This article was originally meant to be a joyous celebration of all the festivals and conventions coming up throughout the month of October. Now, however, it’s hard to discuss festivals without calling to mind the recent events in Las Vegas, where a shooter perpetrated the deadliest attack in recent American history by firing into the crowd at a country music festival from an upper-level hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip. (It should be noted that this event was not actually deadliest shooting in American history: that honor belongs to one of the many white supremacist massacres of Black and brown Americans which have occurred throughout our nation’s history.) Still, we felt compelled to publish this roundup regardless, as the greatest crime of all would be to let domestic terrorism stop us from living our lives and seeking out community. After all, these days, that’s something we need more than ever.
October is the month of cobwebs, mummies, mystical beings, and candy corn, and Halloween is already on everyone’s mind. If that’s your kinda thing, you’ll be happy to find festivals on this list that cater to your creepy-crawly interests! But not everything is all about spooky, fantastic fun, and if that’s not for you, well, you’ll be happy with the variety of conventions and festivals occurring across the US. Read through the list to see what catches your eye, and get to planning your next adventure!
A3C Hip Hop Festival: Atlanta, GA
Vibes everywhere! Fondly referred to as “Hip Hop’s Family Reunion”, A3C boasts a stellar lineup: this year’s festival features Nas, for example. You’ll be in good hands at this celebration of hip hop!
LUNAFEST: Eau Claire, WI
Girl power is celebrated in this film festival dedicated entirely to helping women empower each other. Creative women directed these short films exploring feminine and feminist themes.
Round Rock Chalk Walk and Arts Festival: Round Rock, TX
With chalk in hand, help beautify Centennial Plaza with chalk murals. You can watch other artists create artworks and optical illusions, while you enjoy the entertainment and activities on the plaza.
Tucson Afro-Latin Festival: Tucson, AZ
If you’re feeling saucy, spice your weekend up with a dash of Afro-Latin dance workshops. Explore the radiant culture of Afro-Latin rhythm and expression. Get ready to pair up and hit the dance floor!
New Orleans Beignet Fest: New Orleans, LA
Known for being both sweet and savory, this festival focuses on the traditional, beignet! The family-friendly festival has popular local dishes and music entertainment, but only for one day. Don’t miss out!
Idaho Horror Film Festival: Boise, ID (10/12-14)
International and local filmmakers join to showcase their take on the horror genre. Certainly not for the faint of heart, this film festival is all about suspense and creative scares!
III Points: Miami, FL
An art and technology festival in their fourth year of highlighting local go-getters of the community. International collaborations are also included in the schedule. Come experiment with the Miami scene!
KC Horsepower Festival: Independence, MO
Love classic cars? Come view the kinds of sweet rides your cool grandpa would have driven around in his youth. Take a glance at some modern pimped-out rides, too!
Retro Con: Oaks, PA
Gather up you action figures! Enjoy this two-day convention all about memorabilia and collectibles. Load up on mementos from GI Joe, Ghostbusters, and many other pop culture classics.
Talk Story Festival: Honolulu, HI
Experience the traditional storytelling culture of Hawaii. This year’s theme is “Na Mele o Hawaii Nei: The Songs of Hawaii”. Participation in this special cultural experience is free and open to the public, so if you’re in town, don’t miss it!
XPO Game Festival: Tulsa, OK
Calling all fans, gamers, developers and anyone in the industry who’d be interested in getting together with your compatriots: why not meet up at this gaming festival? The expo will be an overload of activities and content.
BLAM AfroComicCon: Emeryville, CA
BLAM (Black, Latino, Asian, Manifested) is opening its doors to everyone, but this new festival is especially dedicated to promoting works from people of color. With their first annual comic con, the team behind BLAM are setting out to “encourage the production of images and storytelling that embraces diverse fictional heroes and icons”. Count us in!
Gardens at Lake Merritt Autumn Lights Festival: Oakland, CA (10/19-21)
Light art installations from Bay Area artists are placed on display for you to explore! Admire the art installations while walking through the gardens.
Super Mega Fest Comic Con: Marlborough, MA
Get ready, New England: on the third weekend of October, your shores will be packed with superheroes, comics, and special guests. Names like Edward James Olmos of Blade Runner 2049, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and Bai Ling of Star Wars Episode 3 are just a few of the special guest stars you can expect to see making the rounds.
Quest-Con: Mobile, AL
How’s your cosplay game? Adventurous cosplay and gaming are at the center of attention here. Pull out your best attire, and get ready to meet your favorite characters!
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival: New York, NY (10/20-26)
Emphasizing environmental concern is on the agenda for this film festival. Films will showcase biodiversity and current discussion around topics related to wildlife.
Albany Festival of Nations: Albany, NY
A feast of diversity! Don’t miss out on the chance to experience various national identities in one place. Enjoy arts, food, performances, and other cultural displays from countries like Armenia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Nigeria, Taiwan, and more.
BAH Fest: San Francisco, CA
Remember your 6th grade science fair? BAH Fest is kind of like that, but upgraded… and a little bit bonkers! Multiple speakers present smartly argued, but incorrect hypotheses to a panel of accredited STEM professionals in this well-timed event for Halloween’s season of mad scientists. The most convincing wrong theory will win the fest!
Books by the Banks: Cincinnati, OH
A book gathering for those of all ages. Enjoy literature, signings, writing panels, and writing contests. Stretch your literary muscles at this lovely festival of books.
Boston Book Festival: Boston, MA
Language-lovers will feel at home in this atmosphere. The free festival is celebrating the many uses and connections of words within the community. Come check it out and support the culture of reading!
Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival: Los Angeles, CA
Get ready for non-stop music! Solange, 6lack, Kid Cudi, Kehlani, Jorja Smith, and Migos are just a few of the names set to perform during this all-star festival’s nonstop weekend festivities.
Nightmare Festival: Darlington, MD
EDM will be the BGM for this musical weekend of frights. Chill in the festival’s psychedelic art gallery space, boldly enter the haunted house, or stick to pumpkin carving among the nightmarish attractions.
Fall Muster at Fort Osage: Sibley, MO
Join the annual reenactment of historical events before the War of 1812. Go back in time to local life at Fort Osage right before the declaration war on Britain that marked America’s first foray into international warfare as a sovereign nation.