For the 50+ Traveler

When you think of fall you probably think of Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, or a night of scares and thrills as you celebrate Halloween. Your autumn celebration doesn’t have to end there, however. There’s more fun to be had and events to be discovered. Fall festivals are a great example!

TravelAwaits interviewed some of the people who have helped to make some of the best fall festivals in the U.S. possible each year. Fix up some warm apple cider and read on for insider information about a few of the amazing fall festivals happening in 2019!

The Newport Beach Food And Wine Festival.

1. Newport Beach Food And Wine Festival

Calling all food and wine connoisseurs! The time is quickly approaching for the 2019 Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival, and this year you can expect even more food and much more wine at this exclusive celebration of some of the best world-class dining that Southern California has to offer.

The CEO and founder of the Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival, Stephanie Farnsworth-Salem, is the brains behind the operation, but she admits that there are several people involved in its success.

As the festival is entering its sixth year, she said her inspiration for the festival came after Taste of Newport had come to an end.

“It was a beloved local food and wine event, and after it ended, Newport Beach did not have a large-scale food and wine event, so I set out to create one that was more elevated than anything that had been done in Newport before.”

She said a typical fan favorite at the festival is the Pacific Sales Grand Tasting, which features live cooking demonstrations from chefs like Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and all-stars like Art Smith, Hubert Keller, Richard Blais, and many other skilled chefs. This year, however, Farnsworth-Salem is excited to announce an exclusive Diamond Club Lounge that will include tastings of rare reserve wines.

This year’s festival will be held from October 3 to October 6, 2019. Farnsworth-Salem said that many of the events have already sold out, so if you plan on getting tickets, act fast!

A band and crowd in a Harvest On The Harbor tent

2. Harvest On The Harbor

Now we’re hopping over to New England -- Portland, Maine, to be exact -- as they are preparing for their 2019 Harbor on the Harbor festival (HOTH for short). If you plan on being in New England during the fall this year, make room for this epic fest of food and spirits!

One of the three co-owners and producers of the festival, Gillian Britt, said the festival began in 2007 as a way to bring more visitors to Portland, Maine. The event has only continued to grow as Portland's restaurant scene has matured and today HOTH is one of the top food and drink festivals in New England thanks to Jim Britt, who’s curated the festival through his partnership with the city’s tourism group. Gillian said, “Today it is owned and produced by S&G LLC, which is a group of three -- Stefanie Manning, Gillian Britt, and Jim Britt.”

The co-owner said that The Maine Lobster Chef of the Year award, presented with Shucks Maine Lobster, is a hit. “It is always the first event to sell out.” The chef and restaurant lineup is obviously a big attraction for the visitors of the festival. Britt said when choosing the lineup they keep in mind the lesser-known local spots and was adamant that this festival involves far more than just tasting and sipping.

“When you attend a HOTH event, you get to connect with Maine farmers, distillers, brewers, fishermen, and other hardworking culinary pioneers. Add in live music, innovative decor, an exceptionally pretty Maine venue, and you have a truly unique experience.”

This year’s festival will take place from October 17 through October 20, 2019. Act fast on purchasing your tickets because most of the events sell out!

Drinking in Portland, Maine? Find the best beer, wine, and spirits with a little help from TravelAwaits.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta balloons rising over a field

3. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

For a total of nine days in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you have the chance to set your eyes on a colorful array of hot air balloons taking flight. The 2019 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will feature more than 500 balloons in flight with over 600 pilots across the world.

Tom Garrity, the public relations representative for the event, said this year will mark the fiesta’s 48th year.

The inspiration for the fiesta comes with a pretty interesting story. “The first event was actually a celebration for a local radio station celebrating its 50th anniversary. The idea surfaced when Sid Cutter -- balloonist -- and Tom Rutherford -- balloonist and radio station rep -- were brainstorming ways to commemorate the 50th anniversary,” Garrity told TravelAwaits.

Since then, the event has grown from featuring just 13 balloons to averaging around 550 hot air balloons a year and has become the largest event of its kind according to Garrity. He said that the mass ascension is one of his favorite parts of the event. “Being in the middle of 500-plus hot air balloons as they all launch is something I look forward to each year.”

This year’s festival will be taking place from October 5 through October 13, 2019.

A festival in Grapevine, Texas

4. Grapefest

This fall festival in Grapevine, Texas, is an elaborate celebration of wine. This year marks the 33rd year for the festival and it has grown into one of the largest wine festivals in the Southwest according to the festival’s communications coordinator, Emily Adams.

Adams said that the festival began in order to “energize the community” and, of course, celebrate Texas wine. The attendance for Grapefest has grown tremendously over the years and has reached an average of 260,000 multi-generational attendees. Not only has the festival grown, but it’s helped to grow the Grapevine wine community as well.

“With the growth of the festival, Grapevine was also able to grow the number of winery tasting rooms on Main Street and now has the Urban Wine Trail,” Adams told TravelAwaits.

Adams said that something the guests seem to enjoy each year is the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, which allows ticketed participants to taste and vote on over 150 Texas wines from nearly 45 Texas-based wineries. Another fan favorite is the GrapeStomp, which is exactly what its name suggests: a competition in which teams compete to see who can stomp out the most juice.

This year’s Grapefest will be happening from September 12 to September 15, 2019. Adams said the fair is free all day Thursday and until 5 p.m. Friday, so grab your friends and family for a memorable fall event less than 30 minutes north of Dallas-Fort Worth!

Saint Paul Art Crawl in a gallery

5. Saint Paul Art Crawl

Taking a turn in a more artistic direction is this fall festival in the Saint Paul Art Collective in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Saint Paul Art Collective works to display the diverse art that the Saint Paul community has to offer. The non-profit organization hosts the Saint Paul Art Crawl twice a year and the 2019 fall festival is nearing!

The Art Crawl director, Brenda Brousseau, told TravelAwaits that the event began in 1991 when a group of Lowertown -- a Saint Paul historic district -- artists came together to make the event.

The festival has grown tremendously from its beginnings. Brousseau said that the Art Crawl began in just one location and was hosted just once a year. Now the festival encompasses 30 to 40 locations and is held in both the fall and the spring.

Each year the art festival brings in a crowd of nearly 20,000 visitors and is open to all artists’ submissions. It is especially excited to consider submissions from up-and-coming artists looking to get their work out there.

Brousseau wants possible visitors to know that they’ll see diverse works of art as she has curated pieces from artists representing several cultural groups. The 2019 fall Art Crawl will include an exhibit titled “We Are Still Here!” that showcases art from indigenous people.

The Fall Art Crawl will take place on October 11, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; October 12, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and October 13, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Heritage vegetables at the Heritage Harvest Festival

6. Heritage Harvest Festival

Entering into its 13th year, the Heritage Harvest Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia, is gearing up for its annual fall festival. TravelAwaits spoke to Megan Howerton, the director of events over the festival, which began with the intent of celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s legacy as well as the contributions of people enslaved at Monticello, specifically to American cuisine.

The festival also highlights the preservation of historic plants. Howerton said the event is hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in partnership with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seed Savers Exchange and the festival features local retailers, food tastings, chef demos, and educational programs on food, farm, and garden.

Howerton said organizers of the 2019 festival are happy to debut their new cafe, Monticello Farm Table, which will serve “historical recipes featuring seasonal produce during the festival.” This is sure to be a hit, but Howerton said the fan favorite every year is the tasting tent, where guests can taste a variety of foods and vegetables.

The festival also features speakers with expertise in food, farming, and gardening who are chosen in January of each year by the festival’s program committee. Some of this year’s speakers are Leslie Bouterie, a beekeeper, and Pat Brodowski, a specialty gardener at Monticello, and the list of knowledgable speakers goes on!

Howerton expects a turnout of around 4,000 attendees this year, and you could be among them! The festival takes place on September 21, 2019, so head to the website to buy your tickets now!

Looking for more fall festival fun? Consider participating in one of these eight excellent Oktoberfests across the U.S.!