Along with the cooling temperature and changing scenery, fall in Pittsburgh ushers in a whole range of different opportunities to catch festivals that celebrate the culture of the region. From beer fests and haunted houses to food festivals you have to taste to believe, the list of fall events in Pittsburgh is so extensive you’ll have to make a few tough choices if you’re a festival enthusiast. Here is a look at some of the best ways to celebrate the seasonal change throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Oktoberfests (Various dates and locations):
There is no shortage of great opportunities to celebrate Oktoberfest around Pittsburgh. In Canonsburg from September 15-17, thousands will flock to the downtown area for authentic German food, live music, contests, carnival games and more in a popular celebration that has been held annually for nearly two decades. Another popular Oktoberfest goes down each year at the Hofbrauhaus, the downtown Pittsburgh staple that offers beer straight from Munich and a range of live entertainment and prizes. This year, festivities will last from September 15-23, covering roughly the first third of the traditional German Oktoberfest. Evans City also puts together a well-attended Oktoberfest from September 15-17, providing even more ways to get in on the international phenomenon in the Pittsburgh area. Although authentic German beer is a central draw, Oktoberfests are usually family-friendly and have things to do for all ages.
Trax Farms Fall Festival (Weekends from 9/30-10/29; Finleyville):
Trax Farms has been putting on a terrific fall fest for nearly a half-century at this point, boasting robust pumpkin patches, all sorts of food vendors, and a cornfield maze that has become a family favorite. Because the festival is spread out over five weekends throughout the fall, there are plenty of opportunities to experience Trax Farms without the enormous crowd sizes of some of the other festivals in the region. Trax Farms is also particularly known for its mouth-watering apple dumplings and fresh cider which often lead visitors to come back more than once.
Penn’s Colony (9/16, 9/17, 9/23, 9/24; Saxonburg):
An exciting trip back to the colonial days exists just a 45-minute drive from the heart of Pittsburgh in Saxonburg, where the Penn’s Colony festival reimagines life in the 1750s. Complete with re-enactments of the French and Indian War through the eyes of George Washington as well as an assortment of arts, crafts, and music, Penn’s Colony showcases a recreated colonial village that is a terrific getaway for the whole family. After the main festival, towards the end of September, a wave of antique lovers then turn up for Antiquing at the Colony in October. Time-traveling enthusiasts also might want to catch the very popular Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival in West Newton, a medieval day trip offered each weekend from mid-August through September 23-24.
Hickory Apple Festival (10/7-10/8; Hickory Firehall Grounds):
You’ll need your appetite if you plan on showing up in Hickory to take part in the Hickory Apple Festival where visitors show up early for the marching band parade and stay for some of the best apple pie in the state. Woodworkers and basket weavers also showcase their skills on-site and adventurous festival goers take part in pie-eating contests spread throughout the weekend. The festival is also the perfect excuse to hit the road and experience the beautiful countryside, and the proceeds benefit the local fire department which hosts the annual event.
Phantom Fright Nights (Fridays and Saturdays from 9/29-10/28) and Happy Hauntings (Saturday and Sundays from 10/7-10/29; Kennywood Park):
Kids 13 and older tend to have a great time getting scared out of their wits during Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood Park. Attendees check out 10 different haunted houses and enjoy plenty of Halloween-themed food. Kennywood Park also hosts Happy Haunting for the young ones in the family, bringing together kids of all ages for pumpkin decorating, hay rides, and more. Also for younger kids, the October 28-29 Halloween Fun Cruise is a family-geared costume party on the river that includes special treats and prizes.
Pittsburgh Zombie Fest (10/7; Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale):
Including a Zombie Ball and a concert event featuring a variety of artists, the Pittsburgh Zombie Fest can be a great way for undead enthusiasts to get into the Halloween mood. Attendees will also come to check out the film festival celebrating the life of George A. Romero, the legendary horror film director behind classics like Night of the Living Dead.
Pittsburgh Whiskey Festival (10/27; Rivers Casino):
Just in time to wrap up the Halloween season, attendees do their best to dress up in 1920s costumes designed to recreate the glory days of Atlantic City while enjoying high-end whiskeys and spirits. Participants have fun dressing up like they’re headed for the Monopoly board and enjoy late-night strolls along the river.