Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

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. 

  1. Saturday
  2. Sunday
  3. Monday

Saturday, October 11

"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. Fri Dec 26 - 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

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. Sat Dec 27 - Sun Jan 18
More info

Just Kidding Concerts: The Boogers

  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space 2537 Broadway, at 95th St
  2. Sat Jan 3 - Sat Mar 28
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. Fri Dec 26 - Sun Jan 11
More info

Saturday Morning Storytelling with the Hans Christian Andersen Storytellers

  • Free

Fantasy tales from Scandinavia and the far North come to life thanks to a this series's animated storytellers. On Columbus Day, join Julia Morris and Ellen Shapiro for tales about mischief-making gnomes and tricksters. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America 58 Park Ave, between 37th and 38th Sts
  2. Sat Jan 10 - Sat Feb 7
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

Jefferson Market Garden Children's Harvest Festival

  • Free

Kids can scoop up mini pumpkins, then paint and adorn their finds with Halloween decoration during a day of autumn-themed activities. They can close out garden season with magic tricks and entertainment from the New York Public Library. Past offerings have included cookie decorating and storytelling. Rain date is October 12. Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Jefferson Market Garden Greenwich Ave, between Christopher and 10th Sts
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
More info

Yo Gabba Gabba! Double Feature

  • Free

Dance along with DJ Lance Rock and company as they learn circus skills from "Al the Ringmaster," then go on a hot-air balloon ride over Gabbaland in “Flying.” Reservations required, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Ages 6 and under.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab Birthday Parties 550 Madison Ave, between 55th and 56th Sts
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
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 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

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. Until Sun Oct 12
More info

Fela! Frolic

This all-day house party at BRIC features musical fun for the whole family. The October 11th event is a celebration of the music of Fela Kuti, and features African dance and drum workshops, a scavenger hunt, a screening of the documentary Finding Fela and a performance by Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Zongo Junction. The free programs start at 2pm and go until 8pm, when the Jump N Funk dance party kicks off. All ages.

  1. BRIC House 647 Fulton St, at Rockwell Pl
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
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

Carl Schurz Park Conservancy Harvest Festival

Tots can pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch to decorate, ride a horse-drawn carriage along the river and bop along to a concert from the Funkytown Playground in this scenic Upper East Side park. Enter on East End Ave. between 87th and 88th Street. All ages.

  1. Carl Schurz Park E 86th St, at East End Ave
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
More info

Little Red Lighthouse Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Manhattan’s last remaining (and most adorable) lighthouse fetes its special day with free tours, live music, theatrical performances, arts and crafts and fishing clinics along the Hudson. As always, families can listen to a reading of the 1942 children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift, which prompted an effort to save the lighthouse when it was decommissioned in 1948 after the “gray bridge” (the George Washington Bridge) was built overhead. Now the property of NYC Park, families can head to Washington Heights and climb up to the tippy-top of its beacon, just in time for fall foliage. Make sure to grab lighthouse tour tickets starting at noon—they go fast! All ages.

  1. Fort Washington Park Riverside Dr, between 155th and 179th Sts
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
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

Handmade History!

On the second and third Saturday of each month, you and your family can head to the Brooklyn Historical Society for a Brooklyn history-inspired art-making program that will be fun for everyone. You can even take your new projects home and decorate your house with them. On October 11, participants will take cues from the Nell Painter and Lucille Fornasieri Gold exhibit of paitings and photographs. Later in the month, the BHS unveils Brooklyn Family Boogie, a brand-new creative movement program for kids and adults. Space fills up quickly so be sure to reserve online. Ages 5-10.

  1. Brooklyn Historical Society 128 Pierrepont St, at Clinton St
  2. Until Sat Dec 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

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

Open House New York Weekend Family Festival

  • Free

This annual festival held in conjunction with Open House New York offers families a slew of hands-on activities celebrating the city's architecture. This year, expect to build stained glass windows, gargoyles, boats, keys and more. Best of all: There's no preregistration required. All ages.

  1. AIA Center for Architecture 536 La Guardia Pl, between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts
  2. Until Sat Oct 11
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

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

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

  1. Saturday
  2. Sunday
  3. Monday

Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields

Events for kids by date

Americangirl.com for Events!

  1. Aladdin

    This adaptation of the Disney classic tops the res...

  2. The Amazing Max

    During this family magic show (which is back for a...

  3. Anne and Bernard...

    The former Human Biology and Evolution Hall has ev...

64 more events »