Fall Festivals & Fairs in Massachusetts

Fall festivals and fairs in Massachusetts are seasonal celebrations that take place during the autumn months, typically in September and October.

These festivals are a way to celebrate the beauty of fall, showcase local culture and traditions, and engage in family-friendly activities and entertainment.

Have you been to any of these fall festivals? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of them!

The following is a list of fall festivals & fairs in Massachusetts:

SEPTEMBER:

The Big E:

Website: www.thebige.com

The Big E” is a popular annual festival held in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is officially known as “The Eastern States Exposition” and is one of the largest and most renowned agricultural fairs in the country.

The Eastern States Exposition was founded in 1916 and has been held every year since then, except for a few years during World War II. It was established to promote agriculture, industry, and education in the northeastern United States and has since grown into a massive and diverse fair.

The fairgrounds are located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The event usually takes place in September and lasts for 17 days, making it one of the longest-running fairs in the country.

The Big E celebrates agriculture with a wide array of exhibits showcasing livestock, including cows, sheep, goats, poultry, and more. There are competitions for the best animals and agricultural products. The fair also includes displays of various farm equipment and techniques.

The fair offers a wide variety of entertainment options for visitors. This includes live music performances, comedy shows, talent contests, and cultural performances, representing a diverse range of musical genres and entertainment styles.

The Big E is known for its extensive selection of food vendors offering a diverse range of culinary delights. Visitors can sample a wide variety of regional and international foods, including traditional New England fare and creative, deep-fried treats.

One of the unique features of The Big E is the collection of state buildings representing each of the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These buildings showcase the culture, products, and cuisine of their respective states.

In addition to the individual state buildings, there is an “Avenue of States” that features replicas of iconic buildings from each New England state, making it a popular photo spot.

The fair boasts a midway with thrilling carnival rides, games, and attractions, making it a family-friendly destination for fun and excitement.

Visitors can explore a variety of arts and crafts exhibits featuring handmade goods, art, and traditional craftsmanship.

Throughout the fair’s duration, there are parades, special events, and themed days that cater to different interests and age groups.

The Big E Cream Puff: One of the iconic treats at the fair is the Big E Cream Puff, a giant pastry filled with fresh cream and dusted with powdered sugar, which has become a beloved tradition for fairgoers.

The Big E is not only a major regional event but also one of the largest fairs in the United States. It offers a unique blend of agriculture, entertainment, cultural representation, and culinary delights, making it a must-visit attraction for people of all ages in the New England region.

Johnny Appleseed Arts & Culture Festival:

Website: livinginleominster.com/leominster-johnny-appleseed-festival

The Johnny Appleseed Festival in Leominster, Massachusetts, is an annual event that celebrates the life and legacy of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

This festival is one of the most well-known and celebrated Johnny Appleseed festivals in the United States and has been a local tradition for many years.

The festival pays homage to Johnny Appleseed, a historical figure who is famous for planting apple trees throughout the American Midwest during the 19th century.

Apple-related activities abound at the festival. You can find apples, cider pressing demonstrations, and a variety of apple treats, including apple pie, apple cider, caramel apples, and more.

The Johnny Appleseed Festival typically features live music and entertainment, with performances by local bands, musicians, and dance groups.

Numerous food vendors offer a wide range of culinary delights, from classic fair foods to regional specialties. Craft vendors also showcase their wares, including handmade crafts, jewelry, and artwork.

Families with kids can enjoy a variety of children’s activities, including pony rides, face painting, inflatable bounce houses, and interactive exhibits designed for young attendees.

North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival:

Website: garlicandarts.org

The North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival is an annual agricultural event held in the North Quabbin region of Massachusetts. This festival is known for celebrating two main elements: garlic and the arts. The festival typically takes place over a weekend in early September.

As the name suggests, garlic is a central theme of the festival. Local farmers and garlic enthusiasts come together to showcase a wide variety of garlic types and products.

Visitors can explore different garlic varieties as well as garlic-infused culinary delights like garlic ice cream, garlic fries, and garlic-themed dishes. The festival also features arts and crafts vendors, live music, children’s activities and more.

Salisbury Days:

Website: www.facebook.com/SalisburyDays

Salisbury Days is an annual celebration in Salisbury that celebrates the history and culture of this small seaside town.

The event usually takes place at the end of September and features history tours, a beer tent, pickleball and skee ball tournaments, a car show, carousel rides, an artisan fair and more.

What the Fluff?

Website: www.flufffestival.com

The What The Fluff Festival is an annual event that takes place in Somerville, Massachusetts.

This festival is dedicated to celebrating and paying homage to a sweet and sticky marshmallow spread known as “Fluff,” which was invented in Somerville in the early 20th century. The festival typically features a variety of activities, food, and entertainment centered around Fluff.

Vendors offer a wide range of foods and desserts that incorporate Fluff as an ingredient. This can include Fluffernutter sandwiches (a classic combination of peanut butter and Fluff), Fluff-filled pastries, and creative Fluff-inspired dishes.

OCTOBER:

Applefest at Washusett Mountain:

Website: www.wachusett.com/applefest-i

Applefest at Wachusett Mountain is an annual festival at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Massachusetts. The festival celebrates the arrival of the fall season and the abundance of apples and other autumnal delights.

Applefest typically includes live musical performances, often featuring local bands or musicians playing a variety of genres.

Wachusett Mountain’s scenic chairlift rides are a highlight during the festival. You can also enjoy hayrides with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.

Ashfield Fall Festival:

Website: www.ashfieldfallfestival.org

The Ashfield Fall Festival is an annual community event held in Ashfield, Massachusetts, typically during the first weekend in October. This charming festival celebrates the autumn season and the vibrant local culture of the area.

One of the highlights of the festival is the abundance of artisan and craft booths. Local and regional artisans showcase their handmade goods, including jewelry, pottery, textiles, woodworking, and artwork.

The festival typically features live musical performances, with local bands and musicians playing a mix of folk, bluegrass, country, and other genres.

Berkshire Botanical Gardens Harvest Festival:

Website: www.berkshirebotanical.org

The Berkshire Botanical Garden hosts an annual Harvest Festival. The Berkshire Botanical Garden is located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the beautiful Berkshire region. The festival takes place within the garden grounds.

Visitors to the festival can take guided tours of the botanical garden to see the fall foliage and learn about the different plant species that thrive in the region.

Harpoon Octoberfest in Boston:

Website: www.harpoonbrewery.com/festivals

Harpoon Octoberfest is an annual beer and music festival held in Boston, Massachusetts, organized by the Harpoon Brewery.

It typically takes place in September and is one of the most well-known and highly anticipated Oktoberfest celebrations in the New England region.

The festival is usually held at the Harpoon Brewery in Boston. The brewery provides a scenic backdrop for the event, with views of the Boston skyline and the harbor.

Harpoon Octoberfest is usually held over a weekend in late September. The exact dates may vary from year to year, so check the brewery’s official website or event listings for the most current information.

As a beer festival, Harpoon Octoberfest features an extensive selection of Harpoon Brewery’s craft beers. Attendees can enjoy a variety of Harpoon’s brews, including their seasonal and specialty beers. The festival often includes the release of the official Octoberfest beer for the year.

A significant part of the festival experience is the diverse selection of food vendors. You can expect to find traditional German fare, such as sausages, pretzels, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and more. Additionally, there are usually food options from various cuisines to cater to different tastes.

The festival also features live music. Local bands and musicians play a mix of genres, including folk, rock, and polka, to keep the crowd entertained throughout the event.

Attendees can participate in a range of traditional Oktoberfest games and activities, such as stein-hoisting contests, cornhole, and keg bowling. Prizes and giveaways are often part of the fun.

Attendees can purchase a special Harpoon Octoberfest stein, often included in the admission price, which they can use to sample different beers and take home as a souvenir.

Harpoon Octoberfest is generally a family-friendly event, with activities for children, including face painting, balloon animals, and games.

Harpoon Brewery often offers tours of its facility during the festival, giving visitors the chance to learn more about the brewing process.

Harpoon Octoberfest is a lively and enjoyable event that combines the spirit of Oktoberfest with the craft beer culture of Boston. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the fall season with great beer, delicious food, live music, and a welcoming, community-oriented atmosphere.

Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade:

Website: www.harvardsquare.com

The Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade are two distinct but closely related events that take place in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

These celebrations combine elements of traditional Oktoberfest festivities with a unique and vibrant musical parade known as HONK! Here’s an explanation of each:

Harvard Square Oktoberfest:

The Harvard Square Oktoberfest takes place in Harvard Square, a historic and lively area near Harvard University in Cambridge.

The Oktoberfest is typically held on a Saturday in mid to late October. However, specific dates may vary from year to year, so check the official event website or local listings for the current schedule.

As with traditional Oktoberfest celebrations, this event features a variety of activities and attractions:

  • Beer: Local breweries and beer vendors offer a selection of beers, including seasonal brews and traditional German varieties.
  • Food: You can enjoy a range of food vendors offering German and international cuisine, such as sausages, pretzels, schnitzel, and more.
  • Live Music: Live music performances, including polka bands and other festive genres, add to the celebratory atmosphere.
  • Vendors: Numerous craft vendors and artisans often sell handmade goods and merchandise.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: The event is family-friendly and typically includes activities for children, such as face painting, games, and pumpkin decorating.
  • Oktoberfest Attire: Many attendees and participants wear traditional German attire, such as lederhosen and dirndls.

HONK! Parade:

The HONK! Parade is a unique and colorful event that typically takes place on the Sunday following the Harvard Square Oktoberfest. It originated as a grassroots street music and activist festival and has since become a prominent part of the Harvard Square Oktoberfest weekend.

The HONK! Parade typically occurs on a Sunday and follows the Oktoberfest on the previous day. Like the Oktoberfest, specific dates may vary from year to year.

The HONK! Parade features a diverse array of street bands, activist groups, and community organizations from both the local area and around the world. These groups often perform lively and eclectic music while marching in the parade.

While the parade is known for its musical performances and colorful costumes, it also carries a strong activist and community-oriented message. Many participating groups use the parade as an opportunity to advocate for social and environmental causes.

HONK! Parade is inclusive and encourages participation from various cultures and backgrounds. It celebrates the spirit of unity, creativity, and positive social change.

Both the Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade offer a diverse and engaging experience that combines the joy of Oktoberfest traditions with the unique and socially conscious spirit of HONK!.

Visitors can enjoy food, music, art, and the lively atmosphere of Harvard Square during this festive weekend.

Family Fall Festival:

Website: www.eventbrite.com/e/family-fall-festival-tickets-639538084627

The Family Fall Festival is a fall festival in Brockton that features 40 food and craft vendors, crafts and games, family pool activities and face painting.

Festival of the Dead

Website: www.festivalofthedead.com

The “Festival of the Dead” in Salem, Massachusetts is a series of events held throughout the month of October, particularly in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

These events celebrate and explore the themes of death, the afterlife, and the supernatural, making Salem a popular destination during the Halloween season.

While some events are spooky and playful, others are more reflective and educational, focusing on the history and cultural significance of death-related themes.

King Richard’s Faire:

Website: www.kingrichardsfaire.net

King Richard’s Faire is a popular Renaissance fair that takes place annually in Carver, Massachusetts from September to October.

It’s one of the largest and longest-running Renaissance fairs in New England and is known for its immersive and interactive experience that transports visitors to a fictional 16th-century English village.

King Richard’s Faire is held at a wooded site in Carver, Massachusetts. The venue is transformed into a medieval-style village, complete with winding streets, stages, and themed pavilions.

King Richard’s Faire offers a wide range of live entertainment throughout the day. This includes jousting tournaments, knight battles, and thrilling performances by acrobats, magicians, jugglers, and musicians. There are multiple stages and performance areas scattered throughout the fairgrounds.

One of the highlights of the fair is the interactive characters who roam the village in costume. These characters, including nobles, peasants, and entertainers, engage with visitors in humorous and entertaining ways, creating an immersive experience.

You can enjoy a variety of Renaissance-inspired food and beverages at the fair, including turkey legs, meat pies, hearty stews, and ales. There are also modern food options available for those with different tastes.

Artisans and craftsmen set up shops and stalls throughout the village, offering handcrafted goods such as jewelry, leatherwork, clothing, pottery, and more.

The fair has a selection of Renaissance-themed games and amusement rides that cater to both children and adults. Some popular attractions include archery, ax-throwing, and giant swings.

King Richard’s Faire often hosts themed weekends, such as Pirate Weekend, Time Travelers’ Weekend, and Fantasy Weekend.

Many visitors come dressed in Renaissance costumes, and there is often a costume contest for those who wish to participate.

King Richard’s Faire is family-friendly and offers activities and entertainment suitable for all ages. Children can enjoy puppet shows, games, and encounters with fairytale characters.

The fair sometimes includes educational demonstrations and workshops, where visitors can learn about medieval crafts, blacksmithing, and more.

Special events and performances occur throughout the day, including the crowning of King Richard and Queen Anne, as well as storytelling sessions.

King Richard’s Faire is a fun and immersive experience that allows visitors to step back in time and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of a Renaissance-era village. It’s a beloved tradition in the region and a great destination for families, history enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a unique and entertaining day out.

Newton Harvest Fair:

Website: www.newtonma.gov/government/parks-recreation-culture/cultural-development/events-fairs-and-festivals/harvest-fair

The Harvest Fair is an annual harvest festival in Newton that features a kiddie carnival, games, fair food, a vendor’s market with handcrafted goods and local businesses and live music. It also features food trucks and pumpkin decorating.

North Adams Fall Foliage Parade:

Website: berkshires.org/events/2023-fall-foliage-parade/

The Fall Foliage Parade in North Adams, Massachusetts, is an annual event that celebrates the stunning autumn foliage and the beauty of the fall season in the Berkshires region.

This parade typically takes place in early October when the leaves on the trees have started to turn. The parade features a variety of floats, marching bands, local organizations, and community groups.

Rockland Fall Festival:

Website: www.reimaginerockland.com/fall-festival.html

The Rockland Fall Festival is an annual event that takes place in Rockland in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. The Rockland Fall Festival usually occurs on a weekend in the fall, often in September or October. The festival features over 100 vendors, a beer garden, kid’s activities, food vendors and live music.

Topsfield Fair:

Website: www.topsfieldfair.org

The Topsfield Fair is an annual agricultural fair held in Topsfield, Massachusetts from September to October. It is one of the oldest and largest fairs in the country, dating back to 1818.

The Topsfield Fair has a rich history, making it one of the most cherished traditions in Massachusetts. It was originally founded as the Cattle Show and Fair in 1818, and since then, it has evolved into a comprehensive agricultural fair featuring a wide range of activities and exhibits.

The fairgrounds are located in Topsfield in Essex County, Massachusetts. The fair typically takes place in early October and spans over ten days.

At the heart of the Topsfield Fair are its agricultural exhibits. Visitors can see a variety of farm animals, including cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, and more. There are competitions for the best livestock, produce, and other agricultural products. These exhibits aim to showcase and celebrate the region’s farming heritage.

The fair offers a diverse array of entertainment options, including live music performances, carnival rides, games, and food vendors. It’s a fun-filled experience for families, with attractions for people of all ages.

Like many fairs, the Topsfield Fair is known for its wide selection of food vendors offering everything from classic fair foods like cotton candy and funnel cakes to more unique culinary creations. You can also find traditional New England fare and local specialties.

In addition to livestock competitions, the fair hosts contests in various categories, including baking, arts and crafts, photography, and more. There are often cash prizes and ribbons awarded to winners.

The Topsfield Fair includes a midway with carnival rides and games, making it a popular destination for thrill-seekers and families looking for entertainment.

Throughout the fair’s duration, there are often special events and performances, such as tractor pulls, demolition derbies, and live entertainment acts.

The fair often includes educational exhibits on agriculture, horticulture, and sustainability to promote understanding and awareness of these important topics.

The Topsfield Fair is not only a fun and entertaining event but also an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the agricultural heritage of the region. It attracts visitors from all over New England and beyond, making it a beloved tradition for many.

NOVEMBER:

Thanksgiving Events in Plymouth:

Plymouth, Massachusetts holds a special place in the history of Thanksgiving as the believed landing site of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620. The town commemorates this historic event with various Thanksgiving-related events and celebrations.

Events include a Thanksgiving Day parade, Native American programs, historical reenactments, Thanksgiving dinner, special tours, cultural events and more.

For more fun things to do in the fall, check out this article on fall attractions in Massachusetts.

Sources:
“Massachusetts Statewide Fairs & Festivals Calendar.” Visit Massachusetts, visit-massachusetts.com/state/fairs-and-festivals/

About William Briscoe

William Briscoe is a seasoned travel blogger and adventurer based in Massachusetts. With a passion for exploring hidden gems and sharing his travel experiences, Briscoe's website, "Mass Attractions," has become a go-to resource for those seeking seasonal attractions in Massachusetts. In addition to his website, William has contributed travel stories and articles to various travel publications, and his work has been featured in several magazines and online platforms. He also collaborates with tourism boards and travel companies to promote sustainable and responsible travel practices. William enjoys exploring the scenic beauty of New England, spending time with his family and two rescue dogs, and experimenting with classical New England recipes in his kitchen. He holds a degree in English Literature from Boston University, which he believes laid the foundation for his writing skills.

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