Top Things to Do This Fall in Alexandria

Carlyle House; Image Credit: Carol Jean Stalun
Ghost and Graveyard Tour; Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Intertribal Creatives; Image Credit: Walter Lamar
Lost Boy Cider; Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
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As the air starts to chill, autumn leaves create a scenic canopy above red brick sidewalks in Alexandria, Virginia. Art festivals add to the seasonal spirit as locals load up at farmer’s markets and fall festivities pop up in Old Town, Del Ray and beyond. Sip local cider, stroll King Street for seasonal finds and Halloween treats, explore historic homes and take advantage of the bounty of autumn activities below.

1. Art and Culture Festivals

Pictured: Art on the Avenue; Image Credit: Will Niccolls

Take advantage of fall festival season with plenty of outdoor options. On September 17, 2022, the 20th Annual Alexandria Old Town Art Festival will host juried artwork to peruse and purchase at John Carlyle Square. On October 1, Del Ray’s 27th Annual Art on the Avenue celebrates the community’s creative spirit with an artistic bonanza along Mount Vernon Avenue. This ever-popular event features more than 300 creators, from quilters to card-makers to cartographers, displaying their one-of-a-kind wares.

Celebrate Enkukatesh at Beatley Central Library on September 6 with crafts, activities and refreshments in honor of the Ethiopian and Eritrean New Year’s holiday. Then, check out the Enkukatesh Festival on September 10 at William Ramsay Recreational Center and participate in the festivities showcasing traditional Ethiopian music, dance, fashion and arts. Channel your inner art critic with the Alexandria Film Festival, taking place November 10 to 13, 2022. Then, shop art deals, sip craft beverages and enjoy live music during Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Art Fest November 12 and 13.

2. Events to Sip and Savor

Pictured: Lost Boy Cider; Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

On September 9, Old Town Cocktail Week launches with The Art League’s Art on the Rocks event at Waterfront Park and events through September 18, while restaurants and retailers highlight cocktails and/or wine in their establishment. Also on September 9, North Virginia’s first urban cidery, Lost Boy Cider, is partnering up with Mountain Seed Foundation to raise funds for Ukrainian children during the Cider for Ukraine event. On September 29, Taste of Old Town North invites you to explore the neighborhood with wellness demonstrations, shopping at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, Art in the Park and wine and food tastings with local businesses.

On October 15, wake up with delicious coffee from Misha’s Coffeehouse and Roaster during The Art League’s Craft. Brew.: Coffeehouse Edition!, while making a decoupage apothecary jar to take home. October 15-23 marks Old Town Oyster Fest, during which restaurants, bars and boutiques will feature oyster and Guinness pairings, and even a shucking contest among restaurants.

3. Historic Homes and Fall Foliage

Pictured: Captain’s Row; Image Credit: Evan Michio Photography for Visit Alexandria

Take advantage of cooler autumn days to snap photos of the bright-hued foliage fluttering around the city’s historic homes and brick-lined sidewalks. Use our fall foliage guide to inspire and inform your leaf-peeping, from sweetgums to sugar maples. Then, peek behind the façades of architectural gems at the TWIG’s 80th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour on September 24, 2022. This year, the annual walking tour will include showcase seven addresses including a home recently featured in Southern Living, a home shaded by a 75-year-old fig tree and a home with a guest room featuring an “Alexandria-centric,” hand-painted mural.

4. Spooky Celebrations

Pictured: Ghost & Graveyard Tour; Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

From cobwebbed and cobblestoned Captain’s Row to year-round, lantern-led ghost tours, Alexandria’s historic charm contains its fair share of haunts. Get spooked on a stroll with Alexandria Colonial Tours or Nightly Spirits or at Carlyle House’s “Death Comes to Carlyle House” tour on Fridays throughout October. On October 29, bring the family and enjoy trick or treating in the various shops and restaurants at the Old Town Family Trick or Treat or with a historic twist during Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon. Then, break out your canine costumes for the 9th Annual Doggie Trick-or-Treat on October 30, 2022, when dogs and their humans can visit Old Town’s The Dog Park boutique to grab treats, snap a photo and scope out other participating stores for more goodies.

5. Mount Vernon Fall Festivities

Image Credit: Maria Bryk for George Washington’s Mount Vernon

With its vast green landscape tinted red and gold, George Washington’s Mount Vernon makes the perfect backdrop for fall festivities. For an endorphin boost, sign up for the Patriot Run on September 10, with virtual and in-person participation options. Take in the sights and sounds of early American life from September 17-18 at the Colonial Market & Fair, where 18th-century artisans sell traditional food and wares and demonstrate techniques such as colonial ice cream-making. From October 7-9, grown-ups can unwind on the east lawn overlooking the scenic Potomac River at Mount Vernon’s most popular event, the Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour. Gather again for the Fall Harvest Festival on October 22-23, with 18th-century activities and demonstrations at the Farm at Mount Vernon, and don’t miss Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon on October 29.

6. Hispanic Heritage Month Events

Header Image Credits: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria, left and center; Caroline Secrest for Visit Alexandria, right

Discover how to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, occurring September 15 to October 15, 2022. Get an early start on September 9 at Torpedo Factory Art Center’s “The Late Shift: Heritage” event, honoring Alexandria’s Ethiopian and Hispanic populations. Celebrate the contributions of both communities to the growing arts and culture tapestry of Alexandria with a night of music, hands-on activities an art. On October 1, dive into Hispanic Heritage Month with live music, crafts, and food outside in Beatley Central Library’s beautiful Reading Garden. Live music will be provided by The Mystic Warriors, a group dedicated to the preservation of Andean folk music. Learn more about special events to attend, businesses to support and ways to continue the celebration year-round.

7. Autumn Performing Arts Scene

Pictured: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra; Image Credit: P.J. Barbour

In addition to the bevy of al fresco art festivals occurring this autumn, savor performing arts events throughout the city. Music lovers can head to the magical outdoor courtyard at the Rectory on Princess Street for fall shows including a tango performance on October 6, 2022, or check out Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s fall season, including performances of Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia” on October 1-2. Dramatic denizens should delve into Little Theater of Alexandria’s fall show, “Design for Murder,” a romance and comedy-infused whodunit on stage from October 15-November 5.

8. Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Pictured: Intertribal Creatives; Image Credit: Walter Lamar

Honor Indigenous People’s Day (October 11, 2021) all month with a visit to Intertribal Creatives, which launched in December 2020 as a pop-up gallery and market at Founder’s Hall, located on ancestral Tauxenent and Pamunkey land in Old Town, and celebrated its soft re-opening in late June. This free and fair-trade gallery showcases the artistic, creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Indigenous artists across North America. The gallery features an “Elder’s Spotlight,” highlighting the knowledge keepers in Native communities who were deeply impacted by the pandemic.

9. Riverside Revelry

Pictured: Robinson Landing; Image Credit: Torch Pictures for Visit Alexandria

Looking for ways to soak up Potomac views this fall? Get out on the water with Potomac Paddle Club, the D.C. region’s only 20-passenger pedal boat. Experience nonstop 2-hour trips with the option to cruise up to the Wharf, Navy Yard or down to National Harbor before circling back to Old Town.

Stay on dry land with waterfront happenings including Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Workshop on the Waterfront on September 17, 2022, and Robinson Landing’s free Waterfront Wednesday Music Series weekly through October 5. Find more ways to enjoy the waterfront here.

10. Shopping Along the King Street Mile

Image Credit: Sarah Marcella Creative for Visit Alexandria

Take advantage of the cooler weather with a stroll along Old Town’s King Street mile, the largest collection of independent boutiques in the D.C. region. Check out newly opened boutiques such as Shop Made in VA, where you can take part in hands-on workshops throughout the season, The B.E.S.T. Gift Shop, which employs and elevates artwork by artists with disabilities, and new neighborhood favorite Mason and Greens, zero-waste shop full of plastic free alternatives to help support a more sustainable planet.

Find more ways to enjoy fall in Alexandria here.

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