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Updated August 2023
It’s fall festival season in Illinois, time to explore the fun and unique ways to celebrate this beautiful season.
The fall season is in the air, and with a new season comes a new wave of fall festivals in Illinois that we Illinoians (and visitors) get to enjoy and experience!
I don’t know about you, but the fall season is one of my absolute favorite times of the year to experience in Illinois and the Midwest as a whole.
It’s such a cozy, warm, vibe – pumpkin patches, hot apple cider and other warm beverages, comfort warm foods, crunchy leaves, and other orange and red leaves swirling around in the air – I repeat – A VIBE.
Now if you’re like me, then you know that there are tons of fall festivals in Illinois and harvest activities (in and out of the city) but sometimes you just don’t know where to start, or which ones may catch your eye best (like, is it worth driving the extra hour or so to some of the ones on these lists?).
Well, not to worry because in this post, I am going to share some of the most fun, fall lover favorites, and beautiful harvest activities and fall festivals in Illinois to enjoy!
The bonus part is that many of these activities and things to do in Illinois in September, so you don’t have to wait until October to start your fall festivities.
Let’s get to the list of fall festivals in Illinois that you must visit!
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The Best Fall Festivals in Illinois You Need To Check out in 2023
Chicago/ Downtown Fall Festivals in 2023
1. Jack’s Pumpkin Pop Up
Probably one of the most popular and newer Chicago fall festivals is Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up, and a visit there will show you exactly why.
Get lost in Chicago’s largest corn maze, while sipping on your favorite beverages, without having to leave the city!
Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up is as the name says, a pop-up that lasts for a little over a month and is suitable for all ages and groups – from families to friend groups, and office outings.
Other experiences include ax throwing, a fun pumpkin patch, carnival games, fortune tellers, food trucks, and even the best Instagram photo apps to share on your socials.
Admission: Pricing is changing up this year, as Jack’s Pumpkin Pop Up is offering pakcages instead of single entry admission.
Packages start at $24 USD and include entry into the pumpkin patch and entry into the corn maze.
Group packages are available, starting at $59 USD and offers a bundle of activities with snacks and drinks, and you also have the option to include a few bonus activities starting at $13 USD.
For more information on pricing and getting your tickets, head to their website!
Dates: September 21nd – November 5th, 2023
Address: 1265 W Le Moyne St, Chicago, IL 60642
2. Oktoberfest Chicago
This is one of the notable fall festivals in Illinois due to the number of people with German heritage in Chicago, and Illinois.
Step into Bavarian Chicago, and try traditional homemade food such as bratwurst and pretzels, while enjoying live music, and of course, tasting the different varieties of Sam Adams beers.
Of course, you couldn’t experience Oktoberfest without live Polka music. Join this Chicago tradition and favorite fall festival the weekend of September 25-27.
Admission: Friday-$10, Saturday-$10, Sunday-$5, and free admission to Military + one guest.
Dates: September 22rd – 24th, 2023
Address: St. Alphonsus Church – 1429 W. Wellington Chicago, IL 60657
3. Lincoln Square Ravenswood Apple Fest
Join the fall festivities in Lincoln Square at Lincoln Square Ravenswood Apple Fest, and long-standing tradition with the neighbors, where you can enjoy some local arts and crafts shows, live music, family activities, and delicious fall favorite foods such as cider and apple-baked goods.
Admission: FREE – but a $5 donation is suggested
Dates: September 30th-October 1st, 2023
Address: Lincoln Avenue between Lawrence and Wilson
4. Lincoln Park Wine Fest
Get in on Chicago’s ultimate wine festival, and visit Lincoln Park Wine Fest!
Go and sample some classic favorite wines, and find your new favorite while you’re at it, while enjoying the exquisite food pairing and learning about what makes a good food and wine pairing, so you can throw a wine soirée of your own and impress all your friends.
Have wine, and mingle with your friends old and new, as you listen to live music with the gorgeous Chicago skyline in the background.
Admission: The admission price varies between $40.00-$80.00. General admission starts at $35 USD while VIP is $75 USD. Each session is 3 hours. General admission includes 12 standard tastings, and the wine glass you get to take home afterwards.
Dates: October 6th-8th, 2023
Address: 1001. W. Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL. 60614
5. Northhalsted (Boystown) Halloween Parade
Get creative, and come dressed in your best costume at the Northalsted (Boystown) Halloween Parade and festival!
If you’re more of the observing type and don’t want to dress up in costume, you can also just come and watch and enjoy everyone else’s costume creativity, as it’s an event that is open to all ages.
If your costume is the winner, you can win up to $500 for first place, and $250 for second in the following categories: scary, drag, creative, youth, cosplay, and in group costumes of 6 or more!
Dates: October 31st, 2023
Address: Halsted & Belmont
6. Dia de los Muertos Exhibits and Celebrations, National Museum of Mexican Art
Come learn about the cultural significance of el Dia de los Muertos, which is not Mexican Halloween, but rather a celebration of the life and death of those who have passed.
Come and learn about the remembrance of those who have passed, while admiring the ornate altars created in the loved one’s honor and memory with photos of the deceased person, their favorite food, and other objects that carry symbolism for that individual.
The National Museum of Mexican Art does an amazing job of teaching the community more about this cultural experience, and it’s a great activity for family learning, friends, and people of all ages.
Dates: September 25th – November 1st, 2023
Address: National Museum of Mexican Art – 1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago, IL 60608
7. Día de Muertos: Love Never Dies Ball
Practice your best Día de Los Muertos face paint, and your perfect attire to impress the other Catrinas and Catrins at the Día de Muertos: Love Never Dies Ball!
For the first time, the National Museum of Mexican Art is hosting a festive Día de Los Muertos event where you’ll get to enjoy live music from one of the city’s best DJ’s, taste delicious food from local Mexican restaurants, and see how creative everyone gets with their outfits!
It’s a fun event to attend, and learn more about this Mexican time-honored practice, it’s meaning, symbolism, while having a little bit of fun!
Admission: $100 per tickets when you purchase through August 25th, after that, prices rise to $125 and if you purchase at the door, prices rise to $150. All proceeds go back to the museum.
Dates: November 4th, 2023 at 6:00 PM
Address: National Museum of Mexican Art – 1852 W. 19th St. Chicago, IL. 60608
8. Take a fall-time boat tour
You can never go wrong with a cool boat tour on Lake Michigan while admiring the city from the water during this magical season. There may not be pumpkin patches, a corn maze, or a fall parade on board, however, it’s still a beautiful experience full of sights, amazing food, sunsets, and maybe even live music. Just don’t forget to bring a warm jacket or blankets!
Some Chicagoan favorite boat tours:
Admission: Varies from boat to boat tour, some starting at $20 per adult.
Dates: Until around mid-November, 2023
Address: Many depart from Navy Pier or The Chicago Riverwalk
9. Go on a ghost tour of the city
From the Valentine’s Day Massacre, The Chicago Fire, and notorious real-life characters such as the Devil in the White City (H.H. Holmes), and Al Capone – Chicago has a couple of ghost stories and creepy sites to share that are definitely a cool and unique way to experience the city – whether you’re a visitor or you’re a local.
If you’re looking to escape the pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving, and arts festival, a ghost tour is definitely something you should consider!
Choose anything from a hop-on hop-off tour experience, a walking tour, or a self-guided tour if you dare to wander around in search of the souls that have passed, and their stories and sites across the city. Personally, ghost tours are one of my favorite activities to do in new cities, as it’s truly a cool angle to view and learn about a city, so this is your sign if you’re wondering what you can do in Chicago that is a little different.
Some of the most popular ghost tours in Chicago:
Admission: Prices vary, but usually start around $20 depending on the tour that you choose
Dates: Until October 31st, 2023
Address: Pick-up locations vary depending on the tour company, but most will usually be a meeting point within the city.
Northern Suburb Fall Festivals in 2023
10. Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest
The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival has been running for 13 years, and this year is back and better than ever!
Come to the North Shore area, and enjoy live music, admire the wall of jack-o-lanterns illuminating the street and the night, and grab a pumpkin yourself and join the pumpkin carving activities!
This fall festival is ideal for a night out for family fun, and friends, as you walk the streets, gazing at the local arts and crafts, try seasonal treats and food options, listen to live music, enjoy the ceremonial pumpkin lighting, get on the hay rides, carnival rides, and more!
It’s an event that involves the whole town, so you’ll definitely get that small-town, charming vibe.
Make the short trip up to Highwood and enjoy it yourself!
Dates: October 6th-8th, 2023
Address: Sheridan Road, Highwood, IL.
11. Johnny Appleseed Festival
If you enjoy fall festivals that include apple scavenger hunts, art festivals and craft shows, and scarecrow decorating contests, then you’ll want to make the trip to Johnny Appleseed festival where you can get that, and much more fall fun! Enjoy live music, seasonal food, and drinks, and a fun plan for family and friends.
Admission: $1 per person, and $10 if you want to buy a wristband for your child to enjoy the carnival rides and games.
Date: September 30th, 2023 – 12:00-5:00 PM
Address: Downtown Crystal Lake, 25 W. Crystal Lake Avenue, Crystal Lake, IL.
12. Pumpkin Smash and Composting
If at the end of the fall festivals, and Halloween fun you’re thinking about what you can possibly do with your pumpkins, then look no further than this awesome idea of bringing your pumpkins and old jack-o-lanterns to Glencoe for their annual Pumpkin Smash and Composting.
Maybe this counts or doesn’t count as a corn maze-music festival-pumpkin carving-fair, but it can definitely be fun to literally smash your pumpkin to pieces, and better yet, leave feeling better they will be turned into compost if you don’t need them.
Bring your giant pumpkin, and end the harvest season with a bang!
Admission: Any pumpkins you bring (AKA free)
Date: November 3rd, 2023
Address: Glencoe Community Garden, 380 Old Green Bay Road, Glencoe, IL.
13. Homestead Orchards
What is a fall festival without an apple festival at a U-Pick apple orchard??
Visit one of Woodstock’s traditional apple orchards that’s been serving up apples and harvest festival fun for generations, and counting!
Enjoy one of the best things to do in Illinois in fall, and do some apple picking with family and friends.
Step inside the 1880’s style barn that is now a gift store, and shop locally produced honey from actual beekeepers, and homemade baked goods that just taste better this time of year.
This orchard has something for everyone, and it’s one not to miss in Woodstock.
Admission: Free to enter, apples and honey, and other products are sold.
Dates: August 25th-October 31st, 2023
Address: 11802 Charles Rd. Woodstock, IL
14. Krolls’ Harvest Farm
Join in on some pumpkin patch fun, movie nights, food trucks, and live music at Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm.
For 27+ years, Kroll’s farm in Waukegan has been putting up this harvest festival for its community, topped with a corn maze game, a petting zoo for children, hayrides, and pumpkin patch fun!
It’s been named one of America’s Best Pumpkin Farms by Travel and Leisure, as well as other recognitions, so maybe it’s time to take a trip here and experience it yourself! Surely it’s one of the best fall festivals in Illinois that you must visit!
Admission: $14 per adult, $12 for children ages 3-12, and kids under 2 are free (includes a hayride, corn maze, and petting zoo)
Dates: Mid-September – October 31st, 2023
Address: 13236 Townline Rd, Waukegan, IL 60087
15. Richardson Adventure Farm
Ok, this place is AMAZING. When you are the home to the world’s largest corn maze, you offer zip lining off a 50′ observation tower, Orbiting (the rides where you get inside a ball and roll down a hill), wagon rides and slides, a pumpkin patch and so much more – how can you not go??
The Richardson Adventure Farm has so much to offer, and it is probably the biggest fall festival on this list with so much to do, see, eat, and experience yourself. It’s perfect for family fun, friend fun, adult fun – for everyone. Make sure to set aside a few hours to see it all!
Admission: September adult prices: $24.00 per adult and $20.00 per child/ October adult price: $22.00 per adult and $18.00 per child. In October, adult weekend prices change to $30.00 and children tickets go to $24.00.
Dates: All of September through October
Address: 909 English Prairie Rd. Spring Grove, IL 60081
16. Six Flags Fright Fest
I can’t finish off the list without mentioning one of the most popular fall festivals in Illinois – Six Flags.
Get chased around a theme park by ghouls and monsters, enter haunted houses, scare zones, and rides, and also enjoy live shows and entertainment perfect for families and friends.
If you want to bring your family, the ghouls are asleep during the day, so you can rest assured that no one is going to come up and scare you or your kids, but if you’re looking for something scarier, definitely attend later in the evening, starting 8 pm, which is when the monsters start waking up from their day slumber.
It’s fun, scary, and definitely worth the trip if you live further away.
Admission: as low as $29.99 if you buy the Fright Pass online, otherwise $39.99 for the day’s activities
Dates: September 16th through October 31st, 2023
Address: 1 Great America Pkwy, Gurnee, IL 60031
>> Read More: The Best Haunted Tours You Have To Check Out in Illinois
17. Long Grove Apple Fest
All apple varieties, in different ways. From baked, fried, cooked, or even air-fried (Jk jk kinda…).
A visit to Long Grove’s historic downtown and home to their famous Apple Festival will definitely give your palette all the apple varieties, fun carnival rides, as well as live music, and other fun fall festival activities!
It’s a family fun and friends event, so don’t miss out, especially if apple is your favorite fruit, you won’t want to miss one of the most delicious seasonal apple activities to do in September.
Admission: $5 per ticket, children 12 and under are free, and the 3-day pass is $10
Dates: September 23nd-24th, 2023
Address: 308 Old McHenry Rd. Long Grove, IL.
18. Fall Bulb Festival and Night of the 1,000 Jack-O’-Lanterns, Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the top places to visit during every season for its botanical displays, and therefore it’s definitely home to one of the best fall festivals in Illinois that you have to check out!
The Chicago Botanic Garden has heaps of different activities and family fun events throughout October, some of their most popular being the Fall Bulb Festival and Night of the 1,000 Jack-O-Lanterns.
The 1,000 Jack-O-Lanterns event is an event that usually sells out pretty quickly, so you may or may not be able to get tickets depending on when you’re reading this post, but it’s definitely a fall festivity to have on your radar for the next year!
Experience 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins, carved by amazing pumpkin carving professionals, seasonal food and drinks, and so much more!
Admission: adult ticket $19/$21, children 3-12 years old tickets $13/$15 plus $20 parking. Pricing increases an addition $2 if you purchase day of tickets.
Dates: October 11th-15th and 18th-22nd – 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM.
Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road Glencoe, IL 60022
Western Suburb Fall Festivals in 2023
19. Scarecrow Festival
Come see the most creatively designed scarecrows and vote on your favorite at St. Charles’s Scarecrow Festival!
This special event which has been a hometown staple for 36 years, comes back this year in person for visitors and locals to enjoy live music, family fun games and a peek into some local shopping in St. Charles’s cute downtown shops.
Don’t skip out on the arts festival and craft show that displays some local talent and creativity, if you visit as well!
Dates: October 6th-8th, 2023
Address: Downtown St. Charles, IL.
20. Midway Village
This one’s for all the history buffs and lovers and those interested in Victorian-style architecture and life.
Midway Village is a living history museum that offers a literal step into Rockford’s history, where they get to experience a little bit of what life was like in the VIctorian-era in Illinois, see artifacts from the times, and enjoy reenactments.
In October, come visit to enjoy some Victorian-style Halloween and fall festival fun such as pumpkin carving activities, get a tour of the Victorian village, and get ghost stories from the time.
Check out events including the Autumn Soirée, which is a fundraising event to support the History Education sector within the Midway Village Museum. At this fun fall event, your ticket entry will get you entry into the Village, wine and alcoholic beverages, a delicious dinner, live music dancing, and much more!
It’s a fun, and different type of harvest festival, but one that is sure to be fun!
Admission: $6 per ticket, but depends on the activity or event you’re attending.
Dates: All throughout October
Address: Midway Village – 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, IL.
>> Read More: The Prettiest Small Towns To Visit in Illinois
21. Cider N’ Cinnamon Arts & Crafts Fair
Love arts and crafts? The Cider N’ Cinnamon Arts & Crafts Fair is just as cozy as you’d imagine it to be – artisan made items like candles, crocheted items, pottery, wood signs, etc. second-hand items for sale, cider donuts, hot chocolate, and more!
Set both indoor and outdoor, the Cider N’ Cinnamon Arts & Crafts Fair is a great place to start shopping for your loved ones with some beautifully crafted items.
So if this sounds like your ideal type of fall activity, then don’t think twice and make it to this arts and crafts fair!
Date: October 7th – 8th, 2023
Address: 1605 N. Alpine Rd. Rockford, IL. 61107
22. Huntley Fall Fest
Send off the summer right, and get into all the fall vibes at the 17th annual Huntley Fall Fest, where you can expect everything from live music, a ton of food stalls serving everything from tacos to BBQ, pizza, and Chinese food, as well as classic cotton candy and kettle-style popcorn.
Whether you’re going with family or just friends, there will be lots of carnival rides to get on and off from, as well as a fun beer garden, and you absolutely cannot leave without catching sight of the fireworks spectacular on Saturday night.
Other fun fall games include a petting zoo, corn maze, and even a car show – you won’t want to miss it! Parking is available.
Dates: September 29th-October 1st, 2023
Address: 12015 Mill St. in Huntley
23. Galena Oktoberfest
Galena is an Illinois small-town gem that if you can, definitely try to visit at least once.
Especially in the fall, as the rolling hills and abundant fall foliage just give the town a beautiful fall look.
If you do visit in the fall, make sure to visit during Galena’s Oktoberfest, a celebration of the fall harvest with Polka music, German-style food, beer, live music, and New Glarus Alphorners playing the long wooden horns.
It’s a fun event that you can enjoy, while you also take in the historic beauty of Galena during this pretty season.
Admission: From $5.00 per ticket
Dates: September 30th, 2023
Address: 91 Bouthillier Street, Galena, IL. 61036
Central and Southern Suburb Fall Festivals in 2023
24. Giant City State Park
Not exactly a traditional type of fall festival in Illinois to visit, but definitely a harvest activity to consider!
Take a trip down south to Giant City State Park, where you can take in the ultimate natural scenery that Illinois has to offer this time of year, is arguably one of the most beautiful state parks in the state, and one of the best things to do in Illinois in September.
Enjoy a nice hike through the woods, take in the views and sights, and take in the neighboring town sights from above or as you drive in. Take in the harvest season with magnificent views of this park – you won’t regret it!
Dates: September-October and even November to see the fall foliage
Address: 235 Giant City Rd, Makanda, IL 62958
>> Read More: Best National Parks And State Parks To Visit In Illinois
25. Apple and Pork Festival
Family, food, and crafts reign over the Apple and Pork festival for over 50 years kicking off the fall season to a great start in Clinton, IL.
Come to this central Illinois fall festival, where you’ll find a boatload of food stalls offering everything from old-fashioned kettle corn to smoked ham sandwiches, grilled bratwurst, and much more.
Stay for the tractor shows, take your kids on a pony ride, make your way through the fun corn maze, and be entertained by the clog performances.
Dates: September 23rd-24th, 2023
Address: 219 E. Woodlawn, Clinton, IL, United States, Illinois
26. Take a drive around Illinois’s famous Scenic Great River Road
Another non-traditional fall festival in Illinois to go to, but one to experience!
Make it a road trip from visiting Giant City State Park, visiting Illinois’ famous Great River Road, and bask in the abundance of fall foliage, and autumn vibes while you drive alongside the Mississippi Road, which goes all the way up to Minnesota.
You definitely don’t have to go all the way through, as it’s a pretty long byway, but it’s definitely a sight to see.
It is considered a national scenic byway, and to many, it’s considered America’s most beautiful, longest, and most important scenic byway.
Dates: September-October for fall views
27. Heap’s Haunted Corn Maze
In for a little corn maze fun?
One of the things to do in Illinois in September is visit Heap’s Haunted Corn Maze for moon hayrides, haunted moonlight hayrides, and a flashlight maze.
A very midwestern way to bring in the autumn season with these fall festival ideas. It’s definitely a fun idea for any fall weekend!
Admission: prices vary between $6.00-$18.00 depending on what activity you want to do
Dates: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from September 29th-October 31st, 2023
Address: 4853 US-52, Minooka, IL 60447
28. Candlelight Tour of New Salem
In for a little candlelit tour around a tour of Lincoln’s New Salem?
If a live museum with homes from Abraham Lincoln’s era, with people wearing clothing from the times, sharing historical facts and spooky stories, definitely check out this amazing experience for history buffs and spooky seekers.
Seasonal favorite foods like gingerbread cookies and cider will be served, as well as other local favorites when you step a bit into downtown Springfield.
It’s the perfect fall festival in Illinois to visit if you are looking for a little break from the pumpkin patches, live music, and petting zoos if you’re looking for something a bit spookier.
Dates: October 6th-7th, 2023 – 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Address: 15588 History Lane Petersburg IL 62675
29. Centralia Halloween Parade and Fall Festival
A fun day full of activities for family fun, friends, and people of all ages to enjoy everything from a Halloween parade, delicious food, marching bands, and floats.
It’s definitely a fun activity for your family to attend if you’re looking for an activity for all to enjoy.
Dates: October 27th, 2023
Address: Poplar Street in Downtown Centralia, Illinois
30. Prairie Land Heritage Museum Fall Festival and Steam Show
In for a fall festival in Illinois that showcases and celebrates tractors, small engines, and steam engines, while also offering entertainment like live music, carnival rides, delicious food, and other fun fall activities?
Then definitely include the Prairie Land Heritage Museum Fall Festival and Steam Show as a potential destination/fall activity to include in your plans, because this is sure to offer a good time!
Dates: September 22nd – 24th, 2023
Address: 1003 West Michigan, Jacksonville, Illinois 62650
31. Oglesby Harvest Fest
Near one of Illinois’ famous state parks, Starved Rock, Harvest Fest is a fall festival that offers its visitors and families face painting, a magician, a petting zoo, pony rides, delicious food, and a costume parade for all to enjoy.
While you’re there, take a mini hike at Starved Rock and enjoy the fall foliage and waterfalls.
Admission: $3 per adult ticket/ $10 per family
Dates: October 15th, 2023 – 3:00 PM
Address: Downtown Oglesby
What are some of your favorite fall festivals in Illinois?
As you can see, there are DOZENS of fall activities and fall festivals in Illinois to attend, whether you’re a local who is looking to make some weekend plans this fall, or a visitor wanting to experience an Illinois autumn.
I couldn’t possibly fit ALL of the fall activities and harvest festivals in one post, but this is a good starting point if you’re starting to plan out your fall events calendar.
Let me know down below what your favorite fall activities or unique harvest festivals that you enjoy in your city are, and share more ideas on how to enjoy the fall time in Illinois if you would like that I didn’t mention in this post.
See you at the pumpkin patch!
To more travel moments like these,