End of Summer Outdoor Event Themes

Cottage CountryWhile Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer in the U.S. and Canada, summer doesn't officially end for almost 3 more weeks. With luck, the warm weather will continue even after the calendar says autumn. The good news is that it's not too later to throw an end of summer bash.

Labor Day picnics and parades are popular in both the U.S. and Canada. Here are a few other themes and ideas to bring them to life for end of summer events.

Cottage Country

  • Location Scouting: Any resort or inn by the lake, an urban beach, a park with a lake
  • Decor: Adirondack or Muskoka Chairs, fire pits, picnic tables, paper lanterns, candles
  • Menu Ideas: Cocktails, shrimp on a stick, sliders, mini-hot dogs, burger bar, chicken, steak, fresh seasonal berries with whipped cream, strawberry shortcake
  • Just for Fun: Canoeing, paddleboats, pontoon boats, a campfire. Bring a DJ and play dance favorites.



BBQEverybody loves a barbeque. The opportunity relax outdoors and the flavors of outdoor cooking add fun and excitement to any event. Whether you create a Tex-Mex theme or spice things up with Caribbean flavors, it's a great way to wrap up the summer.

  • Location Scouting: Near a gazebo, in a park, near a lake, at a campsite, at the beach, in a conservation area
  • Menu Ideas: Steak, chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, fruit pies
  • Just for Fun: Grill master contest


State Fair/Carnival

CarnivalState fairs are still popular in many areas. Carnivals were once much more popular but if you hold your event at an amusement park or when a midway comes to a park or shopping center near you, this theme can easily be brought to life.

If there is a state fair or agricultural fair in your area, throw your bash there.  If not, create your own.

  • Location Scouting: Fairgrounds, picnic area of amusement park with carnival games, farm or petting zoo, equestrian center
  • Menu Ideas: Lemonade, hot dogs, burgers, cotton candy, candy apples
  • Just for Fun: Carnival game contest in teams, pie eating contest, baking contest



Barrel RacingRodeos are definitely an all American theme and often a part of fall fairs. It will likely be a unique experience for your guests. Invite them to don their best cowboy gear from hats to boots.

  • Location Scouting: Summer camp with a rodeo area (like Teen Ranch in Ontario), equestrian center, agricultural fairgrounds.
  • Menu Ideas: Corn dogs, chili, sloppy Joes, steaks. Bring in some food trucks.
  • Just for Fun: Bring in rodeo riders to demonstrate a variety of events like barrel racing, bucking steers, and cattle roping. Pony rides for the children. 

For more ideas, also consult  8 Elegant Event Themes for Summer Events State and County Fairs: An American Tradition , and  Special Events American-Style.

Photo Credits: Virginia State ParksU.S. Army RDECOM, m01229, Daniel X. O'Neil

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