Mark Your Calendars! Boston’s Best Fall Festivals for Families

a boy goes under a limbo stick while people help and cheer him on at the Big E Boston festival in Fall courtesy The Big E
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These Boston festivals offer a little something for everyone—from pizza and books to carnival rides and floating lanterns

As the temperatures in New England begin to cool down, and the foliage transitions to long-awaited orange and brown shades, there is no better time to get the family together for fresh air and festive outings. These Boston festivals have got it all. From the best places to pick up sweet apple cider donuts or do Halloween-themed crafts to cultural celebrations and all the food fairs Boston can muster, these fall festivals and fairs top our list of family-friendly fall activities.

a man spins a plate, hula-hoops and balances a bottle of water on his nose at a boston festival

photo: courtesy The Big E

The Big E

Boasting it’s appropriate name, The Big E is one of the largest agricultural fairs in the United States and lasts 17 days. Even though there are special events each day, like the concerts put on by well-known musicians as well as up and coming ones, there are many daily activities and attractions to look forward to. You can shop at the Farmer’s Market, attend the Circus Spectacular, or find the perfect spot to watch the daily Mardi Gras parade. However your family plans their trip to this grand fair, you are sure to have lots to talk about on the ride home.

Dates: Sep. 16-Oct. 2, 2022
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The Topsfield Fair

If your family is up for a drive away from the city, be sure to make The Topsfield Fair one of your destinations. Located about 30 minutes north of Boston, this fair is one of the most beloved by families in the area. From a ferris wheel (and other rides) to barnyard animals to fresh produce and live musical performances, this fair has it all. And yes, there will be loads of fresh apple cider and donuts. Families should note that there are different events and attractions scheduled for each day, so be sure to plan out what sounds the most exciting. You can take your pick from giant pumpkin weighing, a horse show, and a demolition derby race among many others.

Dates: Sep. 30-Oct. 10, 2022
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Related: Bushels of Fun! 13 Orchards Where You Can Pick Your Own Apples

Boston Pizza Festival

Pizza is the perfect family dinner for any occasion, making this the perfect family festival. Bring your hungry crowd over to City Hall Plaza, where pizza vendors from not just the city, but all over the world, will come together to serve their original recipes. Your family will be able to sample the large variety of pizzas and vote on your favorite. Aside from the scrumptious pizzas, there will be live music and giveaways. Don’t forget to bring home a box of the best pie for later.

Dates: Oct. 1 & 2, 2022
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Boston Water Lantern Festival

Food, music, and connection is what bring folks together at this outdoor festival. It’s a chance to assemble, design, and eventually release lighted lanterns on the water in a community ceremony that brings all the feels. Come early and play lawn games, lay out a picnic to enjoy with the kids, and work to craft the perfect lantern before the sun sets. When it does, everyone gathers for the release. What a sight to see.

Date: Oct. 8, 2022
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New Bedford Seaport Chowderfest

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of New England chowder to warm your family up on a chilly fall day. Even the little picky eaters at your table will enjoy this festival where a variety of local restaurants and food trucks will be serving their different chowders and soups for you to sample and vote on. With live music and the gorgeous ocean scenery, be prepared to leave with sleepy smiles and full tummies.

Date: Oct. 8, 2022
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Related: Plan a Fall Escape! 10 New England Cabins to Rent Now

Columbus Park Fall Festival

Another kid-friendly festival to look forward to in Boston is this fall festival at Christopher Columbus Park. Located on the waterfront and just a few minutes walk from Quincy Market, this is the perfect festival if your little ones are eager to dress up early for Halloween. They can even join the costume parade through the park that starts right at noon. There will be plenty of activities afterwards to keep your kiddos busy, including craft tables, games, balloon animals, but also a reptile circus and magician show. Not only is this a free event, there will even be free goodies for the kids–definitely worth attending this fantastic fall festival.

Date: Oct. 15, 2022
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Kids’ Fun Fest

A yearly event in the spooky city of Salem, about 30 minutes north of Boston, this kids’ festival is one you don’t want to miss before the cold weather really kicks in. Kids can take their pick of bouncy houses, carnival rides, face painting, and much more. This fall festival is perfect for kids of all ages and also a great chance to explore the historic Witch City, with its many tourist attractions and museums. During the month of October there are so many other exciting events in Salem like ghost tours and other haunted happenings.

Date: Oct. 22, 2022
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Related: Carve Out Fun at Boston’s Best Pumpkin Patches

Boston Bookfest

Bookworms of all ages will love this annual festival held downtown. It brings books, people, and a love a reading together in one big event where you and the kids can shop, listen, and learn lots. This year’s festival promises to be a good one with presenters you won’t want to miss, and books you won’t want to put down.

Date: Oct. 29, 2022
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