While temperatures may still be nice and warm, that doesn’t stop Floridians from pulling out all the seasonal stops for fall. From pumpkin festivals to races, and costume contests to ghost stories, our region certainly knows how to get in the “spirit” and celebrate autumn. We are presenting fifteen fall festivals for your enjoyment.
Robinson Preserve 5K Ghost Run: October 21st
Previously held near Old Main Street in Bradenton, the spooktacular 5K Ghost Run has moved to the newly expanded Robinson Preserve at 9th Avenue and 99th Street NW. The event will allow participants to experience the best of the 150-acre park, with scenic views and groomed trails (a portion of which will be ‘rubberized’). Registration begins at 6 AM on event day for the Kids’ Ghost Dash, 5K Ghost Run and 5K Ghost Run with Doggies. Learn more about race registration and fees here.
Hunsader Farms 27th Annual Pumpkin Festival: October 13th-14th; 20th-21st; 27th-28th
The perfect variety of fall fun, the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival is an East Manatee County tradition not to be missed. Dedicate an entire day with friends and family throughout its multi-weekend run indulging in delicious autumn-inspired treats and enjoying the array of live music, family-friendly crafts, games and, of course, the infamous pumpkin cannon and corn maze. This year’s festival will be held each weekend starting October 13th from 9 AM – 5 PM. Check out all the details on the Hunsader Farms website.
Halloween Candlelight Tour at Gamble Mansion: October 13th
A family-friendly event with plenty of treats and a chance to see the historic plantation by candlelight and decked out in Halloween spirit. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief to know that no scary or bloody costumes are part of this experience, but everyone is encouraged to dress up. Visit the Gamble Mansion in Ellenton from 7pm-9pm and learn more on this Facebook event page.
Lakewood Ranch “Boofest”: October 26th
Main Street in Lakewood Ranch is known for its wonderful community events and this year’s Boofest on October 26th is no exception. Come dressed as your creepiest, kookiest or spookiest with friends and family in tow and enjoy live music, local merchants, maze and costume contest. Get all the spooky details on the Lakewood Ranch website.
Lakewood Ranch “Boo Run”: October 27th
Early birds can keep their BooFest costume on for the following morning’s Boo Run 5K and Boo Dash from 5 AM to 11 AM, where runners and spectators alike enjoy the parade of creative attire. Register online before October 25th.
Lakewood Ranch BARCtober Fest: October 27th
The first annual BARCtober Fest to benefit the Animal Rescue Coalition will be held in Robert (Bob) Gardner Community Park this year from 11 AM – 3 PM. All pooches on non-retractable leashes are welcome to this fun-filled afternoon of pet-friendly activities, fall libations and great music from Reverend Barry & the Funk. The Lakewood Ranch website offers more information.
Fish Fun and Fright At Mote Aquarium: October 20th
Discover your inner mad scientist at this year’s Fish Fun and Fright event at Mote Aquarium on Lido Key. From 4 PM- 7 PM, “buoys and ghouls” are invited to dress up in costume and partake in educational and sensational activities from unearthing shark teeth in “Coffin Creek” to watching the Mote’s signature underwater pumpkin carving. Discounted pre-sale tickets are available now until October 19th. Learn more on the Mote Marine website.
Fruitville Grove Annual Pumpkin Festival: October 6th-7th; 13th-14th; 20th-21st; 27th-28th
Full of fall activities, decorations, and enough festival food to make your mouth water, the Fruitville Grove 30th Annual Pumpkin Festival takes place every weekend in October from 10 AM – 5 PM. A costume contest and pie eating contest every weekend delight onlookers as well as participants, but make sure to bring cash, as there’s only one ATM on the property and most vendors, rides, and games do not accept credit cards. Visit the Fruitville Grove website for more.
Arlington Park PorchfesT SRQ: October 7th
Neighborly generosity and goodwill rule the day, as porches and front yards become stages for the 3rd annual music celebration running throughout the afternoon. We suggest you Uber, bicycle, or park your car along the edge of the neighborhood and work your way in on foot. Bands will be playing Waldemere St. to the north, Hyde Park St. to the south, the west border is East Ave, and the east border is S. Shade Ave. Learn more about this grassroots community music festival.
Howl-O-Ween Movie Night Spooktacular: October 13th
The 90’s cult-classic, Disney’s Hocus Pocus, will be featured on the Ed Smith Stadium outfield video board at 7 PM with children’s activities, costume parade and an opportunity to meet the Oriole Bird starting at 5 PM. Click to find out more about this free movie night.
Historic Spanish Point Ghost Tours: October 12th and 26th
Explore the paranormal phenomena of Historic Spanish Point. Over 5,000 years old, it’s not surprising to hear stories of ghostly encounters and investigations. Also featured in Osprey throughout October are the Full Moon Ghost Tours and morbid, yet fascinating reenactment of a Victorian-era funeral. Purchase tickets for the Halloween Ghost Tours.
Sun Fiesta of Venice: October 19th-21st
Have fun for a great cause at the Sun Fiesta at the Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice. An opportunity to help raise scholarships funds for the year and get the community together for one last fling before the winter, this beloved celebration features the wild, costumed bed race (exactly what you think it is). This year’s theme? Running on Island Time. Visit Women’s Sertoma website.
Trick or Trot 5K: October 20th
Raise money for local scholarship funds and enjoy the sites of Ann Dever Regional Park in the Englewood Trick or Trot 5K. Starting time is 8 AM. Registration ends October 17th. Sign up online.
Haunted History of Punta Gorda Walking Tour: Throughout October
A two-mile jaunt into Punta Gorda’s haunted past and present, filled with true accounts of mysteries, murders, and paranormal occurrences. Ticket must be purchased in advance. All proceeds are donated to the Punta Gorda Historical Society. Haunted pub tours are also available.
A Victorian Séance: Party Like It’s 1899!: Throughout October
Believers and skeptics are welcome to this steampunk, time travel adventure put on by the Punta Gorda Historical Society. Learn more on the Southwest Florida Walking Tours website.
Did we miss any festivals? Join the conversation and comment below with your favorite!