Autumn Events

Cool Air and Big Scares

Enjoy the best haunted houses, corn mazes, food festivals and more this season


Is autumn the best season in New England? That's open to debate. But is New England the best place to experience autumn. No question. Here are some of the events we're looking forward to attending while wearing our favorite sweaters and/or light jackets.

September 21-23
Come dine in the gold room of Marble House with celebrity father-daughter chef duo Jacques and Claudine Pepin and local legend Emeril Lagasse. Raise your glass at the Newport Food & Wine Festival to seven years of the most sophisticated wine event on the east coast, slowly growing into a national sensation. Tickets for seminars are $40, and $125-795 for events.

September 28-30
If you missed the Rhode Island International Film Festival this year, you can still get a behind-the-scenes-movie-magic taste at the Pawtucket Film Festival, and a taste of donated Sam Adams Beer at the opening reception too.

September 28-October 28
Take a haunted hayride careening through the woods of Wakefield, barely outrunning your deepest fears, only to be left in the Forest of Fear. Will you walk the Trails of Terror, where the monsters live? Tickets are $10-30. 

September 28-October 31
How about a trip to the Cirque du Souls? Let the Haunted Hayride of Dead River bring you there. When you're done with all the delightful torment, check yourself into the Haunted Insane Asylum. Find it all at the Field of Screams. Tickets are just $14.

September 28-November 3
There is a Haunted Hill in Cumberland where otherworldly horrors and evil forces are said to gather. Brave the land that has been scaring the daylights out of southern New-Englanders for over a decade. Tickets are $15 or $20 for only the foolhardy who dare to enter first.

September 29
Dancers hanging from skyscrapers, and a blimp with a working jaw can only mean the First Works Festival at Kennedy Plaza is here. Only select artists and groups were invited to an eight-hour placemaking binge. Performers include Bandaloop, Squonk Opera, Papermoon Puppet Theater – know ‘em, love ‘em.

September 30
Would you like to do an eight-mile bike race? How about a quarter-mile swim? One-mile kayak? 3.8-mile trail run? How about all of them? You can pick your triathlon package at the Do-It-In-the-Woods Triathlon held at Burlingame State Park. Kayaks are rentable and there’s plenty of space for camping.

Through October 21
Bringeth your banner, horse and squire to adorn the King Richard’s Faire grounds. Watch a jousting tourney of the fiercest riders in the land. Be mystified with song and enchantments long forgotten. Verily, mutton and mead will be in plenty – be merry.

October 4-November 3
All the world’s a stage for Jack-O-Lanterns. Witness the once-a-year Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo. Iconic scenes from movies and plays are carved into thousands of pumpkins and lit by candlelight. There is a VIP Harvest Buffet, and, of course, the Laughing Tree Display includes hundreds more pumpkins. Proceeds go to the RWP Zoo Educational and Preservational Projects. Tickets are as follows: Monday-Thursday: adults $12, seniors $10 (62+), children $9 (ages 3-12, under 3 is free). Friday-Sunday: adults $15, seniors $13, children $12.

October 5-7
You won’t find better cowboy authenticity here in New England (yeh, them’s fightin’ words) than the Cowboy Rendezvous at Stepping Stone Ranch. Hike up them pants and sharpen them spurs for horse racing, themed posse riding, outlaw chases, saloon gal shows, and the legendary 12-oz steak fry dinner. Tickets are $35 until October 1. After date they are subject to increase.

October 6
The anticipated gridiron grudge match between the Brown Bears and the URI Rams is taking place at URI this year. Don’t miss the collision between these two local teams. Tickets are TBA.

October 6-7
Two stages of German entertainment and golden fall colors filling specialty mugs can only mean the emergence of the International Oktoberfest at the Newport Yachting Center. There’s going to be dancing and music, don’t miss the party.

October 13
Over 1,000 uniquely carved jack-o-lanterns will be presented at Newport's Ballard Park Pumpkin Tour. The event is free and runs rain or shine. You can purchase your own display for $50, which will hold up to 20 of your own, your neighborhood's, or your office's very own carved pumpkins.

October 15
The Annual Barrington Golf Tournament hits the green at noon in the fields of the Rhode Island Country Club. Participants are encouraged to sign up in groups of four, as individual entrants will be placed into groups at commencement. There are only 100 spots so get registered. Tickets are $100, and cover the cost of a cart.

October 20-21
They’re not pancakes! The 2012 Harvest and Johnny Cake Festival gathers at Kenyon Grist Mill for great New England fare, live music, shopping from over 85 vendors, wine and beer tastings, and johnny cakes, of course. Step out into the autumn air with the whole family for a weekend of seasonal merriment.

November 3
Dude, you can’t miss the Rhode Island Comic Con at the RI Convention Center. I can’t go by myself as Robin! Come play games, shop paraphernalia, meet celebrities, and discuss the finer points of culture from your childhood and high school years. Tickets are just $25 for one day and $35 for the weekend.

Corn Mazes
Where are we? I'm cornfused, I know I've passed that ear of corn at least nine times now. Get lost in one of these corn mazes: Escobar's Highland Farm, Riverside Farm, Adam's Farm, Confreda Farms and Salisbury Farm in Johnston