats and wares, craft something special with the kids, or just take in the sights and sounds of festival until the sun goes down. This year's festival will feature a Berkshire brewing beer tent with 4 stages of live music
2. King Richard's Faire, Carver (Sept. 3 - Oct. 23)
This is one of Massachusetts' longest running autumn festivals. Merging history with high fantasy, this faire offers real jousting matches, fire-breathing displays, live tigers and aerial ribbon dancing. Tucked away in an 80-acre forest clearing, this festival is the perfect place to show off your costuming prowess and munch on some period food, like roasted legs of turkey and rich mead.
3. Fright Nights at Davis MegaMaze, Sterling (Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24)
CNN rated this field maze as #1 in the world, so you know that Davis MegaMaze is going to pull out all the stops for Halloween. Fright Nights transforms this incredible maze into a landscape of spooks, haunting apparitions and creepy thrills. Bring a flashlight and a fair bit of courage. The festival is meant for grownups, but the event could also be interesting for families with mature, older kids.
4. Freshgrass Festival, North Adams (Sept. 16-18)
This bluegrass festival has an amazing lineup of more than 50 artists, as well as plenty of musical workshops and contests. The festival is held at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, so be sure to check out some of the exhibits while you're around.
5. The Big E, West Springfield (Sept. 16 - Oct. 2)
Don't miss this year's Big Eastern States Exposition. It's the largest agricultural festival in the region, and is known for its incredible food offerings and amazing rides. This year, stop by for entertainment by Shaquille O'Neal, Elle King, Lee Brice and the X Ambassadors. The festival will also feature a 600-pound butter sculpture, a 1,224-pound pumpkin, and double chili and bacon cheeseburgers served between two glazed donuts. The Big E doesn’t do small.
6. Cape Cod Scallop Fest, East Falmouth (Sept. 23 -25)
Enjoy a lineup of nonstop entertainment and scrumptious piles of fresh scallops. The event features lots of interactive fun, including a corn hole tournament, arts and crafts, obstacle courses and more.
7. Garlic and Arts Festival, Orange (Sept. 24-25)
Love garlic? This is the festival you've been waiting for. Featuring over 100 booths piled high with regional garlic creations, the Garlic and Arts event also celebrates local artists and their creations through beautiful displays and performances.
8. Cranberry Harvest Fest, Wareham (Oct. 8-9)
This festival offers plenty of cranberry-themed fun. Watch the beautiful, colorful berry harvest in progress on the bog, take helicopter rides around the area, explore the cranberry farmers' market and take part in lots of cranberry crafts.
9. Harpoon Octoberfest, Boston (Sept. 30-Oct. 1)
Can't get enough of local beer culture? The Harpoon Octoberfest is a two-day celebration of the Harpoon brewery filled with drinking, food and live entertainment. Obviously, this event is 21+.
10. Topsfield Fair, Topsfield (Sept. 30-Oct. 10)
This fair has been drawing crowds for over 200 years, so it definitely knows how to deliver a good time. It's the perfect traditional country fair (read: lots of craft demonstrations and cute animals to pet) and also offers plenty of rides, games, classic fair food and entertainment.
11. Festival of the Dead, Salem (Oct. 1-Nov. 2)
This festival is a month-long celebration of the Halloween season in the state's spookiest town. Check out events like the Psychic Fair, the Witches' Ball and the Witchcraft Expo. There are also daily events that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
12. Tower Hill Botanic Garden Fall Fest, Boylston (Weekends between Oct. 1-10)
Take in all the natural beauty of the season at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden's fall festival. There are plenty of seasonal crafts, walking tours of the garden's fall foliage and yummy apple product tastings.
13. The Great New England BBQ Fest, Wachusett Mountain, Princeton (Oct 1-2)
Smoked meat, sticky BBQ sauce and delicious New England fare is what you'll find at this awesome mountaintop festival. Bring in the cooler months with a pile of steaming barbeque. This event features a traditional pig roast on both festival days, as well as a bevy of blueberry pie eating contests. Live music, crafts, games and vendors are also on the schedule.
14. Berkshire Botanical Gardens Harvest Festival, Stockbridge (Oct. 8-9)
Cozy up to the season at this delightful and long-running (it's in its 82nd year) food and craft festival. Sample delectable autumnal treats from local bakers and cooks, peruse tag sales and try your hand at seasonal crafts, all while taking in the spectacular fall foliage around the gardens.
15. Apple Days at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge (Oct 10-12)
Get a taste of what fall was like during colonial times at Old Sturbridge Village's renowned Apple Days festival. You'll tour beautiful orchards, taste a myriad of apples, press your own cider, and enjoy the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of this open-air, living history museum. Fall is one of the most spectacular times to village this special place.