Columbus Day Weekend in NYC: Free Festivals, Parades, Scarecrows

Kids Events Columbus Day 2017, Harvest Fests, Free Fun for NYC Kids Oct. 7-9

The long Columbus Day weekend is here, and NYC kids have a message for local schools: keep the holidays coming! What's a parent to do? Why, check out the New York Botanical Garden's Dig! Plant! Grow! Scarecrow Weekend, take to the ice for the first skate of the season at Rock Center's Opening Day, score tickets for opening weekend of the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, or celebrate Columbus Day in Prospect Park.

This weekend is also full of seasonal celebrations including the annual Little Red Lighthouse FestivalHarlem Harvest Festival, the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, and the Jefferson Market Garden Children's Festival. And let's not forget the annual Columbus Day Parade.

It's a great weekend to take a fall day trip, or maybe go on a neighborhood investigation and check out Long Island City or the playgrounds of Central Park.

Read on for our top picks for the coming weekend, or see the 23 Best Events for Columbus Day in NYC. Also, be sure to check our October GoList and just released Halloween Guide to help you plan out the rest of this fall and, as always, our Event Calendar is full of activities and events for every day of the week.

All Weekend


Learn how to draw Manga style. Photo courtesy of the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Cartoon Network: 25 Years of Drawing on Creativity — Midtown West
Celebrate 25 years of the Cartoon Network with in-depth looks at hits like Adventure Time and Powderpuff Girls. FREE

Dig! Plant! Grow! Scarecrow Weekend — The Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden invites families to dress up their own scarecrow for the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden.

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey — Times Square
It's opening weekend for this brand-new, 60,000-square-foot, immersive marine attraction, which recreates an underwater journey with sea lions, humpback whales, and great white sharks via a visual effects team. 

Edna The Stomper — Midtown West
In residency at the Tank, the Rebel Playhouse presents a puppet-laden story of a  7-year-old who likes to ... stomp. Stay afterword for a stomping workshop.

CMOM Comic Con — Upper West Side
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is celebrating New York Comic Con with a full weekend of themed programming. Create your own comic book, design superhero capes, and learn how to draw characters with artist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Included with admission.

Kid Frankenstein — Upper West Side
The Vital Theater Company brings kids the tale of Frankie Steiner, a junior scientist whose robotics experiment takes a twist of the selfie kind. 

Saturday, October 7


The skating season begins at Rock Center. Photo by Keith Bellvay via Flickr

Rock Center Skating Rink Opening Day — Midtown
Be one of the first to lace up those ice skates on opening day of this quintessential NYC experience. Grand-opening ceremonies will be held a few days later on October 11.

First Saturdays for Families: Secret Place — Lower East Side
The New Museum invites families to work with artist Liz Collins and design a hideout laden with secret codes for whoever chooses to hide there. FREE

Little Red Lighthouse Festival — Washington Heights
An October GoList pick! Fans of Hildegarde H. Swift's The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge get the rare opportunity to go inside Little Red. Get in line early. With music, fishing clinics, food, and more.

Harlem Harvest Festival — Harlem
Enjoy an urban take on a traditional state fair with baking competitions, live entertainment, farmers' market, and kids corner featuring arts and crafts, pumpkin decorating, and fun fitness activities. FREE


Story Pirates bring kids’ silly stories to life onstage.​

Story Pirates — Upper West Side
Catch these crackerjack stage performers of kid-submitted stories at Symphony Space.

Oktoberfest & Pumpkin Patch – Sunnyside, Queens
The members-only Sunnyside Gardens Park opens its gates to the public for this annual festival. Enjoy games, live music, a variety of crafts for kids, pumpkin picking and decorating, an artisan market, and classic German-style food and beverages served in the park’s woodlands. Rain date: October 8. FREE admission, but there are fees for activities.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival — Staten Island
Pick a prize pumpkin, go for a spin on the Carousel for All Children, and enjoy other entertaining games, crafts, and more. FREE admission; fees for certain activities.

See all Saturday events.

Sunday, October 8

Jefferson Market Garden Children's Festival — Greenwich Village
Score a free pumpkin and supplies for decorating while digging other themed crafts and yummy treats at this local festival. FREE

Mario the Maker Magician — Fort Greene, Brooklyn
This STEAM-influenced mad-inventor is already television-famous; he was also one of the masterminds behind David Blaine's 2017 tour. Beforehand, Chilean clown-magician Enzo Nelis makes his first American appearance. 

Autumn Moon Cultural Festival and Lantern Parade — Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Celebrating a Chinese holiday in a park named after a Viking is a New York-only experience. FREE

Treasure Island: The Musical — Greenwich Village
Kids will "dig" this rendition of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel at the Players Theatre, complete with interactive workshops before the show.

See all Sunday events.

Monday, October 10

Columbus Day Parade — Midtown and Upper East Side
Arrive early if you want a good spot for this celebration honoring Italian-Americans. The procession starts at 44th Street and marches north on Fifth Avenue. Along the way, spectators can enjoy traditional Italian music and folk dancing. FREE

Columbus Day in Prospect Park — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Join the Prospect Park Alliance for a day of outdoor fun. Borrow a complimentary Discover Pack filled with nature-themed activities, participate in a Citizen Science experiment, and meet some of the Alliance's ambassador animals. FREE


Get a close up look at gorgeous falcons, owls, and more. Photo by Joshua Bright/courtesy of Wave Hill

Falconry Presentation: Skyhunters in Flight — Riverdale, the Bronx
Marvel at master falconer Brian Bradley and his feathered friends at the bucolic Wave Hill. See hawks, owls, and falcons up close and learn about these birds and the sport of falconry. Included with admission.

Native American Heritage Celebration — East Harlem
The Museum of the City of New York hosts a day dedicated to Native Americans of the northeast, with folk stories, hands-on artifacts, and a special secret snack.

See all Monday events, or our roundup on the top things to do this holiday Monday in NYC.

Top image: See Manhattan's only lighthouse and the star of The Little Red Lighthouse book. Photo by Tom Marvel