It's not exactly sweater weather yet, but darkness is falling sooner each evening and the telltale pumpkins and Halloween decor that have appeared in shops (and on the front porches of those eager for the season) are sure signs that fall is here. Marking the autumn equinox this week just makes it all official.
The Midpeninsula offers plenty of ways to celebrate autumn in the coming weeks, with festivals and events that take advantage of some of the Bay Area's best weather all year and offer opportunities to make or discover special things that will help you welcome this favorite season into your home.
Festivals and Special Events
Great Glass Pumpkin Patch
Sept. 28 to 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto
This popular annual event more than lives up to its "great" name with over 10,000 colorful glass pumpkins on display. Find a unique blown glass pumpkin or two or three and bring some sparkling seasonal decor into your home. The event, presented by the Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), the Palo Alto Art Center, Community Services Department, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto, and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, is a fundraiser for the arts groups. In addition to the impressive display of glass pumpkins, the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch will feature glass blowing demonstrations each day and a chance to meet some of the pumpkin artists as you peruse the patch.
Admission is free. For more information, visit greatglasspumpkinpatch.com.
Filoli Harvest Festival
Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Filoli Orchard Day
Oct. 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Filoli Estate, 86 Canada Road, Woodside
There's such autumn abundance at Filoli that they've added a whole extra day of festivities this season.
First up, on Sept. 28, the estate is hosting its well-loved, family-friendly Harvest Festival in the meadow on Filoli's grounds. Visitors can take part in pumpkin-themed crafts and enjoy cider, fruit and beer tasting. There will also be mid-autumn festival crafts with Sound of Hope Radio Network and a chance to join the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in decorating a sukkah (a tent used to celebrate the harvest holiday of Sukkot). Learn about bees and beekeeping from the Beekeepers' Guild of San Mateo County. Other events include line dancing and a petting zoo.
Then, on Oct. 12, Filoli puts its own harvest in the spotlight with a new event called Orchard Day, where you can visit the estate orchard, sample cider and taste more than 30 varieties of fruit from Filoli's orchard. Garden staff and volunteers will share information on tree care and fruit harvesting and Filoli's beekeeper will talk about the estate's bees. Members of the Master Food Preservers and Slow Food South Bay will be on hand to offer tips. The event also features live bluegrass music, and food and drinks. And to toast the harvest, you can pick up a bottle or two of Filoli's new hard cider to take home.
Harvest Festival admission: $30 adults ($20 Filoli members); $13 youth 5-17 ($10 members); $5 children 3-4; free admission for ages 2 and under. Tickets include the cost of Filoli admission.
Orchard Day admission: $10 adults; $5 children, plus the cost of Filoli admission ($22 adults; $18 seniors; $15 student, teacher, military; $11 children (5-17 years old); free for children under 5 years old. For more information, visit filoli.org or call 650-364-8300.
Holidays on a High Note
Oct. 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane, Atherton
Although the word "holidays" suggests a certain time in December and early January, fall has traditionally also been well represented at this event celebrating seasonal entertaining. The Foothill Auxiliary to the Peninsula Family Service hosts this event, which offers one-stop inspiration-and-shopping for any host planning to go all out in their holiday festivities. Find unique decor and gifts such as antiques, linens, clothing and accessories at the boutique marketplace and admire lavishly set tablescapes and floral arrangements. The RedCarBel Auxiliary will be auctioning off a tablescape. Guest speaker Kren Rasmussen of Bloomsters in Almaden Valley will discuss floral design. The event wraps up with a luncheon. Holidays on a High Note benefits the Peninsula Family Service STEM program.
Tickets are $135; register before Oct. 17 at fapfs.org or call 415-309-3412.
Pumpkin succulent planting
Oct. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto
Pumpkins are a staple of the season, but why not dress them up a little differently this year and go beyond carving or paint? Instructor Marci Hayden leads this workshop on decorating pumpkins with live succulents. Learn how to make a unique seasonal planting perfectly suited to serve as the centerpiece for a fall table. And as you decorate, enjoy a light snack and cider. Class fee includes materials (pumpkin and succulents). For ages 18 and up.
Tickets are $70 members/$80 non members. For more information, call 650-329-1356 or visit gamblegarden.org.
Native plant wreath
Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale
Learn to make a fall wreath from your own garden, using native foliage and berries. Deva Luna, a landscape designer specializing in sustainable gardens, leads this workshop, where she will discuss what types of native plants will work best for wreaths and how to recycle items you may already have on hand. She will also share how to secure the plants and demonstrate how to tie a big bow as a finishing touch.
Free admission. For more information, visit cnps-scv.org or call 408-730-7300.