Top 15 Must-Attend Fall Festivals in Michigan

Michigan small towns in fall / Source: mlive

There’s nothing quite like fall in Michigan. From the gorgeous changing leaves to the crisp autumn air, it’s a beautiful time of year.

One of my favorite things about fall in Michigan is all the amazing festivals happening around the state. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend quite a few of them. Here are some of the best fall festivals in Michigan that you won’t want to miss.

1. Pumpkinfest in Frankenmuth

Pumpkinfest in Frankenmuth / Source: Frankenmuth

Held annually in late September, Pumpkinfest in Frankenmuth is one of the most popular fall festivals in Michigan. Located at the beautiful Heritage Park, Pumpkinfest features live music, fall-themed crafts and activities, hayrides, contests, delicious food, and of course, thousands of pumpkins.

Kids can enjoy pumpkin painting and families will love exploring the corn maze. Don’t miss the pumpkin regatta where giant pumpkins are turned into boats and raced across the Cass River.

I’ve been going to Pumpkinfest for years and it’s always such a great time. My favorite activity is watching the pumpkin boats race across the river – it’s hilarious watching these giant pumpkins bob along the water.

And you can’t beat the small-town charm of Frankenmuth. Be sure to sample some funnel cake and apple cider while you’re there!

2. Appleumpkin Festival in Tecumseh

Appleumpkin Festival in Tecumseh / Source: WLEN

Celebrate two of fall’s favorite foods – apples and pumpkins – at the Appleumpkin Festival in Tecumseh. Held in mid-October, this free festival includes an apple dessert bake-off competition, apple cider making demonstrations, hayrides, live music, a farmers market, and activities for kids.

Be sure to sample apple dumplings and pumpkin donuts from the many food vendors on site. The Appleumpkin Festival is the perfect small-town fall celebration.

The apple dessert contest is awesome – so many cakes, pies, breads featuring fresh Michigan apples. And we always ride the hayrides, play the carnival games, and dance along to the live music. Go hungry, because you’ll want to try all the amazing food!

3. Harvest Festival in Sparta

Harvest Festival in Sparta / Source: Sparta Today

Enjoy small town charm at the annual Harvest Festival in Sparta, held in late September. This free festival celebrates fall with a parade, live music, a petting farm, pony rides, tractor pulls, an old time baseball game, carnival rides, and plenty of delicious food like funnel cakes and turkey legs.

Kids will love getting their faces painted and exploring the inflatable activities. Sparta knows how throw a harvest festival! This is one of my favorite small town festivals. The parade kicks everything off and is a blast to watch.

Make sure to check out the carnival rides and funnel cake stands. I love watching the old time baseball game, with the players wearing vintage uniforms – it feels like you’re stepping back in time. There’s great live music and entertainment on two stages throughout the festival too.

4. Arts and Eats Festival in Dearborn

Arts and Eats Festival / Source: Artsbeatseats

Enjoy two days of art, music, and food at the Arts and Eats Festival in Dearborn. Located along Michigan Avenue in the historic downtown district, this festival features a juried art fair with over 100 artists, live music and entertainment, and food from local restaurants.

Kids will enjoy the children’s area with arts and crafts. Don’t miss the beer tent featuring Michigan craft brews. It’s a great way to support local artists and businesses. There are booths lining Michigan Ave with artists selling all kinds of paintings, jewelry, photography, pottery and more.

Plus amazing food from Dearborn’s top restaurants – the shawarma was delicious. And live music, activities for kids, and beers from Michigan brewers made for an awesome atmosphere. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area!

5. Yale Bologna Festival

Yale Bologna Festival / Source: Yale Area Chamber of Commerce

This quirky festival in Yale, MI celebrates bologna, the yummy lunchmeat. The Yale Bologna Festival features a big bologna parade, bologna eating contests, the crowning of a Bologna King & Queen, live music, carnival rides, bingo, fireworks, and more.

You can sample unique bologna dishes from vendors or enter the Best Bologna Recipe contest. You read that right – there’s an entire festival in Michigan dedicated to bologna! I couldn’t resist checking out this wonderfully weird event.

Bologna dishes / Source: Detroit Free Press

The bologna parade to kick things off was hilarious to watch. And I tried some surprisingly tasty bologna dishes – bologna burgers, deep fried bologna, bologna cupcakes.

The recipe contest yielded some creative entries. There’s also lots of other good festival fun like rides, music, and fireworks. So if you enjoy bologna, this one is worth a visit!

6. Pumpkinpalooza in Jackson

Pumpkinpalooza in Jackson / Source: The Midway

Families will have a gourd time at Pumpkinpalooza in Jackson. This October festival includes pumpkin carving contests, a pumpkin cannon show, hayrides, trick-or-treating for kids, entertainment stages, carnival rides, a beer tent, and fall-themed vendors.

Pumpkinpalooza displays / Source: Sunshine and Holly

Be sure to try the pumpkin pie eating contest or swings by the pumpkin weigher to see who grew the largest pumpkin. Pumpkinpalooza really celebrates everything pumpkin! I like to wander through the vendor booths and sample all the pumpkin treats, from pumpkin fudge to pumpkin lattes.

The hayrides, costume parade, and trick-or-treating make it a more kid-friendly festival. And adults will appreciate the beer tent and live music. I never miss this great fall event!

7. Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village

Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village / Source: LittleGuide Detroit

For a truly unique fall experience, visit Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village near Detroit. Historic homes are decorated for trick-or-treating, ghost stories are told around fireplaces, you can ride in a Model T, and enjoy fall foods like apple fritters and doughnuts.

I make a day of exploring the historic village, which is decorated gorgeously for fall. The houses are decked out in creepy Halloween decor and treats are handed out to kids in costume.

Storytelling around the bonfires adds to the spooky ambiance. And activities like candle dipping, cider pressing and wagon rides provide old-fashioned fun. Be sure to visit Edison’s lab to see the historic electric Halloween decorations!

8. Grand Rapids Harvest Fest

Grand Rapids Festival / Source: grkids

Enjoy fall flavors at the annual Harvest Fest in downtown Grand Rapids. This street fair features Michigan wineries, breweries, farms, and food vendors, so you can sample delicious fall treats.

There’s also live music, seasonal craft beer, cider and wine tastings, a farmer’s market, kids’ activities, and so much more. Harvest Fest is the perfect opportunity to taste the best of fall in Grand Rapids.

The farmers market has fresh produce and baked goods that are fantastic. Sipping local ciders and seasonal beers is a great way to spend the day.

The food vendors offer amazing fall comfort food, like apple dumplings and pumpkin chili. With all the activities and entertainment, Harvest Fest really captures the flavors of the season.

9. Pumpkin Fest in South Haven

Pumpkin Fest in South Haven / Source: PortageLife

Celebrate the pumpkin harvest in beautiful South Haven at Pumpkin Fest. Events include weighing giant pumpkins, a pumpkin recipe contest, carving demonstrations, hayrides, marshmallow roasts, pie eating contests, trick-or-treating, and more.

I always marvel at the size of the giant pumpkins – some weigh over a thousand pounds! I also enjoy activities like the costume parade, trick-or-treating, getting their faces painted and picking out pumpkins from the patch.

I signed up for the pie eating contest which was hilarious and delicious. The hayrides and marshmallow roasts are nice too. And you can’t beat the location right along Lake Michigan!

10. Detroit Fall Beer Festival

Detroit Fall Beer Festival / Source: Detroit Metro Times

Beer lovers won’t want to miss the annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival. With over 800 craft beers on tap from over 100 Michigan breweries, you can discover new fall flavors.

Participants in Detroit Fall Beer Festival / Source: Life In Michigan

There’s also live music, food trucks on site, and games to keep you entertained. Sample to your heart’s content during three tasting sessions. I’ve attended the Detroit Beer Fest a few times now and it’s such an amazing celebration of Michigan’s craft beer scene.

With hundreds of fall brews to sample, I always discover new favorites. Strolling around Eastern Market sampling beers, ciders and meads is a perfect fall activity when the weather cooperates.

The brewers really come up with great pumpkin, apple and Oktoberfest-style beers. And the food trucks, live music and games add to the fun atmosphere. I’ll definitely be going back this year!

11. Northville Victorian Festival

Northville Victorian Festival / Source: Hometown Life

Step back in time to the late 19th century at the Northville Victorian Festival held each September in downtown Northville, Michigan. For one weekend, the town transforms into a celebration of Victorian era history, costumes, decor and entertainment.

The streets are lined with twinkle lights, fall flowers, and antiquated decor to complete the old-time ambiance. With so many opportunities to experience Victorian-era charm, the Northville Victorian Festival is a delightful way to spend a September weekend.

12. Frankenmuth Autofest

Billed as Michigan’s largest classic car show, the Frankenmuth Autofest takes over this Bavarian-style town each September, bringing in over 2,500 classic cars and automotive enthusiasts from across the Midwest.

The streets of downtown Frankenmuth are transformed into a giant classic car show for the weekend. Vehicle owners pay an entry fee to display their polished rides along the streets and in parking lots. Auto exhibitors also set up in the Harvey Kern Pavilion.

Auto exhibits in Frankenmuth Auto Fest / Source: Frankenmuth

Categories span vintage and muscle cars, hot rods, trucks, and other speciality vehicles with the best in show winners awarded trophies and prize money. Car buffs can spend hours admiring the chrome details, mint interiors, and rumbling engines.

13. Flint Horror Con

Flint Horror Con / Source: mlive

Billed as Michigan’s premier horror and paranormal convention, Flint Horror Con is a hauntingly good time for fright fans. The two-day event takes over the Dort Financial Center in downtown Flint each October, featuring a wide range of creepy entertainment and activities.

With so many spine-tingling activities and special guests, the Flint Horror Con has cemented itself as one of the premiere Halloween season events for horror fans in Michigan. Tickets usually range from $12-$25 for single day passes. Come for the celebs, stay for the scares!

14. Grand Ledge Pumpkin Walk

Pumpkin Walk / Source: Jack O Lantern World

The Grand Ledge Pumpkin Walk is a magical Halloween tradition held every autumn in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Each October, over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins are displayed along a paved 1-mile trail that winds through the woods of Oak Park, lighting up the night with their flickering flames.

This stunning mile-long jack-o-lantern trail is fun for visitors of all ages. As you stroll surrounded by the glow of thousands of luminaries and pumpkin sculptures, you’ll experience the crisp fall air, color-changing leaves, and feel the excitement of the Halloween season. The trail is wheelchair, stroller and wagon accessible.

The event kicks off on October 1st with a pumpkin lighting ceremony and festival featuring music, food trucks, children’s costume parade, inflatable play area, and the crowning of the Pumpkin King and Queen. After the sun sets, the pumpkins begin to glow as you walk the magical trail.

Many local school groups, scouts troops, churches, businesses, families and individuals carve and submit their pumpkin creations to display along the trail. There are thousands of pumpkins with intricate carved designs, scowling faces, and glowing grins lining the wooded pathway. It’s tradition for repeat visitors to find their favorite pumpkins from years past.

15. Fall Color Festival at Nahma Inn

Fall Color Festival / Source: FOX 47 News

The remote Upper Peninsula town of Nahma becomes a flurry of fall activity during its annual Fall Color Festival held in early October when the leaves are at peak changing colors.

The Victorian-era Nahma Inn serves as the backdrop for this U.P. fall tradition. Built in 1904, the historic inn is considered one of the most luxurious lodges of its time. Today, it still operates as small, charming inn and restaurant.

With so many amazing fall festivals and events, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate autumn in Michigan. Grabbing a sweater and heading to a cider mill, cheering at a football game or picking the perfect pumpkin are quintessential fall activities.

Take advantage of Michigan’s gorgeous fall weather and scenic colors this season and check out some of these great festivals and events. Enjoy!

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