101 things to do in New York City: Fall 2012

Your essential guide to the season’s best things to do in New York City—festivals, parties, hot new spots and more—makes like a leaf and drops.



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  • Photograph: Ryan Jensen Studios

    41. Forgo soda and stale popcorn and chow down at the NYC Food Film Festival

  • Photograph: Catalina Kulczar-Marin

    42. Listen to luminaries at the New York Public Library

    Pictured: David Byrne

  • Photograph: Steven Rosen

    43. Avoid the slutty costume brigade at PhantasmaGorey Grand Victorian Halloween Ball



  • Photograph: allanzepeda.com

    44. Drink beer on Bear Mountain

    Pictured: Circle Line's Bear Mountain Cruise

  • Photograph: courtesy MSO

    45. Watch the Who perform Quadrophenia

  • 46. Roast an author

    Pictured: Gary Shteyngart

  • Photograph: Syd London

    47. Get wild at the West Indian–American Day Carnival

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    48. Pull an all-nighter before the carnival

    Pictured: J’ouvert

  • Photograph: Jeff Kollbrunner

    49. Go apple crazy at the Queens County Farm Museum Apple Fest

  • Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

    50. Have an early Oktoberfest at the German-American Steuben Parade



Photograph: Ryan Jensen Studios

41. Forgo soda and stale popcorn and chow down at the NYC Food Film Festival


Forgo soda and stale popcorn and chow down at the NYC Food Film Festival

  • Critics choice

Food-obsessed cinephiles can eat and drink what they see on the big screen during this innovative film festival: Each viewing party matches a collection of cuisine-related documentaries, shorts and features with top-notch tastings seen in the screenings. The flicks include a documentary short about a Canadian-maple farm; behind-the-scenes looks at New York eateries Kasadela, Egg, Bark Hot Dogs and Wooly’s Ices; a lesson on making Vietnamese coffee; and an account of Daniel Boulud, Bill Telepan and David Bouley’s goodwill mission to Japan after last year’s tsunami. Check thefoodfilmfestival.com closer to the time for a full schedule and details of the events on offer, such as a Lowcountry oyster roast featuring South Carolina bivalves.


Listen to luminaries at the New York Public Library

  • Price band: 2/4

After a summer break, the speaker series Live from the NYPL returns with a killer fall lineup, including a number of free offerings. Highlights of ticketed events include: Paul Auster (Oct 1 at 7pm) discussing his most recent offering, Winter’s Journal; the Who guitarist Pete Townshend (Oct 8 at 7:30pm) reminiscing about his career on the day his memoir, Who I Am, is published; New Journalism trailblazer Tom Wolfe (Nov 28 at 7pm) looking back on his career and at his new work, Back to Blood; and the ever-creative David Byrne (Dec 5 at 7pm) holding forth on his much-anticipated release, How Music Works. Have your credit card ready: Tickets ($25, seniors and students $15) for all these events go on sale September 7.

  1. Fifth Ave, entrance on 42nd St, (at 42nd St)
More info

Avoid the slutty costume brigade at PhantasmaGorey Grand Victorian Halloween Ball

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Shien Lee's Dances of Vice, never a crew to do things halfway, sets up shop in the grand Riverside Church for its annual All Hallows' Eve salute to the dark-tinged whimsy of Edward Gorey. Miss Astrid, Johanna Constantine, Cassandra Rosebeetle, Sequinette and Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra are but a small sampling of the uncommon performers and artists on hand.

  1. The Riverside Church 490 Riverside Dr, between 120th and 122nd Sts
  2. Until Sat Oct 26
More info
Circle Line's Bear Mountain Cruise, one of Time Out's 101 things to do in New York City in the fall

Drink beer on Bear Mountain

  • Critics choice

Get out of the city and hoist a stein alfresco at Bear Mountain State Park. Starting in mid-September through the end of October, Circle Line is offering return cruises along the Hudson River, allowing day-trippers three hours to roam the park. Nature lovers can hike and bike more than 100 miles of trails; beer lovers can make a beeline for Oktoberfest festivities at Bear Mountain Inn, which include Bavarian entertainment, food and brews ($3–$23). (212-563-3200, circleline42.com). $50, with bike rental $79.

  1. Pier 83, W 42nd St (at the Hudson River)
  2. Sat Sept 15 - Sun Oct 28. Sat, Sun 8:30am–5:30pm.

Watch the Who perform Quadrophenia

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Last summer, NYC was treated to Roger Waters’s (by all accounts stellar) performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall at Yankee Stadium. This fall, another essential double album from the ’70s gets the live treatment: the Who’s Quadrophenia. In November and December, the band’s two surviving members (Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey) perform the smash LP in full—as well as a few other classic tracks—in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey. Rock-opera nerds, rejoice.

  1. Various venues 1255 Hempstead Tpke, at Meadowbrook Pkwy
  2. Until Thu Feb 21
Buy tickets

Roast an author

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The success of the ubiquitous comedy trend in the literary world might sound like a long shot; but this event, part of BAM and Greenlight Bookstore’s new ongoing collaboration, Unbound, has been impeccably cast. Who better to excoriate than Shteyngart, the self-effacing and amiable author of playfully satiric novels Super Sad True Love Story and Absurdistan? And with writers adept at slinging barbs on the dais—including Jay McInerney and Sloane Crosley—laughs are guaranteed. If you’re still not convinced, google Shteyngart’s book trailer for Super Sad—it reveals him to be a clever ham who knows how to take a joke.

  1. BAM Harvey Theater 651 Fulton St, between Ashland and Rockwell Pls
  2. Until Tue Nov 20
More info

Get wild at the West Indian–American Day Carnival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Now in its 45th year, this Labor Day carnival is the largest outdoor summer event of its kind in the country, drawing close to two million people to Crown Heights in Brooklyn. It aims to preserve and celebrate Caribbean culture in New York, and this year there is even more reason to party: 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Trinidadian and Jamaican independence. During the main parade, steel-pan and calypso bands in elaborate costumes march down Eastern Parkway, and vendors sell homestyle island grub along the route. There are also a number of lead-up events taking place at the Brooklyn Museum. Check out the Brass Fest concert, headlined by soca star Machel Montano (Aug 31 at 8pm; $45), watch 11 steel orchestras face off at the Steel Band Panorama competition (Sept 1 at 8pm; $40), and hear some of the best calypso artists in the world at the Dimanche Gras show, featuring Calypso Rose and King Ajamu (Sept 2 at 7pm; $30).


Pull an all-nighter before the carnival

  • Free

French for “daybreak,” J’ouvert is the irreverent predawn festival held before the West Indian–American Day Carnival. The tradition was started back in 1937 by the Trinidadians, who apparently really know how to party—why sleep before a seven-hour carnival when you could be carousing instead? Revelers often dress up as political figures or celebrities and throw powdered paint at each other, while steel drums and whistles provide the celebratory soundtrack. Word to the wise: Wear good walking shoes, since the preparade parade traverses more than two miles, starting at Grand Army Plaza and culminating at Nostrand Avenue and Linden Boulevard. wiadcacarnival.org

  1. Meet at Flatbush Ave and Prospect Park West
More info

Have an early Oktoberfest at the German-American Steuben Parade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Celebrate America’s rich German heritage at the 55th annual parade, where there will be no shortage of steins, pigtails and other reminders of our fun-loving Prussian cousins. A sold-out Oktoberfest in Central Park will follow the procession. But don’t worry if you didn’t nab tix, as NYC boasts plenty of places to hoist a huge German brew. Check our roundup of the best outdoor drinking destinations for a few ideas on where to hold court post-parade.

Users say

Rod Carlysle
Rod Carlysle

I was really enjoying this list, I hadn't made plans for tonight, so I was sitting alone, in my apartment, with my tabby Max. He and I were especially excited about the Queens County Fair, but unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to make it since my mother will need to be taken to the doctor's that weekend and she likes knowing that I'm at home in case she needs me. It was an enjoyable evening, me and Max, but unfortunately when we came to the end of the list our pleasant evening was brought to an unexpected halt. I searched the entire length of this list, and the rest of your website, but I can't seem to find the 101st thing to do in NY. LIkely I won't be able to do it, I don't get out of the house that often because of my asthma, but I really enjoyed imagining myself doing those wonderful things with all those happy looking people. I hope you'll post the 101st item, if no please send it to the included email address, I don't have a computer with a printer, but that is my mother's email address, she'll print it out and deliver it to my apartment, Yours Truly, Rod


This list is awesome! I'm particularly jazzed about the LitCrawl and Halloween Parade. You left taking a language class off the list though. Fall is the perfect time to take an indoor class and keep your mind active. I took a Spanish class at Fluent City and it was awesome. The offer 10 languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Hebrew) and have affordable classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan. My teacher was Ricardo and he was really cool. Check out their classes at http://www.fluentcity.com Thanks for the list!!