This post lists great things to do in October NYC, including free activities, kids’ events, fun things to do at night and more. October is a fantastic time to be in New York City. It is an off-peak tourist month so you will enjoy shorter lines at attractions. The weather is moderate, with brisk sunny days and blue skies. The air is crisp and there will be the crunch of leaves under your feet. As long as you have a coat and closed-toe shoes, you will be comfy exploring the city, on your own or with us on one of our pay-what-you-wish tours. Our tours of Central Park, Brooklyn Heights, and the High Line are perfect for this time of year since these are places with plenty of trees and leaves changing colors. Be sure to check out our master post on Things to Do in NYC for more ideas.
Tip: If you are looking to save money on attractions, think about getting a tourist pass. For some help deciding, read our post Which is the best tourist pass?
1. Village Halloween Parade October 31
For over 4 decades, the Village Halloween Parade has attracted thousands of New Yorkers, not just to watch, but to participate! There is an official line-up of floats and art troupes who flood 6th Avenue with the most creative Halloween costumes you will ever see. But the best part of the Parade is that ANYONE can be in it! To be in the parade, you MUST be in costume- it doesn’t need to be fancy, just your average ghost or ghoul will do. If you want to march, join the Parade at 6th Avenue at Canal Street between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. (Map).
2. Columbus Day Parade October 9
This is the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture. The parade has over 130 marching groups including bands, floats and Italian heritage and cultural groups marching proudly along the route. You can catch special red carpet performances on Fifth Ave. between 67th- 69th Sts. For suggestions of other things to do in the area once the parade is over, see our posts, 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan.
Where: Along Fifth Ave from 47th to 72nd Sts. (Map)
When: 11 am
3. Open House New York (OHNY) October 14 – 15th
This very popular annual event gives the public FREE access to over 275 of the city’s architecturally and culturally significant buildings and other spaces that are not generally open to the public like The Woolworth Building, the spectacular Standard Oil Building, formerly the headquarters of the Rockefellers’ billion-dollar oil business, and the Old Croton Aqueduct. There are tours, talks, and family activities throughout all 5 boroughs of NYC. See here for 2017 listing of sites.
Where: across New York City
4. The 52nd New York Film Festival September 26 – October 12
The 52nd New York Film Festival is NYC’s version of the Cannes Film Festival. This is one of the most important film festivals for both Hollywood directors and brand new directors. If you want to feel like a real New Yorker, try to see a movie. They are shown in beautiful Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Tickets are $25 and the best directors sell out early, but you can get cheap or free tickets if you know how. To find out about Lincoln Center’s official tour, click here.
Where: Various venues in and near Lincoln Center
Price: $25 for Top Films, Special Events, Spotlight on Documentary, On Cinema Talks. Rush Tickets are limited: $15 for Alice Tully Hall screenings and $7 for all other venues. Click here for information on Rush tickets.
5. CHIHULY at the New York Botanical Gardens October 1 – 29
Gracing the already serene grounds of the New York Botanical Gardens is a unique exhibit of 20 glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly. Architectural Digest loves this exhibit, and you probably will too! spaced throughout the garden which is quite amazing on its own! Even if the sculptures don’t interest you the NYBG is an attraction that should be visited if you have time on your itinerary.
Where: New York Botanical Gardens
When: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; closed Mondays except October 9
Price: Weekdays: Adults $23 / Seniors and Students $20 / Children (2–12) $10 / Children under 2 Free
Weekends: Adults $28 / Seniors and Students $25 / Children (2–12) $12 / Children under 2 Free
6. Lower East Side Pickle Day October 15
It’s all about pickles on Pickle Day! Come out to try all sorts of pickled foods from 20+ picklers. There will also be non-pickled treats, pop-up shops by local boutiques and restaurants, live music, games, and a home pickling/dancing contest.
Where: Orchard Street between Delancey and East Houston Streets
Price: FREE to attend
7. Winter Village at Bryant Park late October
Christmas starts early in New York City with the opening of the Winter Village in Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. This is one of the best holiday markets to shop for one-of-a-kind items including handmade winter clothing, sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, decorative items and more. Bryant Park is included in the route of our Midtown Manhattan tour so you might like to join our tour after a visit to the market!
Where: Bryant Park, 40th to 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue
When: Monday – Friday: 11am-8pm; Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm
8. Go Ice-skating late October
If you are here at the end of the month, you can get a jump start on winter by lacing up and hitting the ice at one of the several famous rinks around the city including The Rink at Rockefeller Center and Lasker Rink in Central Park.
For information on dates, hours and prices, see our post Where to go Ice-skating in New York City.
Where: various venues
When: hours vary by venue
Price: hours vary by venue
9. New York Comic Con October 5 – 8
For connoisseurs of comic books, games, sci-fi, anime, manga, and all things pop culture. This annual convention is 4 days of wackiness where you can meet artists, celebrities, publishers, and toymakers inside the giant Jacob Javits Convention Center. Feel free to come dressed as your favorite animated character!
Right near the Javits Center is The High Line, a one-of-a-kind urban park with beautiful views of the Hudson River and the surrounding buildings of Chelsea. Walking the High Line should be on your bucket list of things to do in New York. We have a number of High Line pay-what-you-like walking tours. Can’t join us? Enjoy our High Line Map and Visitor Guide.
Where: Jacob Javits Convention Center at 34th Street and 11th Avenue (directions)
When: Thurs, Fri, Sat: 10am – 7pm; Sunday 10am – 5pm
Price: Tickets are $45 and up
10. Cider Week October 21–31
October means apples! New York State grows some of the best apples in the country and during Cider Week you can taste cider made from many varieties. The most popular cider is the kind that is fermented, known as hard cider. During Cider Week, 50 bars and restaurants in New York City will offer free tastings, events, and workshops.
Where: various locations
When: various times depending on locations
Price: some free events, others priced depending on event or venue
New York City is known as the City that Never Sleeps, and for good reason. See our post Things to do in NYC at Night for many suggestions. Here are a few highlights for a night in October.
Take a sunset walk over the Brooklyn Bridge all of October
You can walk over the bridge any time you want but a night or sunset stroll is especially beautiful. Sunsets are earlier in October so coordinate your walk around sunset so you can see the city turn from day to night on this historic bridge with an incredible view of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the harbor. We offer a night tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and 9/11 Memorial several evenings each week. You could, of course, also walk the Bridge yourself.
What a spectacular backdrop to watch the super fun movie Spiderman! The movie is being shown inside the Oculus at the Westfield World Trade Center. If you haven’t been to the Oculus indoor mall, it is worth visiting for the stunning architecture, the excellent shopping, and the food court which has an Eataly, a ShakeShack and about 20 other takeaway food shops.
The Oculus is part of the new World Trade Center and is located across the street from the 9/11 Memorial. Whether or not you take in the movie, the 9/11 Memorial should be on your list of destinations. See our post on How to Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Where: The Oculus at the World Trade Center (directions)
When: Doors open at 5 pm, Movie begins at 7:30 pm
Take a night walking tour all October
October temperatures are still comfortable enough to take a night tour, as long as you dress appropriately. (See our post on NYC weather in October for suggestions of what to pack). The night air is brisk but invigorating and the city at night is electric and dazzling. We offer several pay-what-you-like night tours: a Midtown Manhattan Night Tour, a Dark Side of the High Line tour, and several ghost tours:
Take a free walking tour in Central Park all of October
You don’t need to leave New York City to see the different hues of oranges, yellows, and reds on the changing leaves. Central Park is a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the fall. We recommend that you take a guided walking tour to help you find your way through this huge park. We offer several pay-what-you-like tours of Central Park including a tour of the lower section and one of the middle section. We also offer bike tours. See our post on Central Park tours, where you can find out about the many tours available, some free and some with a fee. If you can’t join us, explore the park on your own using our Guide of Things to Do in Central Park and our audio tour.
Where: Central Park
Price: some free events, others priced depending on event or venue
Visit Governors Island all of October
For the first time, this recreational, car-free oasis just 7 minutes from Manhattan is staying open through October. Although you will have to pay $2 for the 7-minute ferry ride to reach this small island just south of Manhattan, you don’t need to pay for anything else once you are there. Endless activities await you at this playground for grown-ups (and kids too!) Read our post on Governors Island to find out about biking, kayaking, picnicking, historic tours and more.
Where: Governors Island (click link for directions)
When: Monday – Friday: 10am to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 7pm
Price: some free events, others priced depending on event or venue
Art in the Parks October 21
Central Park is the location this year for the 50th anniversary of its Art in the Parks program, which has featured over 2,000 works of art. This event will transform the East Pinetum at Central Park into a stage, museum, and art studio for a free day of public art. There will be free art exhibits, performances, and hands-on art workshops.
Where: East Pinetum in Central Park. Enter at the East 84th Street Entrance at the East Drive, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (directions)
For even more free activities, see our Guide to Free Things to Do in NYC
What a great month to be young and in New York City! Bundle the young ones up for the dozens of Halloween events. For non-Halloween activities, check out our Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in New York City, our 3-day itinerary for families and our list of over 100 things to do in New York City.
Marco Polo Festival October 15
This annual festival celebrates the Italian and Chinese communities of New York. Though their cultures are very different for over a century these populations have lived side-by-side in the historic Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods. There will be a colorful parade, giant puppets, live performances and much more. This is a great way to see both neighborhoods for you and the kids. Another activity your kids will enjoy is our pay-what-you-like Chinatown Food Tour.
When: 11am – 3pm
Where: Grand Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets. The procession begins at 11:00 am in front of 62 Mott Street (between Canal and Bayard). The procession can best be viewed on Mulberry Street (from Bayard Street to Grand Street). Performances begin at 12:00 pm at the Grand Street Stage between Mott & Mulberry Streets. Click here for a detailed map of the procession route and festival
Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla October 29
After making a jack-o’-lantern and lighting it up, you’ll get to send it floating away in the waters of the Harlem Meer at twilight. If you are interested in visiting Harlem, we have pay-what-you-like Harlem tours or you can use our self-guided Harlem walking tour map and neighborhood guide.
When: 4pm – 7pm
Where: Central Park at Harlem Meer – East Side from 106th to 110th Street (map)
Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm October 1, 7-9, 14-15, 21-22, and 28-29
Visit the borough of Staten Island to get a true Halloween seasonal experience with hayrides, face painting, farm animals, arts and crafts, a corn maze, and even a pumpkin patch at a historic working farm. This activity requires that you take the Staten Island Ferry – which is great news! This is something that every visitor to New York should do. It’s free, fun and with unbelievable views of New York Skyline.
When: 11am – 4pm
Where: Decker Farm in Historic Richmond Town (directions)
Price: Adults and Children (over 1-year-old) $6. Family of 4 $20
Even if you don’t go to Decker Far, be sure not to miss the ferry ride. Find all the information you need for the perfect ferry ride in our post, The Staten Island Ferry: a Free New York Harbor Cruise.
For even more ideas for the month of October and all-year round, see our post Things to do in New York City with over 200 activities, attractions, and suggestions on ways to spend your time in NYC!
Written by Courtney Shapiro