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Fall Festival Guide in Lake County 2021

“Trees bright and green turn yellow-brown. Autumn caught ’em, see all them leaves must fall down.” – André 3000 of Outkast.

One of the best things about the summer farewell is the fall festivals in Lake County. Pumpkin spice, anyone?

Embark on the exceptional vibrancy of autumn’s glows first hand while heading to an Oktoberfest, getting the living daylights scared out of you, picking out enormous orange fruits or just getting lost in a maze of maize.

Taste the harvest goodness, embrace sweater weather, breathe in the autumn feels and get to a fall festival in Lake County!

Ravinia Festival Final Two Weekends (Through Sept. 25)

 

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Ravinia Festival, the eldest outdoor festival in the United States, kicks off its season with an all-star cast. The showcase is a staple of Lake County. Since 1905, the Highland Park fest has featured the top musicians in a variety of genres. Here’s the schedule for the final month of the century-old staple.

  • Joffrey Ballet (9/17) INFO»
  • Ben Folds (9/18) INFO»
  • Max Weinberg’s Jukebox (9/19) INFO»
  • Lincoln Trio (9/21) INFO»
  • Frank Orrall (DJ Set) 9/23) INFO»
  • Andrew Bird (9/24) INFO»
  • Ms. Lauryn Hill (9/25) INFO»

SeptOberFest at the Beer Garden at Independence Grove Forest Preserve (now-Oct. 28 on Thursdays)

 

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Fall is drinking season, and you can experience the local suds that come with autumn at the Beer Garden at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Experience this Lake County Forest Preserve District’s beer flights for sippers ages 21 and older while viewing the area’s natural beauty. The beer garden’s Mile 15 Hazy & Lazy created by Waukegan Lake County Libation Trail partner ZümBier Brewery and the Lake County Forest Preserves is the featured adult beverage this summer in its inception year. The New England India Pale Ale dons its name from Independence Grove’s hiking and biking location along the Des Plaines River Trail. The Libertyville forest preserve encourages libationers to find marker 15 on the Illinois-Wisconsin, as mentioned earlier, trail and snap a photo with the brew. Besides the Waukeganite “liquid courage,” the beer garden is also highlighted by Lake County Libation Trail partners Mickey Finn’s Brewery in LibertyvilleTighthead Brewery in MundeleinHalf Day Brewing in LincolnshireBuffalo Creek Brewing in Long GroveRavinia Brewing Co. in Highland ParkLight the Lamp Brewery in GrayslakeBlack Lung Brewing Co. in Round Lake Beach and Roaring Table Brewing Co. in Lake Zurich. The Beer Garden also offers non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. S’mores kits, lakeside fire pits, and free firewood for also available while supplies last.

Richardson Adventure Farm and World’s Largest Corn Maze in Spring Grove (now-Nov. 7)


You’ll be amazed by their maize mazes. Richardson’s Adventure Farm & Corn Maze is known for having the world’s most massive corn maze. This year’s theme to the renowned maze is celebrating the Spring Grove farm’s 20th anniversary. The design features the elements of their farm, from their overlooking structure of the labyrinth to the barn, to the Christmas Tree Farms, to the pumpkins and the tulip fest launched earlier this year. The Spring Grove area spans 33 acres of land and is equipped with 11 miles of trails. Besides the famous maze, the Adventure Farm features another five mazes, a zip line, a pumpkin patch, Zorbing rides (a ride inside a giant 11-ball available on weekends), live pig races,  a wooded picnic area, free campfires, pedal carts, pedal trikes, a goat farm, a farm carousel and more. Richardson Adventure Farm runs on select days through November 7.

Spooks & Spirits Lake County Autumn Celebration (Sept. 17-Oct. 31)


Experience a “Boo”tiful weekend in Lake County during the annual Spooks and Spirits Autumn Celebration. There’s something for everyone: fall festivals,  costume parades, haunted houses, corn mazes and pumpkin patches, “supernatural” attractions and more. Don’t miss the land of lakes’ scary-good, locally-made brews, wines, and spirits for the adults.

Fiestas Sin Frontera in Waukegan (September 18)

 

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¡Feliz dia de la Independencia Mexicana en Waukegan! This festival s celebrates Mexican Independence Day. The event features four live bands, a kid-zone full of activities, delicious Mexican cuisine and more.

Grayslake Craft Beer Festival (September 18)


Thirsty for a cold beer? Downtown Grayslake honors the art of beer by offering a ton of selections from more than 12 different breweries at their ninth annual Craft Beer Festival. Admission includes a commemorative glass and a festival program. The fest also features live entertainment. From the Lake County Libation Trail, Half Day Brewing Co. of Lincolnshire, Mickey Finn’s Brewing Co. of Libertyville, Only Child Brewing of Gurnee and Tighthead Brewing Co. of Mundelein will be in attendance.

Lambs Farm 60th Anniversary in the Libertyville Area (September 18-19)

 

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The Libertyville farm celebrates its sixth-decade born day this year. On this milestone occasion, Lambs Farm will feature barrel train rides provided by the Lake County Farm Heritage Association, carts and games like painting Joseph the Camel (the most recognizable face at the yard), a bounce house, fare and libation tent, raffles, tractors, a live performance by a DJ and The Rockets (60s tribute band), shopping opportunities and so much more. Let’s not forget the cute puppies and kittens up for adoption. Lambs Farm Industries in Libertyville is a business that offers benefit programs for people with developmental disabilities.

Deerfield Harvest Fest (September 18-19)


Deerfield’s Harvest Festival is a splendid autumn party for the entire family. The event features an enormous fireworks display, a 5K the farmers market, kids activities,  live tunes by local band Non For Profit, and delectable eats from Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Wild Rooster, IL Forno, Tropical Smoothie Café and more. Brew, wine, hard seltzer and water are available for purchase.

Fright Fest presented by SNICKERS at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee (Sept. 18-Oct. 31)


The thrills and chills are at Six Flags Great America as the legendary Fright Fest returns to the Gurnee Amusement Park. Fright Fest presented by SNICKERS is when the park is totally transformed for eight weekends in ghoulish fashion and features live shows, street entertainment, haunted houses and, of course, riding all of the coasters and thrill rides at night. Then, as Halloween approaches, the kids can embark on a unique trick-or-treat trail. Fright Fest is open on weekends until Halloween.

Didier Farm Pumpkinfest in Lincolnshire (Sept 18.-Oct. 31)

 

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You haven’t lived unless you’ve been to Didier Farms Pumpkinfest. Everyone loves all the extravagant memories from the Lincolnshire/Prairie View Farm. The farm favorite features hayrides, pony rides, camel rides, kiddie rides, an exotic petting zoo, a parakeet exhibit, a corn maze and pig races (the sprinting porkies only gallop on the weekends). Don’t forget to visit Grandma D’s Bake Shop for scrumptious pies, cookies, fudge, homemade apple cider, kettle corn and pumpkin donuts. The farm’s doors are open through Halloween. The farm, originally purchased by John Link, the father of Mary Sue Didier, has been owned by a Didier descendant since 1912.

ArtWauk in Waukegan (Sept. 18, Nov. 20)

 

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The city’s famed ArtWauk “paints” the town with sculptures, film, theatre, comedy, music, performance art, food and more. The free admission Saturday art event opens the doors to all art galleries throughout Waukegan. So fill your artistic void with the ever-extravagant monthly ArtWauk in Downtown Waukegan. In addition to the portraits, sculptures and other creative vibes, munch on some delicious dining options downtown or feel the flow of the tunes from the live entertainment.

Street Party at Grayslake Heritage Center

“There’ll be swingin’ and swayin’ and records playing. Dancing in the street.” Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum throws the party of a century as it features drinks, music, a glow party, eats, a coloring contest, games and of course, space for you to dance the night away.

Long Grove Apple Fest (September 24-26)


Ready to compare apples to apples. These succulent red and green treats are celebrated and placed in our pies, salads and doused in caramel (our personal favorites). The Long Grove Apple Fest also features other apple-inspired treats, live entertainment and family fun at beautiful, quaint Historic Downtown Long Grove. The annual fest was ranked no. 18 on Thrillist’s Illinois Cities Food & Drink list. The manzana party’s live entertainment includes Sixteen Candles, Libido Funk Circus, ARRA, Murley, Charlie Foxtrot and more.

Let’s Vino in the Ville in Libertyville (September 25)


Whine about summer being over as you sip wine on the lovely streets of MainStreet Libertyville. Stroll through downtown Libertyville as the friendly vino vendors open their doors to warm the souls of oenophiles with tasty adult berry beverages. Tickets are $35 per person, so get them early (up to four per person) as there is a limited amount for the vino Ville event. The ticket includes a tasting glass and a $10 merchant coupon redeemable at participating stores.

Oktoberfests in Lake County (Various dates)


From Lederhosen and accordions to Hefeweizen and beer steins, Oktoberfest is ALL about the food, the dancing… and yes… the (ever so responsibly consumed) beverages.

  • Hoptoberfest at Tighthead Brewing Co. (Sept. 25) INFO»
  • Oktoberfest at Black Lung Brewing Co. (Sept. 25) INFO»
  • Oktoberfest at Buffalo Creek Brewing Co. (Oct. 1-3) INFO»
  • Oktoberfest Pig Roast with the Usual Suspects at Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Biergarten (Oct. 2) INFO»

Lake Zurich Food Truck Social (September 29)


If you’ve been under a rock in the last decade, mobile eateries are sweeping the nation. All summer, the Block A Food Truck Social in Lake Forest has provided delectable eats, live tunes and an extraordinary land of lakes scenery across the promenade. Don’t miss out, as September 29 is the last event of this series for the season.

First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville (Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec.3)


Invest your fest feels on a festive festival-infested Friday through Sunday in Libertyville. The weekend kicks off with its normal First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville highlighted by various delectable drinks, mouth-watering eats, live entertainment and more as visitors peruse through local mom and pop shops offering promotional sales.

Harvest Celebration Crush at Vigneto del Bino Winery (October 2)

 

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Oenophiles can rejoice! Vigneto del Bino Winery’s Harvest Celebration Crush returns to the Antioch vineyard this weekend. Attendees at this seasonal party will receive discounts on wines, enjoy live music, taste various treats, and more. Test your winemaking skills by stomping on grapes or get crafty by making a keepsake T-shirt.

Halloween Hoopla in Deerfield (Saturdays, October 2-23)


What’s all of the hubbub happening in Deerfield? The village’s park district is hosting its annual Halloween Hoopla, and with the ongoing public health crisis, Deerfield parks and rec has split this spooky event into a four-part series. This weekend, the hoopla is highlighted by their Family Fun Fest at Jewett Park, featuring balloon twisters, Halloween-themed arts and crafts, airbrush tattoos and prepackaged Halloween treats. Other events include pumpkin decorating, haunted ceramics and a haunted hustle and monster dash (5K or a one-mile run – including a costume contest)

Witches Night Out in Antioch (October 7)


Oh yes, it’s witches’ night, and the feeling’s right. Oh yes, it’s witch’s night, oh what – oh what a night. Say hocus pocus and achieve squad goals at the third annual installment of the broom handler event. The event features a bag of coupons, a scavenger hunt, a raffle for $250 in prizes, a palm reading, a costume contest, a “witches potion” and an after-party with eats and “more potion.” The event is hosted at The Lodge of Antioch, Rivalry Ale House and other downtown Lake County village locations.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival (October 8-10)


This festival has pumpkins stacked to the sky. So get into the spirit with your friend Jack while holding a lantern and journey to Highwood for the Great Pumpkin Festival. Once again, the festival will be jam-packed with daily events, various food and drink vendors, a carnival, live tunes, hayrides, pony rides, pumpkin carving, massive pumpkin displays, nightly pumpkin lightings, a parade, Superhero 5K/10K and other festivities. The live entertainment includes Petty Kings, a Tom Petty cover band and an HGTV demo.

DIY Scarecrow Day in Long Grove (October 9)

 

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Hay, Hay! It’s a great weekend to visit Historic Downtown Long Grove for their annual DIY Scarecrow Day. Attendees at the beloved autumnal event will build a custom scarecrow displayed throughout the historic village’s main street throughout October. The Historic Downtown Long Grove Business District will provide each participant with the basic structure for the scarecrows, bales of straw and building guidance. Attendees are encouraged to bring old clothing and accessories to decorate their creations.

Fox Lake Pumpkin Jubilee (October 9)

 

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How many jumbo orange fruits can everyone carve in one sitting? You’ll find out in mid-October, two weeks before National Pumpkin Day. When you finish designing, the jack-o-lanterns will be displayed on the pumpkin wall. The event also features various artisan food vendors.

Wizards Weekend in Antioch (October 9) 


Is wizard chess your game, or is it Quidditch? This magical weekend running alongside Antioch’s Magical Pop Up Craft Faire provides a slew of enchanting activities, including costume contests, games, a scavenger hunt and other Harry Potter-themed happenings. Wizards and muggles of all ages will enjoy this free admission event! The Antioch Chamber urges attendees to dress as the character that most closely relates to you. Some of the events hosted in the downtown Antioch festival require advance registration. Register at AntiochChamber.org.

Halloween Town in Long Grove (October 9-29)

 

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Long Grove is the spookiest place to be during Halloween. The town turns downright ghoulish, and the Lake County village wants ghastly goblins to intend this event. So feel free to bring the gremlins. Here’s a list of the Halloween Town festivities.

  • DIY Scarecrow Day (Oct. 9) INFO»
  • Witches Night Out (Oct. 14) INFO»
  • Pet Costume Parade (24) INFO»
  • Trick or Treating (Oct. 29) INFO»

Night of 1,000 Jack-o-Lanterns at Chicago Botanic Garden (Oct. 13-24)


Don’t just sit around waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” to rise. Head over to Glencoe and witness a fantastic display of pumpkins lighting up the night sky. This weekend the Chicago Botanic Garden kicks off its Night of 1,000 Jack-o-Lanterns event. These hand-carved pumpkins light up the garden with LED lights along the paved pathway starting at the Esplanade. Encounter entertaining characters view the ghostly trains in the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America exhibit and indulge in seasonal treats like apple doughnuts, cider and ale.

ZombieWauk in Waukegan (October 16)


Every third Saturday of the year, you get a touch of culture with the different mediums you see from ArtWauk. However, downtown Waukegan is transformed into a Halloween town as ArtWauk runs alongside their Annual ZombieWauk. The event will feature live entertainment, suds and eats vendors, face painters and flesh-eating abominations clutter the streets as they attempt to hunt you down. So beware of the walking dead.

Breakfast & Craft Beer Walk in Antioch (October 16)

Rub those crusty eyes after a heavy week of working hard for the money. Make your day, and eat the breakfast of champions, complimented by a cold craft libation in Antioch.

Wauke-Con at the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (October 16-17)


Lake County has a treat for you. With great power comes great responsibility (Spiderman).  The Green Town griot was a loyal fan of the comic book sector, so it makes perfect sense that the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum would host a comic con. Visit as your favorite superhero as the event features comic book vendors, local artists and authors. In addition, attendees have a chance to win a signed Ray Bradbury comic book. Visit Waukecon.Wordpress.com for tickets.

Annual Celebration Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead at the Jack Benny Center of the Arts (October 23)


In Mexico, people visit their loved ones in the cemetery and decorate gravesites with Cempaxúchitl or Marigold flowers, candles, toys, bottles of favorite drinks and food as offerings. The Waukegan center keeps the tradition alive on Lake County soil with their own Dia de Muertos celebration. This family-friendly cultural fest features Mariachi, altar exhibits, dancing, face painting, decorating sugar skulls and so much more.

Lincolnshire Annual Boo Bash (October 29)


Families will flock to Lincolnshire’s North Park for the village’s beloved Boo Bash. The Halloween-themed event will feature a haunted trail/house, pumpkin decorating, games, a live DJ, a bounce house, a gigantic slide, food trucks, laser tag, a photo booth and more. The community festival is suitable for all ages and is free to attend.

Vernon Hills Fall Fest (October 29)


Visit Vernon Hills as the festival features family fun for all. Attendees will enjoy indoor trick or treating, balloon art, a black light dance party and the annual costume party. Register early as tickets go fast. Admission costs $3 per person, children ages two and under receive free entry.

Lake County Film Festival (Nov. 4-15 and 18-29)


This November, the Lake County Film Festival makes its triumphant return at three locations: College of Lake County Grayslake campus and Waukegan campus and Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, showcasing its longest fest yet. The three-satellite cinema fest features over 150 showings of documentaries, shorts, music-related films, narratives, international presentations, and many other flicks.

Champagne and Chocolate Holiday Walk (November 6)

 

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Twas the week after Halloween and all through Antioch. Adults had dreams of bubbly and confections dancing in their heads. Admission to this event includes a keepsake champagne flue, a coupon for a complimentary bottle of champagne, a bag for chocolate delights and the opportunity to win a raffle drawing of Antioch Chamber Gift Certificates.

Lake County Libation Trail Check-in Challenge (Nov. 12-21)


Let’s toast to the Lake County Libation Trail! “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” as suds aficionados, vino connoisseurs and spirit enthusiasts will be elated with these glasses of “liquid courage.” The Lake County Libation Trail is highlighted by 24 of the most delectable flavors from locally sourced ingredients. So whether your adult beverage is an ice-cold frothy lager, a dry red merlot or an old-fashioned on the rocks, Lake County has precisely what you need to make your taste buds dance. When craft drinkers arrive at a participating location, they check in using their mobile pass to show they are in attendance. If libation-ers check into three or more participants of the Lake County Libation Trail between November 12-21 via indoor dining, outdoor sipping, curbside pickup or carryout, they are entered into a sweepstakes and can win an exclusive prize.  Prizes will be announced soon.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic (Nov. 12-Jan. 2)


“Turn up the lights in here, baby, extra bright, I want y’all to see this…cop lights, flashlights, spotlights, strobe lights, street lights…all of the lights!” Meander in the illuminated world of wonder and light at Chicago Bo’s Lightscape. As you enter you walk through a cathedral-esque threshold, you enter a world of the Glencoe sanctuary that’s as luminous as it’s ever been. This is a must-experience event for your eyes and your feels.

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America

 

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Six Flags Great America kicks off their second Holiday in the Park event this year. This festival runs from November 26-December 30 on select days. The new holiday party will transform the park into a winter wonderland featuring millions of dazzling lights, a beautiful Christmas tree (5 p.m. lighting every night), a meet and greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, festive entertainment and of course, rides on a world-class roller coaster.


For more information about fall festivals in lake county, click here.

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