July 2, 2018
*Dates reflect 2018
In Tennessee, fall color begins east and makes its way west. As soon as September comes around, you can be sure East Tennessee has a packed calendar of fun events from music festivals to Ocktoberfests and craft events that will help you soak up all the fun things the fall brings each year. Here's just a sampling of festivals you should plan to attend while vacationing in Tennessee this autumn.
Chattanooga + Surrounding Area
The Hamilton County Fair is held Sept. 29-30, 2018 (usually on the last weekend of September each year) as a kickoff for fall in Southeast Tennessee. Hosted at at Chester Frost Park, the fair has three stages with different acts and bands each day. The Rock Creek Stage, the largest stage at the fair, is a great picnic area for families and groups of friends as it has tables underneath a canopy of trees next to Concessions Row. Arts and crafts, antique cars and tractors, a bungee jump and a petting zoo are offered. Competitions range from animals to flowers during the fair as well.
Downriver, at Ross' Landing in Chattanooga, is the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival Oct. 5-6, 2018, named one of the Top 5 bluegrass festivals by Great American Country. Some of the biggest names in bluegrass have performed at the festival like Bela Fleck, Rhonda Vincent, Del McCoury Band, Greensky Bluegrass and the Steel Drivers, which attendees can listen to for free.
Rock City's Rocktoberfest takes place 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in October high up on Lookout Mountain. The festival honors Rock City's German heritage with live German music, polka lessons, food, specialty beer, costumed characters and dance performances. It's the first and longest of the season in Southeast Tennessee.
You can also attend the Chattanooga Oktoberfest, the oldest and largest celebration in the city Oct. 13-14, 2018. The festival draws crowds regionally and locally for the German traditions like a biergarten with more than 99 local and season craft brews, brats and other foods, music, a market and more.
Wine Over The Water Food & Wine Festival Oct. 4-7, 2018 is a wine tasting festival suspended over the Tennessee River on the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga. Attendees can sip more than 200 wines from 100 wineries while sampling dishes made from local restaurants like Terra Mae, Easy Bistro & Bar, Chatt Smoke House, and Broad Street Grille among many others. Regional musicians serenade the gathering with music ranging from jazz to bluegrass throughout the event.
Knoxville + Middle East Tennessee
Fall Jamboree at Windrock Park Oct. 18-20, 2018 in Oliver Springs is the ultimate family adventure. The multi-day event includes guided ATV rides, rock crawls, drag races, mud bogs and live music on Windrock's more than 72,000 acres. More details of the event will be announced in the coming months, so mark your calendar and keep your eye on Windrock Park's website.
The annual Mountain Makins Festival takes place Oct. 27-28, 2018 at the historic 1892 Rose Center in Morristown. The festival has been named a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society and is filled with juried fine arts and crafts, live music, dancing, storytelling, children's activities, food and expert demonstrations of time-honored crafting traditions.
Great Smoky Mountains
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg takes place Sept. 21-Oct. 28, 2018 and celebrates German traditions through food, drink and entertainment each year. The indoor and outdoor festival includes Bavarian food like bratwurst, strudel and schnitzel. The Seasons of Ober Restaurant rolls out their OktOBERfest menu for sit-down meals as well. The Outdoor Bier Garten features a different brewery each weekend for the 21-years and older attendees. Outdoor games, music, folk dances, yodels and more are performed daily.
Harvest Festival at Dollywood takes place Sept. 28-Nov. 3, 2018 features the Great Pumpkin Luminights that spotlights artistic sculptures and whimsical scenes carved into pumpkins along Timber Canyon. The Southern Gospel Jubilee is the largest southern gospel event in the nation and hosts free concerts while artisans from around the U.S. come to Dollywood to show off their talents through an array of handmade items.
A three-day celebration of roots music and its impact on today's music takes center stage Sept. 21-23, 2018 at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in downtown Bristol. Grab tickets to experience more than 130 bands on 20 stages throughout downtown Bristol, Tennessee. This year's lineup is a can't-miss with Old Crow Medicine Show, The SteelDrivers, Twin Peaks, Taj Mahal Trio, Railroad Earth, Sierra Hull, Asleep at the Wheel and many more. Tickets range $40-$135.
The National Storytelling Festival Oct. 5-7, 2018 in Jonesborough is an event featuring compelling performances by 19 internationally-known professional tellers. Storytellers on the docket this year include Kim Weitkamp, Diana Ferlatte, Tim Lowry and Alton Chung who will spin tales to the attending thousands who come from around the country to hear them. A variety of special events take place like Midnight Cabaret - stories suitable for adults only - Ghost Story Concerts and Swappin' Ground, where anyone can tell a tale.
Spend a fall weekend taking in local artists' talents during the Fall Folk Arts Festival Sept. 29-30, 2018 at the Exchange Place Living History Farm in Kingsport, Tennessee. The farmstead welcomes demonstrators, bakers, kettle corn makers and vendors. Bluegrass bands and dulcimer players fill the air will music while guests browse the marketplace stuffed with corn, pumpkins and squash for fall decor needs. Enjoy demonstrations like blacksmithing, weaving, pottery, heart side cooking, apple cider squeezing, rope making, basket weaving, and handmade toys. It's a cozy fall festival you don't want to miss.