It’s Fall Festival season here, and really, what could be better?
Many of the events -- and trust us, there are many of them -- take place in the Great Outdoors, against a backdrop of powder-blue skies and autumnally-hued leaves.
Breathing in all that healthy fresh air is a great cover for the real reason for being there: Eating more not-quite-as-healthy food than you can shake a deep fried pie or turkey leg at.
We kid ... slightly. There’s much more to these events, which bring together communities to celebrate heritage, art, music and the spirit of friendly competition to be dubbed the best chili maker or jam preserver in town.
We’ve rounded up dozens of not-to-be-missed festivals taking place in and around metro Atlanta this fall, as well as some worth a slightly longer drive to North Georgia.
Happy deep fried eating!
Yellow Daisy Festival
Along with over 500 skilled artisans, there’s live music and, of course, the gorgeous flower show inside Memorial Hall featuring the festival’s namesake blossom.
Sept. 6-Sept. 9. 10 a.m. - 6p.m. Thursday, Friday; 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m - 5 p.m. Sunday; early bird hours 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. daily. $20 per vehicle (early bird tickets: $5 daily or $10 for entire festival). www.stonemountainpark.com
Chattahoochee Mountain Fair
One of the most eagerly awaited annual events in North Georgia, this has it all: Live entertainment; talent show and tractor display; contests for crafts, canning, livestock and of course, food booths and carnival rides galore. Sept. 7-15, ticket booths open at 5 p.m. weekdays and at 1 p.m. on weekends. $5 admission; ages 5-12, $3; free for ages 4 and younger. Habersham County Fairgrounds, 4235 Toccoa Highway, Clarkesville. www.chattahoocheemountainfair.org
Gold Rush Festival
Marking its 40th year celebrating the location of Georgia’s first gold rush, the festival kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m., features food, crafts and other fun and culminates with music starting at 4 p.m. Headliners: The Velcro Pygmies.
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 8. Free. Downtown Villa Rica; music at The Mill, 106 Temple St., Villa Rica. www.downtownvillarica.com
Frog Toss Festival
Not to worry, no frogs will be harmed during the making of this family friendly event! It features a disc golf tournament, a corn hole tournament, a chili “throwdown,” live music and more. All profits benefit Sweetwater Mission, which battles poverty by providing food, clothing, school supplies and other essential services.
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sept. 15. Free, but see web site for entry fees for the tournaments and chili contest. Louise Suggs Memorial Park, 6040 Spring St., Austell. www.sweetwatermission.org
Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Kacey Musgrave, Gucci Mane, Post Malone and nearly 30 other top acts will be there during this two-day festival that sprawls across four stages. Will you? And if that’s not enough, the AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri recently reported that Butch Walker will add a special “Music Midtown After Hours” concert to his regular festival gig.
Sept. 15-16 (doors open at noon both days). $155-$1,250 for two-day tickets. Piedmont Park, Atlanta. www.musicmidtown.com
Roswell Arts Festival
Now over 50 years old, this popular two-day event features arts and crafts for sale, sand art, balloon animals, local musicians and dancers and food trucks.
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sept. 15-16. Free. Historic Town Square, Roswell. www.roswellartsfestival.com
Saturday’s parade kicks off two days of celebration in Town Center Park. Fifteen entertainment acts, from majorettes and Irish Dancers to a Tom Petty tribute band, plus nearly 200 vendors and exhibitors and a feast of food options.
9 a.m. (parade starts) -7 p.m. Sept. 15; Noon-5 p.m. Sept. 16. Free. 330 Town Center Ave., Suwanee. No parking allowed at park, see web site for location of parking and free shuttle. www.suwaneefest.com
The largest Japanese cultural festival in the Southeast returns with over 120 vendors, performers including Nomura Kyogen Group and Samurai Sword Soul, street food, an anime village and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 15 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 16. $10 advance, $12 at door, free for ages 6 and younger. Infinite Energy Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Duluth. www.japanfest.org
41st Annual Shakerag Arts & Crafts Festival
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 15 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 16. Free. McIntosh Trail Recreation Complex, 191 McIntosh Trail, Peachtree City. www.peachtree-city.org
Georgia's Spirit of Appalachia Food, Wine & Art Festival
Truly a Made in Georgia festival: Enjoy tastings prepared by celebrity chefs using Georgia products, sample wines from wineries located around the state and see and buy the work of Georgia artists and craftsmen.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 15. Free admission, $10 parking. Hardman Farm Historic Site, 143 Ga-17, Sautee Nacoochee. www.whitecountychamber.org
Atlanta History Center Fall Folklife Festival
A fascinating annual event exploring southern history, food, crafts and folklore that includes hands-on demonstrations of basket weaving, candle dipping and other tasks in the center’s authentic working venues. Honored guests this year are members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma returning to their ancestral lands. And in keeping with the current “Barbecue Nation” exhibition, this year’s special focus is on barbecue traditions of Native Americans, African Americans and European Americans. There’ll also be live music, food and craft beers and an artists marketplace.
10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Sept. 22 Festival is included with admission: $21.50; senior citizens and students ages 13 and older, $18; ages 4-12 $9. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. www.atlantahistorycenter.com
Sandy Springs Festival
A nonstop celebration featuring everything from a 5K/10K run and a pet parade to an artists market and a children’s play area. Throw in live musical performances, a Chalk Walk and the flat screen and taps-tricked out “Tailgate Zone,” and two days may not be enough to try everything!
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 22 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 23. Free. Heritage Green, 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs. www.heritagesandysprings.org
A Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned barbecue competition, vendors selling crafts and other food, and a live music lineup headlined by Little Texas and Journey tribute band Departure? All for a good cause (A portion of proceeds benefits the Lawrenceville Police Benevolent Fund)? Yes, please!
Noon-8 p.m. Sept. 22. Free. Lawrenceville Lawn, 210 Luckie Street, Lawrenceville. www.rocknribville.com
Alpharetta Art in the Park
Don’t miss your final chance this year to stroll through a diverse artists market in downtown Alpharetta.
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 22. Free. Corner of Main Street & Milton Avenue, Alpharetta. www.awesomealpharetta.com
Atlanta Greek Festival
A beloved fall tradition, this four-day extravaganza offers something for everyone: Dance performances and dance lessons; choral singing and bands playing at “A Night in Athens;” tours, cooking demonstrations, crafts and kids activities. And, of course, food, food and more food from the festival whose motto is “Give us a few hours and we’ll give you a taste of Greece.” There’s even a drive-thru, opening one day before the festival itself, where you can pick up a to-go box of moussaka, souvlaki, pastries and more.
Festival runs Sept. 28-30; 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Drive-thru open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sept. 27-29, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 30. $5, free for ages 12 and under (see web site for info on ticket packages). Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 2500 Clairmont Road, Atlanta. www.atlantagreekfestival.org
Duluth Fall Festival
How big is this annual celebration? So big that a Festival Concert (Sept. 22) and Festival Carnival (Sept. 27-30) actually get a jump on the Festival Weekend itself. There’s a parade, road race, live music and dance and even puppeteers and a scarecrow mascot roaming the streets!
9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 29 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 30 (road race begins at 8 a.m.). Free. Duluth Festival Center, 3142 Hill St., Duluth. www.duluthfallfestival.org
Fall Fest in Candler Park
This cool intown neighborhood ‘s annual celebration includes a tour of homes, sprawling artists market, “Kidlandia” and live music. Plus a 5K fun run, group yoga and food trucks!
Sept. 29-30. Race starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, artists market opens at 11 a.m. both days.Last(first race at 9 a.m., artists market opens at 11 a.m., last music act goes on at 9 pm.) and Sept. 30( artists market opens at 11 a.m., last music act goes on at 8 p.m.). Free. Candler Park and Mclendon Ave N.E., Atlanta. fallfest.candlerpark.org
Taste of Chamblee
4 p.m-8 p.m. Oct. 6. Free admission, $1 for tasting tickets. Corner of Peachtree Road and Broad St., Chamblee. www.tasteofchamblee.net
Atlanta Pride Festival
The largest pride festival in the Southeast returns to Piedmont Park and other in-town venues for a weekend of live entertainment, exhibits and vendors, plus the Pride Marketplace. There’s a kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium (ticket prices range from $30-$90) and the not-to-be-missed Pride Parade at noon on Sunday.
Oct. 12-14. Free. Piedmont Park, Atlanta. www.atlantapride.org
Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
They had us at “fiddlers festival.” This nine day event in a gorgeous mountain setting 9-day event features a flower show, big name performers (Mickey Gilley, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Aaron Tippin, to name a few), arts and crafts vendors, a pioneer village, the “Wolves of the World” attraction, food and drink and more. And, as host of Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers Convention, a series of competitons on Oct. 20 will lead to the crowning of 2018’s “Georgia Mountain Fiddle King."
Oct. 12-20 (see web site for daily schedule, hours). $12, free for ages 12 and younger. Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, 1311 Music Hall Road, Hiawassee. www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com
A unique grassroots community music event where performances take place in people’s yards and -- yes -- on their porches. Over 200 acts are anticipated to perform in a similar number of neighborhood “venues,” which attendees can stroll to take in, while also enjoying similar sorts of pop-up stops selling refreshments, arts and crafts around the community.
Noon-7 p.m. Oct. 13. Free. Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood (see web site for all participating locations). www.oakhurstporchfest.org
Historic Dallas Fall Fest
Sponsored by the Paulding Fine Arts Association, it’s a chance to enjoy arts and crafts, a wide array of entertainment on two stages , food trucks, oodles of kids activities and more in a picturesque setting.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 13. Free. Main St. and Courthouse Square, Dallas. www.pauldingfinearts.org
Chalktoberfest Chalk and Beer Festival
What a pairing! Sidewalk artists chalk the streets, great food and music abound and craft beer and wine are available for sampling in this benefit event for the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art that takes place in and around Marietta Square.
General festival: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 13 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 14. Free. Craft Beer and Wine Festival: noon-5 p.m. Oct. 13 only. $40-$45. 30 Atlanta St., Marietta. www.chalktoberfest.com
Taste of Acworth
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 13. Main St., Acworth. Free. www.acworthtourism.org
Owl-O-Ween Hot Air Balloon Festival
Enjoy this family friendly event featuring live entertainment and roving performers, tethered ballon rides, a merchant marketplace and artists alley, food trucks and a food court, a beer and wine garden, costume “showdowns,” trick-or-treating at the balloons and so much more.
6 p.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 19 and 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 20. Discounted admission tickets sold through Oct. 12 or until they run out: $14; ages 3-12, $6; free for ages 2 and younger. Full price admission: $19; ages 3-12, $9; free for ages 2 and younger. VIP tickets also available (see web site for information and prices). Tethered balloon rides: $15. Kennesaw State University Sports and Entertainment Park, 3200 George Busbee Parkway, Kennesaw. www.owl-o-ween.com
Georgia Apple Festival
Spread across two weekends in a gorgeous North Georgia setting, this year’s 47th festival features a parade, 5K run, the Apple Queen Pageant, arts and crafts displays, hundreds of vendors and more apples than you can shake a tree at! Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. both Saturdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both Sundays. $5, free for ages 10 and younger. Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds. 1729 South Main Street, Ellijay. www.georgiaapplefestival.org
Brookhaven Arts Festival
Discover a world of artistry in this two-day event spotlighting over 140 artists working in painting, photography, glass, jewelry, mixed media and other specialities. There’s also a juried art show, a classic car show on Sunday, food and drink vendors, live musical performances and kids’ activities.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 20 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 21. Free. 4047 Peachtree Road N.E. on Apple Valley Road behind the Brookhaven MARTA station, Atlanta (free parking in MARTA lot). Or take MARTA to the Brookhaven stop on the Gold line. www.brookhavenartsfestival.com
Taste of Atlanta
More than 90 restaurants will offer up delectables, chefs and hospitality experts will demonstrate on three separate stages and lead classes and the ongoing Barcraft Competition culminates in the naming of the winning mixologist.
Kickoff Party 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 19, noon-6 p.m. Oct. 20-21. Kickoff Party (ages 21 and older only) $85 plus fees; $25 and $75 (plus fees) Oct. 20 and Oct. 21. Historic Fourth Ward Park, 680 Dallas St NE, Atlanta (the park is also accessible from the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline) www.tasteofatlanta.com
Little 5 Points Halloween Festival and Parade
Where better to celebrate this most colorful holiday than in Atlanta’s most colorful neigbhorhood? Get a jump on Halloween by watching an outrageously fun parade wind through L5P’s streets and a backdrop of food vendors, an artist market and more.
Noon-11 p.m., Oct. 20. Free. Little Five Points (Moreland and Euclid Avenues), Atlanta. Free. www.l5phalloween.com
Chastain Horse Park Fall Family Spectacular
Spend the day at the horse park in the heart of Buckhead and enjoy guided barn tours, pony rides, a horse costume parade and horseback archery demonstration and other equine activities. There’ll also be a hay bale maze, food, drink and games.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 20. Free. 4371 Powers Ferry Road, Atlanta. www.chastainhorsepark.org
Decatur Craft Beer Festival
Spend the afternoon enjoying live bands and a DJ and unlimited sips from over 80 breweries. Plus, your admission ticket gets you a souvenir glass! Note: You must be 21 or older to attend.
Noon-5 p.m, Oct. 20. $50 (limited number of $100 VIP tickets available). Decatur Square, Decatur. www.decaturbeerfestival.com
Festival on Ponce
Set against the verdant backdrop of a Fredrick Olmsted Sr.-designed park, this festival features some 125 exhibitions of arts and crafts, folk and outsider art; a children’s area and a wide variety of food and drink offerings.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 20 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 21. Free. Olmstead Linear Park, 1451 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. www.festivalonponce.com
Native American Festival and Pow Wow
A celebration of Native American culture through traditional, storytelling, music, dance, craft demonstrations and much more. Go inside a tipi, watch expert demonstrations of bow-making and fire starting and thrill to intertribal dance and drum competitions featuring Native Americans from all over the U.S. and Central America.
9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 1-2, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 4. Admission included with All Attractions Pass, see web site for pricing. Stone Mountain Park Historic Square, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. www.stonemountainpark.com
Cabbagetown Chomp & Stomp Chili Cook-off and Bluegrass Festival
5K run at 8 a.m., followed by teams and restaurants competing for chili supremacy, live music and an artists market.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 3. Tickets: Chili $5 cash, $6 credit; Beer $6; Liquor $8. Cabbagetown neighborhood (abuttingOakland Cemetery) in East Atlanta. www.chompandstomp.com
Chastain Park Arts Festival
Arts and crafts, gourmet food trucks, acoustic musicians, all in a beautiful park setting.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 3 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 4. Free. 4469 Stella Drive N.W. Atlanta. www.chastainparkartsfestival.com
Suwanee Wine Festival
Enjoy unlimited samples of 150 different wines from around the world, live music, art vendors and more.
1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 (Noon entry for VIP ticket holders). $45, $55 starting Oct. 21. VIP tickets $99. Town Center Park, 330 Town Center Ave., Suwanee. www.suwaneewinefest.com
Taste of Kennesaw
More than 40 local restaurants dish out samples, there’s live music and a kids play area and a “Culinary Throwdown” between four high school teams.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 3. Free admission, $1-$4 per food sample. 2829 Cherokee Street,