Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has a new music director

Don't miss the Old Fourth Ward Art Festival.

It's time for the Decatur Book Festival.

October brings the Atlanta Pride Festival.

Cool Things To Do in October in Atlanta

A certain energy converges on the city during October, bringing Halloween hijinks, popular festivals, one-of-a-kind experiences and an exciting new music director to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Take a peek at what’s coming up, and mark your calendar so that you don’t miss a thing.

Among the many exciting things to do in Atlanta during October, one definite event to put on your to-do list is to attend a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra when the ASO’s brand new music director, Nathalie Stuzmann, is conducting. Talk about girl power — this is it. (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

It’s Upside Down (but filmed in Atlanta)

You won’t know what you’ll find during a journey to The Upside Down at Stranger Things: The Experience coming to Pullman Yards starting Oct. 22. (Photo credit: Netflix)

The gate to The Upside Down is open and help is needed to save the town of Hawkins. To join this adventure, go to Stranger Things: The Experience at Pullman Yards starting Oct. 22. The experience offers a perilous and new adventure including a visit to the infamous Hawkins Lab and The Upside Down.

After escaping from The Upside Down, you can explore a variety of iconic locations from the hit-series in Mix-Tape, including Scoops Ahoy, the Palace Arcade as well as meet real-life characters from the “Stranger Things” world. You can grab a USS Butterscotch sundae at Scoops Ahoy, attempt to knock off MADMAX’s high score at the Palace Arcade, try a unique cocktail at the first-ever “Stranger Things”-themed bar, snatch up exclusive merchandise and even get up close and personal with Vecna.

By the way, do you know that “Stranger Things” is filmed right here in Atlanta? It is.

If it’s Fall, There’s a Fair

The Atlanta Fair is back in Atlanta until Nov. 6 with every carnival’s must haves — classic  games, mouth-watering fair food, rip-roaring thrill rides and gentler attractions for the younger crowd. Who wouldn’t want to get some screams in at the Alien Abduction, Drop Tower, Scooter and Nemesis 360?

The fair is across from Georgia State Stadium at the intersection of Center Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. Don’t forget to bust your diet with traditional carnival fare, found at Sharon’s Diner and Angel’s Lemonade. Grab a Philly cheese steak, Polish sausage, corn dog and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Finding Atlanta’s Favorite Chili

Save up your appetites for the Atlanta Chili Cook-off. (Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Chili Cook-off.)

The Atlanta Chili Cook Off is back, and it’s full of family fun and chili  — lots and lots of chili. This year’s festival will feature more than 65 teams including local favorites such as Hobnob, Kaleidoscope Pub & Park 82 as well as Peanut & George’s Pub on Main all the way from Daytona Beach. On the amateur side, there will be teams from 26 cities in Georgia plus Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina. The chili will be bubbling Oct. 1 at the Brook Run Park in Dunwoody.

Curtain Opens on the Theater Season

Roxie Hart sings “All That Jazz” in “Chicago,” coming to the Fox Theater. (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

Fall is the time when many of Atlanta’s theater companies gear up for an exciting year of shows and special events. For starters, watch Roxie Hart do her murderous best to be a star in “Chicago” at the Fox Theatre as part of the Regions Bank Broadway in Atlanta series. Out Front Theatre, which tells stories of the LGBTQIA+ community, starts the season with “Kinky Boots.” The first performance of the Atlanta Opera will be “Bluebeard’s Castle” on Oct. 7, 8 and 9. For more information on fall arts in Atlanta, visit Arts ATL: Must-See Fall Plays, Performances and Exhibits in Atlanta.

See the Glass Ceiling Shatter at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Nathalie Stutzmann, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, brings the score to an exciting crescendo. (Photo by Brice Toul)

Nathalie Stutzmann joins the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as music director, becoming the second woman in history to lead a major American orchestra. For her debut, Stutzmann has paired “Words for Departure,” a contemporary choral work by Hilary Purrington, with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The ASO and Chorus last performed Beethoven’s final symphony in 2019 under the direction of Thomas Sondergard, who was just named the new music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Stutzmann’s take on this monument in choral literature is not to be missed.

There’s Something about Harry — Potter — that is

Go behind the scenes at Harry Potter: The Exhibition coming to 200 Peachtree.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, the most comprehensive touring exhibition ever presented about the Wizarding World, comes to Atlanta Oct. 21 at 200 Peachtree St.

The behind-the-scenes exhibition uses the latest innovations in immersive design and technology to celebrate the films and stories of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and the expanding Wizarding World, including “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” through beautifully crafted environments that honor the iconic moments, characters, settings and beasts.

Visitors will get an up-close look at authentic props and original costumes and will engage with innovative, awe-inspiring and magical environments and installations in ways never before experienced in a touring exhibition. Harry Potter: The Exhibition introduces a unique comprehensive touring experience that will enchant both new and devoted Wizarding World fans.

Fashion and Sustainability

Beautiful dresses as well as other sustainable items will be on display on runways at Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week)

Check out high-profile fashion shows, engaging panel discussions and see-and-be-seen mixers at the four-day Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week starting Oct. 19. The chic, eco-friendly fashion week will occur at  Lee + White in the historic West End and at Ponce City Market, both located along the Atlanta BeltLine, with additional programming at the Museum of Design Atlanta.  

The event will combine sustainable-focused fashion, culture, art and education with designers, industry experts and influencers who will be in attendance for virtual and in-person events.

Bubbly Festival

The Atlanta Mimosa Festival bubbles up Oct. 22 at Historic Old Fourth Ward Skatepark. Sip a mimosa, which is more than simply bubbles and orange juice. At the festival you can try different flavors such as orange mango while also trying bellinis, wine, beer, brunch punch and other breakfast spirits. There will be live music and DJ Qtip to keep the energy level high.

Calling All Book Lovers

Decatur Book Festival is THE place for book lovers. (Photograph courtesy of the Decatur Book Festival)

One of the largest book festivals in the Southeast, the Decatur Book Festival takes place Oct. 1 at the First Baptist Church of Decatur. Former presidential photographer Pete Souza will kick off the festival Sept. 30, as the keynote speaker. On Oct. 1, there will be panel discussions with cartoonist Mike Luckovich, mystery writers, travel writers, a picture book panel and poets. The event will highlight selected authors with new fall publications featured in 15 sessions presented in three tracks: adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and children and youth.

The Kurios World of Cirque du Soleil

Step into the curio cabinet of a wacky inventor who turns the world upside down in Kurios Cabinet of Curiosities, presented by Cirque du Soleil. Meet an assortment of other worldly creatures who bring humor, poetry and physical acts of derring-do front and center.  The show will be at the Big Top at Atlantic Station from Oct. 6 to Dec. 24.

Urban Progressive Music Keeps the Beat at ONE Musicfest

Lauryn Hill headlines ONE Musicfest, an urban progressive music festival taking place Oct. 8 and 9 at Central Park. The festival, which promotes Unity Through Music, has a strong lineup of performers including Lil Baby, Jazmin Sullivan and Ja Rule + Ashanti. In addition there will be more than 35 of the Southeast’s best food vendors in the OMF Food Truck Village, a Visual Artist Village with more than 20 artists and a Merch Village with more than 50 merchants showcasing their products

Arts Festival in Historic Old Fourth Ward

The Old Fourth Ward’s Fall Arts Festival is always fun with food, arts, music and a children’s play area. (Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces)

Join the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces as it celebrates the return of the Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. The two-day festival will once again be held in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward Park that is conveniently located along the bustling Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail.  Festival-goers are invited to explore painting, photography, ceramics, glass, jewelry, woodwork and handcrafted items. The festival also features live music in the amphitheater, local food vendors, drinks, a children’s area, art demonstrations, games and much more. The event is free to attend, open to all ages and dogs are welcome.

Atlanta Pride

The Atlanta Pride Parade is one of the many events that celebrate the LGBTQI community.

Atlanta has a history of civil rights for all. Likewise, the city celebrates the LGBTIQ community Oct. 7-9. The Atlanta Pride Festival is the  largest in the Southeast. The event culminates in the Atlanta Pride Parade Oct. 9. The parade starts at the Civic Center MARTA station and culminates in Piedmont Park. See ya there.

Fall Festival on Ponce — Bring Fido

The Fall Festival on Ponce will be held Oct. 8 and 9 in  Olmsted Linear Park.  The two-day festival will feature 125 displays of local and regional fine art and crafts along with folk and outsider art.  While taking in the beautiful fall foliage and charming park, festival goers are invited to enjoy local food trucks, beverages, a  children’s play area, live acoustic music and much more.  The event is free to attend, open to all ages. To add to the fun, dogs are welcome.

Try Barre, Brunch and Boos at TWO Urban Licks

Exercise and then brunch at TWO Urban Licks is the perfect way to work off the calories  before enjoying a guilt-free brunch. (Photo courtesy of Two Urban Licks)

TWO Urban Licks’ Barre, Brunch and Boos is back again this Halloween, and it’s going to be spooktacular. On Oct. 29, food and fitness fanatics are invited to participate in a 45-minute Barre3 class followed by a cool down with a complimentary Bloody Mary or mimosa for ages 21 and up. Starting at 9:45 a.m., experience a full-body workout of strength, cardio and the mind on the patio overlooking the Atlanta BeltLine. Attendees are encouraged to bring a yoga mat, a water bottle and a towel. Stick around after barre for 10% off brunch favorites, including Fat Elvis French Toast, Crab Cake Benedict, TWO Breakfast and more.

Little Five Points Halloween Festival

Yes, Atlanta has an abundance of neighborhood festivals, but the Little Five Points Halloween Festival & Parade, taking place Oct. 22 and 23, is at the top of the list. For the first time since 2018, the parade is back with a new route and time. Among the activities are a Monster Ball Oct. 20 at the Star Bar, a Monster Hunt Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a BIZarre Bazaar Haunted Market, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Starting Oct. 1 through Nov. 7, check out the L5P Ghost Tour and hear tales from the spooky side of Atlanta. Join clairvoyant tour guides on a mile long, 1 1/2-hour trek through the neighborhood’s most historic and eerie landmarks. Journey through the shadows of L5P in search of long ago lost souls and their apparitions. On the tour you may encounter Lady Sintana from House of Ravenwood, 7 Stages ghosts, Deacon Lunchbox, Gregory Davis and more. Don’t be afraid to bring a camera. The spookiest residents are not known for resting quietly. We all love Halloween, but maybe not as much as those in Little Five Points. This quirky neighborhood goes all out to produce one of the country’s best Halloween parades.

Celebrate Soul Food

Check out some of the city’s top soul food dishes at The Taste of Soul Atlanta Festival, which takes place Oct. 15 and 16 from noon until 9:30 p.m. across from Mercedes-Benz Stadium at Northside and Martin Luther King Jr. drives. In addition to great food there will be a cocktail and wine tasting with African American-made spirits and wines, and Soul in the City, America’s largest Soul and R&B Indi Concert. This year, the stars include Tweet, Keke Waytt, Phillippia and AJZA.

For more fall things to do in Atlanta, Find Out Where to See Fall Colors in Atlanta and discover the 17 Best Fall Activities for Families in Atlanta. Also keep an eye on our calendar of events for lots of things to do in Atlanta.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications. 

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