It’s finally fall and the temperature is dropping, enough for pulling on a chunky sweater and heading to the nearest fall festival — and you don’t have to travel very far. Seasonal festivals abound in Manhattan and within an hour’s drive from the city.
Scarecrows & Pumpkins
From garden protector to cultural icon, scarecrows have had a fascinating evolution in American pop culture. Explore it through 30 new artworks by Ray Villafane, along with pumpkins rare and unusual — and some that are monstrously big! — at the New York Botanical Garden. During Scarecrow Nights (Oct. 21, 22, 28, 29, after 3 p.m.), the display “comes to life” as a theater group takes visitors on a narrated walk. Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Oct. 22-23) is when the oversized pumpkins from around the country — some weighing in at more than a ton — arrive at the garden, with Q&A sessions with the growers. Through Oct. 30, $20-$25, nybg.org
Harvest Festival at 21 West End
The Upper West Side gets a not-so-spooky block party on Freedom Place (60-61st streets), courtesy of the new 21 West End building. The festival is free and open to all, not just residents, with pumpkin carving, cider doughnuts, food trucks and a beer garden, live music from the Frankie Moreno band, vendors and a bounce house. Oct. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free, 21 West End Ave., facebook.com/21WestEnd
Queens County Fair
Take a drive to Queens County Farm Museum this weekend for its 34th annual Queens County Fair, which includes everything you want in an old-fashioned fall carnival on the farm: carnival rides and games, blue ribbon competitions, pie eating and corn husking contests, and children's entertainment by magicians, jugglers and acrobats. Though the festival is only for one weekend, you can go on a hayride in a wagon, take a selfie with a llama in the petting zoo, pick a pumpkin, enjoy live music and make time to get lost in the farm’s Amazing Maize Maze, the largest in the region, weekends through Oct. 30. Sept. 24-25, adults $10, kids 12&under $5, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Long Island