All winter long, I dream of warm days. I visualize the hot sun, warm water and lots of sand. And yet, when it gets here (especially this year), it’s too hot and I find myself looking forward to the crispness of fall. If I had to pick a favorite season it would be the autumnal months of September, October and November; that is to say, November in some cities.
Fall ushers in its own brand of excitement with plenty of warm temps wrapped with some cool mornings and nights, changing foliage, football, and lots of festivals! And it’s in these festivals where you can really have some fun, experience a new destination and relish the colors of the season.
Here are my picks for the Top Five Fall Festivals in 2011.
The Big E!: September 16th – October 2nd
For 17 days each September, New England celebrates the end of summer with The Big E! Set in West Springfield, Massachusetts, this colossal event features top entertainment, like my favorites Darius Rucker, Reba and Blake Shelton, The Big E Super Circus, The Avenue of States, Storrowton Village Museum, animals, competitive exhibits, rides, shopping, crafts, a daily parade and a Mardi Gras parade, and foods from around the world.
Mt. Angel Oktoberfest: September 15th – 18th
Munich’s Oktoberfest is the ultimate fall celebration, but if you are keeping it stateside then it doesn’t get much better than the Mount Angel Oktoberfest. Settled by German pioneers in the early 1800s, the Oregon town of Mount Angel looks like a scene straight out of Bavaria. Its first Oktoberfest celebration was in 1966, and today about 350,000 excited beer-drinkers flock to check out continuous live music on four stages, traditional beer and wine gardens, and 50 food chalets.
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati: September 17th – 18th
More than half a million people will fill downtown Cincinnati and its historic fountain square district for the two days of revelry. Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati features loads of traditional and not-so-traditional activities like hosting the world’s largest chicken dance (it actually holds the world record) and the world’s largest kazoo band. The rest of the weekend plays host to folk dancers, concerts and contests.
Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival: October 13th – 16th
Pack your tent for this four-day event nestled in the heart of the Ozarks. You can even enter the Fiddlin’ and Pickin’ Contest! Sign up for Mandolin, Banjo, Flat-picking, and Fiddle to compete at the festival for a cash prize! The festival features an impressive lineup of musical artists, food vendors, and arts and crafts.
Fall Foliage Festival: October 1st – 2nd, 8th – 9th
With the Pennsylvania leaves at their peak color in October, the mountains are a show of their own during the annual Fall Foliage Festival held over two weekends in Bedford. There will be entertainment and activities for attendees of all ages. In its 47th year, this annual salute to all things red, yellow and orange just might be the fall getaway you’ve been looking for.
And another event worth noting is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The event, which was supposed to happen this past Sunday, was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. So be on the lookout for the official dedication ceremony on a date yet determined in September or October. Fall is gorgeous in the Nation’s capital and the Memorial is said to be open now so even if you can’t make the official ceremony; plan a trip to see the newest, and one of the most beautiful, memorial in D.C.