Fall foliage. Cozy sweaters. The farmer’s market. Pumpkin everything. None of that really screams expensive or over budget. But even though fall is a great time to slow down and get back on a routine, one of the most popular traditions people have involves attending fall festivals and that can be a significant expense. Maybe you have a festival you attend each year, or perhaps you’re looking for new events to check out. Regardless, fall festivals can be just as expensive as summer carnivals.
Fortunately, remaining under budget and making the most of the season is more than possible.
Find Free Festivals
Unsurprisingly, the best option for your wallet is to go with a free festival. Your area may have a few fall festivals that are completely free to the public. This may not include food, but at least you’ll be able to get in, park, and enjoy all the activities at no additional cost. Check online or with your local park district to find free fall festivals. It’s worth remembering that some zoos offer fall festival events on certain days and include it in the price of general admission. Eventbrite is also a great resource to help you find free fall festivals in your area and register to attend online.
Pre-order Tickets and Extras Online
If you have the option to order your tickets online in advance, it will often be cheaper than buying them on the day. You can also take advantage of bulk options to save money on tickets if you’re planning to attend with family or friends. If there’s a special deal for 10 people, invite some friends or another family and have everyone pitch in so you can all benefit from the discounted deal.
Join a Community
There are many perks to being involved in local community groups, but one of the most valuable is the chance to attend the events they run or sponsor. Often times clubs, churches and other local organizations host their own fall-themed events that you can attend. For example, a community you’re part of may host an event at a local pumpkin farm and provide free admission or a discounted ticket price. These events are often closed to the public, but that exclusivity can make it even more fun for you and your family to attend.
If you’re willing to volunteer some of your time, this may be the perfect way to enjoy fall festivals on a budget, particularly for younger adults who may have more flexible schedules. Reach out to the organizer of the festival and see if they need someone to help perform tasks like working the ticket booth, operating rides, stuffing gift bags, and so on. As a volunteer, you may well get the chance to enjoy the fall festival with free admission after your shift. In fact, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to volunteer. You might be surprised at the number of benefits!
Choose the Right Day and Time
Festival admission tends to be higher on the weekends and evenings. To get more bang for your buck, consider visiting during an alternative time although that can, of course, be difficult for those with children or 9-to-5 jobs. Nonetheless, it is worth investigating. Many fall festivals offer ‘value hours’, which allow you to visit at off-peak times for a reduced price and thus stretch your dollars further. Follow farms and festivals on social media so you’ll be one of the first to notice any discount announcement details.
Skip Most of the Vendor Food
Try to eat well before you stop by a fall festival. Some of the food can be very tempting but it’s often overpriced, particularly if you are with your whole family. This doesn’t have to be an absolute rule. If there is just one snack or treat that you’re dying to try, it is okay to indulge, but do not go overboard. That way, you keep your budget intact. You may even be able to bring your own food and snacks into the festival which can help you save some money as well, but be sure to check before you set off.
Enjoy the Experience Without Buying Souvenirs
Once you get to the fall festival, focus on enjoying the overall experience and taking advantage of all the fun that’s included with your admission. Go on a few rides, watch some contests, stop by the petting zoo and check out all the cool decorated and carved pumpkins. Try to avoid buying lots of souvenirs and unnecessary gadgets. Remember, you don’t have to buy the kids a pumpkin at every event, especially as it usually won’t be the best deal and you can have fun carving your own at home.
Fall festivals can provide a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones and create fun memories. So keep these helpful savings tips in mind and most importantly of all: enjoy the fall!