Photo courtesy of bbourdages/Adobe Stock

By Raquel DeSouza and MacKenzie Reagan

With more than 100 fairs and festivals happening across the region, there is something for anyone in the family to enjoy.


Beach Party on the Square
Aug. 6
Leonardtown, MD
You don’t need to travel far to experience the coastal beach scene. At the Leonardtown Square and Wharf Park from 4-9 p.m., the summer night will make a splash with shows, music and games. Best of all, favorites like the Running of Balls, in which 6,000 golf balls are dropped to race down Fenwick Street, will be back. –RD

Carter Family Fold Traditional Music Festival
Aug. 5-6
If you’re not familiar with the legendary Carter family band, here’s a rundown: A.P. Carter formed the successful country ensemble with his wife, brother and sister-in-law in 1927. Their musical impact is still celebrated today at where else but the family’s historic Memorial Music Center in southwest Virginia. –RD

Leitersburg Peach Festival
Aug. 13-14
Leitersburg, MD
What describes summer better than a juicy, sweet peach? Nothing. That’s why this peach festival is running strong in its 37th year. Feast on the fresh fruit, peach pie and peach ice cream at Leitersburg Community Park. Don’t forget to check out the petting zoo and over 100 craft vendors. –RD

Great Grapes! Wine & Food Festival
Aug. 13
Take a sip or two of hundreds of Virginia wines at the Village at Leesburg. You’ll have a souvenir glass to take with you as you peruse the tents and tables representing 10 wineries. As a bonus, the $25 adult admission ticket includes unlimited vino samples. We can toast to that! –RD

The Black Dog Beach Music Festival
Aug. 13
Rain or shine, the Chateau Morrisette winery will host its annual shindig at the Nancy P. Morrisette Festival Field. Expect wine, beer, food, crafts and a dog-friendly environment. Electric music performances will include the Fantastic Shakers and a return of the Embers featuring Craig Woolard. Last call for advance tickets is Aug. 12. –RD

Photo courtesy of The Trigger Agency

Aug. 12-14
Immerse yourself in all things Vietnamese with this weekend blowout. There are the typical festival attractions like a parade, music and plenty of food. But there’s also a pageant, a talent show and even a pho-eating competition. Then top off the jam-packed day by releasing colorful paper lanterns into the night sky. –RD

Flying Circus Hot Air Balloon Festival
Aug. 20-21
The wonder and magic of riding in a hot air balloon is something to behold. Once you’re floating in the sky, you’ll get fantastic views of beautiful Northern Virginia. Just keep in mind most of the festivities are in the early morning or late afternoon when it’s least windy. –RD

Winchester Greek Festival
Aug. 20-21
Take a Greek culinary escape at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church. Savor a wide selection of this Mediterranean cuisine. From classic gyros to grape leaves to, yes, even flaky baklava, there’s a treat for everyone. Families will also enjoy traditional dance and music. Opa! –RD

LOCKN’ Festival
Aug. 25-28
This year marks the fourth annual mega music festival in Central Virginia. As usual, the lineup doesn’t disappoint with artists Gary Clark Jr., Brandi Carlile, Phish, Ween and more. The local community is also in the spotlight with an assortment of craft brews, wines and bites. –RD

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Aug. 27-28; multiple September and October dates
Annapolis, MD
Live during King Henry VIII’s rule at this village replica where merriment and drama are thriving. The king and his first of six wives, Catherine of Aragon, are visiting for entertainment, so over 200 performers and 140 merchants are there for the royal visit. –RD

Maryland State Fair / Photos courtesy of the Maryland State Fair, photo by Edie Bernier

County & State Fairs

Loudoun County Fair
July 25-30
Embrace Loudoun’s Western roots this summer. See cowboys and cowgirls in barrel racing, bull riding and the rodeo. If fierce cattle aren’t your cup of tea, watch who will be the Mechanical Champion at the Demolition Derby. There are also family-friendly livestock at the petting zoo, camel rides and a Parakeet Encounter. –RD

Fairfax County 4-H Fair & Carnival
Aug. 4-7
Head over to Frying Pan Farm Park for four days of country fun. Each day has a major event: Thursday’s is a free concert, on Friday there will be the Big Truck Night, the tractor pull is on Saturday, and the carnival rides will be open every day. –RD

Prince William County Fair
Aug. 12-20
Join in on the largest county fair in the entire state of Virginia. This massive event started back in 1949 thanks to World War II veterans who wanted a celebration of the county’s agricultural industry. It’s still being honored today with tractor pulls, a rodeo and an array of livestock. –RD

Arlington County Fair
Aug. 17-21
Be a part of a local tradition and one of the largest free events on the Eastern Seaboard. The fair offers unique events and games for people of all ages. Kids have an area to themselves, and seniors have select programming with bingo, live entertainment and an outdoor Zumba class. –RD

Maryland State Fair
Aug. 26-Sept. 5
Lutherville-Timonium, MD
Efforts to establish an annual Maryland state fair date back to the 19th century. Now it’s thriving with almost half a million visitors and a site spanning 100 acres at the intersections of York and Timonium roads. No wonder they call it the 11 Best Days of Summer. –RD

The International Sandsculpting Championship at Boardwalk Weekend / Photo courtesy of Neptune Festival/East Beach Photography


Baltimore Comic-Con
Sept. 2-4
Baltimore, MD
There are already over 100 confirmed guests from the comic industry, and there are many more to come. Fans can meet publishers and artists at Artist Alley, and who can forget the costume contest? This is the perfect opportunity to deck yourself out in the fashion of your favorite hero, heroine or villain. –RD

American Music Festival
Sept. 2-4
Virginia Beach
Labor Day weekend goes off with a bang at this diverse music event. At the Fifth Street Stage, country, jazz, R&B and rock will all be blasted. Concerts are open to the public at six other streets. Either way, the end of summer will be well-spent at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. –RD

D.C. Blues Festival
Sept. 3
Washington, D.C.
Jam to blues tunes from a ton of different artists. The lineup features blues greats, including Lauren Mitchell, Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers, Slam Allen and plenty more at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre. There is also a separate stage for family entertainment and music workshops throughout the festival. –RD

Taste of the Mountains Street Festival
Sept. 3
Blue Ridge country’s 18th- and 19th-century history will be honored this Labor Day weekend. Watch a Civil War camp re-enactment performed by the 7th Virginia Infantry Unit. Taste local wines, shop for antiques and walk along Main Street to catch a variety of live music shows. –RD

Appaloosa Festival
Sept. 3-4
Front Royal
Appaloosa is more than just music, although there will be over 30 bands for the Late Night Jams. Settled at the Skyline Ranch Resort, attendees can take in the mountainous beauty during the day. Hop in a canoe, ride a horse, go on a bike or take a hike. –RD

Virginia Scottish Games
Sept. 3-4
The Plains
This Labor Day weekend, honor Scottish culture with music and competitions to tap into your Braveheart persona. Watch people test their strength in the heavy events or dance their heart out with highland choreography. Children can also get in the competitive spirit with archery and the kid-friendly version of heavy events. –RD

ChalkFest at Reston Town Center
Sept. 3, 9-10
Market Street will transform into a canvas for artists, amateurs and families. Let your creativity flow and you could win the Audience Choice Award. The competition will be open for all on Sept. 10, but if you want to warm up before, attend the chalk workshop Sept. 3. –RD

Chalkfest at Reston Town Center / Photo courtesy of The Initiative for Public Art-Reston

Herndon Labor Day Festival
Sept. 5
Say goodbye to the summer in downtown Herndon with a little bit of everything: Virginia wine and craft beer tastings, arts and crafts, tunes and grub. And head’s up: If a tasting is to your liking, you can buy an open container for home. –RD

D.C. Shorts Film Festival & Screenplay Competition
Sept. 8-18
Multiple locations in Metro-D.C. area
Filmmakers from across the globe join together for 11 days to show their engaging short films at the largest short film festival on the East Coast. Last year 135 films were screened from 25 countries. –RD

Baltimore Seafood Festival
Sept. 17
Baltimore, MD
The third annual Seafood Festival at the Canton Waterfront Park celebrates all tasty things from the ocean: oysters, shrimp and Maryland blue crabs. Baltimore restaurants showcase their best dishes, and cooking demos add to the foodie festivities. There’s also a designated area for family fun. –RD

Bluemont Fair
Sept. 17-18
At the traditional pickle and pie contest, the judged pies get sliced and sold. But there’s no need to feel guilty eating fair food because you can start off your weekend racing in the 10K early in the morning. Motivations include the scenic route and, yes, the pies. –RD

Fiesta D.C.
Sept. 17-18
Washington, D.C.
This year’s host country for the Fiesta D.C. Latino Festival and Parade of Nations is Bolivia. The weekend kicks off with a parade on Constitution Avenue featuring native Latino cultural and contemporary dance groups. The next day, the festival is packed with concerts, a pageant and vendors. –RD

Colonial Market & Fair at Mount Vernon
Sept. 17-18
Mount Vernon
Eat, play and shop in the times of the Revolutionary War at the first president’s home. Gen. Washington will make an appearance at the fair to oversee the military re-enactment drills. But what’s even better than that is 18th-century artisans making homemade chocolate with an original recipe. –RD

Fredericksburg Pet Show
Sept. 17-18
Families can show what their pets are made of at the Pet Talent Competition and shop for services and products for their furry friends. Also the famous Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel will make an appearance again. If that doesn’t entice an animal-lover, nothing will. –RD

The Virginia Scottish Games / Photo courtesy of The Virginia Scottish Games

King Street Art Festival
Sept. 17-18
Thankfully, admission to this creative fest is free because that allows visitors to spend their money on the $15 million worth of artwork displayed. There will be pieces in every medium, from paintings to pottery to photography, to fit each unique taste. The historic town just got more beautiful. –RD

Watermelon Park Fest
Sept. 22-25
Camp in the Shenandoah Valley and have a weekend of family-friendly fun with music competitions for bands, guitar-picking and mandolin-picking. Of course there will also be a watermelon-growing contest; each pound gets you one dollar. –RD

Oktoberfest at Kings Dominion
Sept. 24-25
Take a day trip to the amusement park to enjoy all-you-can-eat picnic food with German options along with a variety of beers to choose from. At night, get in the Hallows’ Eve spirit a little early at the Halloween Haunt when the park turns to a darker side complete with fog and zombies moving about. –RD

Cox Farm Fall Festival
Sept. 24-Oct. 31, Nov. 4-8
Fall and Halloween are showcased here with pumpkins and spooky stuff galore. Kids can play on swings and slides, teens can enjoy the scary Fields of Fear, and everybody can munch on the addictive kettle corn. No, really, it’s addictive. –RD

Sept. 25
The Friends of Runnymede Park have preserved a nature sanctuary for kids to explore. There will be features of critters large and small, four-legged and winged. Through shows, crafts and a Nature Olympics, kids will learn to appreciate what’s right in their backyard. –RD

Turkish Festival
Sept. 25
Washington, D.C.
September marks Turkish Heritage Month, and thousands of people can experience this culture in the nation’s capital. Rich Turkish coffee will be served along with food from local Turkish restaurants. Also visit the Culture and Tourism tent, shop at the Bazaar and watch mesmerizing performances of folk dance. –RD

Neptune Boardwalk Weekend
Sept. 30-Oct. 2
Virginia Beach
A major attraction for this event is the International Sandsculpting Championship, partnered with the Governor’s School for the Arts. This year 12 solo artists and 10 teams will craft 22 unbelievable works of art. But newbies can also get their hands in the sand at the amateur division. –RD

H Street Festival
Sept. 17
Washington, D.C.
H Street is rich with history, and that’s why Cultural Tourism D.C. is preserving it with the Heritage Trail, which opened in 2012. Dance, eat, party and be a part of seeing the area grow for the next generation. This year’s entertainment and vendors haven’t been announced yet, but expect it to be a blast. –RD

Fall for the Book / Photo courtesy of Fall for the Book

Book Events

National Book Festival
Sept. 24
Washington, D.C.
The Library of Congress’s Sweet 16 birthday of #NatBookFest is sure to be a literary extravaganza. Fans can meet nearly 60 authors, including thriller genius Stephen King and former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Stay up-to-date by downloading the festival app. –RD

Baltimore Book Festival
Sept. 23-25
Baltimore, MD
#bmorebookfest 2016 is the place to be for literary fiends. There will be a bunch of readings, book signings, exhibits and over 100 authors joining in on the fun. But the variety keeps getting bigger with theater shows, cooking demos and jamming music. Welcome home, bookworms. –RD

Fall for the Book
Sept. 25-30
Multiple locations in Metro-D.C. area
Fall for the Book started off as a two-day event hosted by George Mason University and the City of Fairfax. Over 15 years later, it has boomed into a weeklong celebration of all things reading and writing. This year’s headliners include Diane Rehm, Sandra Cisneros, Lauren Groff and 150-plus more.–RD

Photo courtesy of Francesco83/Adobe Stock

Brew Fests

Busch Gardens Bier Fest
Sept. 2-18, days vary
Sample tastes of hops from all around the world during the park’s Oktoberfest. This German celebration originates from the southern state of Bavaria, so it wouldn’t be done right without some traditional music and food. So prost with a glass of lager, ale, IPA or cider in Williamsburg. –RD

Bands, Brews and Barbecue
Sept. 10
Who said that there isn’t good barbecue in NoVA? At the Manassas Museum lawn, delicious ’cue gets better when craft beer samples are added into the equation. Get your pour from noon till 5:45 p.m. If rain interrupts the festivities, the rescheduled date will be Sept. 18. –RD

Downtown Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival
Sept. 10
Hyattsville, MD
This fest combines two loves: artwork and beer. Check out over 100 local artist exhibits, drink up Maryland craft ales and munch on food truck bites. You can purchase your $30 tasting ticket beforehand or at the gate ($35) of their new location spanning three blocks in downtown. –RD

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival
Sept. 17
This East Coast festival has added a new stop in the state at Virginia Beach (Aug. 20). But whichever location you choose, expect awesome “BBBQ.” Both will have a variety of 60 beers and 40 bourbons. While you eat and drink to your heart’s content, sounds of blues, rock and bluegrass will fill the main stage. –RD

Suffolk Peanut Festival / Photo courtesy of Suffolk Peanut Festival


Manassas Fall Jubilee
Oct. 1
The 34th annual Manassas Fall Jubilee in historic downtown Manassas features fun and games for all ages. Try your hand in the cornhole tournament. If baking’s more your style, there’s a pumpkin pie-baking contest (afterward, there’s a pumpkin pie eating contest, too.) Throughout the day, various musicians and dancers will perform on the festival’s two stages. –MR

Suffolk Peanut Festival
Oct. 6-9
The 39th annual Suffolk Peanut Festival will feature all sorts of legume-themed attractions. Attendees can watch peanuts being harvested and sample a variety of peanutty treats. There will also be rides, concerts and a demolition derby. And with three concert stages, there’s something for everyone. –MR

Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festval & Sunset Tour
Oct. 7-9
Mount Vernon
Take a lantern-lit tour of Mount Vernon and sample 15 to 20 Virginia wines as you overlook the Potomac River. A blues band will provide entertainment, and George Washington himself will be around to toast festivalgoers. Tour Washington’s home, and be sure to visit the basement where he stored his wine. –MR

Richmond Folk Festival
Oct. 7-9
The festival celebrates American folk life with music, dance and food. Storytellers share stories of the nation’s rich history. Musicians and dancers from across the country perform traditional American songs and dance. Food vendors serve a range of foods celebrating the country’s rich culinary history. –MR

VelocityDC Dance Festival
Oct. 7-8
Washington, D.C.
In conjunction with Washington Performing Arts, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities, the eighth annual festival features local dance companies performing a range of dance genres from ballet to stepping to traditional South Asian dances. Each performance is under 12 minutes, and there are moderated dialogues between companies and audiences. –MR

Waterford Fair
Oct. 7-9
Take a trip to historic Waterford to experience war re-enactments, homemade crafts and antique farming techniques. A variety of food vendors will be on-hand serving up artisanal cheeses, homemade sodas and barbecue. Residents of the village also open up their homes for tours so guests can walk through history. –MR

Brambleton’s Fall Fest
Oct. 8
There’s something for everyone at Brambleton’s Fall Fest, including moon bounces, beer and wine and train rides. Stroll Olympia drive, browse the craft vendors and take in the live music. In August, registration opens for the annual chili cook-off in which participants vie for a $100 prize. There’s also a cornhole challenge to raise money for HomeAid Northern Virginia. –MR

Richmond Folk Festival / Photo courtesy of Richmond Folk Festival

Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival
Oct. 8
Volunteers prepare local seafood at this festival in coastal Virginia. Move from tent to tent and sample every type of oyster imaginable: fried, steamed, on the half shell. Can’t decide? Don’t worry, it’s all-you-can-eat. There are plenty of side dishes, too, like fries, hush puppies and a full salad bar. –MR

Fairfax Fall Festival
Oct. 8
The 40th Fairfax Fall Festival, held in historic downtown Fairfax, features hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts and foods. The festival also features children’s activities and live music on three stages. The free festival runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. –MR

Warren Festival of Leaves
Oct. 8
Front Royal
Since 1971, the Warren Festival of Leaves has celebrated the history of Warren County with music, museum tours and re-enactments. Watch the parade in the morning and tour historic houses in Heritage Square all day long. The festival and the 5K both benefit the Warren Heritage Society, which preserves the rich history of Front Royal. –MR

Poquoson Seafood Festival
Oct. 14-16
The Poquoson Seafood Festival celebrates the town’s rich history with local and regional entertainment as well as a variety of food vendors. There’s also a juried craft show and an array of art available for purchase. The three-day event also features a workboat race and a 5K. –MR

Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest
Oct. 15-16
Sample offerings from 80-plus local breweries from the DMV area. Hungry? Grab a bite from one of the handful of local restaurants and food trucks. The festival also features arts and crafts vendors and concerts from locally known musicians. Designated drivers get water or other nonalcoholic beverages included in the price of their tickets. There’s a family fun area, too—children under 15 are admitted for free. –MR

Annandale Parade
Oct. 22
A range of community groups like schools, scouts, service organizations and the Annandale and Falls Church High School marching bands participate in the annual Annandale Parade. Children often come in their Halloween costumes for an early round of trick-or-treating. The parade runs on Columbia Pike from Gallows Road to Little River Turnpike. –MR

Blue Ridge Folklife Festival
Oct. 22
One of the largest events of its kind, the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival brings together for one Saturday a year musicians, moonshiners, craftspeople, cooks, mule jumpers, horse pullers, coon dog racers, antique tractor buffs and old-time gamers for a day of heritage and traditions of the region that the New York Times calls “thoroughly authentic.” –LN

Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days
Oct. 22-23
Mount Vernon
Children can play Revolution-era games and enjoy period music. Blacksmiths will be on hand to give demonstrations, and there will be 18th-century dance lessons to keep kids on their toes. Watch wheat treading in the 16-sided barn and play in the straw bale maze. –MR

Photo courtesy of Washington West Film Festival

Film Festivals

Washington West Film Festival
Oct. 19-24
Catch a film (or five) at the Washington West Film Festival. Movies of all type—dramas, shorts, docs and everything in between—are screened throughout the area, including Reston Town Center and Angelika Film Center. The festival also holds panels and Q&As with filmmakers. –MR

Middleburg Film Festival
Oct. 20-23
Take your pick from a wide range of indie films, from dramas to documentaries to comedies, screened throughout downtown Middleburg. While you’re there, take part in a wine tasting, a farm-to-table dinner or a conversation with a filmmaker. –MR

Photo courtesy of Donatas1205/Adobe Stock

Art Events

Art on the Avenue
Oct. 1
More than 300 artists converge on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray between Bellefonte and Hume avenues. Purchase art from a wide variety of vendors from soapmakers, jewelers and fabric artists. A range of food vendors will be there for hungry festivalgoers. The featured bands are as diverse as the vendors, ranging in styles from country to rock to traditional Irish music. –MR

MPA ArtFest
Oct. 2
For 10 years, McLean Project for the Arts has celebrated the visual arts in McLean Central Park. Visitors can purchase artwork by 50 different artists. Budding artists can explore their creativity at the ArtReach Studio, and STEAM tents offer art that embraces robotics, kite-flying and structural arts. The Children’s ArtWalk showcases student artists. –MR

Bethesda Row Art Fest
Oct. 15-16
Bethesda, MD
Featuring nearly 200 master craftsmen from all around the world, the festival showcases a wide range of art from painting to photography to ceramics. All works are available for purchase, and local jazz musicians provide a soundtrack to the two-day event. –MR

Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days / Photo courtesy of George Washington’s Mount Vernon


Virginia Film Festival
Nov. 3-6
The University of Virginia’s Virginia Film Festival brings filmmakers from around the world … and around the corner. Filmmakers and professors hold discussions to enhance viewers’ understanding of films. A partnership with the Library of Congress allows for archival screenings of classic films. –MR

Alexandria Film Festival
Nov. 10-13
Watch documentaries, short films and feature-length movies from local, national and international filmmakers. Attend an art presentation or a filmmaker panel to get a closer look behind the scenes. While you’re in Old Town, take in the scenic views of the Potomac River and the thriving downtown historic district. –MR

Virginia Moonshine Festival
Nov. 19
Sample more than 15 moonshines from across the state at Richmond International Raceway’s Old Dominion Building. Moonshine not your thing? Try one of the handful of high-end whiskeys available. A few local food vendors will be on hand to serve hungry festivalgoers, and live folk-rock bands will provide entertainment. –MR

ICE! At Gaylord National Harbor
Nov. 19-Jan. 1
National Harbor, MD
Featuring more than 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures in a variety of colors, ICE! is held in a tent (kept at 9 degrees) outside the Gaylord National Harbor hotel. In the middle of the tent, there are two-story ice slides. –MR

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Nov. 23-Jan. 8
Take a 3-mile drive through Bull Run Park to see a variety of light displays. At the end of the route, there’s a Christmas village and carnival with games and activities. Santa will be around for photos. Need to warm up? There’s a bonfire and hot chocolate to keep you toasty. –MR

Reston Town Center Holiday Parade
Nov. 25
The hourlong parade begins at the corner of Presidents and Market streets at 11 a.m. and features balloons, performers, the Washington Nationals’ racing presidents and more. Children can purchase jingle bells to ring; the parade uses thousands each year. –MR

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights
Late November-early January
Take a 0.6-mile, approximately 40-minute walk through the botanical garden and marvel at the nearly 1 million lights in various holiday displays. The entire trail is ADA-accessible, and there’s a fireplace for roasting marshmallows. Hot chocolate will be available for purchase to warm you up. –MR

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights / Photo courtesy of R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria


Christmas in Middleburg
Dec. 2-4
The three-day celebration includes a tree lighting, a craft fair and breakfast with Santa, all leading up to the annual 90-minute Christmas Parade on Washington Street. The festival concludes with a free Christmas pageant with live animals. –MR

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Dec. 3
The 17th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade will feature dozens of illuminated boats on cruises along the Potomac. Boaters will vie for awards like Thinking Outside the Christmas Box and Best in Show. –MR

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-a-long
Dec. 3
Come to sing traditional Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs backed by local choirs and enjoy a performance by the United States Marine Corps Band. While the event is free, attendees are strongly encouraged to bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. –MR

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Washington, D.C.
Every year since 1923, the president and first lady attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting in celebration of the Christmas season. There’s always a handful of celebrities on hand to perform. Last year, Miss Piggy and Fall Out Boy were in attendance. –MR

(August 2016)

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