Fall is for Festivals
On September 23, we will officially say goodbye to summer and usher in fall. But that doesn’t mean the fun is over – as a matter of fact, fall is a great time at the shore. With cooler temps, fewer crowds and free or reduced parking, many people actually prefer to go down the shore during this time of year. It’s also festival time, which means the shore towns are gearing up to entertain and delight their shoulder-season visitors with a variety of interesting events, certain to satisfy every interest and curiosity.
If you’re a foodie and enjoy a cocktail now and then, here’s some great news – there are several food, beer and wine events going on down the shore this fall. On September 21, Stone Harbor kicks off its “Savor September Wine, Beer and Food Festival” at the 96th Street Shopping District.
The 7th annual festival showcases the best of Stone Harbor’s many restaurants, as well as offering tasting tents, a grape stomping competition, live local musicians and art vendors.
Wildwood will have you unbuttoning a button or two for the next few weeks with several upcoming foodie fests. Enjoy delicious food truck offerings and music from the area’s hottest bands on September 21 at the Wildwood Fall Food Truck and Music Festival being held at Fox Park on Ocean Avenue. Wildwood continues its celebration of food and drink on the weekend of October 5 with a free street fair along Atlantic Avenue between Wildwood and Schellenger Avenues. Thi festival features live music, crafters, games and a “Kids’ Korner complete with pumpkin painting, inflatable bounce houses and more.
If seafood is your thing, drift on down to Sea Isle September 28 for its annual Harborfest at Marina Park, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, live music and other activities including a raw clam-eating contest. Then head over the Townsends Inlet Bridge (assuming it’s still open!) on October 12 for the Avalon Chamber’s annual Seafood Festival. It will be held at the 30th Street parking lot and will feature fresh local seafood and vendors. Or head north to Ocean City to enjoy its annual Indian Summer Weekend, featuring seafood vendors at the Music Pier and boardwalk table sales.
Finally, what is fall without a little comfort food? Keep on heading south that same weekend where Downtown Wildwood will hold its Inaugural Chili & Chowder Cook-off Festival at Byrne Plaza. This event also features food trucks, local food vendors and more.
Irish and Italian Fests
If you’re looking to celebrate your Irish and/or Italian heritage, faggedahboudit – you’re in luck! The Irish will celebrate their heritage on the weekend of September 19-22, 2019 in both Wildwood and Sea Isle at their annual wearin’ of the green festivals. Both events feature live Irish music, vendors, food and drinks.
Italians can celebrate their heritage over two weekends–one on September 27-28 in Wildwood and the other on October 5 in Sea Isle, complete with a parade. Vendors, games, food and drinks will be available, in addition to live music. Wildwood’s event features a spaghetti-eating contest, and in Sea Isle dessert lovers can compete in a cannoli-eating contest.
History and Mystery
Cape May is a great place to be in October if you are a history or mystery buff. October 10-14, is the annual Cape May Victorian Weekend, when visitors can enjoy celebrating the history of America’s first seashore resort. Enjoy a weekend of activities including murder mysteries, historic house tours, food and wine events and a crafts and collectibles show at the Emlen Physick Estate. Looking to celebrate recent history? Head to Wildwood on the weekend of October 18-19 for its Fabulous ’50s & Beyond Celebration. This doo-wop event features a ’50s Dance Party at the Wildwoods Convention Center on Friday night and a free street fair at Fox Park on Saturday, complete with classic cars, food and craft vendors, a Doo Wop Bus Tour, and live entertainment. On Saturday night you can enjoy a concert in the Wildwoods Convention Center featuring several 50’s musical artists.
For a more mysterious adventure, you can enjoy your favorite whodunit guru during Cape May’s Sherlock Holmes weekends (October 25-26 and November 1-2) where you can engage in a series of interactive activities to unlock clues and solve a murder mystery.
Beach and Ocean Events
The beach allows us to enjoy nature, search for treasures and gather with friends and family. This fall, you can learn about the migration of a variety of birds at The Wetlands Institute Fall Migration Festival on September 21. Visitors can also participate in butterfly tagging, boat and kayak tours and a special terrapin release.
If finding beach treasures is your thing, check out the North American Sea Glass Festival at the Wildwood Convention Center on the weekend of September 28-19 where featuring a variety of sea glass artisans, authors and collections from all over the world will be on display.
Not ready to leave the beach just yet? Grab a blanket or a chair and head to the 17th Avenue Beach in North Wildwood on October 19 for a beach bonfire where refreshments and live entertainment will also be offered.
Why not give back to the beach this fall? All your favorite beach towns will be participating in the Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweep events. Sea Isle will participate on October 12, and the towns of Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, The Wildwoods and Cape May will participate on October 26. Avalon will also host a Dune Grass Planting event on that same day.
Climb a Lighthouse
Lighthouse lovers, unite! There are several lighthouse-themed events planned for October. Enjoy a full moon lighthouse climb on October 12 during a special, limited seating event that includes a trolley ride from the Emlen Physick estate, dinner at the Red Store and a moonlit climb to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. The annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey happens the following weekend on October 19-20, when people are encouraged to climb as many of New Jersey’s 15 lighthouses as possible, or simply visit one and learn about its navigational history. If you just want to enjoy the lighthouse experience but don’t want to deal with all those steps, you can climb aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher on October 19 and cruise past seven of New Jersey’s historic lighthouses on a 5-hour cruise that includes narration on the history of each lighthouse, continental breakfast buffet and Captain’s Lunch buffet.
Shop ‘til you Drop
The shore’s boutique shops, artisans and vendors will be open for business during several planned events this fall. Ocean City’s Boardwalk and Downtown Merchant Table Sales occurs on October 5-6 on the boardwalk and Asbury Avenue between 6th and 14th Streets.
If you’re looking for handmade items from crafters, check out Cape May’s Autumn Crafts & Collectibles Show at Emlen Physick Estate on October 5 and the Fall Arts & Crafts Festival on November 2 at the Cape May Convention Center.
Looking to start your holiday shopping and have fun in the process? Gather your friends and head to Sea Isle on the weekend of November 22 – 24 to enjoy a weekend of shopping, sipping cocktails and enjoying each other’s company. During this annual Girls Weekend event, many shops and restaurants will open their doors and offer discounts and specials.
And, don’t forget to visit your favorite shore shops and support local business owners on Small Business Saturday, which will take place on November 30 in your favorite shore shopping destinations. It’s a great way to give back, and pick up some unique holiday gifts in the process.
Looking just to celebrate fall? Morey’s Piers hosts their annual Oktoberfest at Mariner’s Pier on September 20-22, September 27-29, October 4-6 and October 11-13, featuring a selection of German foods, beer tasting in an outdoor biergarten, rides and live entertainment.
Wildwood Crest will host its bayfront Seafarers Celebration on September 21 at Centennial Park, featuring live music, craft vendors, food, family entertainment, and fireworks. And on October 12, Ocean City invites you to participate in their Fall Block Party and Fireworks on Asbury Avenue between 5th-14th Streets with over 400 crafters, food vendors, music and fireworks over the boardwalk.
Happy Fall, everyone!