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Things to Do in New York in October

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This post covers the best things to do in New York City in October, including nighttime activities, free as well as family-friendly things to do.



TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN OCTOBER

This section will feature our top 10 activities to enjoy in New York City throughout October. 

Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in NYC, for more ideas any time of year.

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:


(1) See a Sports Event 

October offers several thrilling sports to choose from. We’ve got ice hockey in full swing, football heating up and the basketball season starting. 

Sports events are a great way to spend an evening and also a family-friendly activity.

Basketball

Ice Hockey 

Football  


(2) Take a Sightseeing Tour

Central Park is a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the fall. Join us for one of our pay-what-you-like tours of Central Park.

Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford (even free) when the tour is over.

If you can't join us, explore the park on your own using our GPS audio tour or our Guide of Things to Do in Central Park

We offer approximately 40 different tours, including free, self-guided, guided, and GPS-enabled audio tours of every neighborhood that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC. 

Check out our homepage or look at our schedule to see what we have available when you are here. 


(3) Attend a Concert

There are so many amazing performers in town this month.

Whether you're a fan of hard rock, pop music, or even classic 80's tunes, there's plenty of great concerts in NYC this October.

TIP: Madison Square Garden offers All-Access Tours so you can see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.

NYC Travel Tips & Hacks Facebook Group


(4) See a Broadway Show

October has some wonderful shows playing on Broadway. The creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is bringing an old show back to Broadway for a limited engagement.

It's called Freestyle Love Supreme. (See below for details).

If you still haven't seen Hamilton, find out about discount tickets here. Here are a few other notable productions happening in NYC this month:

See what else is playing when you are in town.

TIP: If you are on a budget, there are several ways to get discount tickets, sometimes as low as $10! See our post on how to get cheap Broadway tickets.


(5) New York Comic-Con  

For connoisseurs of comic books, games, sci-fi, anime, manga, and all things pop culture, October 7th-10th, 2021 brings you heaven on earth.

Visit their website for more information and to purchase tickets.

If you can't see your favorite superheroes at Comic-Con, you can still see their haunts and HQs on a Super Hero Tour.

Our self-guided Super Hero tour includes locations from tv shows and movies of Spiderman, Superman, The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Batman, and more. 

TIP: Some NYC tourist discount passes include a free superhero tour. See our post comparing tourist passes


(6) Go to the Opera or Ballet

The Metropolitan Opera will be back in full swing this October with a number of different performances.

In addition to shows like Turandot, there is also an adaptation of Fire Shut Up In My Bones taking place throughout the month.

The New York City Ballet will also be performing multiple shows this month.

Fans of professional dance won't want to miss this opportunity to see one of the premiere ballet groups in the world live on stage.


(7) See a Famous Comedian Perform Stand-Up

There will be several well-known and famous comedians performing in New York City this October.

One of the most notable performers returning to the stage in October is Martin Lawrence.

Here are a few other popular comedians you can see in and around NYC this month:

For even more great stand-up, check this list of comedy shows taking place in New York City during October 2021.


(8) Attend Wizard Fest

Calling all wizards and witches! This festival celebrates everything in the world of wizardry and magic, including costume contests and even a Quidditch tournament.

While fans of Harry Potter are obviously welcome, it should be noted this event is for anyone who loves the subject and idea of wizardry.

It's also important to note that this festival is intended only for people 21 and up.

This is due to the fact that they will be serving wizard themed cocktails and there is a live DJ & dance party scheduled.

Wizard Fest will be coming to New York City on October 29th, 2021.


(9) Village Halloween Parade  

For decades, the Village Halloween Parade has attracted thousands of New Yorkers to watch the floats and art troupes who flood 6th Avenue with the most creative Halloween costumes you will ever see.

The parade starts at 7 pm on October 31, 2021. The route runs along 6th Avenue from Spring Street in SoHo to 16th Street in Chelsea. (map).

Find out about all the great things to do in Greenwich Village, including where to eat, drink, shop and more.


(10) Utilize a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass

If you’re looking to see and do as much as possible, using a New York City tourist attraction discount pass can help you save money and time. 

Attractions Available on Passes Include:

  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Empire State Building
  • Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds
  • 9/11 Memorial and Guided Tour
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Madison Square Garden All Access Tour

These passes save you money by bundling dozens of popular attractions and tours into one discounted ticket (up to 55% off).

They can also save you time by allowing you to skip the ticket lines and numerous locations. Read our post comparing your options.

For more ideas for any time of year, be sure to read our master post on things to do in NYC.


UNCONFIRMED: Celebrate Diwali in Times Square

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most important holiday in India.

Every fall in Times Square, the largest Diwali celebration outside of India will take place.

 

Times Square will be filled with the sounds, sights, and delicious foods of South Asia and India. Find out more here.

There are many other things to do in Times Square. Take a look at our post on 22 Things to Do in Times Square.

NOTE: This event is not yet confirmed for 2021, but Diwali will take place in November this year, so chances are the event will not happen in October.


UNCONFIRMED: Parade of Boats

During this event, you can see a flotilla of boats of all kinds at Pier 62 in Chelsea.

There will be historic ships, ferries, yachts, and more as well as a narrator to discuss each boat.

This free event starts at 6 pm just as the sun is setting for maximum effect.  You can catch a sunset on a boat any night of the year, in some cases for free! 

Read our post comparing New York City boat tours and cruises to help you choose the best one. 

For a free sunset cruise, take the Staten Island Ferry in the evening! It runs 24 hours!


UNCONFIRMED: Slice Out Hunger $1 Pizza Party 

Fill up on $1 slices of pizza from over 50 of the best pizzerias in NYC. All money raised goes to charities that help feed New York's hungriest. 

Visit Slice out Hunger's website for all the information you need.  

If you can't make it to the event, take our pay-what-you-like Greenwich Village Food Tour which goes to some of the pizzerias included in the Pizza Party event!

If you love pizza, consider taking a New York Pizza Tour

If you want a wider sampling, check out our food tour offerings!

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for October 2021.

 


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN OCTOBER

You can find some amazing things to do any night of the week. As listed above, you have a bunch of great concerts, Broadway shows, sports events. 

There are also evening activities in other sections of this post, so take a look through.

Below are a few highlights for a night out in October. Find even more ideas from our post on what to do at night in NYC.

 

 


Take a Night Walking Tour   

October temperatures are still comfortable enough to take a night tour. The night air is brisk but invigorating and the city at night is electric and dazzling. 

We offer a number of night tours in October including Ghost toursMidtown Manhattan tours911 Memorial, and Brooklyn Bridge, and a dark side of the High Line.

You can also use our GPS-led audio self-guided tours and our self-guided tours to explore on your own after the sun sets. 


Attend the New York Film Festival

In 2021, the prestigious New York Film Festival takes place September 24th - October 10th. To find out which films are playing and to purchase tickets click here.

They are shown in beautiful Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. While tickets are $25 and up, the higher price is worth the experience of being in this special venue!

TIP: Lincoln Center offers a tour of several of its most famous performance spaces. Find out more here


See a Free TV Show Taping 

If you love Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert on TV, why not see them live and for free?

Some of the best late-night talk shows tape in the evening. These are three fun shows to attend a TV taping:

To see what other show tapings you can attend, see our post, New York TV show tapings.

NOTE: The availability of these tickets will depend mostly upon local restrictions related to Covid-19.

Chances are most people will be vaccinated by October, but we cannot predict the future or how television shows will respond to the pandemic in the coming months.


Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

On the last Friday of October, you can visit this highly interactive and engaging museum for free between 5 pm and 9 pm.

This museum is housed on an aircraft carrier whose exhibits include a Concorde, submarine & space shuttle and much more.

This is a fun way to spend an evening in NYC. This is also a kid-friendly activity.

See more information about the event here.

Find out about other museums that are open late and offer free admission by reading our post on Free Museums in NYC.

NOTE: This event may not be happening in 2021, but there are many other ways to get free or discounted admission to this museum.


Enjoy a Skyline View of New York City  

What could be more magical than seeing the glittering lights of New York City at night?

You could go to one of the 4 observatory decks, but there are plenty of other ways to get a great photo-worthy view of the iconic New York Skyline.

See our post to find the Best New York Skyline Views and also our post on 10 Rooftop Bars with Great Views


H.P. Lovecraft Festival 

You can hear some of H.P. Lovecraft's spine-tingling stories read aloud by the players of the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Radiotheatre in Greenwich Village. Find out more here.

TIP: While you are in the village, explore this fun and also beautiful neighborhood with our GPS audio tour of Greenwich Village or look at our post on great things to do in Greenwich Village.

NOTE: Although they haven't scheduled this festival for 2021 yet, the Radiotheatre will be returning to the stage once more in October 2021 for an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer In Darkness.

Get more ideas for what to do in the evenings by looking at our post about things to do at night in NYC.

 


FREE THINGS TO DO IN OCTOBER

Below are just a few of the hundreds of free things you can do in New York City in October.

Some of the events above are free, like the Halloween Parade, the Clio Art Fair, and taking a tour of Central Park. So be sure to look at the other sections in this post for more ideas. 

For even more free activities, see our guide to free things to do in NYC.


Visit Governors Island   

This recreational, car-free oasis just 7 minutes from Manhattan is open through October. 

Although you will have to pay $3 for the ferry, you don't need to pay for anything else once you are there. Endless activities await you and your family at this playground for people of all ages!

Read our post on Governors Island to find out about biking, kayaking, picnicking, historic tours and more. 


Columbus Day Parade 

This is the world's largest celebration of Italian-American culture and it is on October 11th, 2021, starting at 11 am. The parade route is along 5th Avenue from 47th Street and 72nd Street (map).

There will be over 130 marching groups including bands, floats, and Italian heritage and cultural groups marching proudly along the route. Click here to get more information on the parade.

For suggestions of other things to do in the area once the parade is over, see our post 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan.


Lower East Side Pickle Day  

Every October, it's all about pickles in the Lower East Side. 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. Find out the details here.

Pickle Day is on a Sunday and would be an excellent activity to attend after taking our Sunday Lower East Side Food Tour at 1 pm. 

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for October 2021.


Open House New York (OHNY)   

OHNY is an annual event that gives the public has free access to over 275 of the city’s architecturally and culturally significant buildings that are not generally open to the public.

This event is scheduled for October 16th & 17th in 2021.

Among them are the Woolworth Building, Alice Austen HouseGrand Central Terminal, and many more locations which are included in our Lower Manhattan tours and our Greenwich Village tours


Clio Contemporary Art Fair

Known as the “Anti-Fair for Independent Artists”, this event has received rave reviews from the 'establishment' art world. 

The Clio Art Fair is held in Chelsea and typically runs for a few days in October.

If you decide to go take a look at our post on the High Line Park which is located in Chelsea. We run several different tours of Chelsea and the High Line as well.

NOTE: This event has been rescheduled for September 9th - 11th, 2021.


Flux Takeover!

Head to Socrates Sculpture Park to see the fairly wacky Flux Factory artists -in-residency troupe.

They put on a full afternoon of art installation, performances and anything else goes!  Get the details here.

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for October 2021.

There are many more activities that don't cost a thing. Find out from our post on free things to do in NYC.

 


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Here are just a few fun activities that will keep the kids and adults amused. Many focus on pumpkins, harvests, and Halloween.

Some of the events listed above are family-friendly, such as the Halloween Parade and going to Governors Island, so definitely look at the other sections for ideas.

You can find even more information about visiting New York with kids at Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in New York City as well as our 3-day itinerary for families

 

 


Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla   

At the Harlem Meer in Central Park, you and your family can make your own jack-o’-lanterns, light them up with a candle inside and send it sailing on the pond.

This is an especially fun event for younger children. See the official website for details.

If you are curious about Harlem, think about joining us on a pay-what-you-like Harlem walking tour or enjoy our self-guided Harlem tour or our GPS-led audio tour of Harlem

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for October 2021.


Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm    

On weekends in October, visit Decker Farm in Staten Island to get a true Halloween seasonal experience.

There will be hayrides, face painting, farm animals, arts and crafts, a corn maze, and even a pumpkin patch at a historic working farm.

For more details, see their website

TIP: To get to Staten Island you will want to take the free Staten Island Ferry. Our post explains how to do this and provides tips on making your ride the best possible. Click here.


Ghouls & Gourds at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This festival is perfect for the younger kids and the Garden is offering free admission for kids age 12 and younger. The date has yet to be announced, so check their website.

The BBG is a wonderful place to visit at any time. Though they do charge admission, they have special free hours on Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. Find out which other museums are free in NYC.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for October 2021.


ComicCon

Not just for grown-ups, ComicCon welcomes children of all ages but ticket availability is somewhat limited depending on age. 

It's held on October 7th - 10th, 2021 at the Jacob Javitz Center. 

Kids 5 and under can attend for free. Kids 13 and older will need to purchase an adult ticket.

See our Top 10 section above for more details on the event.


Take a Free Super Hero Tour

If you cant see your favorite superheroes at Comic-Con, you can still their headquarters and haunts located all over NYC.

This self-guided Super Hero tour includes locations from tv shows and movies of Spiderman, Superman, The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Batman, and more. 

TIP: Some NYC tourist discount passes include a free superhero tour. See our post comparing tourist passes


Lighthouse Festival

During this event, you can take a tour of Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse. At the Little Red Lighthouse Festival, there will also be food vendors and live music. It takes place in Upper Manhattan in Fort Washington Park. 

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for October 2021.

Get even more ideas from our post on the best things to do with kids in New York City.

 


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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 11th, 2021
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