13 New England food festivals to visit this fall

The cranberry harvest at the Cranberry Festival.
The cranberry harvest at the Cranberry Festival. –Cranberry Festival

There are certain things worth planning a weekend around, and food definitely makes the cut. This fall, eat your way across New England at these 13 festivals filled with apples, cranberries, pumpkins, and plenty of seafood.

Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival

Autumnal foods and wine? Yes, please. The Mount Snow Resort in West Dover will host the signature event of this festival weekend, a Grand Tasting featuring more than 70 vendors, including 20 Vermont wineries and distilleries, plus small specialty food producers, chefs, cheese makers, and farmers. Attendees can also attend a Wine Tasting and Soup Stroll at Wilmington’s Chamber of Commerce and a Shelburne Farm Wine Dinner at Wilmington’s White House Inn. Take a tasting break and ride the Bluebird Lift for a summit view of Vermont’s spectacular fall foliage. (Thursday, September 21 to Sunday, September 24; West Dover and Wilmington, Vermont)

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival


Sip and munch at three gorgeous Gilded Age mansions during this four-day fest. Some events are sold out, but tickets are still available for the Grand Tastings on the Marble House lawn, where you can sample hundreds of wines from around the world and mingle with renowned chefs. (Thursday, September 21 through Sunday, September 24; Newport, Rhode Island)

The Grand Tasting at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival. —The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

What the Fluff? Festival

Archibald Query invented Fluff in Somerville’s Union Square in 1917. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the sugary white stuff at the What the Fluff? Festival taking place in, of course, Union Square. This year’s theme is “FluffCentennial: Inspiring the Next Century of Union Square Invention.” Festivalgoers can play fluff-themed games like a marshmallow toss and Fluff musical chairs, listen to live music, and, most importantly, eat lots of Fluff. The rain date is Sept. 24. (Saturday, September 23; Somerville)


Get your taste buds, and stomachs, ready: At Westport’s Chowdafest, attendees will sample clam chowder from 40 award-winning chefs and restaurants across New England and then vote on their favorite in five categories: classic New England clam chowder, traditional chowder, creative chowder, soup/bisque, and vegetarian. (Sunday, October 1; Westport, Connecticut)

Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta

How many pumpkins can you fit in one festival? Find out in Damariscotta, Maine. This pumpkinfest attracts up to 15,000 visitors for its pumpkin parade, giant pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin pancake breakfast, pumpkin drop, pumpkin soapbox-style derby, pumpkin hunt, pumpkin pie-eating contests, pumpkin catapult, pumpkin dessert contest, and downtown display of more than 65 carved pumpkins. During the Pumpkinboat Regatta held Monday at noon, folks race down the Damariscotta River in 400- to 700-pound hollowed-out pumpkins transformed into boats. (Friday, October 6 to Monday, October 9; Damariscotta, Maine)

A giant pumpkin at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. —The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta

Cranberry Festival


Stock up on cranberries fresh from the bog and learn the history of cranberry farming on a bog tour. When you get hungry, eat cranberry cookies, chocolate-covered cranberries,  and fresh-pressed, cranberry-filled juices — or clam chowder and barbecue, if you need something a little heartier. (Saturday, October 7; Nantucket)

Apple Harvest Day

This annual festival, which draws about 50,000 people to downtown Dover, will feature plenty of apple treats, an apple pie baking contest, more than 40 arts and crafts tables, live entertainment, and a 5k road race. (Saturday, October 7; Dover, New Hampshire)

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival

Walk among 20,000 glowing jack-o’-lanterns at this Laconia, New Hampshire, festival. Spark your adventurous side on a zip line and climbing wall. Shop at more than 50 food and craft vendors. Quench your thirst in a beer garden. (Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14; Laconia, New Hampshire)

Wellfleet OysterFest

If you’re an oyster fan, you’ve likely enjoyed several from Wellfleet. Head straight to the source for this two-day Cape Cod festival, where you can undoubtedly feast on plenty of oysters, plus raw and stuffed clams and chowders and New England-made beer and wine. You’ll also find cooking demonstrations, storytelling, nature walks, a competitive run, an oyster shuck-off, and family activities such as face painting and bounce houses. (Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15; Wellfleet)

Guests helped themselves to oysters at a previous Wellfleet OysterFest. —Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / Flickr

Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival

Picture this: You, listening to live folk, Celtic, Caribbean, and blues music while sipping a signature cocktail and eating local seafood under a waterfront tent in Newport, Rhode Island. That’s the name of the game during this two-day seafood festival that draws up to 10,000 people and features a Rhode Island Oyster Trail Scavenger Hunt. At Bowen’s Wharf Marina, visitors can also explore the 200-foot-tall SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, the largest civilian sailing school vessel in the United States ($5 for adults, $1 for kids 16 and under). (Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15; Newport, Rhode Island)

Harvest on the Harbor


Portland, Maine’s annual celebration of all things food and drink will include a new event this year: a self-guided tasting tour of bars, retail spots, restaurants, and tasting rooms, called a Harvest Crawl. Other events include a Harvest Happy Hour, where guests will be able to sample spirits and food at four themed tasting stations: brown goods and bacon, vodka and veggies, gin and smoked seafood, and barbecue pairings; and Flavors of Maine, a grand tasting event where chefs from Maine restaurants will create dishes featuring a local ingredient. (Tuesday, October 17 to Sunday, October 22; Portland, Maine)

Boston Veg Food Fest

It’s all about the veggies at this two-day food festival that will include more than 120 vendors. Discover the latest vegetarian products on the market, taste free samples, watch chef cooking demonstrations, and meet cookbook publishers and authors. (Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22; Boston)

Franklin County Cider Days

Two words: apple cider. At this three-day festival in Franklin County, take an orchard tour, take part in an amateur cider competition, enjoy a cider and cheese pairing, the list goes on. (Friday, November 3  to Sunday, November 5; Franklin County)