Fall Festival Ideas: The Ultimate Planning Guide


Autumn is a time for celebration—and there’s so much celebrate at a Chicago Fall Festival! It’s an absolutely fantastic time to celebrate fall flavors and cool weather. There are so many different types of festivals that draw a crowd: church fall festivals, Oktoberfest, farm festivals, arts and crafts sales. These are just the start of a list of fall event ideas that are just as much fun to plan as they are to attend.

Planning a Fall Festival

To choose the right type of fall festival, first consider the goal of the event. Is the goal to sell products? Or to draw a crowd for future engagement (i.e. to get more visitors at a church, more customers at a restaurant, etc.)?

Next, decide on who is the target demographic for the event. Is it children? Is it adults? For the latter demographic with adult beverages, also research if additional event insurance is needed and how to restrict beverage service to adults. (This can be accomplished with special entrances, staff training, and wristbands, but every adults-only should have a plan.)

Once the fall event goal and demographic are chosen, it’s time to choose the location and date that fits the demographic. If the event is for children, the festival hours should be during the day when families are active and looking for entertainment. An adults-only fall event can be held in the afternoon and evening when adults are ready to enjoy the finer tastes of fall.

When the event details are finalized, the next step is come up with a list of fall festival event ideas. What activities would draw a crowd? These event ideas can be used to market the event. The event should be marketed on channels that target the event demographic, such as community bulletin boards and local social media sites.

Last but not least, planners need to consider the logistics of the event. If the event is outdoor, a plan B should always be considered. Though fall is a beautiful time of year, rain and cold weather can put a damper on any event. (Even too much sun can be a deterrent.)

A tent is an obvious way to accommodate more guests, shield attendees from the elements, and organize activities. If the tent needs to be installed over a parking lot or over another surface, mention that detail when contacting a tent rental company; many tents can be secured in other ways that won’t damage the surface. Make a full list of supplies needed, including tents, tables, chairs, food service items and craft supplies. If there is concern about hot or cold weather, ask the rental company about adding climate control and clear sidewalls that can keep guests comfortable and bring the outdoors in. If the event includes vendors, ask vendors to submit their event needs by a set deadline.

Fall Festival Ideas

Craft Tent

A craft tent can be whatever the event needs. Craft tents are a great way to separate children’s activities and shield them from rain and cold. At a farm festival, craft tents are perfect area for coloring tables and painting pumpkins.

At an arts and crafts sale, a craft tent is an ideal place to gather local vendors and protect their products from fading and rain. At a farm festival, a craft tent can be the ideal place to sell fall crafts and treats. Fall-themed signs are an excellent way to direct attendees to tents or through a tent and create an autumn atmosphere that guests (both young and old!) fall in love with.

Activity Stations

Activity fall stations are perfect for family events. These stations can include edible and inedible seasonal activities, such as:

  1. Face Painting
  2. Bobbing for Apples
  3. Sack Races
  4. Fall Bingo
  5. Scavenger Hunt
  6. Bowling
  7. Corn Box (like a sand box, but with corn)
  8. Ring Toss
  9. Photo Station
  10. Popcorn/Treat Station

Picnic Area

A picnic area is an ideal space for family and adults-only event. This area is a gathering space for families to relax or adults to mingle and enjoy.

Depending on the event demographic, the interior could contain picnic tables or cocktail tables. If linens are needed, they should be carefully chosen to coordinate with other event items.

Tasting Tent

A beer or wine-tasting tent is perfect for an adults-only event, though this option does come with some other considerations. These tents need to be secured with only access allowed to adults that are allowed service. This means that some kind of barrier needs to be secured around the tent and entrances need to be secured and staffed. This can be accomplished with entrance tents and fencing (talk to an event specialist about options), as well as trained staff members that can restrict access and make sure everyone is having a great time.

For tables, cocktail tables and portable bars are ideal ways to serve. These items can also double as tasting stations where guests can sample local brews, wines, and foods. 

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