It’s that time of year again. With autumn just arriving, fall festivals are ready to pop up around the DMV for anyone looking to scavenge a pumpkin patch or taste some local craft brews.
As the leaves slowly turn to a warmer color palette, the new season welcomes a collection of cultural, musical and traditional fall festivals in the area. From an energetic Oktoberfest celebration at The Wharf to a farm festival in northern Virginia, the DMV’s fall festival lineup features several standouts to enjoy before the District dips into cooler temperatures.
Here are some top picks to look out for this autumn:
Oktoberfest at The Wharf
Kicking off October, this fall festival at The Wharf embraces its German namesake with a plethora of events embracing rich German fare, polka dance and traditional blue and white Bavarian decor. Located at District Pier along the Washington Channel, the annual weekend-long Oktoberfest will run from Friday to Sunday.
Suitable for all ages, the festival offers plenty of free activities, like rhythmic polka dancing to kick off the weekend Friday evening and the coveted “Dachshund Dash” this Saturday, a speedy live dog race benefiting the D.C.-based animal shelter Rural Dog Rescue.
Local restaurants along The Wharf, including Cantina Bambina, Kirwan’s Irish Pub and Brighton SW1, match the German theme during the festival on Sunday, serving up all the German cuisine and bier one could ask for.
Wharf St. SW. Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Free. Advanced registration is required for events. Find more information here.
All Things Go
Held at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, All Things Go stands out as the premier fall music festival in the D.C. area with its high profile artists and nearly 20,000-person capacity for attendees. Grammy-winning pop star Lorde, alternative-rock singer Mitski and queer icon King Princess will headline the festival, which has unveiled its largest artist lineup to date this year. The festival will also feature several rising stars like sonically atypical and innovative Bartees Strange and upcoming pop heroine Maude Latour.
The All Things Go company found its roots in the D.C. area in 2006 when it hosted club nights at U Street Music Hall and booked concerts for rising alternative music stars before their breakouts, including Grammy-nominated girl-group HAIM and British rock band The 1975. In 2014, the brand hosted its first festival, which has grown each year while paying special attention to booking female names in music.
The festival grounds will feature two stages to fill with an entire day of eclectic music, immersive art installations, photo booths and food vendors that include a cash bar and beer garden. Although nearly sold out, limited general admission tickets remain available for this renowned music event for all ages.
Cox Farms Fall Festival
Experience autumn in full swing with hay rides, local produce tastings and animal feeding at Cox Farms in Centreville, Virginia now through November. All-inclusive admission includes access to all farm activities, ranging from cornfield adventures to apple picking and ventures through a pumpkin patch.
The festival is suited to family fun and outdoor recreation, with an autumnal menu at the fall festival market to match, featuring fall classics like kettle corn, cider and apple pie. Guests can quickly access the festival market to purchase take-home food without full entry.
Throughout the entire season, visitors may coast down giant slides, climb on rope swings and sample local apples and cider for the full autumnal feel.
15621 Braddock Rd., Centreville, Virginia. Open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 7 and extending through Tuesday, Nov. 8. Closes at 5 p.m. in November. Daily tickets are $10 to $25 and must be reserved online. Find more information here.
DC Beer Fest
DC Beer Fest is returning to Nationals Park with some of the finest local and international craft breweries stationed throughout the field and stands later this fall.
More than 80 independent breweries and food trucks will span the park and its concourse at the District’s largest beer festival. The event will also feature multiple food trucks, including fried chicken cuisine from Roaming Rooster, gourmet fried foods from Urban Poutine and several other fares. Live music and a dueling piano bar will offer entertainment along the food truck alley.
All guests can enjoy unlimited samples from breweries like local Virginia-based Alesatian Brewing Company and the cider-crafting brewer Downeast to supply seasonal fall drinks incorporating autumnal flavors like pumpkin and fall blends, including darker brews.
International City Food Festival
D.C. is known for its excellence in blending cultural traditions, and the International City Food Festival does just that. Welcoming cuisines from more than 30 international embassies, this celebration of diversity serves up food that represents the home countries of diplomats across the District. Events DC will present three days of state of the art cuisine accentuated at the Smithsonian Art Museum.
The Embassy Chef Challenge, a 14-year-long running tradition inspiring culinary competition among embassy chefs, will offer a friendly international competition through creativity in the kitchen and community celebration on Thursday, Oct. 13. Diplomatic chefs will share food and drink from their home countries and compete for top prize, which include past winners like The Bahamas, El Salvador and Serbia in the past.
An Oktoberfest celebration on Friday, Oct. 14 will transport you straight to the annual Munich festival through authentic festivities, curated by the German-American Heritage Foundation and the German Embassy. Celebrate Día de los Muertos at Franklin Park with traditional foods, a screening of Disney animation film “Coco” and engaging entertainment curated by the Embassy of Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Varying locations. Oct. 13 to 15, tickets are $75 to $90 for the Embassy Chef Challenge, $10 for Taste of Oktoberfest and free for Dia de los Muertos. Find more information here.