Reveling at exciting seasonal festivals, savoring culinary delights, and encountering ghouls and goblins are just some of the amazing things you can do this October in New York State. Raise a stein at an Oktoberfest or beer festival, watch as pumpkins are catapulted into a mighty river, enjoy oysters on the Long Island waterfront, gaze at more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns and much, much, more!
Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze (Hudson Valley)
Through November 20
Credit: @ruthiehagmann on Instagram
Are you prepared to experience the Hudson Valley’s most electrifying fall happening? At the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, you’ll find yourself meandering through an 18th-century landscape where more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins are stacked, arranged, and lit to create a one-of-a-kind fantasy land that comes alive with a dazzling synchronized light show set to an original score. For the first time, this year you’ll be able to watch the animated “Jack” Smith Shop in action and keep an eye out for glowing bees!
Double M Haunted Hayrides (Capital-Saratoga)
Weekends in October
CREDIT: @DOUBLEMHAUNTEDHAYRIDES ON INSTAGRAM
Scary Harry, the iconic ghost cowboy of Double M, has some horrifying thrills and chills up his sleeve this Halloween season. Test your bravery on a haunted hayride through the dark woods that are rumored to be filled with all types of things that go bump in the night before setting off on foot through a post-apocalyptic compound. Even more haunts await at the Last Inn, Jingle Hell, the Slaughter Swamp, and “feartainment”-filled midway. A Haunted History Trail event, Double M Haunted Hayrides in Ballston Spa has been creating chills and thrills for over 30 years.
Whiteface Oktoberfest (Adirondacks)
You’re invited to join the fun as Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington dusts off its lederhosen, fires up the oompah band, and enjoys a tall mug of German beer! This weekend-long celebration of Bavarian culture is complete with authentic music, dancing, food, and beer. But it's not just about eating and drinking – you’ll enjoy complimentary rides for the whole family, craft vendors, and discounted trips on the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the summit of Little Whiteface where you’re sure to discover why fall in the Adirondacks is something worth getting close to!
Fright Fest (Greater Niagara)
October 1, 8, 9, and 15
Fright Fest at Six Flags Darien Lake is back and scarier than ever! Dare to enter the Halloween event of the season, featuring family-friendly attractions during the day and thrills once the sun goes down. Along the way, you’ll encounter an array of haunted attractions. Do you dare open the door to Corridors of Chaos? Can you make it through the winding trails of Jack Pallet’s Scarecrow row? Be sure to watch your back – there could be a zombie, a witch, or something else that goes bump in the night waiting when you walk into a Scare Zone! Are you up for a fright-filled ride? Strap into your favorite coaster under cover of night and look out for any monsters in the seat next to you!
IMAGEOUT 30th Annual Fall Film Festival (Finger Lakes)
Film lovers will want to check out ImageOut in Rochester, which bills itself as New York’s largest LGBTQ film and video festival. The week-long celebration features LGBTQ-themed films showcasing creative works spanning narrative, documentary, and experimental by filmmakers from across the US and around the world that help promote awareness, foster dialogue, and build community.
Path Through History Weekend (Various Regions)
New York State is, without question, one of the most historic, cultural, and diverse states in the entire country. Path Through History Weekend, October 8-10, is your chance to slip between the pages of history and discover the places and people who shaped not only the Empire State, but our nation. From the role Lake George Battlefield Park (pictured) played during the 18th century's two most important North American conflicts to the history of cider making, discover all kinds of New York State facts during this special weekend. Build your own itinerary and visit Native American museums, canals that helped expand civilization, and arts and cultural institutions that house famous works of art. October 8-10; locations and prices vary.
Taste of the Catskills Festival (Catskills)
Bring your appetite to the Taste of the Catskills Festival! Learn how food travels from farm to fork during a fun-filled autumn weekend on the grounds of Maple Shade Farm, indulge in a harvest dinner prepared entirely from local ingredients and paired with craft beer, and enjoy a daytime bonfire (weather permitting). The Catskill Puppets will be on hand with their larger than life creations, and Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will present a special preview of their brand new show. That’s not all – workshops each day will teach you valuable tips and tricks for farming, cooking, brewing, and vintning!
34th Annual Fall Fest at Peek'n Peak Resort (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
October 8-9 and 15-16
Credit: Rob Frank, George Kilbert/Peek'n Peak Resort
Fall is fabulous at the Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer! Bring the whole family to this year’s 34th Annual Fall Fest featuring two weekends full of fall fun in the foothills of Western New York. Feel like you’ve fallen into an English fairy tale at this architecturally unique ski resort set against brilliant foliage as you enjoy a juried craft show with more than 100 vendors, farmers' market, pumpkin cannon demonstrations, children's games, live entertainment, pony rides, ski lift rides, a classic car cruise-in, and annual snowsports equipment swap!
Ellicottville Fall Festival (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
Get set for Ellicottville's oldest and largest festival celebrating the turn of fall. The Ellicottville Fall Festival is a weekend of fun for the whole family with chairlift rides, mountain top cookouts, and music. The village and nearby Holiday Valley Resort become one big celebration with street vendors, arts and crafts, entertainment, poster and T-shirt sales, a Kid Zone, and tons-o-fun, with most activities running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Are you a runner? Register for the four or eight mile trail runs at the Fall Scramble, taking place Saturday, October 8 at Holiday Valley.
Nyack’s Famous Street Fair (Hudson Valley)
Credit: Pat Tita
A shopping and dining bonanza awaits at the Nyack Famous Street Fair, where 250 vendors and exhibitors will be on hand to satisfy all your buying needs! Your taste buds will be rewarded with all types of delicious festival foods, as well as tasty creations from Nyack’s many outdoor cafes and restaurants (be sure to make a stop at the NY Soda Jerks for an old-fashion soda or egg cream!) There will also be live music all day at the gazebo on Main Street and on Broadway at this rain-or-shine event.
New York City Wine and Food Festival (New York City)
Are you serious about food? Then this star-studded, four-day festival jam-packed with 80 events featuring everyone from celebrity chef Anne Burrell to TV personality Rachel Ray is a can’t-miss. You’ll experience walk-around tastings, intimate dinners with world-renowned chefs, late night parties, hands-on classes, wine tastings, and more at this foodie extravaganza, widely recognized as the largest wine and food festival in New York City. Join fellow passionate foodies to sip and savor wine, spirits, and world-class cuisine served up by the industry’s finest.
Punkin Chunkin Festival (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Courtesy of Horizon Aerial Media
Ever wonder what happens to all those pumpkins that don’t become jack-o’-lanterns? They become punkins for chunkin'. Pumpkins will be flying into the St. Lawrence River at the 10th Annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ Festival! You’re invited to witness this truly unique spectacle as punkin chunkers compete to catapult a pumpkin the farthest distance into the river using home-built trebuchets and slings set along the river at Clayton’s Frink Park. That’s not all – there’s a barbeque starting in the morning, a BBQ judging competition in the afternoon, and a farmers’ market full of tasty treats!
The Oyster Festival (Long Island)
Credit: @yorkcny on Instagram
Fall on Long Island means that it’s time for the East Coast’s largest waterfront festival – the Oyster Festival! Sample oyster stew, fried oysters, and raw oysters at this family-friendly foodie paradise and then get ready to be entertained! Pirate shows, live music, and the iconic oyster eating and shucking contest are crowd favorites. Head to the Midway for amusement park rides and the food court also has traditional festival fare.
Utica Zoo Spooktacular Harvest Festival (Central New York)
Make your way, if you dare, to the Utica Zoo’s premiere Halloween and harvest celebration! With trick-or-treat stations, food trucks, vendors, and animals on walkabout, you’re sure to have a very ghoul time! Also, embark on a spine-tingling journey through mythical animal scenes along the Twisted Fairy Tail Trail. This is an all-ages event and costumes are encouraged.
Finger Lakes Beer Festival (Finger Lakes)
Credit: @andrewdominick on Instagram
Calling all beer lovers! The Finger Lakes Beer Festival is making its yearly return to the garages at Watkins Glen International. Boos and Brews, a costumed-themed night filled with selected samples and live entertainment, kicks off a festive Halloween weekend that features over 40 New York State breweries, distilleries and cideries. Attendees can also enjoy a Saturday breakfast, a 32-team cornhole tournament, and a stein holding competition!
Celebrate Halloween (Various Regions)
Credit: NYC & Company
No one does Halloween better than New York! Have a frightfully good time as all sorts of costumed characters take over the streets at NYC's famed Village Halloween Parade (October 31) (pictured). The Hudson Valley's LEGOLAND New York Resort gets into the Halloween spirit with Brick-or-Treat weekends this fall, featuring monster parties and trick-or-treating through the bricktastic theme park. Celebrate Halloween with your pooch at the Fall Dog Parade & Costume Contest at Long Island's historic Old Westbury Gardens (October 30). Dress up as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff, or Columbia and get ready to do the "Time Warp" again at a special showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Smith Opera House in the Finger Lakes (October 30). No matter how you like to celebrate, there's plenty of haunted adventures waiting for you in New York!