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7 Can’t Miss Fall Festivals in New York State

It’s September: the kids are back to school, the days are shorter and there is sometimes a hint of a crisp chill to the air. Summer is coming to an end. But luckily for us, the fall season in New York State is packed with non-stop fun. From apple picking to Halloween Hijinx, there is plenty to do from the Big Apple all the way up to Niagara Falls. So get your calendars out and make some plans. These seven fall festivals—think Oktoberst, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and a delicious chowder fest—will keep you busy and provide plenty of entertainment for the whole family. The best part? All of these activities are easily accessible via Amtrak.

Oktoberfest NYC

Oktoberfest NYC

Distance from the Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station: 3.6 miles

New York City is bursting with fall festivities. One of the best ways to take advantage of this seasonal fun is Oktoberfest NYC. Held at the Watermark Waterfront Bar at Pier 15 —with amazing views of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges—the festival runs from September 8 through October 29. Seven days a week you can partake in a traditional Oktoberfest experience. Enjoy authentic German beer, giant pretzels and brats. There is free admission to the festival, but you should RSVP here before heading out for an afternoon or evening of fun. One liter steins are available for $15; 1/2 liter steins cost $10.

VIDEO: Great jack o'lantern blaze

Distance from the Croton-Harmon Station (CRT): 8.8 miles

Westchester is home to plenty of fun fall activities, but one of its greatest is the nationally-recognized Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. This amazing event is easily accessible via the Croton-Harmon Station. (It’s a five-minute drive via taxi.) This spectacular event runs from Sept. 15 through Nov. 10 and has both indoor and outdoor activities. Walk the immersive pumpkin trail on the grounds of an 18th-century estate and be amazed by the thousands of hand-carved jack o’lanterns, all carved by a team of local artisans. Synchronized lighting and special effects elevate the entire experience. Meet life-sized dinosaurs, try to not get stuck in the 24-foot spider web, gaze at stars in the Pumpkin Planetarium. New in 2023, gawk at the first-ever pumpkin ferris wheel, take in a circus sideshow and celebrate the Day of the Dead with a special tribute.  Tickets range from $24-$32; buy advanced tickets here.

New York state sheep and wool festival

Sheep and Wool Festival

Distance from the Rhinecliff-Kingston Station (RHI): 2.9 miles

One of the most unique ways to celebrate the season is at the beloved Sheep & Wool Festival, held every October at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY.  Attend a sheep or goat show (everything from the Northeast Angora Goat Show to Leeping Llamas to a wool fashion show); view a fiber competition, attend a workshop, watch the frisbee dogs, visit with a wide range of vendors who are selling fibers and finished crafts. Buy pre-sale online tickets for $12 (plus a $1.50 convenience fee) here. Tickets are $15 at the gate. Children 11 and under are free. 

Adirondack Brewery Oktoberfest

Adirondack Brewery - Big Steins

Distance from the Albany-Rensselaer Station (ALB): 59 miles

Munich comes to the New York mountains with the 17th annual Adirondack Brewery Oktoberfest, held on Saturday, October 14, from 1-5 pm at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George. Enjoy nonstop polka music, the Adirondack Brewery Beer Garden, keg tossing, corn hole and more. Chow down on endless bratwurst, knackwurst, potato pancakes and more.  Tickets are $60 at the door; advanced tickets can be bought for $55 here.

Taste of the Catskills Festival

Distance from the Hudson Station (HUD): 73 miles

The annual Taste of the Catskills Festival, held every Columbus Day Weekend, is back at the Maple Shade Farm in Delhi, NY, on October 7 and 8. This family-friendly festival focuses on the region’s abundant selection of food, craft beverages and artisans. Enjoy ongoing musical entertainment as you peruse dozens of vendors who will be offering up their best products. Kids activities including arts and crafts, puppet shows, face painting, bounce houses and more. Popular workshops include herbalism, growing marijuana and happy hour mixology. Stay tuned to Taste of the Catskills for more information.


troy ny chowderfest

Distance from the Albany-Rensselaer Station (ALB): 9 miles

Exploring Troy, NY, is always fun. But the Collar City will be especially appealing—and will smell great—on Sunday, October 8, as ChowderFest returns from 1-5 pm. Walk around and sample chowder, soup and other delicious treats from a diverse group of restaurants and vendors. Entertainment and craft vendors will also be located throughout the walkable downtown district. The event is free; samples can be purchased for $2 to $4 each cup. In previous years, the festival had soups ranging from seafood chowder to buffalo chicken chowder to autumn bounty chowder.  The public is then encouraged to vote for their favorite chowders.

Syracuse Inner Harbor Festival

Distance from the Syracuse Station (SYR): 1.7 miles

The first annual Syracuse Inner Harbor Festival plans to bring lots of fun to the Salt City. Held for three days, September 29 to October 1, the highlight will be dragon boat racing on the Seneca River. (Dragon boat racing began more than 2,000 years ago on the rivers of southern China as a fertility ritual thought to bring good luck to the coming crop season,) In addition, the family-friendly event will include food trucks, live music, carnival rides, a 5K race, fireworks, craft vendors and much more.