45 wickedly awesome October events for Atlanta families

Celebrate falling temps with flipping gymnasts, chalk art, hot air balloons, costume parades, and lots (and lots) of candy
Marietta's Chalktoberfest features the work of world-class chalk artists like Joel Yau

Courtesy of Marietta Chalktoberfest

Through 10/2
Anime Weekend Atlanta
Where: Cobb Galleria and Renaissance Waverly
When: 2 p.m. to 11 a.m. (Thursday), 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $15 to $45 for adults ($10 to $30 for kids ages 6 to 11) for a one-day pass; $65 for adults ($50 for kids ages 6 to 11) for a four-day pass
What: The largest anime convention in the southeast—celebrating Japanese culture, anime, manga (comics), and cosplay—is impressively kid (and parent) friendly. There’s a parent lounge (open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday/Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday) for families, plus a baby lounge (open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday/Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday) for moms and dads to enjoy a little quiet with their infants and toddlers. And the events are varied enough to satisfy any young geek: you can try out some of the latest video games (or analog board games); screen classic anime movies; page through the manga library; cheer at the cosplay contest; or meet voiceover actors, big-deal cosplayers, and other special guests.

Through 10/9
La Cucarachita Martina 
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday through Friday); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday), 11 a.m. (Saturday only)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: A cockroach searches for love in this comedy based on a popular Latin American children’s story. For ages 4 and up.

Through 10/30
Pumpkin Festival
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Friday and Sunday), 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Saturday)
Cost: $26.95 for adults; $20.95 for kids (includes admission to the park’s regular attractions)
What: Stone Mountain gets in the fall spirit with storytelling, a dance parade, trick-or-treat scavenger hunt, a pie-eating contest, and more.

Through 11/6
From Head to Toe
Where: Alliance Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6 to 17, free for kids ages 5 and under
What: This interactive play—based on the Eric Carle picture book of the same name—lets toddlers move and think like their favorite animals. Afterward head across the plaza to check out the Eric  Carle exhibition at the High Museum.

Through 11/6
The Sleepy Hollow Experience 
Where: Serenbe Playhouse
When: 8 p.m. (Wednesday through Sunday), 10:30 p.m. (Friday and Saturday only)
Cost: $20 to $30
What: Serenbe jump starts the Halloween season with its original outdoor play, based on the short story by Washington Irving. During intermission you can bob for apples, play cornhole, get your fortune told, and (parents only) down spiked apple cider. Get your tickets early—the previous three seasons have sold out—and keep in mind that this is fairly chilling show (the Headless Horseman looks real, y’all) that’s more appropriate for older kids and teens.

Through 11/27
Where: Sifly Piazza at Woodruff Arts Center
When: All day
Cost: Free
What: Kids can climb and slide inside these four Instagram-ready structures by sculptor Jaime Haydon, each shaped like a familiar object like a pig or a bell, and painted with bright polka dots, stripes, or zig-zags.

Through 1/2/17
The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio
Where: The Millennium Gate Museum
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Cost: $12 ($10 for students)
What: Keep the Olympic excitement alive with this exhibition, which looks back at the first Games. See 2,500-year-old Greek artifacts and learn about the mythology behind the sporting event. Be sure to check out the huge 3D printed model of the statue of Zeus at Olympia.

Through 1/2/17
The World’s Largest Dinosaurs 
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Saturday); noon to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($18 for adults; $16 for kids 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under). IMAX movies require additional ticket purchase.
What: Fifteen years ago, the permanent “Giants of the Mesozoic” exhibit opened at Fernbank, featuring fossil casts of the world’s largest meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs. Now, in a new temporary exhibition, you’ll have a chance to examine life-sized bones, muscles, and internal organs of the biggest dinos that ever lived. Marvel at the size of their teeth, how much they ate, and the force of their heartbeats, and hit the IMAX theater for a showing of Dinosaurs Alive!

Through 1/8/17
I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle
Where: High Museum of Art
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday); 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Friday); 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($14.50 ages 6 and up; free for kids 5 and under)
What: Even if your kid is too young to read, he or she would likely still recognize the distinctive hand-colored collages of children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle, best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. See 80 original artworks from 15 of Carle’s most popular books in this career retrospective.

Through 1/16/17
Magic Tree House
Where: Children’s Museum of Atlanta
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($14.95; free for babies under 1 year)
What: Learn about three periods of American history—the first Thanksgiving, the Civil War, and life on the 19th century prairie—in the 2,000-square-foot interactive exhibition, based on (and created by the minds behind) the Magic Tree House children’s book series. Among the hands-on experiences: climb inside a horse-drawn Civil War-era ambulance; crawl into a storm cellar and imagine what it was like to survive a tornado in the 1800s; or set the Thanksgiving table for the first feast.

Disney Songs…And Pictures
Where: Infinite Energy Center
When: 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Cost: $12 to $20
What: The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre performs modern choreography set to your favorite Disney tunes.

Fall Festival and Horse Show
Where: Serenbe
When: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5
What: The picturesque Chattahoochee Hills community hosts games, crafts, face-painting, pony rides, and live music before trotting out the Serenbe Strides Riders for a half-hour performance.

The Billy Goats Gruff
Where: Church of the Atonement in Sandy Springs
When: 1 p.m.
Cost: $10
What: Capitol City Opera performs an operatic adaptation (yes, really) of the famous fairy tale, geared towards elementary school students. The 40-minute show features music by Mozart and other classical greats, and kids can meet the performers and ask questions afterwards.

Fairies in the Garden
Where: Woodlands Garden
When: 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: See if you can spot the tiny “fairy houses” tucked among the plants in this Decatur garden. There will also be storytelling from Little Shop of Stories, face-painting, and music. Stick around for the “Grand Summoning of the Fairies,” followed by a parade through the trails. Costumes encouraged!

Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Center
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $15.95 to $27.95; free for kids 2 and under
What: Go on a Halloween scavenger hunt, learn to build your own LEGO pumpkin, and participate in a costume contest (10/29-30 only).

Sunday in the Park
Where: Oakland Cemetery
When: Noon to 6 p.m.
Cost: $7 for adults; $3 for kids ages 4 to 12; free for kids 3 and under
What: This annual festival celebrates Oakland’s Victorian-era past, with a costume contest; live music and dancing; a kids area with crafts (make a Victorian hat!), face-painting, and storytelling; historical demonstrations; artists market; and food trucks.

Disney on Ice: Follow Your Heart
Where: Philips Arena
When: Various
Cost: $5 to $80
What: It’s all the happy endings a Disney fan could want: Watch as Olaf helps reunite Elsa and Anna, the Toy Story pals celebrate friendship, princesses find true love, Dory swims with her new eight-legged pal Hank, and more.

Oakhurst Porchfest
Where: Oakhurst
When: Noon to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Meet the neighbors at this second annual concert series, held on the front porches of Oakhurst residents’ homes. Pro tip: Bring a wagon to tote food, drinks, and folding chairs or blankets. New for 2016: Art exhibitions, which you’ll come across while strolling the neighborhood.

Marietta Chalktoberfest
Where: Historic Marietta Square
When: All day
Cost: Free for Chalktoberfest; $35 to $75 for Beerfest
What: Sure, there will be live bands, food, bounce houses, and a whole adjacent craft beer festival. But the star of this annual festival is the incredible chalk “street paintings.” Marvel at the masterpieces created by professionals, then check out the chalk art competition, featuring the work of local students and amateur artists.

Atlanta Pride Festival
Where: Piedmont Park
When: Various
Cost: Free
What: There’s plenty of fun to be had for LGBTQ families at the largest pride festival in the Southeast. The Outworlders Gaymer Space hosts gamer geeks of all sorts; Tough Love Yoga offers an all-level yoga class; an Atlanta Pride Cultural Exhibit from the Center for Civil and Human Rights will be on display; and local comedians take the stage. Teens and twenty-somethings can check out the Campus Pride College Fair and a special “Youth Liberation” hangout space, while younger attendees can get their faces painted, play games, and bounce around inflatables.

Fox Theatre Ghost Tours
Where: Fox Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $30
What: Explore the halls and haunts of the 87-year-old landmark on this guided tour. Not recommended for kids under 10.

The Jungle Book: The Story of Mowgli’s Fire
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday through Friday); 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. (Saturday); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: Follow the story of Mowgli and Shere Khan in this marionette version of the Rudyard Kipling novel. Tickets include a make-a-puppet craft and admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum. For ages 4 and up.

Highland Games
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $20 for adults; $6 for kids ages 4 to 12 (admission to the rest of Stone Mountain Park is not included)
What: It’s a celebration of all things Scottish at Stone Mountain, with Highland dancing, hammer throwing, piping and drumming, sheepdog herding, and more. Hit the children’s tent for Scottish-themed crafts (Loch Ness monster sock puppets!), games (the Haggis Hurl!), and athletic events (the Sheaf Toss!).

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Where: Fox Theatre
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $53.70 to $123.80
What: See the band that got YouTube-famous for its catchy retro versions of current Top 40 hits.

L5P Halloween Parade
Where: Little Five Points
When: 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Every year the famously funky neighborhood hosts an epic Halloween parade, with wild costumes (use your best judgment when bringing easily-scared tots) and mobs of crowds. Bring your treat bag and you might catch some candy.

International Day of the Girl
Where: Center for Civil and Human Rights
When: 11 a.m.
Cost: Free (if you register by 10/8. Otherwise tickets are $5 for girls and $12 for adults)
What: Girls can bring their parents, mentors, and friends to accompany them to this celebration honoring young women around the world. The day’s festivities will include a dance party set to Beyoncé tunes, a women-in-technology “hackathon,” a self-defense demonstration, and opportunities to learn about issues like global hunger and access to education.

Harvest on the Hooch
Where: Chattahoochee Nature Center
When: 1 p.m.
Cost: $45; $15 for kids ages 11 to 18; free for kids 10 and under
What: This fundraiser for the CNC and North Fulton Community Food Pantry includes restaurant food tastings; craft beer and wine; live bluegrass music; and games. If you’re looking for adorable animal encounters, there will also be alpacas and other surprise farm guests on hand.

Haunted Halloween
Where: Atlanta History Center
When: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Cost: $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers, $8 for kids
What: The History Center gets terror-fied for Halloween, with “ghoulish” decorations (indoors and out) and turn-of-the-century carnival games. Bring extra cash for food and adult beverages.

Where: Kennesaw State University Sports & Entertainment Park
When: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday), 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday)
Cost: $12 to $14 for adults; $5 to $8 for kids ages 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under
What: Technically it’s a hot air balloon festival (the only one in metro Atlanta), but the activities are endless. Among what you’ll find: live bands (including a kids stage), circus acts, fortune tellers, a fashion show, aerial performers, face painting, inflatable rides, and a costume contest.

10/21, 22, 28, 29
Halloween Hikes
Where: Chattahoochee Nature Center
When: 7 p.m.
Cost: $9 to $10; free for kids 2 and under
What: You’ll meet costumed characters and learn about woodland creatures during this guided evening hike. Afterwards, nibble on concessions by the campfire.

Atlanta World Kite Festival
Where: Piedmont Park
When: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: BYO kite and cross your fingers for a breeze. There will also be live performances and a pumpkin-decorating contest.

Southeastern Cowboy Festival
Where: Booth Western Art Museum
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 for adults; $7 for students; free for kids 12 and under
What: Bring your little buckaroo to the Booth Museum for Western music, a reenactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, living history demonstrations, hay bale calf roping, a petting zoo, mechanical bull rides, and more.

Dance Theatre of Harlem
Where: Cobb Energy Center
When: 8 p.m. (Saturday) and 3 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $25 to $75
What: See classical ballet set to classic soul tunes by Aretha Franklin and James Brown, plus a live performance by the acclaimed Spelman Glee Club.

Fall Jonquil Festival
Where: Village Green in Smyrna
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday); noon to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free
What: Smyrna is known as the “Jonquil City” after a yellow flower known as narcissus jonquilla. The jonquils typically bloom in spring, but this family-friendly festival is held each fall (though you can get jonquil bulbs). It includes a puppet show and live music, plus the usual food (corndogs, cotton candy), arts and crafts vendors (175 in total), and children’s activities (inflatables, sand art).

10/22-23, 29-30
Boo at the Zoo
Where: Zoo Atlanta
When: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($25.99 for adults, 17.99 for kids ages 3 to 11, free for kids 2 and under)
What: Navigate an inflatable corn maze, dance to a live DJ, try your little hands at Halloween-themed crafts, watch as the animals get special holiday surprises, and meet characters like Ladybug Girl. Don’t forget your costume for the twice-daily contests, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Streets Alive
Where: Peachtree Street, from downtown to Midtown
When: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Explore the heart of Atlanta by bike, skates, skateboard, wagon, stroller, or just your feet at this final event of the year.

Goblins in the Garden
Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($18.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 3 to 12, Free for kids two and under)
What: Strut your costumed stuff on a Goblin Runway, listen to spooky stories from Battina the Friendly Witch, and try your hand at fall-themed crafts. For an extra fee, kiddos can also catch a ride on a train ($3) or pony ($4). The grounds will also be stuffed with more than 100 homemade scarecrows—some creepy, some cute—on display through 10/30.

The Headless Horseman of Silly Hollow
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday through Friday); 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: Kiddos too little for Serenbe’s spooky staging of the story of Ichabod Crane (see above)? Try this comedic version featuring rod and shadow puppets. Tickets include a make-a-puppet craft and admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum. For ages 4 and up.

Halloween Night on Callanwolde Mountain
Where: Callanwolde
When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $4 in advance, $5 at the door
What: Trick or treat on the historic Candler estate, listen to storytellers read spooky tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, hear Braves organist Matthew Kaminski and the Callanwolde Concert Band, enter the family-friendly costume contest, and build a LEGO creation.

Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas
Where: Symphony Hall
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $27 to $70.20
What: Screen the 1993 stop-motion film while the ASO performs the score and soundtrack. Jack Skellington and other costumes encouraged!

2016 Tour of Gymnastics Champions
Where: Infinite Energy Center
When: 7 p.m.
Cost: $29 to $299
What: Gape as Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, and Nastia Liukin—plus other members of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams—flip and swing their way around Gwinnett’s Infinite Energy Center.

Fernbank BOO-Seum
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($18 for adults; $16 for kids 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under)
What: Give the fossils a fright in your best Halloween get-up at this annual event, featuring trick-or-treating, games, and music. Bonus: Check out the newly-opened WildWoods and Fernbank Forest while you’re there.


Where: Southeastern Railway Museum
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($10 for adults; $7 for kids 2 to 12; free for kids under 2)
What: All aboard! Every little locomotive fan’s favorite museum hosts a costume contest (for kids up to 12), crafts, trick-or-treating, wagon rides, hand car rides, and more fun fall activities.

Meet the Holidays: Diwali

Where: Children’s Museum of Atlanta
When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($14.95; free for babies under 1 year)
What: Learn more about the Hindu festival of lights with storytelling, traditional dance, a puppet show, and arts and crafts.

Day of the Dead
Where: Atlanta History Center
When: Noon to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Experience a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead festival, with authentic dancing, crafts, and food. Admission to the History Center and its grounds are also free, so plan to spend a little extra time exploring the exhibits.