Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Where to find a fall festival or fair in New York

Ready yourself for autumnal goodness: No fall festival in New York is complete without pumpkins, apples and spooky fun!

By Danielle Valente
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Pick a fall festival—or two!—and get ready to celebrate the most beautiful time of the year. 

We've rounded up celebrations with fun autumnal activities like pumpkin picking, apple picking and scary movies for kids, all of which are necessary ways to ring in September and October. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the fall with kids

Although many of these fairs and events have had to make safety adjustments this year, they'll gladly welcome you to enjoy those candy apples and corn mazes you look forward to every season. While you're taking advantage of cool days and colorful hues, be sure to embark on a scenic drive—a free way to enjoy nature in all of her glory.

Best fall festivals and fairs

queens county farm museum
queens county farm museum
Photograph: Courtesy The Queens County Farm Museum/@wedo_production

1. "The Fall Escape"

Things to do Exhibitions Queens County Farm Museum, Queens

Take a walk on the floral side! The Queens County Museum's gorgeous autumn display provides plenty of fun photo ops for you and your little New Yorkers—from the Blooming Enchanted Fall Forest to the life-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte! Be sure to stay for other fun activities like the Amazing Maize Maze, hayrides, pumpkin picking and more. All ages. 

the amazing maize maze
the amazing maize maze
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Borowick

2. The Amazing Maize Maze

5 out of 5 stars
Kids Quirky events Queens County Farm Museum, Queens

No autumn would be complete without the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm Museum! The American Maze Company builds a labyrinth every year that that stretches over several acres, with the length of the course often stretching two miles! Previous years’ themes have included a violin, a riverboat, a train, a farmscape and the largest living sundial. This year, paths will be larger, timed tickets will be required and employees will monitor guests. You can wander your way through the maze by moonlight on Oct 3 and 24 from 5:30 pm–9:30pm (with staggered times). Ages 3 and up.

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nybg pumpkin path
nybg pumpkin path
Photograph: Courtesy NYBG + Marlon Co

3. Pumpkin Path at the New York Botanical Garden

Things to do New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx

The New York Botanical Garden is putting an autumn twist on its rustic displays. Beginning Oct 3, visitors can take a gander at gourds of all sizes and eccentric scarecrows adorning the Great Pumpkin Path. Some of the largest pumpkins in the world will arrive on Oct 24, so be on the lookout for the record-breaking sights! All ages.

Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

4. Boo at the Zoo

News City Life

In a spooky state of mind? You're not alone. Tickets have just gone on sale for the Bronx Zoo's annual Boo at the Zoo festival, and this year's celebration is chillingly wicked—in a good way! Thursday through Sunday from Oct 1 to Nov 1 is your chance to revel in the Halloween fun, from magic shows and pumpkin carving demonstrations to mind reading and trips through the spooky extinct animal graveyard. Each day, animal-themed costumed stilt walkers and Halloween animal puppets will put on a "MASKerade" while the Wildlife Theater will pull out all the stops with performances in Astor Court. 

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halloween costumes
halloween costumes
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. BAMboo!

Things to do Remote, Midtown West

This annual bash is one of Brooklyn's hippest Halloween hangs. This year, it's going virtual. Costumed cuties can participate in a costume contest, let a magician wow them with neat tricks, sit in for stories, boogey at the digital dance party and more. Ages 4–12.

pumpkins
pumpkins
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

6. Fall Harvest at Happy Day Farm

This rustic New Jersey attraction is an autumnal paradise: Every weekend (and Fridays in October) from Sept 12 to Oct 25, visitors have a plethora of seasonal fun to enjoy, including one of the country's most impressive corn mazes at 10 acres, pumpkin bowling, a tractor pull, Hay Mountain, Giant Jenga and a slew of other cool activities. Advanced tickets ($16) are required. 

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Schmitts Farm Fall Festival
Schmitts Farm Fall Festival
Photograph: Danielle Valente

7. Schmitt Family Farm's Annual Fall Festival

Snag yourself a candy apple and let the fun begin! Schmitt Family Farm's Annual Fall Festival is perfect for those with young chilren: A fun playground, a scaled-down mini golf course and petting zoo will keep the littles entertained as the temperature drops and fall colors swoop in. Parents will gravitate toward the vegetable, pumpkin and sunflower picking—just make sure you hop on the tractor to get there. You'd be remiss to leave without a visit to the market and a bag of popcorn. The event will run on weekends from Sept 19 to Oct 31 ($10).

apples
apples
Shutterstock

8. Spookley Movie Night at Apple Ridge Orchards

Grab a cozy blanket and settle in for a frighteningly fun flick under the stars: Apple Ridge Orchards' annual Spookley Movie Night lets guests enjoy a moonlight walk through the apple orchards before a 6:45pm screening of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. Admission ($16 for ages 2 and up) also includes a pumpkin! Registration is required for the 2020 lineup, which will take place on Oct 9, 16 and 23 from 5:30–8pm. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Jennifer Mitchell

9. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Things to do Quirky events Van Cortlandt Manor,

Like a well-stocked candy stash, the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze is an essential part of Halloween in New York. The attraction is set along the beautiful 18th century riverside landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor and boasts a pumpkin promenade like none other: There are over 7,000 hand-carved jack o'lanterns waiting to impress visitors. As you tour the grounds, expect synchronized lighting, spooky music and more dazzling, Instagram-worthy features like the Pumpkin Carousel and the Pumpkin Windmill. What's new in 2020? A pumpkin fire truck and a coven of witches cooking up a spell! New safety measures will be in place in 2020. Read all about them online. Be sure to snag tickets early; the event is likely to sell out.

Great Pumpkin Blaze
Great Pumpkin Blaze
Photograph: Courtesy Historic Hudson Valley/Tom Nycz

10. The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze: Long Island

News City Life

New Yorkers' favorite fall event is expanding for the first time! The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze will illuminate a second location with its stunning pumpkin art. In addition to operating at Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley, the Halloween happening will set up shop at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island from Oct 2–Nov 1. Expect another 7,000+ pumpkins glowing in the autumn evening. Similar to the original event, the Long Island Blaze will also have synchronized lighting and seasonal tunes to accompany the hand-carved installations. 

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Six Flags HOLLOWFEST
Six Flags HOLLOWFEST
Photograph: Courtesty Six Flags Great Adventure

11. Six Flags' new HALLOWFEST

News City Life

HALLOWFEST, Six Flags Great Adventure's all-new celebration, will run from Sept 18 through Nov 1, which means there are plenty of opportunities for creepy, kooky and spooky shenanigans. During the day, little monsters can enjoy seasonal scream-worthy attractions: inflatables, a Trick or Treat Trail, a hay bale maze (in one direction) and other fun activities. At night is when things get a little more serious (perhaps a time better suited for the tweens and teens): Creepy fog, eerie lighting and sinister music will transform the family attraction into a real-life horror movie and thrill-seekers can ride their favorite coasters...in the dark! 

Hocus Pocus - 1993
Hocus Pocus - 1993
Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

12. Nightmare at the Movies Drive-In

News Movies

Come for the treats and stay for the screams: Adventureland will debut its Nightmare at the Movies drive-in experience on Sept 25. For $40 per car, the whole family can cash in on the ghoulishly good fun. The package includes a chicken fingers and fries dinner, a $10 Adventureland Arcade card, movie-style popcorn and a choice of beverages, trivia on select evenings and, of course, some of the our favorite scary movies for kids. The series will kick off on Friday Sept 25 with a classic, Hocus Pocus, beginning at 7pm. Feel free to drive by sooner, as gates open at 5pm and festivities like trivia will begin at 6:30pm. Even better news? If you're in search of a spooky date night, leave the kids with a sitter and enjoy the late screening at 10pm (gates open at 8:30pm). First up? Nightmare on Elm Street. The series will continue on Oct 9, 23 and 30. However, a full schedule has yet to be released, so check back in for the latest updates!

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food fair carnival
food fair carnival
Photograph: Shutterstock

13. Orange County Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival

News Transport & Travel

Since fall activities are making adjustments this year, one New York town wanted to ensure that you got your funnel cake fix. Plan a weekend day trip to the free, socially-distanced Orange County Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival. From Sept 24–27 and Oct 1–4, you and your family can head to the Orange County fairgrounds in Middletown for all the sweets your heart desires. Drivers will receive a map, a menu and guided through set route of the grounds (forgoing any stations that aren't of interest to them, of course). A drive-thru setting will only accommodate cars only (no walk-ups) and include everyone's favorites: funnel cakes, fried Oreos, candy apples, popcorn, fried Twinkies, sausage and peppers, gyros and so much more. We're getting hungry just thinking about the orders we're going to place. The event will operate from 4–9pm on Thursdays and Fridays and 9:30am–9pm on weekends.

 

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