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Columbus Day weekend events for kids

Fete the first three-day weekend of fall with cool concerts, fun fests and an annual parade, plus more great things to do in NYC

Staying in town on the first three-day weekend of fall? Good news: There’s tons to do in NYC over Columbus Day weekend, including big annual events like the Little Red Lighthouse Festival, Open House New York and the Columbus Day parade, an ode to Italian-American culture. 

RECOMMENDED: 50 things to do in New York City with kids in fall

When is Columbus Day? 

Columbus Day falls on the second Monday of October—this year, it occurs on Monday, October 13. 

Saturday, October 11

Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs

This Halloween celebration takes over the Bronx wildlife spot every weekend in October, as well as the weekend following Halloween. This year, hit up the zoo's animatronic Dinosaur Safari adventure before it closes Nov 2, visit with komodo dragons at Zoo Center and venture through a dark tunnel filled with over 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns inspired by zoo creatures (located by the Somba Village; 10am–5pm). Catch a magic show (noon, 2, 4pm) or a musical theater performance of Carnival of Extraordinary Animals (12:30, 1:30, 2:30pm); take in live music from Gigi and the Lend Me a Hand Band (11:30am, 1, 3pm); explore a hay maze (11am–5pm); learn about all kinds of creatures at the extinct-animal graveyard; check out demonstrations by professional pumpkin carvers (11am–5pm); and, of course, rock their outfits in a Halloween procession (noon, 2pm). Boo in the Zoo is free with zoo admission; Dinosaur Safari (10am–5pm) and the Jack-O-Lantern Illumination require the purchase of a Total Experience ticket. All ages.

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Chuck Jones Matinees

In honor of their new exhibition "What’s Up Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones," the Museum of the Moving Image will present matinee screenings of cartoons directed by the talented artist each weekend in the Sumner M. Redstone Theater. A select number of the screenings will be accompanied by personal appearances of Jones' collaborators and top creative figures in animation. Each screening is shown in 35mm and 16mm prints and will take place every Saturday and Sunday (first come, first served) throughout the exhibition. All Ages.

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Just Kidding Concerts: The Boogers

Our favorite entertainment series for kids is back at Symphony Space with an exciting mix of family-friendly, live events featuring high-energy musicians, performers and more. Rock out to catchy tunes from Brooklyn singer-songwriter Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys (Oct 4), enjoy a kidcentric riff on punk rock with tunes from The Boogers (Oct 11) and hear folksy American tunes with a Halloween twist from Alastair Moock (Oct 25–26). To close out 2014, sing along to Grammy-winning hits from Justin Roberts and The Not Ready for Naptime Players (Nov 15; $26, children $16), dance around with the family to Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer's instrumental mashup (Nov 22) and groove along with Father Goose as he plays a mix of hip-hop, calypso and reggae (Dec 20). All ages.

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"Drawn to Language"

Let your pint-sized Picassos discover artistic works that speak to them—literally. Multimedia pieces featuring letters and words that are visualized, spoken, scrambled or made into symbols or patterns will grace the CMA's galleries, allowing young visitors to explore communication through the visual arts. Works from both emerging and established artists including Adam Ames, Jenny Holzer, Jack Pierson and Kambui Olujimi will be featured. All ages.

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Sunday, October 12

"Drawn to Language"

Let your pint-sized Picassos discover artistic works that speak to them—literally. Multimedia pieces featuring letters and words that are visualized, spoken, scrambled or made into symbols or patterns will grace the CMA's galleries, allowing young visitors to explore communication through the visual arts. Works from both emerging and established artists including Adam Ames, Jenny Holzer, Jack Pierson and Kambui Olujimi will be featured. All ages.

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BAMkids Movie Matinees

Sundays this fall mean catching up on kid-friendly classics (and some more recent films, too) at BAM. Start with the tale of a Coney Island runaway in 50s flick, Little Fugitive (10/12). Ages 7 and up.

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"Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World"

Come discover the evolution of this rockin' instrument through the centuries. Kids can rock out to their own music while using playables. Also, get a closer look at the world's largest guitar and the world's oldest electric guitar. Are you a fan of rock music? Then you'll enjoy the exhibit's display of guitars autographed and owned by icons in music. All ages.

Read more

Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs

This Halloween celebration takes over the Bronx wildlife spot every weekend in October, as well as the weekend following Halloween. This year, hit up the zoo's animatronic Dinosaur Safari adventure before it closes Nov 2, visit with komodo dragons at Zoo Center and venture through a dark tunnel filled with over 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns inspired by zoo creatures (located by the Somba Village; 10am–5pm). Catch a magic show (noon, 2, 4pm) or a musical theater performance of Carnival of Extraordinary Animals (12:30, 1:30, 2:30pm); take in live music from Gigi and the Lend Me a Hand Band (11:30am, 1, 3pm); explore a hay maze (11am–5pm); learn about all kinds of creatures at the extinct-animal graveyard; check out demonstrations by professional pumpkin carvers (11am–5pm); and, of course, rock their outfits in a Halloween procession (noon, 2pm). Boo in the Zoo is free with zoo admission; Dinosaur Safari (10am–5pm) and the Jack-O-Lantern Illumination require the purchase of a Total Experience ticket. All ages.

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Carnegie Kids

Carnegie Hall sponsors these free family concerts throughout the year. This fall, groove to the dynamic sounds of African ensemble Sbongiseni Duma (10/12) and traditional American music from Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower (11/8). Ages 6 and under.

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Monday, October 13

Columbus Day Parade

He may be one of the most popular failures in history, but 35,000 marchers and nearly 1 million spectators are expected along Fifth Avenue to mark the day when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas and to celebrate the heritage of the Italian-American community. Kids, if they can score a good view, will see Italian folk dance troupes, massive floats and marching bands. Fifth Ave from 44th St to 72nd St.

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"Somebody Come and Play" Family Programs

Celebrate the 45th season of Sesame Street, airing this fall, with free, kid-friendly programming throughout the run of the NYPL's new exhit. Stop in for Family Day (Oct 13), complete with storytelling, giveaways, games and a visit from one of Sesame Street's beloved characters. Arrive early—the first 50 children (under age 10) will snag complimentary goodie bags. Return for screenings of special films, including "Follow That Bird" starring Big Bird himself (Oct 22), and "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" in which the furry monster sets out in search of his blue blanket (Nov 19). Ages 1–10.

Read more

"Drawn to Language"

Let your pint-sized Picassos discover artistic works that speak to them—literally. Multimedia pieces featuring letters and words that are visualized, spoken, scrambled or made into symbols or patterns will grace the CMA's galleries, allowing young visitors to explore communication through the visual arts. Works from both emerging and established artists including Adam Ames, Jenny Holzer, Jack Pierson and Kambui Olujimi will be featured. All ages.

Read more

Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs

This Halloween celebration takes over the Bronx wildlife spot every weekend in October, as well as the weekend following Halloween. This year, hit up the zoo's animatronic Dinosaur Safari adventure before it closes Nov 2, visit with komodo dragons at Zoo Center and venture through a dark tunnel filled with over 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns inspired by zoo creatures (located by the Somba Village; 10am–5pm). Catch a magic show (noon, 2, 4pm) or a musical theater performance of Carnival of Extraordinary Animals (12:30, 1:30, 2:30pm); take in live music from Gigi and the Lend Me a Hand Band (11:30am, 1, 3pm); explore a hay maze (11am–5pm); learn about all kinds of creatures at the extinct-animal graveyard; check out demonstrations by professional pumpkin carvers (11am–5pm); and, of course, rock their outfits in a Halloween procession (noon, 2pm). Boo in the Zoo is free with zoo admission; Dinosaur Safari (10am–5pm) and the Jack-O-Lantern Illumination require the purchase of a Total Experience ticket. All ages.

Read more

"Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World"

Come discover the evolution of this rockin' instrument through the centuries. Kids can rock out to their own music while using playables. Also, get a closer look at the world's largest guitar and the world's oldest electric guitar. Are you a fan of rock music? Then you'll enjoy the exhibit's display of guitars autographed and owned by icons in music. All ages.

Read more

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