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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

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Columbus Day parade

Columbus Day parade Photograph: Marielle Solan

Monday, October 13

Columbus Day Parade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

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.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Mon Oct 13
More info

"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.

  1. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 65th St
  2. Until Wed Nov 19
More info

"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

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

"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

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. Sat Sep 19 - Sun Oct 25
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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

"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

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

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. Spooky Nighttime Adventures (Oct 18, 24, 25, 31 from 6:30 to 8:30pm) dare after-hours visitors to brave the Trick-or-Treat Trail by flashlight for gourd-decorating, ghost stories and photo ops with costumed characters. Kids can also check out the Gone Batty! Live Bat Encounter program during Columbus Day Weekend (Oct 11, 12, 13 at 1 and 3pm) or Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend (Oct 18 and 19), which includes demos by master Food Network carver, Ray Villafane. 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

Pushing Buttons: Activist New York

  • Free

At this MCNY workshop, families will explore the "Activist New York" exhibition, which uses artifacts, buttons and posters to tell the story of New Yorkers who fought for change from the 17th century to the present. Then, particpants will create their own buttons based on causes important to them. No RSVP required. Ages 6 to 12.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Sat Nov 22
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

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