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West Chester’s 2023 Fall Activities Guide

Cocoon Remodeling truck spotted last year on E. Biddle Street full of pumpkins.

Welcome to West Chester fall activities where pumpkins, festivals, beer, and ghosts, oh so many ghosts, take over. To help you get ahead of the game, here’s a roundup of events happening in the area over the next couple of months sorted by date. 


West Chester University’s Gordon Natural Area turns 50 this year.


Saturday, September 16:

Sunday, September 17:

Saturday, September 23:

Friday, September 29:

Saturday, September 30:

Chester County Restaurant Festival 

Full of local food vendors, artisans, and entertainers, the Chester County Restaurant Festival returns on September 17. With more than 140 vendors expected, this is one of the area’s biggest events of the year. Expect a wide range of food selections from ethnic entries to festival favorites. All vendors will be located on Gay Street from Matlack Street to Darlington Street.

There will also be a Beer and Wine Garden and live musical performances throughout the day. This year will feature six bands on three separate event stages one at Matlack Street, one at Darlington Street, and one at the Beer Garden. The event starts at noon and runs to 5 p.m. Entrance is free. 

Insider tips: 

  • If you have a particular item in mind to taste. Get there early. Many of the most popular dishes can sell out quickly. 
  • Park at a friend’s and walk. If you can’t, your best option is to grab space in one of the garages. Event parking will be available – $10 for 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

A Forest Festival in WCU’s Gordon Natural Area

In a new event this year, West Chester University is celebrating 50 years of the Gordon Natural Area with a Forest Festival. There will be food, live music, nature tours, and demonstrations by West Chester students and faculty including a series of drone flights conducted by the WCU Department of Geography. Also, members of the Delaware tribe are traveling from Oklahoma to perform a traditional dance for attendees. This is a free family-friendly event.

Activities are scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be held in the R-Lot on West Chester University’s South Campus. Visit the event website for more details and a complete list of events. 

Fun fact: In 1973, WCU agreed to protect approximately 126 acres of its campus from development. The decision was made in large part thanks to the actions of two students, Bradley Gottfried and Dave Fluri. Together they worked tirelessly to convince the WCU Board of Trustees to establish the campus’s remaining forest as a natural area. 

Arts & Culture

On September 23, the Chester County Art Association is holding its annual Chester County Art Walk event. New this year? All 75-plus artists will be set up in East Goshen Park along with trucks and live music. Art can be viewed from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. A rain date has been set for September 24. Then not two weeks later, it will be Downtown West Chester’s turn to highlight local artists with its twice-annual Gallery Walk. The fall version will be held on October 6 from 4 to 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided. Visit the Downtown West Chester website for a map of participating locations.

Prefer your art in sound and motion? West Goshen is bringing back its popular Fall Movie Series. For five weeks beginning September 16, the township will show a popular family-friendly, new release outside in West Goshen Park starting with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. Bring a blanket and snacks. Movies are free but a donation to the West Chester Food Bank is encouraged. You can find a full list of selections on the West Goshen website. Then on September 30, West Chester University is welcoming former Saturday Night Live comedian Jay Pharoah, and in October, Brandywine Ballet will be back in action with Mixed Repertoire on the 14th and West Chester University has its Fall Choral Festival scheduled for October 24.


Is there a better time for a beer than outside on a beautiful fall day? The Germans didn’t think so. Ok, so Oktoberfest actually started with a royal wedding but you’ve got to assume, it wouldn’t have gained the popularity it has if not for the timing. 

Not to be left out on September 23, Downtown West Chester is hosting its second annual Oktoberfest. This is an all-day event featuring live music and drink specials at a variety of Downtown bars and restaurants. And remember the Gay Street Open Air Market runs through October this year – so no cars to get in the way of your drinking.

WCU Family Weekend/Homecoming 

What is fall without football? Around here, apparently not much. According to Direct TV, Pennsylvania ranks in the top three among states that love to watch sports on TV and football is our sport of choice. So while your Sundays may be committed to the couch, the rest of the weekend provides plenty of opportunities to don a chunky sweater and cheer on the home team. None probably more so than WCU’s Homecoming Weekend. 

New this year, West Chester University is combining its Family and Homecoming events into one tradition-laden weekend that’s got something for everyone. There will be planetarium shows, walking tours, a Wicked Block Party, and games galore. Watch the Golden Rams compete in a variety of sports. Choose from volleyball, soccer, swimming, and of course, football. That game starts at 2 p.m. The Golden Rams will be facing off against the Huskies of Bloomsburg. Stadium parking is $10 but you can park for free on North Campus and take the shuttle (also free) to the stadium. Just note, that masks are required on the shuttle.  

You can find a complete list of activities on their website



Sunday, October 1:

Monday, October 2:

Friday, October 6:

Saturday, October 7:

Sunday, October 8:

Monday, October 9:

Saturday, October 14:

Sunday, October 15:

Monday, October 16:

Chili Cook-off

This marks the 21st year for one of West Chester’s favorite fall events – the Chili Cook-Off. The brainchild of the West Chester Rotary club, each year roughly 40 teams line up along Gay Street dishing out little plastic cups of tomatoes, beans, and that secret sauce in the hopes of being named the year’s Chilimaster. This year’s event is scheduled for October 8 at noon.

$15 will get you in, three voting medallions, and all-you-can-eat chili. 

Insider tips: 

  • This event can get crowded. Chili serving begins at noon and goes until 3:30 p.m. or until vendors run out of chili which can sometimes happen much sooner.   
  • Wristbands are $10 on the website or $15 at the door. Buy online and you save $5 and skip the lines.  

Chesco Outfest

On October 14, Outfest is coming back and this year – they are coming out with the help of the LQBTQ Equality Alliance of Chester County. “After last year’s hate-filled response and ultimate cancellation turned rally; we are working with the original planners to bring it again,” they shared on their website. 

Expect a day full of love for all and lots of high-energy music. A block party is planned for the corner of Gay and Church Streets. Music begins at noon with DJ Triple B and ends at 5 p.m. Rumor is there will also be an after-party. Details on that are still TBA. 

West Goshen Food Truck and Music Festival 

On October 14, East Goshen wants you to know the Food Truck and Music Festival is returning for its sixth year. According to the event page, this is the park’s biggest event of the year, attracting 4000 attendees annually. This year’s bands include Echo Zone, which will play from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Not Quitting Your Day Job which closes the festival with a 4 to 6 p.m. set. There will also be beer and wine available from Locust Lane Brewery and Chadsford Winery and a dozen or so food and treat trucks to choose from.

West Chester Preservation Awards

West Chester’s rich history, vibrant parks, tree-lined roads, and charming streetscapes are all part of what makes it special – yes, even those sometimes uneven brick sidewalks. Without the preservation of which, what we love may slip away forever and we’ll be left with just another cookie-cutter town. To keep that from happening, for the last 12 years, the West Chester Downtown Foundation has made it a point to recognize the builders and homeowners who go above and beyond to keep that history alive.

This year’s awards are scheduled for October 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Chester County History Center

Haunted West Chester

Tour: Historic Oaklands Cemetery Walking Tour
About: Join the education staff of the Chester County History Center at Oaklands Cemetery to learn true tales of the soldiers, statesmen, lawyers, doctors, musicians, athletes, and artists buried at this garden cemetery outside of West Chester. Tickets: $20.
Date: Sept. 17, 1- 3 p.m. (This tour is only running once. So if you’re curious about the cemetery this is your chance!)

Tour: Plagues and Pestilence: A Walking Tour
About: Learn the astonishing, little-known history of the diseases that transformed the lives (and deaths) of the people of West Chester. The 90-minute tour starts at the Chester County History Center and proceeds through downtown.
Dates: Sept. 23, 30, and Oct. 7. Two tours will be held a day at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. 

Tour: West Chester Haunted House Walking Tour
About: Every house in West Chester is said to be haunted. This lantern-guided tour takes guests through the strange and ghostly stories of West Chester’s past at the very spots where they happened. It’s a great way to celebrate the Halloween season for paranormal and history lovers alike.
Dates: Sept. 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7 and 14. Visit the Chesco Tours website for a complete list of dates and times.

Event: Boo at the Park 
About: Lulu’s Casita is back with its second annual Boo at Marshall Square Park. This event is targeted at the younger set and includes trick-or-treating with your favorite characters (Elmo, Elsa, etc.), Halloween games, pumpkin painting, STEM activities, and more. 
Date: Oct. 15, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Tickets: $30/child; $5/adult

Event: Historic Halloween Train Ride 
About: Join the Westtown-Goshen Rotary Club on the West Chester Railroad for a fun evening of dinner, drinks, costumes, and ghost stories. Tickets: $75/person; $135/couple. Proceeds benefit the Goodwill Fire Co. 
Date: Oct. 27, 6 – 9 p.m.

Scenes from last year’s Halloween Parade


Thursday, October 19:

Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22:

Tuesday, October 24:

Wednesday, October 25:

Friday, October 27:

Saturday, October 28:

Sunday, October 29:

Monday, October 30:

Uptown $5 Movie Monday – Rocky Horror Picture Show (and costume contest)

Tuesday, October 31:

West Chester Halloween Parade

The West Chester Halloween Parade returns to downtown West Chester on October 25 at 7 p.m. The popular event gives kids another opportunity to don their costumes while festive vehicles, bands of bedecked kids, and floats make their way around a downtown loop that starts at Church and Market proceeds to Matlack, and turns to return to Church via Gay Street. Candy is not distributed during the parade but in years past candy stations were set up along the parade route giving children a few chances to collect some goodies. 

$5 Movie Mondays

Always a fun time, Uptown is using its weekly movie series to highlight some of the season’s best starting with Young Frankenstein on October 2. Followed by The Goonies on October 9, and The Human Trial on October 16. The Halloween season series will close with the always-fun Rocky Horror Picture Show on October 30. Costumes are strongly encouraged. Movies are always $5 and include complimentary popcorn.

Fall in the Borough of West Chester

A very special thank you to COCOON for their support of not only this guide but of events in West Chester. In addition to sponsoring the Music at Marshall series, they have donated to Porchfest, the Children’s Business Fair, the West Chester Christmas Parade, and Santa at the Square.

Hello, West Chester! We are COCOON and we also call West Chester home. (You might have driven by our Design Studio on West Chester Pike.) If you didn’t know, we remodel homes – and we do our best to make remodeling as stress-free as possible. If you’re thinking about remodeling, reach out to us! We’d love to help you explore your options!

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