The Scene’s guide to the best fall festivals in DC
The essential festival bucket list to get you in the fall mood
If the newly brisk weather and influx of pumpkin-flavored items haven’t gotten you in the autumn spirit yet, check out one of the many fall festivals happening in the D.C. area this season. With recommendations ranging from a Renaissance fair to a cider fest, there is sure to be an event appealing to everyone.
Head to the Hirshhorn Museum for a free festival featuring live music, a mesmerizing new exhibit and beer tasting. Nine local artists are scheduled to perform, and visitors can tour the museum’s latest must-see showcase, which highlights Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. If you’re 21 or older, the festival’s Biergarten will offer complimentary beer samples from The Bier Baron Tavern. Since admission to the Hirshhorn is free, check out the museum’s vastly impressive collection of contemporary art while you’re there.
When: Oct. 22, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Independence Avenue and 7th Street SW
Metro: L’Enfant Plaza, Green/Yellow/Orange/Blue Lines
This free fall festival at Cathedral Commons includes live music, craft beer tasting for an additional $5 and food from nearby locations such as Raku and Cafe Deluxe. There will also be a pumpkin patch on-site to really build anticipation for fall festivities (despite this lingering warm weather). With its close proximity to campus, this is the perfect festival if you don’t want to venture too far from home.
When: Oct. 22, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 3401 Idaho Avenue NW
Bus: Take any of the 30 route buses
Your last chance to experience this year’s Maryland Renaissance Festival is quickly approaching. Escape to the 25-acre English village for a truly one-of-kind experience, with plenty of fried food, unique vendors and craftspeople, melodramatic Shakespeare performances and much more. While the fair is not Metro-accessible, make a day trip out of it and Zipcar with some friends. Tickets are available online for $24.
When: Oct. 22 to Oct. 23, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis
Since apples are a staple ingredient in so many autumn dishes, why not dedicate an entire festival to them? The second annual apple festival at the Adams Morgan Farmers Market includes heirloom apple tasting from Maryland’s Licking Creek Bend Farm, as well as an apple pie baking contest. The market also features plenty of other delicious fruits, veggies and more fall goodies. If you can’t resist a seasonal treat, then this free festival is for you.
When: Oct. 29, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: 18th and Columbia NW
Metro: Woodley Park-Adams Morgan, Red Line
Celebrate another fall essential this month at Rock the Core Cider Festival. A $35 ticket provides you with three hours of unlimited tasting of 30 cider and 20 beer options. While sampling the unique apple flavors, treat yourself to a snack from a local food truck, or enjoy live DJ entertainment and classic lawn games like corn hole.
When: Oct. 29, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: 1300 1st Street SE
Metro: Navy Yard, Green Line
If haunted houses are more your scene than a typical fall festival, then this fright fest is your go-to event to get excited for Halloween. From the creators of Field of Screams, voted the best haunted experience in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Delaware, this event is not for the faint of heart. Tickets are $30 to $40 and give you access to two top-notch, immersive haunted houses. Wait times are expected to rapidly increase as Halloween approaches, so plan to arrive early.
When: Every Friday and Saturday night through Nov. 7, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: 2400 East Capitol Street SE
Metro: Stadium/Armory, Orange/Silver/Blue Line
The biannual Emporiyum Food Market features mouthwatering foods from over 100 nationally recognized vendors, as well as gifts and products available to purchase. Start your Christmas shopping early for the foodies in your life, or stop by and sample dishes yourself. Festival vendors include Bushwick Kitchen, Michele’s Granola, Buredo and many other unique options. General admission tickets start at just $15, so don’t miss out.
When: Nov. 12-13
Where: 1309 5th Street NE
Metro: NoMA-Gallaudet U, Red Line