Fall is arguably the best time of the year to head our way. The weather is bright and sunny with low humidity (which those of us in the DC area know is something we’d give up HOV lanes for). And there’s tons to do outside. Pretty much from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, you’ll find great reasons to be exploring ‘round the county every weekend. Of course, there are lots more than what I’m offering, but here’s the seven things I’m looking forward to this fall here in Loudoun.
1. Country Fairs and Festivals. There are several that occur here in Loudoun, but the standards that have become Loudoun institutions are the Bluemont Fair in September, now in its 42nd year, and the Waterford Fair in October, which turns 68 this year! Other fun festivals include the Apple Cider Festival at Great Country Farms, the Oktoberfest in the German town of Lovettsville, and the Apple Festival at the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum in Sterling which features an exhibit on Loudoun’s own Hill High Orchard.
2. Pumpkin Patches. Okay, you may not see Linus and Snoopy scoping out the Great Pumpkin, but our pumpkin patches would be a good place to look for him. My favorites are at Great Country Farms, Pumpkinville, and Temple Hall Farm, which also features a giant corn maze. This year’s maze design commemorates the Loudoun Civil War battle of Ball’s Bluff. Both Great Country and Temple Hall have lots of other fun farm activities too including pig races, hay rides, and more. And Pumpkinville outside Leesburg features straw tunnels, rope swings, a haunted Maze, a spooky pirate ship, and live and exotic animals. Whew. I’m tired just thinking about all the fun things.
3. Hauntings. I love going on ghost tours and exploring for all things paranormal in October. And there are some perfect places to search for goblins and ghouls. My top three options for ghostbusting are Oatlands, which offers paranormal tours of the mansion, the Leesburg historic district’s Hauntings, a guided spooky tour of stories of real hauntings, and the Air & Scare, a trick-or-treat event at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum near Dulles, which features all sorts of fun displays, costumes, and even Star Wars characters like Jedi knights, jawas, stormtroopers, and even… yikes!... Darth Vader! One more event to add to your to-do is the Leesburg Halloween Parade. Since 1957, this parade has traveled down King Street in Leesburg’s historic district and is the longest-running Halloween parade east of the Mississippi.
4. Wine Country. Loudoun is DC’s Wine Country, after all. And fall is a great time to experience our wineries and wine events. We’re closing in on 30 wineries and tasting rooms, so you’ll need to pick, or book your next 6 visits now. There are wineries with great views, like Bluemont Vineyards or Hillsborough Vineyards. And there’s wineries in historic buildings, like Zephaniah Farm Vineyards and Corcoran Vineyards. And cool tasting rooms like the modern Boxwood Winery, the restored stone barn turned tasting room at Casanel Vineyards, and the HGTV-featured Notaviva Vineyards’ timber-frame tasting room. But don’t forget the fall wine events either! Live music happens every weekend at our wineries. In September, Doukenie Winery features their Taste of Italy Festival while in October, Chrysalis Vineyards hosts their 11th Annual Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival in celebration of their signature grape.
5. Leaf Peeping & Scenic Drives. There’s so much to see and do in Loudoun, but the best part may be the trip from place to place! And fall is certainly the most colorful time of year with views bursting with reds, yellows, oranges and greens. We’ve got more Virginia scenic byways than any other county in Virginia. Pick up a copy of our Touring Map to map your own scenic byway to scenic byway excursion. Some of the best roads are the Snickersville Turnpike, or up through the Loudoun Heights wine cluster, or experience horse and hunt views along historic Route 50 from Middleburg up to Philomont. You’ll pass vineyards, go through small towns, pass historic hamlets, boutiques, and more all while experiencing amazing scenery.
6. Civil War. This year marks the start of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. That’s 150 years since the war’s start in 1861. And Loudoun spent the four years of the conflict at the center of the action. Stories of cavalry engagements, of marching armies, of Confederate councils of war, of daring midnight raids, and of brother against brother all find their voice in Loudoun. Explore the war’s impact at sites such as Ball’s Bluff battlefield, site of a lopsided Confederate victory and anniversary reenactment in October. Or explore a little known battlefield in southwest Loudoun near Unison, or the hectic cavalry clashes of 1863 along historic Route 50. And Loudoun is not without its notables, including John Mosby, the “Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,” whose nighttime clandestine raids behind Union lines became the stuff of legend. Events Civil War buffs shouldn’t miss include the Conference on the Art of Command in Middleburg, the Ball’s Bluff Reenactment and Illumination, and the Life of a Civil War Soldier program at Morven Park.
7. “Get Lost in Loudoun.” I'm really looking forward to unveiling a new video series on Loudoun this fall, called "Get Lost in Loudoun." This nine-episode reality-style web series features follows the adventures of four people, two men and two women, as they seek to break out of their routines and go local, immersing themselves in a place called Loudoun. Each episode follows our intrepid travelers as they face challenges, new experiences, and each other, and in the process, discover a destination filled with fun. The series premiers in late September and will run one episode a week. Stay tuned!
That’s it. That’s the 7 things I’m looking forward to this Fall. But wait! There’s more. I couldn’t leave off the following event as its just plain cool: the National Jousting Championships. Held at the historic Mt. Zion Old School Baptist Church near Aldie, this trip back in time is an event not to be missed.