I was just remarking last night how sad I was to see summer end, to which my husband responded "Why? You're obsessed with fall." Touche, dear husband.
He's right. I am obsessed. And I've got the shipment of Pottery Barn mercury glass pumpkins with a set of matching wrought-iron owl lanterns (OMG) on the way to prove it.
Fall is officially here: Turning leaves, the PSL, pumpkin beer, football, gourds in the grocery store. And to accompany all this autumnal festive-ness in the air, there are a number of celebrations and fests happening around town, everything from multiple Oktoberfests and spooktacular (yeah, I went there) brewery bashes to a very dark and daring zip line tour. So stop lamenting summer's end and get out and do fall!
1. The 2014 Italian Festival
When: September 27 & 28, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Seattle Center
What: There will be enough pizza, pasta, salami, espresso, vino and other Italian foods and drinks that end in vowels at this two-day fest for you to feel like you've actually hopped a plane and gone to Italy. Go for the annual grape stomp (either spectate or gather a team of three and participate) or head to the Armory and watch the professionals play it up in the bocce tournament. Get all the details to this free fest here.
The Grape Stomp at the Italian Festival
2. Suncadia Harvest Festival
When: October 3-5 & October 11 and 12, times vary
Where: Historic Nelson Farm in Cle Elum
What: The ninth annual Harvest Festival stretches over two weekends in October, all chock full of fall activities, including a log cabin turned haunted movie theater (showing family-friendly Halloween flicks like Hocus Pocus), zombie laser tag, a 1,000 bale straw maze, beer garden and more. Complete info can be found here.
3. Celebration of Beer Festival
When: Saturday, October 11, 12 to 5 p.m.
Where: Skamania Lodge near Portland
What: The lodge's front lawn rolls out the red carpet for beer-lovers with this sudsy fest, which includes signature and seasonal beers from more than a dozen Pacific Northwest brewers (Mt. Tabor Brewing, Full Sail, Double Mountain to name a few). Book a stay for the festival (starting at $199) and get overnight lodging, entry for two, 10 tasting tokens and two commemorative mugs. Win-win. Find full info here.
4. Fremont Oktoberfest
When: September 19, 20 & 21, times vary
Where: Fremont (obviously)
What: This close-to-home Oktoberfest celebration comes with mini beer mugs and more than 80 different microbrews and German beers to taste, plus the amply-named Buxom Beer Garden where you can clash your steins together in a rousing fashion. Grab yourself a giant German pretzel or a plump brat and make merry with the many (and we mean many) Seattleites present. Get tickets here.
Photo: Matthew Hurst
5. The Autumn Leaf Festival
When: September 26-28, times vary
What: Perhaps Leavenworth's famous Oktoberfest (see below) isn't really your bag. In that case, we suggest traveling east instead for the Autumn Leaf Festival. Editorial assistant Kari Lutcavich illuminates more on the fest here, but you can rest assured that there will be Bavarian activities galore, including "live music from the likes of the General’s 7 Dixie Band, part of the 133rd Army National Guard Band, and the town’s own Bavarian musical crew Musikkapelle Leavenworth; a drill team competition; a pumpkin pie-eating contest; climbing wall and inflatable play pins for the kiddos; and even its third annual pretzel-tossing contest." Visit the autumnleaffestival.com for all the deets.
The Autumn Leaf float
6. Leavenworth Oktoberfest
When: October 3-4, October 10-11 and October 17-18
What: The mother of all Washington State Oktoberfests is certainly this one. Now in its 16th year, this Bavarian bash features plenty of German beer, pretzels, brats and polka to keep you fat and happy all weekend long. Expect to hear many of the same songs--but with a polka twist!--over and over again (the Chicken Dance, Country Roads, Sweet Caroline) and enjoy as the crowd gets progressively lounder and awesomely more convivial (steins a'swayin) as the night goes on. Read more on the fest here.
Go here to the Munchen Haus for a brat and a pretzel. You'll be so glad you did. Photo: Matthew Piatt
7. Vancouver International Film Festival
When: September 25-October 10, times vary
Where: Vancouver, B.C.
What: Take a quick trip to visit our neighbors in the north for the 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival. It's loaded with more than 300 different films from around 70 different countries, plus post-screening Q&As with directors, writers and actors. Tickets here.
8. Redhook Brewery Haunted Brewery Bash
When: October 31, 8 p.m.
What: Redhook goes Redrum with its Haunted Brewery Bash, pouring its seasonal Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter (not to mention wine, cocktails and late-night bites). Dress in your most creative Halloween costume for a chance to win gift cards and Redhook swag. Want to stay the night? Book a room at the Willows Lodge (Redhook's luxe and way convenient neighbor) and select the Hallo-Wine package to snag a NICER guestroom, $25 Fireside Lounge credit and shuttle to the Redhook party. Book here. Tickets for the Redhook bash here.
9. SpookFest Zip Tour
When: October 24-31, times vary
What: Those who fear the dark may want to avoid this 80-feet-high, forested zip line tour, which is illuminated only by glow sticks for the Halloween season. Each tour lasts 75 minutes. Go here to schedule your jaunt amid the trees.
10. Brew Seattle
When: Friday, October 10, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Fremont Foundry
What: Seattle magazine's annual beer festival showcases stellar brews from more than 20 breweries and cideries around town, plus bites such as pulled pork sliders from Pinky's BBQ. Get more information and ticket details here.
11. Oktoberfest Monroe
When: September 19-20, times vary
Where: Evergreen State Fairgrounds
What: While this fest is a fairly new addition to the fall event scene, it still boasts a slew of authentic German eats (brats from Zieglers Bratwurst House, piroshkys from Kaleenka and pork schnitzel from Gutes Essen Haus), plus a Munich-inspired Festhalle Biergarten pouring all-star brews Veltins, Grevensteiner and more. The fest 4-1-1 here.