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While most people think of summer as "festival season," there are a few downsides to spending all day outside during the hottest time of the year. With the increased risk of sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and bug bites, you and your family might not be feeling your best after attending a summer festival.
That's why we absolutely love fall festivals, and there's no shortage of them in our home state of Minnesota. Cooler temperatures make it a lot easier to spend the day outdoors, and bringing the kids to a fun weekend event can help ease their back-to-school stresses.
As you look ahead to autumn, you might want to add some of these Minnesota fall festivals to your calendar. Whether you're into food, art, history, or music, you're bound to find something the whole family will enjoy.
Minnesota Renaissance Festival (Weekends, Aug. 17 – Sep. 29)
Fans of medieval history, the fantasy genre, or plain old good food and entertainment will love the annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The Shakopee, MN festival grounds are open for this event every weekend and Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., August 17 through September 29, rain or shine. Discount advanced tickets and season passes are available. Best of all, your pup can join in the Renaissance fun: This festival is dog-friendly, and there's even a "Pet Fest" themed weekend with special activities for your four-legged friend!
Minnesota State Fair (Aug. 22 – Sep. 2)
The State Fair technically ends before the official start of fall, but we wanted to include this long-standing Minnesota tradition on the list. Nearly 2 million people gather at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul each year to enjoy live entertainment, local food and brews, shopping, exhibits, competitions, crafts, and more. It's the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer!
Pigs Weekend (Sep. 14 – 15)
If your kids love farm animals, they'll enjoy meeting the pigs at Pigs Weekend in Elk River. They'll learn all about how the farmers raise pigs at Oliver Kelley Farm, and how the process has changed thanks to modern technology. Stop by the visitor center's book nook to read classic pig tales, sample delicious barbecue pulled pork, and learn some new recipes in their Learning Kitchen. Tickets range from $6 to $12, and children under 5 and Minnesota Historical Society members get in free.
Excelsior Apple Day (Sep. 21)
Fall is apple season, and there's no better place to celebrate this delicious fruit than Excelsior Apple Day. Hosted by the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce, this annual lakeside festival celebrates the local community with food, art, antiques, handcrafts, and live music. The town is also hosting the seventh annual Apple of the Lake 5K and 1-Mile Fun Runs the morning of the festival.
New Ulm Oktoberfest (Oct. 4 – 5 and 11 – 12)
If you happen to be heading out to New Ulm, you won't want to miss the town's 38th annual Oktoberfest. It's known as one of the country's best Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after Munich, Germany's own original festivities. You can watch the Germanic-American Day Parade on October 5, then enjoy live music, games, horse-drawn trolley rides, contests, and other fun activities. Local food, beer, and wine vendors will be serving refreshments throughout the town on both weekends.
The Great Pumpkin Halloween Festival (Oct. 27)
What kid doesn't love Halloween? The Great Pumpkin Halloween Festival is a free event at Landmark Center in St. Paul. Spend the afternoon dressed up together to enjoy music, crafts, face painting, and a costume parade. And yes, they will get candy!
Want a tasty treat on the way home from your favorite festival? Stop by The Cookie Cups in Wayzata or Chanhassen for snacks, desserts, or a hot cup of coffee or tea!