While the fall foliage with its swath of red, orange, and yellow hues is enough reason to visit the Finger Lakes this fall, an array of upcoming events and festive activities makes the trip a true adventure and provides an occasion to experience the qualities that make our region so unique. You can view a complete listing of events by month, here.
Keybank Fringe Festival
Sept. 14-Sept. 23
Celebrate creativity and the arts during this 11-day festival showcasing theater in all its forms, as well as comedy, family entertainment, music, dance, literature, poetry, visual arts, and film from artists locally and beyond.
The Fringe Festival continues to grow since its dramatic debut in 2012. This year, the festival will feature 500 performances—with 150 performances free of charge—and more than 20 venues. As a blend of Fringe- and venue-curated shows, creativity abounds with small and grand events alike. Highlights include Massaoke, a British band that plays “hairbrush” anthems and encourages the crowd to sing along to beloved hits, comedian Eddie Lizard, Cirque du Fringe, and the dance-style competition Street Beat. Rochester’s Fringe Festival is an event that brings entertainment for all ages and purveyors of the arts. Ticket prices vary for each show.
Wings & Wheels in Hammondsport
If you’ve ever wanted to ride in a seaplane, now is your chance. Take to the skies above Keuka Lake with Finger Lakes Seaplanes, which will be giving rides all weekend at the annual event held in Depot Park.
On the ground, attendees of all ages can partake in judging and awarding the most unique car. Tour the museum or head to the Kid Zone, which will provide additional activities. Choose a vendor in the park or venture into the village were there are a number of restaurants available. The event is free to attend; an evening banquet dinner at the Curtiss Museum is $50 per person.
Saturday, September 22
An iconic part of Rochester and Finger Lakes culture and history, the George Eastman House will be free and open to the public this fall for one day. As a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation, the museum’s photography exhibits are some of the finest in the world. Currently, the Eastman House is showcasing Gail Albert Halaban’s Out My Window collection, where she uses photography as a form of social engagement; and David Levinthal’s War, Myth, Desire, which is the first museum retrospective of his work in more than twenty years. Tour the Discovery Room, which offers interactive activities for all ages, as well as the mansion and gardens. Also learn about famous Rochestarien, abolitionist leader, and social reformer Frederick Douglass during a panel discussion.
Whingblinger Heritage Festival
Saturday, September 29
Take a break from technology and travel back in time for the day at the Heritage Village in Corning, New York. From the 1796 inn, old one-room schoolhouse, and 1850s log cabin to the demonstrators cooking at the hearth, blacksmithing, making baskets and more, you’ll catch a glimpse of how people lived in the old days. There will be music, activities, and even the chance to walk on stilts. Of course, don’t miss out on some delicious heritage eats, homemade pies, beverage making, farm animals, and games. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for students. Children under 6 are free.
Hammondsport Bushels & Barrels on the Square
Saturday, September 29
Ambiance is as important as the flowing drinks, and Hammondsport’s historic square provides a quaint getaway, whether you’re local or traveling in from out of town. Sip on your choice of beverages from local wineries, distilleries, and breweries while relaxing to live music. Hammondsport’s town center is known for its variety of unique antique shops, and a number of stores and restaurants will also be open for eventgoers. Tasting wristbands are $15 and include a festival wine glass.
28th Annual Hunt Country Vineyards Harvest Festival
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Groove to some tunes and turn your feet purple with the entire family at Hunt Country this September. Now in its 28th year, the vineyard’s annual fall festival has something for everyone, including grape stomping, hay rides, fun with pumpkins, food trucks with delectable, and diet-friendly, options, and of course, a variety of seasonal cocktails and wines. During your visit, you can also learn about sustainable farming practices and renewable energy while touring the picturesque seventh generation farm. Admission is free.
The Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls
Saturday, October 6
Located in the ‘valley of tumbling waters,’ Montour Falls is home to one of the region’s most spectacular areas for waterfalls as well as exciting family-friendly harvest bashes. In celebration of the spookiest holiday of them all, attendees can get creative and compete in the scarecrow making and pumpkin carving contests or take in the local “haunts” with the annual historic ghost tour. To dispel any ghostly visitors, fireworks will light up the evening sky. The occasion wouldn’t be complete without good food, vendors, and entertainment all day. Admission is free.
Genesee County Village & Museum Fall Festival & Agricultural Fair
Delight in the wonders of a classic magic show and 19th century circus act at the Fall Festival & Agricultural Fair this September, when the harvest season truly comes alive. Hosted by the largest living history museum in New York State, the event is the perfect affair to have your fortune read, or to tour America’s only fully-functional 19th century brewery. Have you always wondered what the shape of your skull means about your character? If you have, you can find out by consulting with the resident phrenologist. There will be baking contests, P.T. Barnum’s Museum of Oddities, exhibitions, animal award shows, a vintage baseball game, and of course vendors with locally made goods and foods. Admission is $22 for adults and free for ages 17 and under.
Leaf Peeper's Seafood Festival with Music by Diana Jacobs Band
Sunday, October 7
In celebration of the coming swath of color that will take over the Finger Lakes region’s foliage, Leaf Peeper’s Seafood Festival, now in its fourth year, is just around the corner at the Toro Run Winery. Sit back and enjoy world-class wines in addition to brews, sangria, and cocktails. A seafood extravaganza, as well as non-seafood options, will be served while live music provided by The Diana Jacobs Band sets the tone for good food, drink, and magnificent sites. Admission is free.
Spirits of the Past Theatrical Tours
By the glow of the moon and a single candle flame, venture through old, 19th century buildings, looming trees, and a village overrun by witches. The Genesee Country Village & Museum is host to haunted tales and chilling theatrical performances adapted from literature and local folklore on its annual, 75-minute ghost tour, which is led by costumed tour guides. Tickets are $25.
Trick-or-Treating in the Village
Whether you’re a super hero, princess, or spooky little witch or vampire, don your costumes a few days early and venture over to the historic Genesee Country Village & Museum this October for a safe trick-or-treating experience. Costumed characters will hand out a variety of treats, including allergy-friendly trinkets. There will also be a bonfire perfect for marshmallow roasting, stories, and a bounce house. New this year is a Friday night excursion through the village, ideal for older kids. Admission is $8 for trick-or-treaters ages 1 to 17; accompanying adults are free.
Rockwell After Dark: Masquerade Gala at the Rockwell Museum
Saturday, October 27
Take in an evening in cocktail attire at the Rockwell Museum when it hosts its biennial ball this October, right in the heart of Corning. The building, which was constructed in 1893 and is a cornerstone of the city, provides an elegant backdrop to this event. Get your dance on surrounded by a unique collection of art created though the perspective of American artists. Afterwards, head up to the rooftop terrace to stargaze and sip on a signature cocktail. There will be live music and delicious bites to indulge in. Under Hollywood lights, slip on a masquerade mask for a bit of mystery and pose for a photo op. The ball raises money for the museum’s arts educational programming. Tickets start at $100