As we patiently wait for the Georgia heat to subside and for the comforting embrace of the first fall chill to arrive, we can’t help but dream of comfy sweaters, hot lattes and fall vibes. To kickstart your autumn adventure, we’ve curated a list of local attractions that are fun for both families and adults alike. From fall festivals and fun carnivals to spine-tingling haunted houses, we can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the season’s delights. Cheers to cooler days and the vibrant festivities of fall!
Oktoberfest in Helen
Helen’s renowned 52nd Oktoberfest attracts visitors nationwide and is ranked among the premier Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S. for its genuine ambiance. The festival exudes German culture, showcasing bands with German flair from various parts of the country, accompanied by traditional food, beverages, and dancing, making it a delightful experience for families. The 2023 Oktoberfest Parade is scheduled for noon on Saturday, September 9, followed by the inaugural keg tapping at the Fussen Biergarten in the Helen Festhalle. This Oktoberfest is the longest running in the United States and festivities will run Thursday-Sunday throughout September and daily from September 7 to October 29, hours and prices vary each day. www.helenchamber.com/oktoberfest
NETHERWORLD Haunted House
Back for its 27th haunt season, the highly acclaimed NETHERWORLD Haunted House returns this with two new Halloween haunts – Primordial and Cryptid Chaos. Only the bravest souls will experience the unforgettable pulse-pounding horror featured in the two brand-new haunts, packed full of Hollywood-quality special effects, cutting-edge theatrics, elaborate sets, and nightmare-inducing monsters. Patrons can also experience the carnivalesque Midway, plus epic escape room games! September 22-November 11. Dates and times vary. 1313 Netherworld Way, Stone Mountain, 404-999-3327, www.fearworld.com
Yellow Daisy Festival
Stone Mountain’s Yellow Daisy Festival features more than 400 artists and crafters, including 100 new artists this year! Fabulous festival food and crafter demonstrations are the highlights of this special event. Sept. 7-10, 1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, www.stonemountainpark.com
Gwinnett County Fair
The Gwinnett County Fair returns this September and features pageants for every age group, live concerts, carnival rides, and yummy fair foods. The fair opens its gates to the public Sept. 14-24. Hours vary for the exhibit Hall and carnival. Clear bags only. 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville, www.gwinnettcountyfair.com
Georgia State Fair
Located at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Georgia State Fair is a must-visit. Boasting carnival rides, delectable treats, pony rides, a petting zoo, and a captivating magic show, it promises a delightful experience for families of all ages!Sept. 29-Oct. 8, hours vary, 1500 Tara Place, Hampton, www.georgiastatefair.org
STAFF PICK: Suwanee Fest
Round up your kinfolk and head over to Town Center Park September 16-17 for the 39th annual Suwanee Fest! Nearly 200 vendors and exhibitors, numerous entertainment acts, and an amazing parade are just some of the highlights of this beloved fall tradition. Bring the kiddos — they will love it! And wear your best cowboy boots, it’s gonna be a Wild Wild Fest. Sept. 16-17, 10 a.m., Town Center Park, www.suwaneefest.com.
Stone Mountain Park Pumpkin Festival
Stone Mountain’s Pumpkin Festival is a family-favorite event that features some of your favorite classic storybook characters! After the sun goes down, enjoy the new nighttime parade, pumpkin drone and light show, and plenty of other new not-so-spooky glowing experiences. Select dates from Sept. 16-Oct. 29, 1000 Robert E Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, www.stonemountainpark.com
The Georgia Renaissance Festival’s outdoor haunt experience returns this September and October. The two-part event incorporates a carnival-style midway with games, food, beverages and music in an area called The Courtyard, along with a ticketed walk-through outdoor haunt called The Village sure to give you a good scare! Best for ages 13 and up! Sept. 29-Oct. 29, Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30-11 p.m., 6905 Virlyn B. Smith Road, www.13storieshauntedhouse.com/village
STAFF PICK: Duluth Fall Festival
Voted Best of Gwinnett and Reader’s Choice many times and Best Large Festival in the Southeast, the Duluth Fall Festival is the largest festival in the Southeast with no paid staff and more than 400 volunteers. The festivities kick off on Saturday, September 30, in downtown Duluth with a huge parade at 10 a.m., followed by more than 300 booths of arts and crafts, food, and sponsors. Sunday, October 1, begins with a Peachtree Road Race-qualifying race at 8 a.m., followed by Worship on the Green by Duluth First United Methodist Church. There will also be entertainment, booth shopping and food. Pro tip: Plan to ride one of the 10 FREE large shuttle buses from three area schools so you won’t have to worry about parking. Saturday, September 30, 9 a.m.-7p.m., and Sunday, October 1, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information visit DuluthFallFestival.org.
Cumming County Fair and Festival
The Cumming Country Fair and Festival is the largest event held at the Cumming Fairgrounds and attracts more than 225,000 people from all over Georgia. This year, the fair is celebrating its 28th year. Enjoy daily attractions, concerts, carnival rides, and lots of fun carnival food. Check the website for a complete list of events, free admission days, and discount nights. Oct. 5-15, hours vary, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming, cummingfair.squarespace.com
STAFF PICK: Suwanee Taste of BBQ & Music Festival
The 6th annual Suwanee Taste of BBQ and Music Festival returns to Town Center Park on October 7 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. This family-friendly festival features vendors and artists, live music from local bands, a Kids & Family Fun Zone, and tasty BBQ bites. Come for the BBQ and stay for the music! BBQ sample tickets will be sold for $1 each to raise money for Project Green, a local 501c3 Kids Foundation that sponsors Kid’s Summer Camp program. The Suwanee Taste of BBQ and Music Festival is free to attend for all. Also check out our 2nd annual Suwanee Chili Cook Off & Music Festival on November 11 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) where you can eat chili, enjoy music, and vote for YOUR best chili choice! For more information or to become a sponsor or vendor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-806-7492. More info online at AliveExpo.com/Festival and ChiliMusicFestival.com
STAFF PICK: Spooky Spirits 5K
The third annual Spooky Spirits 5K returns to Suwanee’s Town Center Park on Saturday, October 14. Presented by the team behind the immensely popular Beer Chaser 5K, this Halloween-themed race puts a bewitching twist on the traditional 5K, combining costumes and cocktails for a truly spirited experience. Whether you’re a competitive runner seeking to conquer personal records or looking to enjoy a leisurely stroll with your cocktail-loving friends, this timed Peachtree Road Race-qualifying event is designed for everyone. Choose the ticket that embodies your Halloween spirit — whether nonstop or with “spirit” stops — and we’ll all cheers together at the finish line! Every runner will also get to take home an official Spooky Spirits 5K long-sleeve T-shirt, medal, and souvenir glass to brag about your well-deserved accomplishment. Don’t forget to dress up! October 14, 11 a.m. Town Center Park, www.spookyspirits5K.com
STAFF PICK: Sugar Rush Arts Festival
Mark your calendars for October 21-22 as the Sugar Rush Arts Festival brings a blend of art, vendors, food trucks, and family-fun activities to Downtown Sugar Hill. Live painters, musicians, and demonstrations will be stationed throughout the event bringing art to life! As an added treat, stop by the Sugar Hill Art Gallery for a juried art show featuring more than 75 pieces of artwork made by local artists. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. For more information visit www.cityofsugarhill.com.
Lawrenceville’s Boo Fest
Calling all ghouls and goblins! The City of Lawrenceville will host an evening of thrills and adventure at the Lawrenceville Lawn with fun for the whole family. Collect goodies along the Treat Trail as you visit booths decorated by local businesses, organizations, and community members. Enjoy trick-or-treating fun and you can indulge in all your favorite Halloween treats while you take in the sights and sounds of the season. This event is free to attend. Friday, October 27, 6-9 p.m., Lawrenceville Lawn, 210 Luckie St., Lawrenceville, www.downtownlawrencevillega.com
Duluth Howl on the Green
Bring your kids, friends and furry pets for a night filled with fun, sweet treats, great food and out-of-this-world entertainment on Duluth Town Green! The event turns into fright at dark as fire dancers make their way through the crowds and mystical creatures emerge, while aerialists hang from the Festival Center Stage and dancing iconic characters light up the night! October 27, 5-9 p.m., duluthga.net
STAFF PICK: Suwanee Wine Fest
Suwanee Wine Fest returns to Town Center Park on November 4th, celebrating a decade of serving as the go-to destination for wine lovers near and far. With more than 150 wines to sample, attendees will sip their way through Suwanee’s Town Center Park, shop from local vendors, taste delicious food from some of the area’s most popular food trucks, participate in backyard games like giant Jenga, and enjoy live music from country singer Mary ate Farmer. And back by popular demand: Get ready to live out your grape-stomping dreams again this year! Saturday, Nov. 4, 2022. General admission tickets start at $60 per person and feature unlimited samples of wine and beer in the park from 1-4:30 p.m. Purchase tickets now at SuwaneeWinefest.com. Read more about Suwanee Wine Fest on p. XX!