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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

Museum of the City of New York Family Workshop

Museum of the City of New York Family Workshop Photograph: Vinnie Amesse

Saturday, October 12

"Drawn to Language"

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Until Sun Jan 11
More info

BAMkids Movie Matinees

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. BAM Rose Cinemas 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, 11217
  2. Sun Jun 7
More info

"Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World"

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. Liberty Science Center 222 Jersey City Blvd, between Philip and Wilson Sts
  2. Until Sun Jan 4
More info

Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society 2300 Southern Blvd, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Until Sun Nov 2
More info

Carnegie Kids

  • Free

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.

  1. Carnegie Hall 154 W 57th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Sun May 31 - Thu Jun 4
More info

"Tico Tales"

  • Free

Literally Alive children’s theater presents this bilingual adaptation of Costa Rican folktales uses music and storytelling to celebrate the traditions and culture of the Central American nation. Get to the theater one hour before showtime to make a rain stick and jam out with the musician who will perform live during the performance. Free. All ages.

  1. Players Theatre 115 MacDougal St, at Minetta Ln
  2. Tue Nov 11 - Sun Nov 16
More info

Brooklyn Plantology Great Pumpkin Patch

Celebrate fall at this Brooklyn gardening center. Daily from September 20th until October 31st, Brooklyn Plantology will house a pumpkin patch with mums, decorative cabbages, autumnal edible plants and, of course, pumpkins. On Saturdays, kids can get their faces painted (from 11am until 4pm) pet and feed a goat, complete a pumpkin-themed craft and mingle with the Mayor of Pumpkinville (from 9am until 6pm). All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Plantology 26 Brooklyn Terminal Market, 87th St and Foster Ave, 11236
  2. Until Fri Oct 31
More info

Chet the Secret Architect

After studying the architectural elements of the museum's 1923 Colonial Revival building on a quasi scavenger hunt, families will use shapes they've discovered to build architectural models of their own. No RSVP required. Ages 6 to 12.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Wed Feb 18
More info

The Old Man and the Old Moon

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

PigPen Theatre Co., a harmonious band of college buddies turned actor-musicians, present the whimsical fable of an old man tasked with restoring liquid light to the old, leaky moon—told through upbeat, indie-folk tunes, puppetry and shadowplay. The imaginative troupe of eight brings storytelling to another level, imparting bits of wisdom to young audiences as they follow along on the man's journey to the End of the World in search of his missing wife. Don't miss a 90-minute shadow puppetry workshop inspired by the show, inviting kids to craft and animate their own puppets with help from the theater's Teaching Artists (10/5 at 2:30pm). Ages 7 and up.

  1. New Victory Theater 209 W 42nd St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves
  2. Until Mon Oct 13
More info

"The Butterfly Girl"

In this production from Vital Theatre Company, Velma Gratch finds herself overshadowed by her older sisters at the start of first grade. The young girl discovers a passion for butterflies and later realizes that she and the creature have something unique in common: They both encounter a stage of metamorphosis. Based on the book Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly. Ages 2 to 7.

  1. Vital Children’s Theatre 2162 Broadway, at 76th St, fourth floor
  2. Until Sun Nov 16
More info

Edgar Allan Poe and His Ghostly Neighbors of Greenwich Village

  • Price band: 2/4

Stroll around Greenwich Village and discover the ghosts of the NYU Library and Washington Square Park—said to be the most haunted area in America. A visit to some of Edgar Allen Poe's old haunts is on the schedule too. Meet at 85 West Third St between Thompson and Sullivan Sts. Ages 6 and up.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Mon Oct 13
More info

Rubin Museum Family Sundays

  • Price band: 1/4

In honor of its 10th anniversary, the Rubin Museum of Art established new Family Sundays—a year-round, drop-in program inviting families to create art, explore the galleries on special tours and more. In July, peruse woodblock prints and craft a printed magnet, then search for animals in the exhibitions and make a mask in August. In September, discover the works of multimedia artist Francesco Clemente, then make your own watercolor wash using Himalayan pigments. Welcome the holiday of Diwali this October with traditional stories and themed crafts. In November, try your hand at Tibetan-style grid drawings using strict proportions and inspiration from the "All-Knowing Buddha" exhibition. Close out the year with a 'green' holiday card project using recycled and natural materials, like many Himalayan artists do. Ages 3 and up.

  1. The Rubin Museum of Art 150 W 17th St, at Seventh Ave, 10011
  2. Until Sun Apr 26
More info

National Design Week

  • Free

While families will have to wait until December to revisit the Cooper-Hewitt Naitonal Design Museum, its Harlem outpost, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center hosts a weeklong series of drop-in programs for families. Be sure to reserve a spot online well in advance, as workshops are likely to fill up faster than parents will pull out their Tim Gunn impressions. See the website for the full schedule, which should be announced in the coming weeks. Ages 2 to 12.

  1. Cooper Hewitt Design Center 111 Central Park North, at Malcolm X Blvd
  2. Until Sun Oct 12
More info

The Amazing Maize Maze

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Kids track down clues, solve puzzles and ultimately find their way out of the labyrinthine three-acre maze made of corn stalks. The fun starts with a "Stalk Talk" to prepare participants for the challenge. This year's maze is designed in the shape of the American flag. All ages.

  1. Queens County Farm Museum 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, between 73rd Rd and 74th Ave
  2. Sun Oct 26
More info

Sukkot Block Party

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Love Sukkot? Don't know what it is? No matter. All are welcome at this celebration of the Jewish holiday, which honors both the Israelites' desert wanderings and the fall harvest. Your kids can jam to live music, make arts and crafts, go crazy with face painting, munch on snacks and participate in traditional holiday activities, such as decorating the Sukkah. Ages 2–10.

  1. JCP Downtown 146 Duane St, between Church St and West Broadway
  2. Until Sun Oct 12
More info

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Let the kids get extra milege out of their costumes in daily parades along garden trails decorated with more than 500 hand-carved pumpkin sculptures. Along the way, they can play in the Pumpkin House, stage a puppet show, embark on scavenger hunts and dig for worms. On weekends, catch creepy-crawler meet-and-greets (with frogs, snakes and spiders) and Halloween readings. Kids can also check out the Gone Batty! Live Bat Encounter program during Columbus Day Weekend (Oct 11, 12, 13 at 1 and 3pm). See the website for the full schedule. All ages.

  1. New York Botanical Garden Bronx River Pkwy, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Until Fri Oct 31
More info

Puppetworks presents The Emperor's New Clothes and The Snow Queen

  • Price band: 2/4

This Park Slope puppet theater is presenting two Hans Christian Andersen classics for its fall season—The Emperor's New Clothes and The Snow Queen. Kids will be enchanted by the artful marionettes and lively music. Call ahead for reservations, which are suggested. Ages 3 and up.

  1. Puppetworks 338 Sixth Ave, at 4th St
  2. Until Sun Dec 21
More info

Family Concert Series at the Jewish Museum

  • Price band: 2/4

Little ones are invited to a fall family concert series, featuring the folky, bluegrass music of Astrograss (10/12), a special two-show day featuring silly songs from the Funkey Monkeys (11/16), an interactive, artsy WeBop! Family Jazz Party in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center (11/23), hybrid kindie music from Josh & The Jamtones (12/7), Hot Peas 'N Butter's multicultural tunes (12/21) and another two-show concert and party, Oran Etkin's Timbalooloo, on the day when many other kid-friendly institutions are closed (12/25). Ages 3 to 8.

  1. The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave, at 92nd St, 10128
  2. Until Sun May 3
More info

Hansel and Gretel’s Halloween Adventure

  • Price band: 1/4

In this spinoff of the classic fairy tale, the brother and sister duo find themselves in New York City on Halloween night, where they meet mermaids, monsters, and more as they explore Central Park and Belvedere Castle. The production features handmade marionettes by the master puppetmakers of Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Ages 3 to 9.

  1. Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre west side, at 79th St
  2. Until Sat Nov 1
More info

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.

  1. Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35th Ave, at 37th St, 11106
  2. Until Sun Jan 18
More info

Halloween Harvest at Luna Park

  • Free

October weekends mean fall-themed fun at Luna Park, normally a summery destination. Kids can guess the weight of an enormous pumpkin for the chance to win uo to $1,000 (Sept 20–Oct 26), and then watch it get carved by master Marc Maniac on October 26. Costumed characters will roam the park, where kids can also embark on a scavenger hunt and practice their trick-or-treating skills with free sweets from Welch's Fruit Snacks and Sour Jacks (each weekend). And of course, there'll be rides a-plenty. All ages.

  1. Luna Park 1000 Surf Ave, at W 10th St, 11224
  2. Sun Oct 26
More info

Film Forum Jr.

  • Price band: 1/4

Today’s 3-D movies and Blu-rays are great, but don’t you want your kids to experience the cinematic classics of past generations, too? At this Sunday series, Film Forum will screen family-friendly movies and musicals. Embark on an epic adventure with Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Sept 7), learn lessons along with some rambunctious London high school students in To Sir, with Love (Sept 14) then giggle at an old-school comedy double feature showing The Bank Dick, followed by Buster Keaton short, Cops (Sept 21). Follow a time-traveling scientist in The Time Machine (Sept 28) and an unlikely seaman in Captains Courageous (Oct 5) and enjoy more family flicks through the end of the year: Hippity Goes To Town (Oct 12), The Strong Man (Oct 19), Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (Oct 26), Annie (Nov 2), Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Nov 9), Bugs, Daffy and Chums (Nov 16), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Nov 23), Our Hospitality (Nov 30), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Dec 7), Bringing Up Baby (Dec 14) and Mary Poppins (Dec 21 and 28). Ages 5 and up.

  1. Film Forum 209 W Houston St, between Sixth Ave and Varick St, 10014
  2. Until Sun Mar 29
More info


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