Festivals — Fall Family Fun
Whether you seek tried-and-true traditions or something new, there’s plenty of autumn fun to enjoy
When the calendar flips to October, you know it’s time for pumpkin-picking, haunted houses and autumn beers. For traditional fall fun, look no further than the signature spooky celebrations and namesake autumn festivals of Naperville and its neighboring towns. If you’re craving something new, check out our recommendations for seasonal farms and new events worth a visit.
(tried & true)
Where: Riverwalk Grand Pavilion, 500 W. Jackson Ave.;
When: 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 30
Naperville Park District’s free fest for children ages 10 and younger is slated for a return this season. More than 5,000 costumed youngsters come to collect treats, play games, take hayrides and hit the bounce house. Cavort among monsters on Halloween Way, brush elbows with storybook characters on Fairytale Lane, outsmart trolls and travel through outer space in Adventure Alley and mingle among royals at King Arthur’s Court.
(tried & true)
Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St. 630.420.6010;
When: 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Sept. 30, noon–10 p.m. Oct. 1
Hang out under a heated tent and fill up on German brews and fare to a soundtrack of Oktoberfest tunes courtesy of The Happy Wanderers, Jimmy’s Bavarians, Die Musikmeisters German Band and others. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for ages 4-12 in advance (or $15 and $10, respectively at the door); proceeds benefit the Naperville Heritage Society. Admission is free for Naper Settlement members and children under 4.
All Hallow’s Eve
Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St.; 630.420.6010;
When: 6:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Oct. 14–15
Though this spine-tingling event is a Naperville tradition, there are plenty of fresh scares in store thanks to the new H.H. Holmes-themed haunted house in the historic Martin Mitchell Mansion, created by former Walt Disney World artist R.J. Ogren. Step up to the main stage to watch a fiery performance from Ohio Burn Unit plus other eerie magic tricks and whimsical illusions. $15 per person and free for Naper Settlement members. Not recommended for children younger than 8 years old.
(tried & true)
Where: Downtown Downers Grove, Main and Curtis streets; 630.725.0991; downtowndg.org
When: Various times (see below) Oct. 21-23
Kick off the weekend on a bone-chilling note at the Haunted House (7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Oct. 21–22, $8 per person) at Lincoln Center. Next, actors dressed in period garb turn Main Street Cemetery into the Living Cemetery as they recount the lives of Downers Grove’s pioneers (10 a.m.-noon, Oct. 22). BYO brushes for Halloween window painting at downtown businesses (9 a.m.-noon); bring a canned good donation for the Downers Grove Area FISH Food Pantry to 933A Curtiss St. to exchange for window paint. The weekend wraps up with a children’s costume parade (1 p.m. at Fishel Park) followed by trick-or-treating at downtown businesses
(1 p.m.–3 p.m.)
(tried & true)
Where: Lincoln Park, Pottawatomie Park and throughout downtown St. Charles; 800.777.4373; scarecrowfest.com
When: 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Oct. 7–8 and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct. 9
The centerpiece of this 31st annual fest is the Scarecrow Contest, in which local residents, businesses, clubs and nonprofit organizations build their own scarecrows, often staged in creative displays and vignettes. Marvel at bubble art from Glowby the Bubbler, greet furry friends at the petting zoo and browse the creations of 150-plus artists at the Autumn on the Fox Arts & Crafts Show. This classic fest also offers something new this year—Vintage cars on display courtesy of Baltria Vintage Auto Gallery. Keep an eye on the fest’s social media accounts for entertainment announcements in the weeks before the fest. Admission and parking are free.
at Primrose Farms
Where: 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles; 630.513.4370; primrosefarmpark.com
When: 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7–8, 14–15 and 21-22
Take a sunset hayride around the grounds of this working 100-acre farm for a look at apple trees, soybean fields and goldenrod in bloom, plus the chance to spy creatures on the farm and in the wild. Then hop off the wagon and roast s’mores over a bonfire and stay toasty with mulled cider and hot chocolate. Ride time slots fill up, so register in advance online or by phone with Pottawatomie Community Center 630.513.6200; admission is $8 for residents, $12 for non-residents and children under 1 are free.
(tried and true)
Where: Batavia Riverwalk and Peg Bond Center, 151 Island Ave., downtownbatavia/org
When: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Plot a trick-or-treating route for your costumed kids to 70-plus participating businesses using an interactive online map (10 a.m.–noon) and then head to the Riverwalk for face-painting, temporary tattoos, a costume contest and other family-friendly games at this free fest. Listen to spooky stories and songs at the Batavia Public Library, or for a nominal fee ($1 in past years), participate in Boy Scout Troop #6’s Pumpkin Roll down Houston Street. Undead dancers from Batavia Academy of Dance return for a favorite BatFest tradition: Teaching the audience the zombie-esque moves of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Where: North River Street between Wilson and Spring streets; downtownbatavia.com
When: 3–11 p.m. Oct. 7,
11 a.m.–10 p.m. Oct. 8
The Fox Valley Chapter of the German American National Congress used to host an Oktoberfest in Batavia years ago. This fall, Batavia Mai Street puts its own spin on the tradition. There’ll be authentic German food, Sam Adams beers and a stein-hoisting competition for the grown-ups; for the little ones, expect a yodeling contest, the Little Miss and Mr. Oktoberfest competition and chicken dances appropriately led by a giant chicken. The finishing touch is a duck race with cute-as-can-be rubber ducks dressed in dirndls and lederhosen.
(tried & true)
Where: Downtown Plainfield (along Lockport and Des Plaines streets) and C.W. Avery Family YMCA (15120 Wallin Drive)
When: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Plainfield’s longtime fall fest is full of treats for costumed kids. Start by trick-or-treating at downtown businesses (11 a.m.–1 p.m.) and then head to the YMCA for Trunk-or-Treat where volunteers from local organizations fill their car trunks with goodies and park in the lot, plus an indoor haunted house, hay rides and games (1–5 p.m.).
(tried & true)
Fall Family Festival
Where: Hinsdale Middle School, 100 S. Garfield St.
When: 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
An inflatable haunted house, pumpkin decorating and carnival games await at this free annual fest, held outdoors on the school’s grounds or inside if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Pumpkins await the first 500 kids who arrive at this free fest and everyone receives a prize for participating in the costume contest, with additional prizes for first, second and third place. While you’re in the area, take the kids trick-or-treating at downtown Hinsdale businesses from noon–2 p.m.
Fall Weekends at Keller’s Farmstand
Where: 2500 Johnson Road; 630.219.8194; kellersfarmstand.com
When: 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in October
Pick your own pumpkins and apples, wander the corn maze and take a tractor ride around the grounds of this local family farm. Fill up with homemade kettle corn, doughnuts and fudge (new this year) at the concessions stand. Admission to the farm is free; $9 buys access to the corn maze, tractor rides and play areas.