Don’t give up on the fun, frights, or food this year—in many cases, the seasonal entertainment has just been reimagined. While 2020 may have changed the scope of autumn, in some cases it’s just extended the fun. Columbus Day Weekend used to be the peak of frolic and foliage, but several New England haunts are offering extended festivals through the end of the month.
Tractor train rides or horse-drawn carriages will bring guests to the patch at Charmingfare Farm’s Pumpkin Festival in Candia, where visitors can pick their own. Or, opt for an art experience, which includes a pre-picked sugar pumpkin and a take-home decorating kit. There will also be ticketed pony rides for kids, visits with farm animals, costumed characters, live music, and a cow-milking contest this Saturday through Monday.
If your town cancelled trick-or-treat, fear not—Charmingfare is hosting children’s trick-or-treat October 17 through 18, 24 and 25, and 31. Adults and families may opt for an evening Harvest of Haunts the last three Saturdays of the month. Book an entire horse-drawn wagon and journey into the woods for Halloween ghost stories and hot cocoa. (All events are ticketed and must be purchased in advance online.) visitthefarm.com
Trade the farm train for one on tracks at the Connecticut Trolly Museum, where each weekend in October (along with Columbus Day) the whole family gets a chance to journey back in time on a historic train car and visit the pumpkin patch. Pick one—or several—and then decorate them with provided bags of stickers or at arts and crafts tables. The visitor center and all displays will be decked out in harvest finery.
Older kids (16-plus) may enjoy an excursion on Ride the Darkside, a haunted railroad ride about the area’s spooky past and a “missing” graveyard, Friday and Saturday nights through October 30. (All events are ticketed and must be purchased in advance online.) ct-trolley.org
The annual Harvest Festival at Berkshire Botanical Garden—traditionally only held the weekend of Columbus Day—has been reimagined for 2020, with weekly themed outdoor events. Admission includes a chance to stroll the 24-acre grounds in scenic Stockbridge, and this weekend’s hijinks include a “botanical barnyard” with a menagerie including rheas, potbellied pigs, emu, and llamas.
Each October weekend features an autumn-themed scavenger hunt, a storywalk in the meadow, and local food and beer trucks. On October 17, learn how to create a Halloween centerpiece; enjoy bands and brews with local music on October 24; or come in costume on the 31st for a pumpkin-painting extravaganza. (Timed tickets must be purchased in advance online.) berkshirebotanical.org/harvest-festival-reimagined
One of Kennebunk’s most toney hotels celebrates the best of the season and the launch of its new casual restaurant, Little Barn, with a weekend packed with filling eats, creative cocktails, pumpkin carving, and live music. Fall Festival at White Barn Inn kicks off the holiday weekend on Friday night with a bonfire and fresh-pressed apple cider and cider donuts.
On Saturday, master pumpkin carver Mo Auger will dig into a 500-pound beauty before leading a workshop in the afternoon for all ages (but the evening’s cocktail-making class is 21-plus, of course!). Gather poolside on Sunday to enjoy the spoils at a pie-decorating class with pastry chef Wilson Suliveras; live music and speciality seasonal cocktails will also be served up. On Monday, food-critic fave White Barn Inn Restaurant serves up the best of the region’s bounty with a harvest brunch. (Tickets or reservations required; open to the general public and hotel guests.) aubergeresorts.com/whitebarninn/experiences/fall-is-here/