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The Best Fall 2023 Events in North America

Head to Albuquerque in October for a stunning display of hot air balloons.

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Happy PSL season to all those who celebrate! ☕

Autumn is officially upon us, and even if you’re not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes, there are plenty of things to do this fall to embrace the seasonal spirit.

Fall festivals are planned all across North America, so whether you’re seeking a lively Oktoberfest or something a bit more out of the box, there’s a whole host of autumn events to pick from. Wanderu is here to help you find the most magical events to add to your fall bucket list. We’ll also help you snag some cheap bus and train tickets so there’s no jump scares on your credit card bill this spooky season! 

From North to South and coast to coast, here are some of the best fall events worth traveling to in 2023.

Plenty of fun (and somewhat unusual) events and festivals are taking place across North America before the year ends, and we found some that you may not have considered attending before (but that should be def be on your radar).

1. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

July 27 – November 18, 2023
Orlando, FL
Official Website

You don’t have to travel the globe to get a taste of world-class cuisine — you just have to travel to Florida! One of the best fall festivals of 2023 lasts over three months within the magical world of Disney. 

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival offers dozens of events, classes and tastings (including free wine tastings!), making it a no-brainer for foodies and families this fall. Let the little ones explore the park with fun activities like Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit while the grown-ups sample cuisine from six different continents and rock out to live music.

2. Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Saturdays & Sundays from August 19 – October 1, plus Friday, September 29, 2023
Shakopee, MN
Official Website

Hear ye, hear ye. Fall is in full swing, and so are Ren fests all across North America. But one of the very best (and very biggest) is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. 

Slip into your finest medieval corsets and sword belts and head to Shakopee, Minnesota. Step through the gates and step back in time as you gnaw on giant turkey legs, marvel at mermaids, and try your hand at archery and other fun games. 

Of course, if you can’t make it all the way to MN for some old-school fun, you’ll likely find a Renaissance fair close to home, as these are some of the most popular fall festivals across the nation.

3. Junkstock

September 29 – October 1 & October 6-8, 2023
Waterloo, NE
Official Website

Junkstock is an annual autumn event that’s half fea market and half music festival. Need we say more? Okay, if you weren’t already convinced, think about the apple cider donuts, bloody Mary’s and magnificent food truck lineup.

Despite the name, the flea market aspect of the festival has a lot more than kitschy junk. There are antiques and vintage clothing from hundreds of vendors, so you’ll likely find that one man’s (or woman’s) junk is indeed your idea of treasure.

The music festival features six different bands each weekend, along with plenty of adult beverages to keep the groove flowing.

4. Leavenworth Oktoberfest

September 29-30, October 6-7, & October 13-14, 2023
Leavenworth, WA
Official Website

Can’t make it to Munich for Oktoberfest this year? Head to one of the best Oktoberfests in North America instead! Leavenworth Oktoberfest consistently impresses visitors thanks to its authentic German charm. 

The city sits among the towering Cascade Mountains and features Alpine-style buildings, creating the perfect backdrop to pretend you’re in Germany. After a few steins of German-style beer, you might even start to believe you’re in Munich! Leavenworth is a much shorter trip from Seattle, though.

Before polishing off too many liters of bier, you can indulge in a sampling of mouthwatering bratz, do some shopping, and drop the little ones off at the “Kinderplatz” (nursery) to squeeze in a few hours of kid-free fun.

5. Haunted Happenings

October 1-31, 2022
Salem, MA
Official website

No one does spooky like Salem. Equal parts historic and haunted, there’s no better place to spend the days leading up to Halloween than Salem’s Haunted Happenings. 

For the whole month of October, the city embraces its somewhat unsettling (if not 100% haunted) past with movie screenings, ghost tours, costume parties and other special events. 

While you’re in town, you can also check out some witchy shops, get a tarot reading and maybe even learn a spell or two. There are also tons of museums dedicated to all things dark and mysterious, along with several old cemeteries and churches.

6. Scarecrow Weekend

October 6-8, 2023
St. Charles, IL
Official Website

If you’re looking for things to do this autumn around the Midwest, make your way to St. Charles, IL. Scarecrow Weekend is definitely not for the birds — it’s a fun, family-friendly celebration that delights in all things fall. 

The charming downtown area showcases nearly 100 handmade scarecrows, and you can vote on your favorite. Be prepared to have your mind blown, because some of these scarecrows are truly works of art. 

Once you’re done ogling these impressive inanimate objects,  make your way to the activity zone for festive photo ops, crafts for the kiddos and live entertainment.

7. Austin City Limits Music Fest

October 6-8 & 13-15, 2023
Austin, TX
Official Website

Celebrate fall with a magical lineup of performances at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Headliners include big names like Shania Twain, Mumford and Sons, Kendrick Lamar, the Lumineers and more, so no matter what type of music you usually jam out to, you’ll have a rootin’ tootin’ good time at this famous Texas music festival.

This fall festival is all about the music, but you’ll need to stay fueled as you listen. The large food court boasts all kinds of flavors, serving up tacos, vegan food, and plenty of good brews, too.

Get your tickets now before they sell out!

8. The Celtic Colours International Music Festival

October 6-14, 2023
Cape Breton, NS
Official Website

Stunning coastal views, epic fall foliage, and jaw-dropping performances from some of the world’s finest musicians are all part of the Celtic Colours International Music Festival, held on Canada’s northerly Cape Breton Island.

This fall festival celebrates the island’s traditional Celtic heritage with music, dancing and other events starting on the Friday of Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend. The schedule is jam-packed with awesome performances, from Gaelic singing, traditional fiddle playing, blaring bagpipes and a whole lot more.

There are also tons of outdoor events during the festival, including boat rides and guided hikes, to give you a hefty dose of fresh air and fall foliage.

9. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

October 7-15, 2023
Albuquerque, NM
Official Website

One of the most whimsical fall events this October is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This week-long extravaganza centers around the colorful and crazy hot air balloons that fill the skies, but it also celebrates the technology and pilots behind every successful balloon ride.

Spectators can keep their eyes on the skies and watch flight competitions, fireworks shows and skydiving exhibitions. Back on the ground, you can rest your neck and check out chainsaw carving contests, car shows, and live music.

10. Bedford Fall Foliage Festival

October 7-8 & 14-15, 2023
Bedford, PA
Official Website

Is it really fall if the leaves haven’t changed color? Technically, yes, but emotionally… it’s still up for debate. 

Set amongst the crisp air of central Pennsylvania, the city of Bedford attracts leaf peepers from near and far to indulge in a little fall fun at their annual festival. You can make a pit stop here on your drive through the mountains to grab something to eat, or peruse the hundreds of stalls in the charming downtown area. There’s also live entertainment from local bands and activities like scarecrow-making and horseback riding for the youngsters. 

If you’re seeking autumnal hues in other regions, check out the best fall foliage train routes instead.

11. Bridge Day

October 21, 2023
Fayetteville, WV
Official Website

Scary means different things to different people, but we can all agree that jumping off of an 876-foot bridge is definitely terrifying. Welcome to Bridge Day, a single day event in Fayetteville, West Virginia, that involves — you guessed it — jumping off of a bridge. 

Luckily, just because all your friends jump off the bridge doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, we recommend leaving it up to the professionals. Instead, you can watch from above as base jumpers, skydivers and bungee jumpers make the leap into the gorge below.

The fall foliage is usually in full swing by the time the festival takes place, and if that doesn’t make you feel autumnal vibes, a steaming bowl of chili from the downtown chili cookoff should do the trick.

12. West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

October 22, 2023
Tualatin, OR
Official Website

One of the more unique things to do this autumn is participating in a pumpkin regatta. And if you’re not familiar, buckle up — literally. Tualatin’s annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta is a competition of rafters who carve out giant pumpkins and paddle through various races along the town’s small lake. The contestants’ elaborate costumes make the event even more perfect for Halloween season.

Whether you want the glory of winning a race in a giant pumpkin or you simply want to see all the action going down, this fall festival does not disappoint.

13. Okanagan Fall Wine Festival

October 27 – November 5, 2023
Penticton, BC
Official Website

This wine festival pairs well with epic fall colors in Penticton, British Columbia. As the harvest season ends, the city of Penticton invites visitors to indulge in the fruits of their labor at the annual Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.

Come for the wine, stay for the views. Situated between Okanagan and Skaha lakes with towering mountains jutting up along all sides, you’ll be able to sip your preferred poison with exceptional views of colorful fall foliage.

The festival also offers an array of local, in-season food to pair with your favorite vino.

14. The Barbecue Festival

October 28, 2023
Lexington, NC
Official Website

What better place to stuff your face with ribs than one of the world’s top BBQ cities? Each October, Lexington, NC, hosts its annual Barbecue Festival, and tens of thousands of people flock to the city to get a taste of that famous BBQ. 

This autumn festival obviously focuses on the food, so bring plenty of cash (and belly space) for staples like ribs, pulled pork sammys and other delectable hunks of meat. There are also vendors slinging unique BBQ sauces, candied apples, bacon jam and more. 

Wondering how to get there? Amtrak makes special stops in Lexington specifically for the festival, so you can hop on the Piedmont train (originating from Raleigh) or the Caronlian (originating from Charleston) and skip the headache of parking.

15. Old Town Día de los Muertos

October 28 – November 2, 2023
San Diego, CA
Official Website

Don your sugar skull makeup and celebrate the Day of the Dead in Old Town San Diego. If you’re not familiar with the Mexican Holiday, it’s a day to celebrate and remember friends and family who have passed. 

While you (likely) won’t see any ghosts, you will encounter some great food, a bustling market and at least one Mariachi band. The main event at this fall festival is seeing the “ofrendas,” or altars left for the dead. Families gather in the El Campo Santo Cemetery, and the main procession takes place on November 2 (the official Día de los Muertos).

While you may be tempted to curl up inside with a good book and a steaming cup of the witch’s brew of your choice, autumn is the perfect time for outdoor activities, fun festivals and other fall events. 

Don’t let the spooky season pass you by without attending any of these epic autumn events. And when you’re planning your trip, Wanderu can help you get where you’re going with unbeatable deals on bus and train tickets. So get out there and make the most of fall!

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About the author
Abby Valinski

Abby Valinski

Abby is a traveler, writer, and lover of all things outdoors. When she's not traveling, you can find her devouring a fantasy novel, conquering a hiking trail, or researching her next destination.

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