MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Fall festivals 2021


  • (Jul 23 – 24)La Crosse Storytelling Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    Listen to local, regional and national storytellers spin tales at the Pump House. There will also be music and arts and crafts.


  • (Aug. 13 – 15)Art & Big Fork Festival

    Evanston, IL

    This downtown festival features live music and local food, beer, wine and fine art.

  • (Aug. 13 – 14)Quad Cities Balloon Festival

    East Moline, IL

    This festival at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds includes balloon glows, launches, tethered rides and a play area for children.


  • (Sep. 8 – 12)Defeat of Jesse James Days

    Northfield, MN

    In this college town south of the Twin Cities, there's a fine-arts festival, tractor pulls, a bike tour, reenactments of the famous bank raid and a Sunday parade.

  • (Sep. 8 – 12)Sandwich Fair

    Sandwich, IL

    This northeast Illinois fair, held since 1888, features exhibits, entertainment and music plus harness racing, tractor pulls and demolition derbies.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)James J. Hill Days

    Wayzata, MN

    This Minneapolis suburb features a street market and carnival; dachshund races, a craft-beer fest, logrolling and fireworks on Saturday; and a parade on Sunday.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Villa Louis Carriage Classic

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    The Victorian estate on the Mississippi River hosts horses, restored carriages and drivers in period dress for competitive arena and cross-country sport driving, a passion of the frontier aristocrats who built it.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Festival of the Vine

    Geneva, IL

    There's an arts and crafts show, flower market, music, wine tasting and sampling of food from local restaurants.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Paw Paw Wine & Harvest Festival

    Paw Paw, MI

    This big festival in southwest Michigan wine country features music on three stages, Friday fireworks, an art fair, motorcycle and bicycle tours, grape stomps and a Sunday parade.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Harvest Moon Festival

    Ely, MN

    In Whiteside Park, there's an arts fair plus music, an old-time medicine show and pony rides and a petting zoo for kids.

  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Classic Boat & Schooner Rendezvous

    Bayfield, WI

    Schooners and sloops will gather in this Lake Superior town. There will be activities for children, an open house at the Coast Guard station and a Saturday boat parade.

  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Rock Bend Folk Festival

    St. Peter, MN

    This free, easygoing festival is in this Minnesota River town's Minnesota Square Park.

  • (Sep. 11)Laura Ingalls Wilder Days

    Pepin, WI

    The famous author's birthplace celebrates this year with a scaled-down festival this year at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, including traditional music and crafts, pie-eating and fiddling. 

  • (Sep. 11)Ethnic Fest

    Walker, MN

    Alphornists, Scandinavian dancers and Anishinaabe drum and dance corps perform in this town on the shores of Leech Lake. There's also a parade.

  • (Sep. 11)Taste of the Trail

    Lanesboro, MN

    In Lanesboro, Whalan and Peterson on the Root River State Trail, enjoy music, wagon rides and free samples from local restaurants and growers. 

    Events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • (Sep. 11)Mural Fest

    Ashland, WI

    Go on guided tours of Ashland's famous murals, meet the artists and go on a mural scavenger hunt. There's also food, music, crafts and a car show.

  • (Sep. 11)Sputnikfest

    Manitowoc, WI

    Help celebrate the 1962 crash landing of a 20-pound piece of Russia's Sputnik on a street in Manitowoc. There's a wacky costume contest, a Miss Space Debris pageant, a pet costume contest, a space-themed movie and music.

  • (Sep. 11)Whooping Crane Festival

    Princeton, WI

    Celebrate the whooping-crane migration with voyageur canoe trips, a marketplace, crane trivia, children's activities and bird walks.

  • (Sep. 11)Monarch Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    This festival at Lake Nokomis celebrates the monarch migration from Minnesota to Mexico and includes a costume parade, music, dance, art activities and monarch games.

  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Little Falls Arts & Crafts Fair

    Little Falls, MN

    This large fair, with nearly 600 artists, includes a car show and an antiques and collectibles section as well as a Man Cave.

  • (Sep. 12)St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

    St. Paul, MN

    Ride a 15-, 30- or 45-mile route along the Mississippi, lakes Como and Phalen and St. Paul parkways, starting and ending at the University of St. Thomas and punctuated by food and live music.

  • (Sep. 12)Scandinavian Day

    South Elgin, IL

    This festival in Vasa Park, along the Fox River, features music, dancing, food and crafts from the Nordic countries.

  • (Sep. 15 – 18)Pumpkin Festival

    Morton, IL

    This town near Peoria, home of the Libby's pumpkin-packing plant, calls itself the Pumpkin Capital of the World. The festival features pumpkin-boat races, pumpkin decorating, pie-eating contests, a craft fair, a pumpkin-pancake breakfast and a 10:30 a.m. Saturday parade.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Wo-Zha-Wa Days

    Wisconsin Dells, WI

    There's a juried arts and crafts show, a flea maraket, a street carnival and a parade Sunday.

  • (Sep. 17 – 18)Oktoberfest

    Chippewa Falls, WI

    Meet the Narren, enter a sauerkraut-eating contest, listen to polka and zydeco and watch the daily parade.

  • (Sep. 17 – 18)Unplugged music festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    The harbor-side North House Folk School celebrates with storytelling, traditional workshops, a fish boil and concerts by songwriter/musicians.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)World Food & Music Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    In downtown's East Village, eat at more than 50 cultural cafes for $5 or less (or taste for $1), shop at the world marketplace or listen to musicians strolling the streets or on stage.

    This year, the festival has been altered; check for events.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Grape Stomp

    Alexandria, MN

    Carlos Creek Winery hosts this festival, which features music on two stages, an art fair, grape stomps and "I Love Lucy'' look-alike contests.


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Wauktoberfest

    Waunakee, WI

    This town just north of Madison celebrates with a craft-beer tasting, bike tour, music and lots of contests: frau carrying, yodeling, beer keg race, dachshund dash and Limburger cheese and sauerkraut eating.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Gemuetlichkeit Days

    Jefferson, WI

    This festival between Madison and Milwaukee is named for the German word for a cozy and congenial atmosphere. It includes sauerkraut-eating, nail-driving, facial hair and costume contests, a vintage car show, music and a parade at noon Sunday.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Hot Air Balloon Days

    Creston, IA

    In this town southwest of Des Moines, there are balloon races and night glows, a parade with marching-band contest, an arts and crafts fair and a flea market.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Mahkato Wacipi

    Mankato, MN

    This traditional powwow in Land of Memories Park commemorates the 38 Dakota who were hanged after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war.

  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Oktoberfestival

    Duluth, MN

    This festival on the bayfront features stein-holding, barrel-rolling and pretzel-tossing contests, a kids' zone and a dachshund derby on Sunday, plus German food and music. Admission is $20, $10 up to week of event, free for youths 15 and under.

  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Wine & Harvest Festival

    Cedarburg, WI

    There's a pumpkin regatta — yes, people paddling hollowed-out pumpkins across Cedar Creek — at the fest in this historic mill town just north of Milwaukee. There's also a scarecrow contest, grape stomp, hay rides, juried arts fair and lots of food.

  • (Sep. 18)Audubon Days

    Mayville, WI

    The festival in this town next to big Horicon Marsh features bed races, a car show, craft fair, bag tournament and music.

  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Vintage Illinois Wine Festival

    Utica, IL

    This festival in northwest Illinois features live music and wine-tasting from 25 Illinois vineyards.


  • (Sep. 18 – 19)World War II Days

    Rockford, IL

    Midway Village Museum hosts one of the largest World War II battle re-enactments in the nation, with more than 1,200 uniformed re-enactors and more than 60 vintage tanks and other armored vehicles.

  • (Sep. 18)Parade of Nations and Multicultural Festival

    Hancock/Houghton, MI

    The parade begins in Hancock and ends in Houghton at Dee Stadium, where there's a festival with music, dancing and food from around the world.

  • (Sep. 18)Taste of the Trail

    Fountain/Preston/Harmony, MN

    On the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail, sample local treats, listen to music, visit the National Trout Center, take wagon rides and play games.


  • (Sep. 18)Scarecrow Fest

    Phelps, WI

    See early fall color around this town in Nicolet National Forest. There's pumpkin-chucking, pumpkin and scarecrow contests, a craft fair, car show, hay rides and free chili and deep-fried pickles.

  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Bacon Bash

    River Falls, WI

    There will be pig races, a pig-calling contest, pig crafts, an amateur bacon cook-off and many bacon dishes, including ice cream.

  • (Sep. 18)Party on the Pavement

    Racine, WI

    Racine's biggest street festival features stages of entertainment and a car show, art walk, carnival rides and zones for kids and sports.

  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Art and Apples on the Lake

    Excelsior, MN

    On the shore of Lake Minnetonka, Art on the Lake combines with Apple Day, with an art fair, apple pie-eating contest, music and a street dance.

  • (Sep. 18)Harvest Fest & Street Art Auction

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    This street party includes a car show, cornhole and chalk-art contests, music and artisans and winds up with the auction of 25 artist-created cherries.

  • (Sep. 18)Greenway Glow

    Minneapolis, MN

    Along the Midtown Greenway bike route in south Minneapolis, enjoy live music, art installations and theatrical performances from 4 to 10 p.m.

  • (Sep. 18)Squidfest

    Granite Falls, MN

    The inaugural festival in this Minnesota River Valley town features a 10:30 a.m. parade, a disc golf tournament, street performance, kids' activities, art and live music all day. There's also a Ribfest.

  • (Sep. 23 – 25)Boats and Bluegrass

    Winona, MN

    This family-oriented festival in Prairie Island Park, on the Mississippi River, features disc golf and paddling as well as music. A weekend pass includes camping and canoeing, and kids under 16 are free with an adult ticket. Buy tickets early to save money.

  • (Sep. 23 – 26)Oktoberfest

    New Glarus, WI

    There will be music, wagon rides, chainsaw carving, children's activities and, of course, beer from New Glarus Brewing.

  • (Sep. 23 – 26)Oktoberfest of Greater Racine

    Franksville, WI

    Lakefront Brewery hosts this free, family-friendly festival at Franksville Craft Beer Garden, featuring stein-hoisting and nail-driving contests, yard games, a pig roast, live music, bounce houses for the kids and two dozen craft beers on tap.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Cornish Festival

    Mineral Point, WI

    In the old lead-mining district in southwest Wisconsin, play shove ha'penny in the Kiddleywink Pub, eat figgyhobbin and pasties, listen to tommyknocker tales and tour Cornish miners' cottages.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Apple Festival

    Gays Mills, WI

    There'll be arts and crafts and music in this southwest Wisconsin village. The big parade is Sunday.

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)German Fest

    Guttenberg, IA

    There will be music, dancing, children's games and lock and dam tours in this antebellum town on the Mississippi River.

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Fall Fest

    Cable, WI

    In the colorful northwest Wisconsin woods, there'll be hay rides, corn maze, a chili cook-off, fish boil, arts and crafts and fireworks.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Cranberry Festival

    Warrens, WI

    At this huge festival in west-central Wisconsin, there'll be marsh tours, pie-eating contests and more than 1,000 booths selling antiques, produce and arts and crafts. 

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Kalona Fall Festival

    Kalona, IA

    This Mennonite community just southwest of Iowa City, famous for its quilts, offers pony rides, a pumpkin-carving contest, demonstrations of Old World artisanry, music and homemade potato chips, apple fritters, ice cream and chicken, biscuits and gravy.

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Oktoberfest

    Des Moines, IA

    Take polka-dancing lessons, enter the Bier Maiden or stein-holding contests and win costume prizes at this outdoor fest under tents downtown.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Milwaukee Oktoberfest

    Milwaukee, WI

    There will be dachshund racing, stein-hoisting and brat-eating competitions as well as music and dancing at the War Memorial on the lakefront.

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Octoberfest

    Appleton, WI

    This large downtown festival is more general civic celebration than German festival, with an arts and crafts show, car show and music on five stages.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Red Cliff Cultural Days

    Bayfield, WI

    At this Ojibwe community just north of Bayfield, there will be a mini-powwow, sailboat rides, canoe races, traditional games, music, fireworks and sky lanterns.

  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Harvest Fair

    West Allis, WI

    This free festival at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds features lumberjack shows, pumpkin bowling, scarecrow-making, kids' rides and entertainment on three stages.

  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Chicago Live Again!

    Chicago, IL

    More than 40 of Chicago's marquee attractions, including the Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera and Second City will provide free, outdoors non-stop entertainment at Navy Pier to celebrate the return of live performance to Chicago. 

    On Saturday night, there will be a fireworks display to end the festival. 

  • (Sep. 25 – 26)All-State Barn Tour in Iowa

    Across the state, IA

    It's the Iowa Barn Foundation's annual free, self-guided tour of restored historic barns.

  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Art Fair On the Square

    Madison, WI

    Nearly 500 artists from around the nation will be selling on Capitol Square and 140 Wisconsin artists around Monona Terrace, attracting more than 200,000 people.

  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival

    Hudson, WI

    Music, food and a juried art show along the St. Croix River, in Lakefront Park.

  • (Sep. 25)Fall Festival

    Hayward, WI

    There's an arts and crafts fair, children's games, contests and live music downtown.

  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Fermentation Fest

    Sauk City, WI

    This fest in the scenic hills of southwest Wisconsin is not only about pickles and sourdough bread but also cheese, chocolate, beer and wine. There will be demos, tastings, music, art, dance and Scandinavian cow calling.

    It's at Witwen Park & Campground, between Plain and Prairie du Sac.

  • (Sep. 25)Taste of the Trail

    Rushford/Houston, MN

    On the Root River State Trail, sample local food, listen to music, tour a museum and visit the International Owl Center.

  • (Sep. 25)Beef-A-Rama

    Minocqua, WI

    In this northern Wisconsin lake-resort town, there's a Rump Roast Run, beef-eating contest and Parade of Beef.

  • (Sep. 25)Johnny Appleseed Festival

    Crystal Lake, IL

    In this northwest suburb of Chicago, there's pumpkin bowling, a pumpkin train and petting zoo, apple contests, music and a craft fair.

  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Doors Open Milwaukee

    Milwaukee, WI

    More than 150 historic buildings — theaters, breweries, mansions, cathedrals, hotels, museums — are open to the public, and many offer free guided tours.

    More than three dozen in-depth walking tours also are offered but sell out quickly.


  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Latino Heritage Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    This festival at Western Gateway Park features Latino music, dancing, arts, cultural booths, children's activities and a corn-eating contest.

  • (Sep. 30 – Oct 3)Oktoberfest

    La Crosse, WI

    At this big riverfront festival, there's food, music and carnival rides, plus the opening Torchlight Parade and the Maple Leaf Parade on Saturday morning.


  • (Oct. 1 – 3)Apple Festival

    Bayfield, WI

    It's the 60th year of this big festival on Lake Superior, which features  orchard tours, history walks, an apple-peeling contest, live music and a big parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Oct. 1 – 3)Oktoberfest

    Amana, IA

    There's German music and food at this Amana Colonies village, plus contests that include the Eisenmann, or Iron Man, competition: Teams roll kegs, walk a balance beam with full steins of beer and saw logs. The parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday.

  • (Oct. 1 – 2)Chain O' Lakes Blues Festival

    Waupaca, WI

    Listen to the blues at the historic Indian Crossing Casino.

  • (Oct. 1 – 3)Door County Lighthouse Festival

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    The Door County Maritime Museum sponsors tours by air, land and water to lighthouses on the peninsula, some of which can be visited only during festival weekends. Reserve as early as possible.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Big Island Rendezvous and Festival

    Albert Lea, MN

    This southern Minnesota festival is great for families, with a voyageur encampment of more than 1,000 reenactors dancing, demonstrating, competing and pulling visitors back into the fur-trade era.

  • (Oct. 2)Apple Affair

    Galesville, WI

    In the bluffs above Trempealeau, this festival features a 10-foot apple pie, a hunt for a Silver Apple, a race of floating wooden apples and a bicycle tour with a 20-mile route through apple orchards and hillier 35- and 60-mile routes.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Oktoberfest

    Cedarburg, WI

    This festival just north of Milwaukee features music and food plus goofy contests: best lederhosen/dirndl, sauerkraut-eating, a German spelling bee and a live Glockenspiel show.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Giant Pumpkin Fest

    Nekoosa, WI

    This town near Wisconsin Rapids calls itself the Giant Pumpkin Capital of Wisconsin and features a pumpkin-pie eating contest, pumpkin rolling and carving, a carnival and craft show.

  • (Oct. 2)Oktoberfest

    Galena, IL

    The Lions Club puts on this riverfront festival, which includes wiener-dog races, polka lessons, nail-driving, pumpkin-decorating and a beanbag tournament.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Autumn on Parade

    Oregon, IL

    Strolling performers appear at the Autumn on Parade Festival, and the Harvest Time Parade is on Sunday.

    The Stronghold Conference Center outside town offers Olde English Faire on the same weekend, featuring swordfighters, minstrels, magicians and the Gremlin's Garden for children. However, it may not be held in 2021.

  • (Oct. 2)Northside Oktoberfest

    Iowa City, IA

    The Iowa City Brewfest is part of this festival, which includes keg bowling, beer sliding and nail-striking as well as traditional Oktoberfest music in an outdoor beer hall.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Fall Village Market

    Mount Horeb, WI

    This town west of Madison offers vintage and handmade goods, live music and food trucks.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Rivertown Fall Art Festival

    Stillwater, MN

    This juried arts festival along the banks of the St. Croix River includes music and food vendors.

  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Cranberry Fest

    Eagle River, WI

    In this northeast Wisconsin lakes town, there will be marsh tours, music, a cranberry beer and wine garden, an antiques market, fiber-art show and crafts fair.

  • (Oct. 2)Autumnfest

    St. Croix Falls, WI

    This town on the St. Croix River offers live music, a car show, food trucks and an arts and crafts fair in Overlook Park.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Scenic Drive Festival

    Van Buren County, IA

    In the southeast corner of Iowa, 11 villages feature quilt shows, scarecrow contests, bake sales, tours of historic sites, wine tasting and street fairs.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour

    Decorah area, IA

    Drive through bluff country to see 56 artists at 43 sites around Decorah, Burr Oak, St. Lucas, Waukon, West Union, Cresco, New Albin, Lansing, Elgin and Clermont.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Scarecrow Festival

    St. Charles, IL

    There's a big scarecrow contest plus a carnival, music, dance and the Autumn on the Fox arts show in this town west of Chicago. New this year is the Family Zone.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Pumpkin Festival

    Highwood, IL

    Every year, this northern suburb of Chicago tries to break the record for most lighted jack-o-lanterns. In addition to all-you-can-carve stations, there will be costume, pie-eating and carving contests.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Apple Festival

    Charlevoix, MI

    In this Lake Michigan town, there's a pumpkin-carving contest, children's activities and an arts and crafts show.

  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Covered Bridge Studio Tour

    Cedarburg, WI

    This studio tour in eastern Wisconsin includes more than 60 artists in Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Mequon, Thiensville and Newburg.


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Madison County Covered Bridge Festival

    Winterset, IA

    John Wayne was born there, George Washington Carver lived there and the famous covered bridges still are there. The festival in this town southwest of Des Moines features guided bus tours to the bridges, free horse-drawn wagon rides to Wayne's house, Old West shootouts, live music and a parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Oct. 9)Civil War Immersion Weekend at Norskedalen

    Coon Valley, WI

    This pioneer farmstead in the coulees southeast of La Crosse is wonderfully atmospheric, and the crackerjack re-enactors of the Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry's Company B give the region's most affecting portrayal of war.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Galena Country Fair

    Galena, IL

    There's a juried fine arts/arts and crafts fair, farmers market, wine garden, bake shop, music and children's games in Grant Park.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Pumpkin Patch Festival

    Egg Harbor, WI

    There'll be music, children's games and arts and crafts in this Door County village.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Oktoberfest

    Lake Geneva, WI

    There will be music, food and free pumpkins on downtown streets.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Burgoo Festival

    Utica, IL

    The street party in this northern Illinois town, gateway to Starved Rock State Park, features vats of "pioneer'' stew, a crafts fair and music.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Harvest Fest

    Stillwater, MN

    In this river town, there will be a pumpkin pie-eating contest, a pumpkin regatta on the St. Croix, a microbrew tasting and a pedal tractor pull.

  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Shadows of the Blue and Gray

    Princeton, IL

    This Civil War festival off I-80, half an hour west of Starved Rock State Park, includes battle re-enactments both days.

    There will also be a Grand Entrance parade with the Lincolns, a Lincoln look-alike contest, medical scenarios and period music and dance.

  • (Oct. 10)Harvest Fest

    New Glarus, WI

    See old-time artisanry at the Swiss Historical Village, including sausage-stuffing and cheese-making in the 1890s cheese factory.

  • (Oct. 13 – 24)Chicago International Film Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This year's program includes 65 films and nine programs of shorts that are screening at the ChiTown Movies Drive-In in Pilsen.

  • (Oct. 15 – 17)Fall Festival

    Sister Bay, WI

    This Door County festival features pumpkin bowling, a derby race, chainsaw carving, a pingpong-ball drop and a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday.

  • (Oct. 15 – 17)Southwest Wisconsin Fall Art Tour

    Southwest, WI

    This popular studio tour includes artists at studios between Mineral Point, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Baraboo.

  • (Oct. 16 – 17)Open House Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    The Chicago Architecture Foundation sponsors this free, behind-the-scenes peek at more than 200 mansions, clubs, churches, hotels and theaters.

  • (Oct. 16)Oktoberfest

    Elkhorn, WI

    This downtown festival near Lake Geneva features wine and beer tasting, music, a car show, arts and crafts and a chili cookoff.

  • (Oct. 16)Jack O' Lantern Festival

    Spooner, WI

    There's a pumpkin-carving and scarecrow-making contests, kids' inflatables, pumpkin roll and, in the evening, a zombie run in the forest, bonfires and live music.

  • (Oct. 16)Family Fall Fest

    Madeline Island, WI

    On the largest of the Apostle Islands, there will be a vintage-car show, cider- and soap-making, pumpkin decorating, a pie-eating contest, street vendors and a kids' costume parade.

  • (Oct. 18 – 24)Iowa City Book Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    The first North American town to be named a UNESCO City of Literature offers talks, readings, panels, exhibits and a walking tour of literary Iowa City.

  • (Oct. 21 – 24)Wisconsin Book Festival

    Madison, WI

    This big fest features readings, lectures, book discussions, writing workshops, live interviews and children's events.

  • (Oct. 22 – 23)Moose Madness Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    This Lake Superior town offers a medallion hunt, scavenger hunt, sled-dog open house, games led by Murray the Moose and activities at North House Folk School.

  • (Oct. 23 – 30)Halloween

    Anoka, MN

    This town, just north of Minneapolis, calls itself the Halloween Capital of the World. Festivities include a house-decorating contest and a Grande Day Parade.

  • (Oct. 23 – 24)Earth Wood & Fire Artist Tour

    Lake Mills, WI

    Visit artists in their studios in and around Lake Mills, Cambridge and Fort Atkinson, between Madison and Milwaukee.

  • (Oct. 23)Oktoberfest

    Alexandria, MN

    Carlos Creek Winery's brewing partner, 22 Northmen, hosts this festival, which includes a stein-holding contest, pumpkin throwing, horse-drawn wagon rides and live bands.



  • (Oct. 23)Pumpkin Chuckin Fest

    Union Grove, WI

    The festival in this town, just west of Racine, features a pumpkin catapult contest, barbecue cook-off, pie auction, pumpkin-baking contest, children's games and music.

  • (Oct. 23)Scarecrow Festival

    Dixon, IL

    This town in northwest Illinois offers scarecrow and doughnut-eating contests, pumpkin racing, a petting zoo and a band concert.

  • (Oct. 24)Witches & Wizards of Woodstock

    Woodstock, IL

    This all-ages fantasy festival in Woodstock Square features a magical talking hat, Quidditch training, an owlery, a wandering magician, a cosplay scavenger hunt and a costume parade and contest.

  • (Oct. 27 – 31)Pumpkin Festival

    Sycamore, IL

    In this town between Rockford and DeKalb, there will be a pie-eating contest, carnival, craft shows, decorated pumpkins and a parade Sunday.

  • (Oct. 29 – 30)Mystery at the Fur Post

    Pine City, MN

    Unmask the phantom stalking the big top during "The Circus Returns'' at the re-created Snake River (formerly North West Company) Fur Post, an hour north of the Twin Cities. The program is family-friendly, and reservations are recommended.

  • (Oct. 29 – 30)Halloween Parade & Festival

    Galena, IL

    There will be a hot-air balloon glow Friday, kids' activities and the town's annual parade along Main Street at 6:30 p.m.

  • (Oct. 29 – 31)Jack O'Lantern Days

    Fish Creek, WI

    There will be mask making, pumpkin carving, trick or treating and haunted trolley tours.

  • (Oct. 29 – 31)Zombie Days

    Washburn, WI

    Zombies will take over this town on Chequamegon Bay, and there are also carved-pumpkin, costume and house-decorating contests, a ghost hunt and a drive-in movie.

  • (Oct. 30)UFO Day

    Belleville, WI

    There's a craft fair, kids' games and a Forbidden Forest, but the 1 p.m. parade is the main event in this riverside village just south of Madison, where residents reported more than a dozen UFO sightings in the winter of 1987.

  • (Oct. 30)Arts in the Dark Halloween parade

    Chicago, IL

    Floats, giant puppets and performances are part of the 6-8 p.m. parade along State Street.


  • (Oct. 30)BatFest

    Batavia, IL

    This Fox River town hosts a pumpkin roll, pumpkin-carving battles, "Thriller'' dances, marshmallow shooting and a parade.

  • (Oct. 30)Mount Carroll Pumpkin Fest

    Mount Carroll, IL

    In this northwest Illinois town, there will be a costume parade, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin slingshot and pumpkin street drag races.

  • (Oct. 30)Day of the Dead Xicago

    Chicago, IL

    In the National Museum of Mexican Art and Harrison Park, families can create ofrendas (altars), eat pan de muerto, listen to musical performances and get faces painted. Admission is free.

  • (Oct. 30)Day of the Dead

    Mankato, MN

    In Old Town Mankato along Riverfront Drive, there will be a mariachi band, Aztec and folklore dancers, a makers' market, food trucks and children's activities and treats.

  • (Oct. 31)Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza

    Minneapolis, MN

    This year, the larger-than-life puppetry troupe will collaborate on The Cry of the Ancestors, a community pageant procession from Powderhorn Park, followed by concerts and cabaret. Free, with donations requested.


  • (Nov. 4 – 7)Driftless Film Festival

    Mineral Point, WI

    See independent films and meet filmmakers in the 1916 opera house of this artistic town west of Madison.

  • (Nov. 5 – 7)Art Attack

    Minneapolis, MN

    In the northeast arts district, 350 artists open their studios and offer demonstrations and workshops. 

  • (Nov. 5 – 6)Witching Hour Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This festival focuses on the creative processes of musicians, artists, comedians, writers, thinkers, scientists and magicians, a "jungle gym for your mind and soul."

  • (Nov. 6)Veterans Day Parade

    Milwaukee, WI

    It's at 11 a.m., starting on Wisconsin Avenue, crossing the river and heading north on Water Street. After the parade, there's a festival at the Marcus Center, with music, entertainment and a veteran-owned market.

  • (Nov. 10)Beacon lighting at Split Rock Lighthouse

    Beaver Bay, MN

    This event, which commemorates the 1975 sinking of the ore freighter with 29 men, is the only time the public can see the interior of the light tower when the beacon is lighted.

  • (Nov. 12 – 13)Virtual Gales of November

    Duluth, MN

    Listen to experts discuss Lake Superior shipwrecks and maritime history.

  • (Nov. 13 – 14)Winter Art Fair Off the Square

    Madison, WI

    Art Fair Off the Square presents its winter edition in Monona Terrace, with 140 fine artists from around Wisconsin.

  • (Nov. 13)Pangea

    Moorhead, MN

    Celebrate global cultures at the Hjemkomst Center, with folk dancing, storytelling, music and foods from seven countries. Children can pick up a passport to get stamped at booths.

  • (Nov. 13 – 14)Art on the Prairie

    Perry, IA

    This free festival northwest of Des Moines showcases more than 100 Iowa artists, poets and musicians in seven venues, including the Hotel Pattee, in the downtown historic and cultural district. There will also be children's activities.


  • (Nov. 18 – 21)Winterer's Gathering

    Grand Marais, MN

    There's a tent encampment, winter skills seminars, Arctic film festival and chili feed at the North House Folk School.

  • (Nov. 19 – 21)Outdoor Adventure Expo

    Minneapolis, MN

    The expo at the Midwest Mountaineering store on the West Bank includes dozens of speakers and seminars about skiing, sled-dog racing and ice-climbing as well as camping, backpacking and other year-round adventures.