Top 2011 fall festivals in and around Washington, D.C.

Yahoo Contributor Network

The D.C. area bustles with activities as the leaves slowly turn from green to amber. Get in the spirit of the season and enjoy a variety of autumn, food, and arts and crafts fall festivals in Washington, D.C., for 2011.

[Related: Pumpkin patches and farms in the Washington, D.C., area.]

Taste of D.C.

Taste of D.C. is the region's largest food, beer, and cultural event offered during the Columbus Day weekend. Held on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., this fall festival allows you to indulge in the best of local wineries, breweries, and eateries.

For $10, enjoy the offerings from some of the best D.C. restaurants and watch performances by local bands. Also available are tastings and samplings, chef shows, and wine seminars, along with the World Chili Eating Championship ,where amateurs and MLE champions compete.

Dates and hours: Saturday, October 8, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, October 9, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, October 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Ninth Street and 14th Street, Washington, D.C. The closest Metro stops are Federal Triangle, Metro Center, and Archives/Navy Memorial.

Admission: Admission is free, but tickets are needed to eat and drink - 10 tickets for $15.

Craftsmen's Classic Arts & Crafts Festival

Held at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, the Craftsmen's Classic Arts & Crafts Festival is an annual festival acclaimed by the Sunshine Artist Magazine and the Art Fair Source Book. The festival features an array of talented local artists from all across the country. Visit for handmade pottery, jewelry, and collectibles available for various budgets.

Dates and hours: Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, October 23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Dulles Expo Center, South Hall, 4320 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Virginia.

Fall Harvest Family Days

Welcome the fall season at Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington. Visit the historical estate and participate in family-friendly activities like wagon rides, wheat treading, al fresco cooking demonstrations, and apple roasting. Learn about the quintessential 18th- century life and all about America's first president. Also available are Potomac sightseeing cruises offered at a 50-percent discount during the event.

Dates and hours: October 22-October 23, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Virginia.

Admission: Adults $15, kids (6-11) $7, seniors (62+) $14. Children 5 and under are free. (The price includes the event and admission to the Mount Vernon estate.)

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Maryland Renaissance Festival is a six-week annual fall festival that runs from August to late October. It is acclaimed as the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country.

You can explore the fictional 16th-century English village named Revel Grove and indulge in Shakespearean plays, storytelling, and music. Live demonstrations of archery and jousting are must-sees. Kids may enjoy pony rides and face painting.

Partake in shopping at more than 100 stores selling gemstone jewelry, leather products, handmade crafts, sculptures, and herbs, among others. Fare includes offerings like fish and chips, homemade crab dip, peasant bread, and caramel apples. You also have the opportunity to win a prize by wearing your best Renaissance costume for their "dress up" weekend.

To maximize your time, look at the timings on the website and plan accordingly. Not all events are offered every day.

Dates and hours: Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., August 27-October 23.

Location: The intersection of Route 450 and Crownsville Road in Crownsville, Maryland.

Admission: Adults $19, seniors (62+) $16, children (7-15) $9. Children 6 and under are free. Two- and 19-day passes are also available.

Reena Das lives in the Washington, D.C., area and writes for Yahoo! Contributor Network. She follows local, family-friendly events with passion. Originally from India, Reena traveled across the Atlantic 15 years ago to make a home in this new country. Today, she is proud to call herself a stay-at-home mom of two and an honorable citizen of the United States.

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