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.

Photograph: courtesy Dumbo Arts Festival
Immersive Surfaces by The Leo Kuelbs Collection at the 2011 Dumbo Arts Festival

It's not too hot. It's not too cold. In fact, the temperature's just right. Find out how to take advantage of fall in New York with these essential things to do in New York City. We've got events and activities that range from wholesome county fairs (pig-racing anyone? We've got a monkey on the pot-bellied swine.), to a veritable army of women your mother warned you about at the New York Burlesque Festival.

Get up close and personal with Christopher Columbus

Critics' pick

With the help of the Public Art Fund, the Japanese artist is building a living room atop the monument in Columbus Circle. The elevated platform will give the public a previously unseen view of Central Park and midtown, along with the opportunity to look the statue in the eye, recline on couches to watch TV and admire Nishi’s custom-designed wallpaper of American pop-culture icons. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance for the chance to climb six stories to the home away from home. (Elevator access is available for those who require special assistance.) Registration opens September 12 via publicartfund.org.

Read more
Columbus Circle Sun Dec 2 Free

Go upstate to see the autumn leeeeeeaves (of red and gooooold)

Less than two hours’ drive from Manhattan, Walkway Over the Hudson (87 Haviland Rd, Highland, NY; 845-454-9649, walkway.org) is Poughkeepsie’s answer to the High Line. The former railroad overpass is more than a mile long, making it the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. And smack dab in the middle of that walkway—perched 212 feet above the Hudson River and surrounded by the Catskills—is where you’ll find a spectacular, 360-degree view of fall in all its colorful glory along the banks of the river. If hoofing it isn’t your style, board the Rip Van Winkle (1 East Strand St, Kingston NY; 845-843-7472, hudsonrivercruises.com; ten-person minimum, $15 per person) for a two-hour narrated Fall Foliage cruise. Your guide will also point out some of the area’s stately mansions, photoworthy lighthouses and other historic sites. Find more places in New York state to see fall foliage.

March in the Village Halloween Parade

Critics' pick

As the Mayan calendar counts down and humanity prepares to (maybe) clock out, don’t put off taking part in this huge masquerade—it could be the last. Every parade begins with a procession of macabre puppets, and organizers are certainly tempting fate with this year’s theme of time. While the spectacle is still being finalized, expect plenty of clocks with wings (time flies—ha!) and white rabbits frantically checking watches. The puppets and creations are made by famed groups such as Superior Concept Monsters, the Madagascar Institute, the Puppeteers’ Cooperative and Basil Twist’s studio, and music comes courtesy of the Hungry March Band. Sign up via halloween-nyc.com now to volunteer to be a puppeteer or a performer in the procession. Spots are filling up faster than usual so hurry—tick-tock, tick-tock.… If time runs away with you, just turn up in costume on the night to walk with the throng up Sixth Avenue (start at Sixth Ave between Canal and Spring Sts; Oct 31 6:30–8:30pm).

Read more
Sixth Ave from Spring St to 16th St Until Fri Oct 31 Free

Check out the Barclays Center

Critics' pick

Some may have railed against the controversial Atlantic Yards development, but we must admit we're getting excited, especially for the first Brooklyn Nets home game against the Knicks on Nov 1. Jay-Z opens proceedings with a string of sold-out shows, and should challenge the Guinness World Record for the number of times an artist can say "Brooklyn" during a concert. Other highlights on the schedule include Kentucky versus Maryland in the stadium's first collegiate basketball game, the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and concerts by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Justin Bieber, Journey, Rush, Barbra Streisand and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli (the possibility of highbrow fare presented by BAM is also a big plus).

Read more
Prospect Heights

Preview the Lowline

It’s a daring idea: Build the world’s first underground park in a disused trolly terminal on the Lower East Side, using technology that funnels sunlight below street level so plants can photosynthesize. Since announcing the proposal, the project has raised more than $150,000 through Kickstarter (it met its initial target of 100 large in one week), signed up Audi as a corporate sponsor and got the city and the MTA’s ear, taking an important step towards saving us from death by Morlocks. This fall, it unveils “Imagining the Lowline,” demonstrating the solar technology it plans to employ with a small-scale indoor park in Essex Market Building D, an abandoned warehouse space. A range of programming is planned, including talks and a pair of indoor street fairs (Sept 16, 23) featuring local businesses. There will also be a companion exhibit, “Experiments in Motion” by Audi and Columbia University's School of Architecture, proposing new methods of urban transport and displaying a 50-foot-long model of Manhattan’s current subway system. Various times, see thelowline.org/exhibit for details

Catch the next big thing in indie rock

For five days in October, the CMJ Music Marathon hosts more than 1,000 gigs throughout the city, offering music lovers a chance to see bands on the verge of a breakthrough. The initial lineup for this year’s onslaught is very promising. On the up-and-comers front, we suggest checking out King Tuff, a Cali outfit that delivers infectious garage-tinged songs and fun, sweaty live shows, and Baltimore’s grungey-rock crew Roomrunner. The fest also draws already-established favorites like local indie-rock heroes the Walkmen and upbeat folkies the Mountain Goats.

Read more
Various locations Until Sun Oct 21

Mingle with culinary stars at the NYC Wine & Food Festival

Critics' pick

Food Network celebs join a slew of NYC’s top toques for this annual celebration, which consists of a nonstop stream of tastings, workshops, lectures and parties. Book now for sure-to-sell-out marquee events such as the Burger Bash with Rachael Ray (Oct 12; $225), Meatball Madness with Giada De Laurentiis (Oct 11; $175), Trucks and Tracks with Andrew Zimmern (Oct 14; $150) and the star-studded Grand Tasting (Oct 13, 14; $195 per day). Many of the panel discussions cost as little as $20, but if you’ve got cash to burn, the festival’s dinner series is as high-profile as ever: Feast on Korean barbecue prepared by Roy Choi with Jean-Georges and Marja Vongerichten (Oct 12; $300), or collect autographs at the Bouley Alumni Dinner, which features a dozen chefs including Dan Silverman, Anita Lo, Kerry Heffernan and Dan Barber (Oct 11; $400).

Read more
Various locations Until Sun Oct 19

Cavort with the beautiful people at Fashion’s Night Out

For one night a year, shoppers can stay out late and mingle with some of the biggest names in fashion: More than 700 local shops will keep their doors open late, hosting sales and events, and enabling celebrity sightings ranging from Kim Kardashian to Anna Wintour.

Be tantalized at the New York Burlesque Festival

Critics' pick

The cream of the burly-Q world converges upon Gotham for this tenth annual four-day festival of tease. Visiting tassel-twirlers include Australia’s Imogen Kelly, Japan’s Cherry Typhoon and Italy’s Guiditta Sin, but there’s plenty of local talent to leer at, including Gin Minsky, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Harvest Moon and Angie Pontani. The action kicks off with the Teaser party at the Bell House (Sept 27 at 8pm; $15, advance $10), then moves to Brooklyn Bowl for the Premiere Party (Sept 28 at 8pm; $10), hosted by Scotty the Blue Bunny. Murray “Mr. Showbiz” Hill comperes the supper-clubby Saturday Spectacular at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (Sept 29 at 7:30pm; $30, advance $25; VIP $70, advance VIP $65), with 40 performers and a live jazz big band. The feathered fest ends with the Golden Pastie Awards at Highline Ballroom (Sept 30 at 8pm; $30, advance $25; VIP seating $45, advance VIP seating $40), hosted by Miss Astrid and featuring an appearance by Tempest Storm, a burlesque icon of the 1950s and ’60s.

Read more
Highline Ballroom Sat Sep 29 - Sun Sep 30

Do good things, see a great show

Critics' pick

Global Festival 2012 takes a novel approach to the benefit concert. Fans who want to see Neil Young, the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, Band of Horses and rapper K’Naan in Central Park need to help out the Global Citizen Project, which combats extreme poverty, for a chance to win tickets. Register at globalcitizen.org to find out what the campaign wants you to do, such as watching an awareness-building video, sharing material on social media, donating to an affiliated nonprofit, signing a petition or writing a letter to Congress. Each deed earns you credits, and three credits enters you into a lottery to win a pair of tickets to the gig. Increase your chances by continuing to rack up credits—every five points yields one more entry into the lottery. If you’re cash rich but time poor, VIP tickets are available ($189.50–$489.50).

Read more
Central Park, Great Lawn Sat Sep 29 Free

Freak out to the Joshua Light Show

Critics' pick

“Liquid light” artist Joshua White provided consummately trippy backdrops for Fillmore East performances during the hippie-rock era (not to mention the memorable illuminations during that acid-party scene in Midnight Cowboy). This September, White aligns with some of today’s vanguard outfits for a downtown residency. Musical guests include percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and harpist Zeena Parkins (Sept 13); minimalist icon Terry Riley and his guitarist son Gyan (Sept 14 at 7:30pm); the heavyweight improv quartet of John Zorn, Lou Reed, Bill Laswell and Milford Graves (Sept 14 at 10pm); MGMT mainmen Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden (Sept 15); and international party-starters Debo Band and Forro in the Dark (Sept 16).

Read more
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Until Sat Oct 25

Admire Warhol's influence

Critics' pick

The Pope of Pop’s enormous impact on contemporary art is examined in this blockbuster of a show, which brings together works by Warhol with those of 60 other artists he influenced. Organized into themes such as “Daily News: From Banality to Disaster” and “Portraiture: Celebrity and Power,” the survey features just about every contemporary art heavyweight you can think of: Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman are among the names topping the list. It’s a postmodern art blowout.

Read more
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Until Sun Dec 30

Find serenity in the city

Critics' pick

Relaxation is yours for a mere $50 during Spa Week, when more than 100 venues throughout the city discount up to three services of their choosing. Specials include a 60-minute facial at SKN Spa, with a 24-karat gold masque (usually $130), a facial peel with cell-stimulating botanicals from exhale (originally $125) and a spiced eden pedicure from Red Door Spa (usually $85). Fair warning: Many services will be fully booked within hours after reservations become available on Sept 10.

Read more
Various locations Mon Oct 15 - Sun Oct 21

Snag tickets to the New Yorker festival

Get your ticket-purchasing finger ready now: This collection of events featuring New Yorker writers, editors, cartoonists, and many of their subjects from television, music, film and literature sells out quickly. Details for this year’s schedule are announced on Sept 4 and tickets go on sale Sept 14. You can count on of-the-moment discussions and screenings similar to last year’s marquee events, which featured Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, Andy Borowitz and Janet Malcolm. Here’s what we know for sure: The new lineup includes performances by three local acoustic ensembles or indie singer-songwriters who will be chosen to play at Joe’s Pub, the festival’s official hangout. Visit newyorker.com/festival for details.

Go behind the scenes during Open House New York

Critics' pick

This annual festival gives attendees access to some of the city’s coolest and most exclusive architectural sites and landmarks. This year, participants can check out new sites such as Williamsburg’s new Wythe Hotel (located in a converted factory building); Prospect Park’s Lakeside complex, which is scheduled to open in 2013; and the Public Theater, which will be showing off its renovated home. You can also check out old favorites such as the New York Marble Cemetery, which is rarely open to the public, and the High Line. The full lineup will be available on September 26, and you can start making reservations the following day. But take note: Tours and programs that require an R.S.V.P. ($5) fill up fast.

Read more
Various locations Sat Oct 11 - Sun Oct 12 Free

Have the bejesus scared out of you at the Nightmare haunted house

Critics' pick

If the usual Halloween rank and file (zombies, vampires, slutty angels) don’t set your knees knocking, perhaps an immersion into the world of real psychopaths who have lived—and are still living—among us will. Nightmare creator Tim Haskell joined malevolent forces with Steve Kopelman (producer of Arizona’s haunted house the Nest) for the most recent installment of his popular haunted house. Like Jersey Shore, Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House mines frightening entertainment from real-world events: This year’s theme focuses on historical and contemporary serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Albert Fish and the Zodiac killer. There’s even an associated exhibit of personal effects belonging to infamous murderers, sure to make your skin crawl.

Read more
Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center Sat Nov 3

Crack up at the New York Comedy Festival

The city’s largest stand-up celebration just gets bigger every year. This edition’s most-buzzed-about headliner has to be the confessional Kevin Hart, who’s playing a pair of shows at Madison Square Garden. But if you’d rather skip the tumult of the arena, check out solo shows, podcast tapings, a short-film contest, special editions of several local variety nights, and conversations with luminaries including Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais. nycomedyfestival.com.

Behold the colorful, slow death of the leaves

Critics' pick

Natural death in the animal kingdom is a sad, heartrending thing, but when it comes to plants, it’s vibrant and photogenic. New York’s city parks contain a wealth of spots where you can witness the beautiful decay and crunch through piles of foliage, but we’re partial to the New York Botanical Garden’s Thain Family Forest, a 50-acre thicket near the Bronx River. The woodland space is the city’s largest patch of old-growth forest (with some trees dating to the 18th century), boasting numerous species, such as oak, hickory and maple. Keep an eye out for sweet gums, whose star-shaped leaves turn red and purple as autumn progresses, and tulip trees and hickories which display vivid golden yellows. Go during the Forest Weekends (Nov 3, 4, 10, 11) to take guided walks with NYBG docents and volunteers.

Read more
The Bronx

Watch big-ticket premieres at the New York Film Festival

This annual treat for cinéastes celebrates its 50th year this fall. The most buzzed about offerings at this cinematic feast are the world premieres of Not Fade Away, the first directorial feature by Sopranos creator David Chase, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Robert Zemeckis’s Flight. Other notable showings include Austrian provocateur Michael Haneke’s Amour, which nabbed the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, which reunites the writer-director with Greenberg star Greta Gerwig, who cowrote the script. Visit filmlinc.com for more information

Cheer on thousands of New York City Marathon runners

Critics' pick

More than 40,000 marathoners hotfoot it (or puff, pant and stagger) through all five boroughs over a 26.2mile course. Stake out a lively spot—we recommend along Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, First Avenue between 60th and 96th Streets in Manhattan or Central Park South near the finish line—to cheer on the passing throngs. Get there early to catch the elite competitors, who start at 9:10 (women) and 9:40am (men), or later in the day as amateurs flood the streets. Staggered starts begin on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 8:30am.

Read more
Location TBA Until Sun Nov 2 Free

See the Manhattan skyline from a new vantage point

It’s been 40 years since Mayor John Lindsay and Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller announced plans for a memorial to commemorate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 address to Congress. Set to open this October, the four-acre FDR Four Freedoms Park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island was designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn and anchors a large waterfront space along the East River. History buffs will enjoy reading about Roosevelt’s leadership on a digital network accessible through the park’s Wi-Fi, while others can appreciate the serene grounds, dotted with 120 linden trees and offering sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

Read more
Roosevelt Island

Pogo during a rockin’ outdoor concert

Critics' pick

Alfresco concert season might be winding down, but there are still a few choice open-air gigs worth checking out. Case in point: The daylong blowout Riot Fest, which goes down at the new Williamsburg Park and features gypsy-punk party-starters Gogol Bordello, first-wave pop-punkers Descendents, Florida punk-rock crew Hot Water Music and other sweat-inducing acts.

Read more
Williamsburg Park Sat Sep 8

Coo over dogs in costumes

Critics' pick

The Village Halloween Parade is fun and all, but does it have a plethora of puppies in adorable outfits? For that, you’ll have to head to the East Village for the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. The getups are remarkably elaborate and conceptual. Last year, we saw dogs dressed as Lady Gaga, a peacock and an A train (complete with a stuffed rat). Enterprising owners stand to win prizes if their pooch is selected Best in Show, so start planning Fido’s outfit now.

Read more
Tompkins Square Park 25 Oct 2014

Build puppets for the Village Halloween Parade

Join parade organizers and the master puppeteers from Superior Concept Monsters for a day of hands-on crafting in a charming old barn upstate, near Rhinebeck. Jobs range from the mundane (there’s a lot of papier-mâché to be made) to the sophisticated (such as welding), depending on your skill set, but all get to enjoy the bonhomie and an automatic spot in the parade. A round-trip Zipcar ride is provided, and volunteers are treated to two homemade meals, a constant supply of coffee, hot apple cider and doughnuts. The day comes to a close with beers and a bonfire by the Hudson. Find out more with our report from last year’s Village Halloween Parade puppet raising. Sign up via halloween-nyc.com.

Stay in town and go to All Tomorrow's Parties: I'll Be Your Mirror USA 2012

Critics' pick

Formerly a premier out-of-town getaway, ATP has become a staycation opportunity. The vibe may not be as homey as in years past, but the booking is every bit as shrewd: Frank Ocean, the year's buzziest R&B eccentric, headlines, with support from darkly sensual Cincinnati alt-rockers the Afghan Whigs (whose frontman, Greg Dulli, curated the fest), inspired intergenerational composers' collabo Philip Glass and Tyondai Braxton, Montreal avant-prog orchestra Godspeed You! Black Emperor, hip-hop tastemakers the Roots and more. With a lineup like that, we'll happily be their mirror—whatever that means.

Read more
Pier 36 Sat Sep 22 - Sun Sep 23

See Jer in Staten Island

Critics' pick

Though it’s been 14 years since the end of Jerry Seinfeld's beloved “show about nothing,” the affable New Yorker thrills fans this fall with a return to both his comedic and geographic roots. This series of headlining shows will take place over five Thursday nights in October and November, and Seinfeld has come up with the perfect gimmick: There’s one in each borough. By the end of the run, we expect he’ll have mined enough area-specific faux pas to do another new hour of material.

Read more
Various venues Thu Nov 8

Follow the deliciousness to Governors Island

Critics' pick

Now in its eighth year, the Vendy Awardss celebrate the city’s ever-growing ranks of mobile eateries doling out honors in categories such as Dessert, Rookie and—new this year—Market Vendor. More than 25 finalists will park on Governors Island and dole out their signature grub. Cast your vote for the People’s Taste Award alongside official judges such as Eddie Huang (Baohaus), Kate Krader (restaurant editor at Food & Wine) and Brooklyn rappers Das Racist. An open bar stocked with win and Brooklyn Brewery suds should help ease the time spent waiting in line. Visit nycvendys2012.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Read more
Governors Island 13 Sep 2014

Visit a museum for free

Critics' pick

Download a voucher from smithsonian.com/museumday to receive two free tickets to one of 28 New York City museums and cultural centers during Museum Day Live! Participating big-name institutions include the Brooklyn Museum, which opens one of its major fall shows, “Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe,” on Sept 28; El Museo del Barrio and the Studio Museum in Harlem, two of the three museums hosting “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World”; and the New-York Historical Society, which premieres “Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School” on Sept 21.

Read more
Location TBA 27 Sep 2014 Free

Yell “Avast, ye scurvy dogs!” at PirateCon

Critics' pick

Full seafaring attire is mandatory at this pirate-themed bar crawl, so don’t bother turning up without a cutlass, peg leg and talking parrot on your shoulder. (Those who do not meet the head-to-toe sartorial requirements will be booted out of the crew.) You’ll also be expected to talk like a bandit of the high seas; we suggest you bone up on your buccaneer lingo on International Talk Like a Pirate Day's website (talklikeapirate.com). PirateCon is free to attend, but bring plenty of cash for rum and beer, and have a MetroCard handy (or hooky). Keep your one good eye on the website 24 hours before the event, when the treasure map detailing your route will be revealed.

Read more
Location TBA Until Sat Sep 21 Free

Take a trip to Lady Liberty’s reopened crown

Critics' pick

In 2011, the interior of the Statue of Liberty was closed for a yearlong renovation project that included improvements to the monument’s stairs and elevators. Access will be reinstated in late October or early November (an exact date hasn’t been set yet). Visitors will once again be able to climb the 393 steps to the inside of the statue’s crown and marvel at the view of New York Harbor. In the meantime, Liberty Island is still open to the public, should you simply want to pose in front of the iconic copper lady.

Read more
Liberty Island

A parade of fancy hats, well fancy that

Critics' pick

The Milliners Guild hosts its fifth annual homage to St. Catherine, the patron saint of hatmakers, with a promenade through midtown. Wearing a variety of handcrafted toppers such as fascinators, cloches and chapeaus, up to 50 guild members, clients and hat aficionados will gather at the Millinery Center Synagogue for the rabbi to bless the parade. From there, the group strolls to Bryant Park to mill about (geddit?) and pose for photos before heading for Rockefeller Center. (Check millinersguild.org closer to the time for information on an after-party.) All are welcome—the only stipulation being you must wear a hat. Don’t try to pass muster in your new Brooklyn Nets cap; we recommend perusing the debonair wares at these New York hat shops first.

Read more
Meet at Millinery Center Synagogue, 1025 Sixth Ave (between 38th and 39th Sts) Until Thu Nov 21 Free

Marvel at artworks by Picasso at the Guggenheim

Critics' pick

As in every other category of art, Picasso dominated when it came to creating works in black and white. This show, which spans almost the entirety of his career (from 1904 to 1971), doesn’t include Guernica, but it does feature 118 works on loan from museum, private, and public collections across Europe and the United States—including numerous works from the Picasso family. Don’t miss this survey of the artist’s lifelong exploration of the unlimited possibilities to be found in a limited palette.

Read more
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Wed Jan 23

Lose your head during a visit to Sleepy Hollow

Those seeking a spooky experience at any time of year can find it here. Immortalized in Washington Irving’s story (and later Tim Burton’s film) about the murderous Headless Horseman, Sleepy Hollow is proud of its exceptionally creepy lore (to wit: the local high school’s athletics team is the Horsemen). The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (540 N Broadway; 914-631-0081, sleepyhollowcemetery.org; Mon–Fri 8am–4:30pm, Sat–Sun 8:30am–4:30pm; free) gives day-trippers plenty of time to explore the 90-acre grounds. You’ll find almost as many famous New Yorkers there as at Brooklyn’s famed Green-Wood: Take your own self-guided tour (free maps are available), and look out for the graves of Elizabeth Arden, Brooke Astor and Irving himself. You can also opt for a guided tour during the day (Sat, Sun at 2pm; $19.99; reservations required; Sept 1–Oct 28), or a more bone-chilling one at night, when your host leads you through the grounds with a lantern (various times; $24.99; reservations required; Sept 1–Oct 31). Travel: Metro-North’s Hudson Line to Philipse Manor. Round-trip off-peak hours $9–$10, peak hours $12–24.

Take a culinary tour of Brooklyn with Le Grand Fooding

Critics' pick

Always one of the hottest culinary events of the season, this year’s Le Grand Fooding focuses on the borough of Brooklyn during a four-night dinner series in which Kings County chefs join forces with national and international talent. The teams consist of Brian Leth (Vinegar Hill House) with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (L.A.’s Animal) on September 19; Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli  (Frankies Spuntino 457) with farm-to-table champion Sean Brock (Charleston, SC’s Husk) on September 20; and Neal Harden and Alain Senderens (Maimonide of Brooklyn) creating a vegan feast with Daniel Rose (Paris’s Spring) on September 21. The final dinner on September 22 invites currently kitchenless chefs—Ignacio Mattos (ex-Isa), Hugue Dufour (formerly of M. Wells), and from across the pond, Isaac McHale and James Lowe of the Young Turks—to collaborate on an art-and-dining experience at the Intercourse, artist Dustin Yellin’s new arts complex in Red Hook. TONY readers can access Mastercard presale tickets; each pass includes a dinner tasting menu and a half bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more
Various locations Until Sat Sep 28

Check out the Public Theater’s redone digs

On October 4, the cultural staple and TONY favorite rededicates its home in the East Village (10am; free; reservations required, via publictheater.org) after a four-year, $40 million renovation. The grand opening is the start of eight weeks of programming to celebrate the revived building. Among the offerings are a Block Party and Open House (Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St; Oct 13 noon–5pm; free) with tours of the building, performances, information on the forthcoming season and food trucks. Additionally, there will be free movie nights and a series of "Public Forum Duets”: one-on-one chats between such luminaries as playwright par excellence Tony Kushner and MSNBC’s liberal-in-chief Rachel Maddow (Dec 2 at 7pm; $40, members $35). Check out the Public’s website now for complete listings—many of the events have limited space, so reserve tickets now.

Read more
Downtown

Picnic on the new Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Critics' pick

This waterfront park continues to expand and impress, and this fall, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy cuts the ribbon on the third of an eventual six piers, boasting a picnic area and three outdoor sports fields. While details regarding permits and league access for the (primarily soccer) pitches haven’t been finalized yet, there will be 73 picnic tables with umbrellas, 22 barbecues for warm days and two tetherball poles for a casual game—all with a million-dollar view of lower Manhattan across the East River.

Read more
Brooklyn Heights Free

Chuckle at a festival celebrating comedy, Eugene Mirman

Critics' pick

The annual Kings County Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, conceptualized by the titular Brooklyn comic, continues to be a fall highlight in the local comedy scene. The bells and whistles are still being affixed to this year’s fest, but come September, fans can look forward to a curated series of goofy gimmicks; last year’s lineup included a petting zoo and an “awkward party bus.” Already on the bill are the popular StarTalk Live! podcast taping with Neil deGrasse Tyson and an edition of Elna Baker and Kevin Townley’s Talent Show.

Read more
Various locations Until Sun Sep 21

Hoist a stein (or two) during Oktoberfest

Critics' pick

We’ve gotta hand it to the Germans: A two-week festival devoted to beer consumption is definitely our idea of a good time. Ring in Oktoberfest at East Village beer hall Zum Schneider, which celebrates the occasion with live music, special German and Austrian beers, and a selection of Bavarian goodies such as pretzels and all manner of wurst.

Read more
Queens

Watch the Macy’s Parade balloon inflation

Critics' pick

This pre–Turkey Day ritual, held near the American Museum of Natural History, has become almost as crowded as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we prefer it to the main event. Why? We can’t stand still in one spot for hours to watch a parade—New Yorkers are like sharks in that respect; if we don’t keep moving, we die. We prefer to weave through the crowds, walking past the inflation stations to see Kermit the Frog, Julius the Paul Frank monkey, Sonic the Hedgehog, Buzz Lightyear, Santa on his sleigh et al. at our own pace. Arrive later in the evening, when the gigantic characters have taken shape; the crowds are at their peak, so you can also show off the famed New York sidewalk shuffle.

Read more
Enter at W 79th St (at Columbus Ave) 26 Nov 2014 Free

Cruise for a cause at Bike MS NYC

Critics' pick

With the economy still in the doldrums, nonprofits need more support than ever. Raise funds for the National MS Society, which is helping to find the cause and a cure for multiple sclerosis, on this annual ride. Three routes are offered, the shortest being a 30-mile jaunt around Manhattan. Opt for the 50- or 100-mile rides, and you'll haul ass under the Hudson River through the Holland Tunnel before taking a scenic, traffic-free path that winds through New Jersey and upstate New York; you'll ride back into the city by way of the George Washington Bridge. Reservations required.

Read more
Pier 94 Sun Oct 21

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

Critics' pick

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.

Read more
Various locations 27 Oct 2013

Listen to luminaries at the New York Public Library

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.

Read more
Midtown

Avoid the slutty costume brigade at PhantasmaGorey Grand Victorian Halloween Ball

Critics' pick

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.

Read more
The Riverside Church Until Sat Oct 26

Drink beer on Bear Mountain

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.

Watch the Who perform Quadrophenia

Critics' pick

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.

Read more
Various venues Until Thu Feb 21

Roast an author

Critics' pick

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.

Read more
BAM Harvey Theater Until Tue Nov 20

Get wild at the West Indian–American Day Carnival

Critics' pick

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).

Read more
Location TBA 02 Sep 2013 Free

Pull an all-nighter before the carnival

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

Read more
Prospect Park Free

Have an early Oktoberfest at the German-American Steuben Parade

Critics' pick

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.

Read more
Fifth Ave (from 67th St to 86th St) Until Sat Sep 21 Free

Get out of the museum and into the Art in Odd Places festival

Critics' pick

Responsible for thousands of only-in–New York moments, this annual fest brings work from more than 100 artists to 14th Street. This year’s theme is “model,” in varying senses of the word: In Piero Passacantando’s dueling-easels piece “I paint you. You paint me.” participants model for the artist and vice versa; “Swagger: The High Cost of Zombie Capital” will turn 14th Street into a runway. Visit artinoddplaces.org on Sept 1 for a full list of projects.

Read more
14th St (between Ave C and Hudson River) Until Sun Oct 12 Free

Commune with other geeks during New York Comic Con

Snag your tickets now for this annual celebration of all things nerdy, as they're likely to sell out long before the event happens. Although the schedule for 2012 is still under wraps, expect to see big names from TV and film (such as Adam West and Burt Ward—the original Batman and Robin—and Back to the Future's Christopher Lloyd), along with writers like Anne Rice and Brian K. Vaughan. After hitting a few panels, make sure to take a stroll through the Javits Center: Part of the fun of Comic Con is gawking at all of the revelers who've shown up in elaborate costumes. (We're expecting a lot of groups dressed as the Avengers getting into rumbles with armies of Dark Knights this year.) newyorkcomiccon.com

Read more
Hell's Kitchen

Spend a day (or three) at the New York State Fair

It may be a five-hour drive to Syracuse, but once you’re there, you’ll have a weekend’s worth of entertainment at your fingertips for just a Hamilton a day—from thrill rides to art exhibits and circus performances. Snap a picture of a giant sculpture made from hundreds of pounds of butter; walk through the new monarch butterfly garden, filled with hundreds of colorful insects; watch BMX stunts by world champion Mike Steidley; cheer on the contestants during the pig and dachshund races; try a doughnut bacon burger ($6) or deep-fried bacon-wrapped Snickers bar ($5); and catch free concerts by Karmin, Neon Trees, the Commodores and others. Separate tickets are required for entry to the State Fair Grandstand, an outdoor venue that is hosting big-ticket shows like the State Demolition Derby Championship (Sept 3; $10). nysfair.org. $10, advance $6, children under 12 free. Grandstand: $10–$65 (includes fairground admission).

Honor a saint, be gluttonous

Critics' pick

Celebrate the martyred third-century bishop and patron saint of Naples during the Feast of San Gennaro, an 11-day festival that fills the streets of Little Italy every year. Watch the professionals in action at the cannoli-eating competition (Thu 13 2–4pm) and you won't feel so bad about indulging in calorific treats from the food vendors; return daily for live musical performances. On the last Saturday at 2pm, a statue of San Gennaro is carried in a Grand Procession outside the Most Precious Blood Church (109 Mulberry St between Canal and Hester Sts).

Read more
Mulberry St between Canal and Houston Sts and Grand St between Center and Mott Sts Until Sun Sep 21 Free

See a big music collaboration

Critics' pick

The team-up of affable art-pop kingpin David Byrne and brilliant St. Vincent mastermind Annie Clark is one of the year's most highly anticipated collaborations. The two present a mix of back-catalog material and music from a new joint LP, Love This Giant, over three dates.

Read more
Williamsburg Park Sat Sep 29

Catch American Ballet Theatre and more at New York City Center

The delight of ABT’s brief fall season is sure to be the premiere by Alexei Ratmansky: Set to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, the new work marks the first of three one-act ballets to be unveiled at the Metropolitan Opera House in the spring. Other City Center highlights include the 70th anniversary of Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, Mark Morris’s Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. The last one, in particular, is a slice of heaven.

Read more
Midtown West

Catch the second run of top-notch Fringe Fest shows

If the 188 options in this year’s Fringe Festival lineup overwhelmed you, good news: The FringeNYC Encore Series, which runs throughout September, whittles the program down considerably. Plus, the dozen or so selections for the series are chosen because they were fan or critical favorites, so you know you’re seeing something good. This year, the selected productions include 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, a cult hit that TONY associate theater editor Adam Feldman said “functions well as a quick, tasty snack”; and Independents, which TONY theater editor David Cote praised for its “warm, honest aura” and “hauntingly beautiful singing.”

Read more
Downtown

Become a collector at the Affordable Art Fair

Critics' pick

Got a wall to fill? This walk-around expo brings more than 75 galleries under one roof to display painting, sculpture, photography and other artistic media. Don’t let the name fool you: If you’re coming to buy, you should be prepared to spend in the range of three or four digits; to qualify as “affordable,” the original artworks must be priced below $10,000 (half the work will cost less than $5,000). Even if you can’t find something within your budget, you'll still get to check out pieces by a bunch of international artists, such as Irish photographer Simon Watson and fashion-world darling Graham Lott, for just $12 (or for free if you visit between 5 and 8pm on Oct 5), which is less than most major art museums charge for admission.

Read more
The Tunnel Sun Oct 7

Get your literary fill at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Critics' pick

Helping to make Brooklyn even more ridiculously bookish than it already is, this daylong fest promises dozens of readings and panel discussions, as well as the chance to rub shoulders with literary luminaries and, yes, plenty of struggling scribes like yourself. While the full lineup of events hasn’t been revealed, organizers confirm that writers such as Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates, Pete Hamill and Billy Collins are on the docket.

Read more
Various locations 21 Sep 2014 Free

Explore a creative 'hood during the Dumbo Arts Festival

Critics' pick

Head to this annual three-day arts fest in the culturally rich Brooklyn neighborhood to view the work of more than 500 artists. Drop by local studios, see installations, performance art and works-in-progress in the streets.

Read more
Various locations Fri Sep 28 - Sun Sep 30 Free

Have some fucking dinner during the Omnivore World Tour

Critics' pick

The globe-trotting Omnivore World Tour returns to New York, celebrating jeune (“young”) cuisine through a series of free master classes and two “Fucking Dinners” ($76). The meals will be created in teams: Dominique Crenn (San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn) joins Alexandre Couillon (La Marine of Noirmoutier, France) to create their take on French cuisine at Dekalb Market; while locals Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, Blanca), Brooks Headley and Mark Ladner (both Del Posto) collaborate at Blanca. The classes are equally high-profile, with Jose Ramirez (Chez Jose, ex-Isa), Christophe Dufau (France’s Les Bacchanales) and Ivan Shishkin (Moscow’s Delicatessen) among those leading workshops. This year also sees the first Omnivorous Party (Sept 23 at 1pm, free) at Dekalb Market, featuring DJs and creative riffs on American street food available for purchase.

Read more
Various venues Sat Sep 22 - Sun Sep 23

See gorgeous masterpieces in “Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School”

Critics' pick

The New-York Historical Society created this traveling exhibit to showcase iconic paintings by artists such as Thomas Cole and Asher Brown Durand. They were part of a group called the Hudson River School, whose work depict pastoral landscapes throughout New York state. After a year on the road, the exhibit, which includes Cole's five-painting series The Course of Empire, is back at N-YHS. Visitors can see 45 of these bucolic images, which portray locales such as Niagara Falls, the Catskills and Lake George. It’s a perfect taste of the countryside for the urbanite who’s wary of wide open spaces.

Read more
Upper West Side

Get your thrills at Fairgrounds

Critics' pick

Reality stars Reichen Lehmkuhl (The A-List: New York) and Greg Bennett (The Real Housewives of New Jersey) are your special hosts at this all-homo night at the Six Flags amusement park, brought to you by Mark Nelson and Out In Events. Get cheap thrills on the rides, indulge in greasy food and flirt with fellow revelers without the risk of mistaking some dad from Philly for a daddy from Chelsea. Some tickets include transportation or unlimited food. Check gaysixflags.com for details.

Read more
Six Flags Great Adventure Until Sat Sep 6

Explore loftier thoughts at the White Light Festival

Lincoln Center’s annual series explores music’s transcendental qualities, and this fall brings another month’s worth of events that invite audiences to unplug and consider the human condition. Among the highlights is Les Arts Florissants, William Christie’s globally renowned ensemble of Baroque singers and instrumentalists (Oct 19 at 7:30pm; $45–$77); recitals by acclaimed pianist Emanuel Ax (Nov 4 at 5pm; $40–$100); and Heiner Goebbels’s staged concert I went to the house but did not enter, based on texts by T.S. Eliot, Maurice Blanchot, Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett (Nov 13, 14 at 7:30pm; $25–$75). Visit whitelightfestival.org for a complete lineup.

See indie flicks in Coney Island

Critics' pick

Cinéastes can consider the Coney Island Film Festival a smaller, more laid-back and community-focused alternative to the star-studded New York Film Festival. The three-day fest, which kicks off just a week before the NYFF takes over the Upper West Side, screens a variety of micro-budget features, animation, shorts, documentaries, music videos and ’hood-centric flicks. But perhaps the biggest draw? Watching movies in the punk-meets-freak environs of Sideshows by the Seashore while imbibing plenty of Coney Island brews. coneyislandfilmfestival.com

Read more
Brooklyn

Get out and vote!

You already know how important it is to cast your vote in this year’s presidential election on November 6, but consider this a reminder of your duty as an American citizen. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, there’s still time: The deadline to register in New York City is October 12, and you can do so in person at any Board of Elections office. For more information—including what forms of ID you need and locations—visit vote.nyc.ny.us.

Catch election fever at the 92nd Street Y

Critics' pick

Get a primer on the most hotly debated political topics at one of the 92nd Street Y’s Campaign for the American Conversation events: The series kicks off September 9 with “The Unconvention: A Soundbite-free Evening of Political Talk from Left, Right and Center” (7pm; $10). Speakers include former Indiana Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, ex–Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, HuffPost Live host Abby Huntsman (daughter of former presidential candidate Jon) and BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith. Legendary Watergate reporter Bob Woodward (Sept 27), economist Joseph Stiglitz (Oct 3) and lawyer-commentator Alan Dershowitz (Nov 16) also make appearances during the four-month run. Also at 92YTribeca. Visit 92yamericanconversation.org for a complete schedule.

Read more
Upper East Side

Eat like a king during Harvest in the Square

Critics' pick

Union Square transforms into a giant outdoor buffet for this annual tasting event. Try unlimited samples of signature dishes from more than 50 restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Hill Country Chicken; local producers and suppliers, among them Wolffer Estate Vineyard and Heartland Brewery, will provide wine and beer pairings. Tickets are dear, but proceeds go to a worthy cause: to help the Union Square Partnership maintain the park. VIP preview 6–7:30pm

Read more
Union Square Until Thu Sep 18

Feel the burn at the Chile Pepper Fiesta

Critics' pick

Heat-seeking capsaicin lovers won’t want to miss this spicy celebration. Tour the pepper plants in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Herb Garden, catch fire shows by circus performers Robbins and Ringold, and listen to a performance by Brooklyn’s own Chicha Libre, whose tunes are informed by South American psychedelia. Vendors like Mast Brothers Chocolate and Nunu Chocolates will offer gratis samples of their most incendiary snacks. If you want to experiment with the fiery veggie on your own time, stop by the Chile Pepper Farm Stand, which will feature goods from local purveyors such as East New York Farms.

Read more
Brooklyn Botanic Garden 27 Sep 2014

Pig out on Randalls Island

Critics' pick

More than 45 high-profile chefs will roast, grill and smoke meat of all varieties at red-blooded cookout Meatopia. The outdoor tasting will feature stations serving unlimited portions of dishes such as grilled veal brisket with charred garlic scapes from Noah Bernamoff (Mile End), whole Hampshire hog from April Bloomfield (the Breslin) and grilled pork cheeks with summer vegetable mostarda from Michael White (Marea). Amstel Light will be pouring gratis brews all evening, and Jeni’s will dish out free scoops of ice cream to cool you down.

Read more
Randalls Island Park Sat Sep 8

Fist-pump to punk rock at Irving Plaza

Critics' pick

Relive your moshing days during the four-day Revelation Records 25th Anniversary. A slew of bands hit town to toast the seminal punk label, which was an instrumental part of the NYHC (New York hardcore) movement in the ’80s and ’90s. The bill boasts tuneful emo progenitor Texas Is the Reason, straight-edge Cali crew Chain of Strength and Staten Island post-hardcore supergroup Into Another.

Read more
Irving Plaza Sat Oct 13 - Sun Oct 14

Celebrate a milestone with FOUND magazine

Critics' pick

Old love letters, weird drawings and diary entries: These are just some of the materials that have made their way into the pages of FOUND magazine. Launched in 2001 by writer Davy Rothbart, the publication collects random objects, many of which are submitted by readers. To celebrate the mag's tenth anniversary, Rothbart is taking his favorite ephemera and artifacts on tour, making two stops in NYC this September. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own found items, and will be treated to a reading from Rothbart’s new essay collection, My Heart is an Idiot, as well as live music from his brother, Peter.

Read more
UCBEast Wed Sep 19 - Thu Sep 20

Get cultured at BAM

BAM’s Next Wave Festival turns 30 this year and, as always, the institution has cooked up an intriguing blend of dance and musical performances, plays, discussions and more. This year’s big draws include the revival of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s masterful four-plus-hour opera Einstein on the Beach (BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Sept 14–23; various dates and times; $40–$180) and a tribute to model, singer and hipster icon Nico curated by the Velvet Underground’s John Cale (BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Jan 16 at 8pm; $20–80). BAM Howard Gilman Opera HouseBAM Harvey Theater. See bam.org for details.

Beware the Paley Center’s roaming hands

Critics' pick

We don’t know if the Paley Center thinks we just got off the bus from Hicksville, but we do know one thing: Mixtapes are only—only!—ever given as a ploy to get in someone’s pants. So we’ll consider the TV-loving institution’s monthly series of visual mash-ups as something of an extended overture. And it’s working: We’re swooning over September’s edition, Dueling Star Treks, which is pegged to the 25th anniversary of The Next Generation’s first season. Curator David Bushman cuts and pastes clips together to back up a ten-point argument about Picard & Co.’s superiority, culminating in a screening of TNG’s celebrated season-five episode “The Inner Light.” The Paley Center continues its courting in October with a series entitled Dreams, where we assume we’ll discuss our hopes and fears about building a life together before Paley tries to bed us with Bond at 50 in November. Our friends keep telling us December will include “Why won’t they return my calls?” or “Gone before we woke up; didn’t even leave a note.”

Read more

Learn how the circus changed New York City

Critics' pick

Whatever your feelings on the circus—is it a family-friendly diversion or an exploitative, animal-abusing travesty?—there’s no denying that the clowns-and-animals spectacle has shaped the evolution of American entertainment. In a new exhibit, “Circus and the City: New York, 1793–2010,” the Bard Graduate Center Gallery examines the controversial pastime and its influence on commerce and showbiz in New York City. More than 200 artifacts—including posters, photographs and costumes—will be on view, illustrating the stories of figures such as John Bill Ricketts, who staged the first circus in New York, and the legendary P.T. Barnum.

Read more
Bard Graduate Center Gallery 03 Feb 2013

Eat funnel cake at the Atlantic Antic

Critics' pick

In a city full of street fairs, this is one of the largest. It spans ten blocks of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue, and features live music, food and pony rides. Start at the Fourth Avenue end and walk the length of the Antic, and finish by admiring the New York Transit Museum’s collection of vintage hot rides at the 19th Annual Bus Festival (Boerum Pl between Atlantic Ave and State St, Downtown Brooklyn; 718-694-1600, mta.info/museum; Sept 30 11am–5pm; free). As a bonus, the museum waives its entry fee for the day.

Read more
Atlantic Ave between Fourth Ave and Hicks St 28 Sep 2014 Free

Warm up this fall at a knitting class

Create your own seasonal accessories at Knitty City (208 W 79th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway; 212-787-5896, knittycity.com), where instructor Maxine Levinson leads monthly beginners courses. (Next event: Sept 8 noon–2pm; $30.) Brooklyn General Store (128 Union St between Columbia and Hicks Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-237-7753, brooklyngeneral.com) also offers beginners classes over three consecutive Wednesday evenings every month. Veteran instructor Heather Love caters to all skill levels, including absolute novices who have never held a pair of needles (series begin Sep 12 and Oct 3; $130).

Think outside of the cultural box at Crossing the Line

Critics' pick

This interdisciplinary festival—presented by the French Institute Alliance Française—is one of the season’s great joys. For this sixth installment, Lili Chopra, Gideon Lester and Simon Dove have chosen work that defies genre, including pieces by choreographers DD Dorvillier, Sarah Michelson and Jack Ferver, as well as the return of Raimund Hoghe and the French director Pascal Rambert. Forget about categories; this is a whirlwind of art.

Read more
Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement Until Sun Oct 13

Have a good ol’ time in Queens

Critics' pick

You needn’t flee NYC for some old-fashioned, small-town fun. At the 30th annual Queens County Fair, urbanites can compete in pie-eating, corn-husking and arm-wrestling competitions, and enjoy other down-home attractions, such as pig races and hayrides ($2). Prolong the day’s rustic feel by making your way through the farm’s biggest attraction, its three-acre corn maze (11am–4:30pm; $9, children 4 to 11 $5; children under 4 free).

Read more
Queens County Farm Museum 21 Sep 2014

Stock your pantry

Greenmarket shoppers, take note: Now is the time to preserve seasonal produce in preparation for the barren winter months. The Brooklyn Kitchen runs classes six days a week where you can learn how to extend the life of your favorite ingredients. On Sept 19 and Oct 1, sip Brooklyn Brewery beers while Rick Field of Rick’s Picks leads a hands-on pickling workshop (6:30pm; $55), or brush up on your canning skills when Kendall Holmes of McClure’s Pickles instructs on Oct 10 and 22 (6:30pm; $55).

Read more
Williamsburg

Brew your own beer

Fall is the best time to brew your own tipple. Compared with the sweltering summer, the climate in your apartment should be more friendly to the fermentation process (the ideal temperature for ale yeasts is between 65 and 75 degrees). But to take advantage of these favorable conditions, you'll need equipment. Brooklyn Brew Shop (brooklynbrewshop.com) sells convenient one-gallon brewing kits (equipment plus ingredients) in varieties such as Everyday IPA and Chocolate Maple Porter ($40 each). You can buy the packages in person at the Beer Room at Whole Foods Bowery (95 E Houston St between Bowery and Chrystie St; 212-420-1320, wholefoodsmarket.com; daily 8am–11pm), which carries a wealth of hardware, including five-gallon fermenters, siphon tubes and air locks. In addition to supplies, brew shop Bitter & Esters offers a Homebrewing Essentials class (dates and times vary; $55) that'll take you through the process step-by-step.

Root for your alma mater’s football team

Critics' pick

During college football season, show allegiance to your old stomping grounds at a bar that supports your team. In New York, that’s no problem: There’s a tavern devoted to almost every (decent Division I) squad. On Saturdays, Kentucky Wildcat fans pack the rowdy midtown pub Jack Demsey’s, which has 22 TV screens. And proud onetime Syracuse students can reminisce about the glory days during games at Break Bar and Billiards (32-04 Broadway between 32nd and 33rd Sts, Long Island City, Queens; 718-777-5400, break-ny.com). For more sport-watching options, try these best sports bars.

Read more
Midtown West

Hit the ice at Rockefeller Center

Sure, it’s a little early to be skating, but the preseason rates at NYC’s most famous rink are half of what they’ll be over the holidays. Take advantage of the discounted price (and lack of crowds) from October 13 to November 8 to practice your spins and jumps—and tick an item off your New York bucket list.

Read more
Midtown West

Experience the freakier side of Coney Island

Critics' pick

To those who say that Coney Island has lost its edge, we say…well, you’re mostly correct. But some vestiges of the area’s colorful past remain: Over two consecutive weekends, you can see a bevy of bearded gents—and ladies!—showing off their creative follicles, followed by a convention for the impressively inked. Start growing your whiskers out now for the Beard and Mustache Championship (Sept 8 at 8pm; $15), which gives hirsute folks the chance to compete in categories like Best Beard, Best Sideburns and Best Fake. After that, the Tattoo and Motorcycle Show (Sept 14–16) welcomes enthusiasts of both bikes and tats; there are contests to determine the best in show for each, as well as the opportunity to gawk at exceptional varieties of both.

Read more
Brooklyn

Find some pumpkins to carve (or smash)

You know what October means: It’s time to get creative with gourds. This year, forgo the corner bodega and make your annual pumpkin purchase a true pilgrimage: Scads of nearby farms have them available to the public. Apple Ridge Orchards (appleridgeorchards.com), Dr. Davies Farm (drdaviesfarm.com) and Soons Orchard (soonsorchard.com) are just a few spots where you can pick your own. Happy smashing!

Doll up your dog at a harvest festival

Most city slickers are pretty far removed from agricultural activities, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating fall’s bumper crop on October 20. (Any excuse for a party, right?) There will be music, theater, food from local restaurants and a canine costume contest at Socrates Sculpture Park (11am–3pm; free). Last year’s event featured adorable pups dressed as sharks and pirates. On the same day, Brooklyn Bridge Park will offer pumpkin decorating, live music and other festivities at Pier 6 (10:30am–1pm; free).

Work on your wardrobe

The temperature's dropping. You need more clothes (last year's just won't do). Thankfully, two of our favorite local clothing boutiques—menswear store Odin and womenswear emporium Kirna Zabête—are participating in the second installment of the Shops at Target (target.com), a collaboration between the chain and small independent businesses throughout the country that hit shelves on Sept 9. The well-priced apparel ($20–$200) from both high-end retailers doesn’t disappoint in effectively translating their chic aesthetics into affordable pieces. For more high-fashion, low-cost options, consult our shopping guide to fall 2012’s big fashion collaborations.

Expand your knowledge of Indian culture beyond Trader Joe’s frozen paneer during the Diwali Festival of Lights

Critics' pick

Commemorate the end of Hindu king and deity Rama’s 14 years of exile alongside hundreds of local Indian-Americans during this annual extravaganza that culminates in a spectacular fireworks display. Fashion, music, food, educational programming and other activities make this one of the largest culturally Indian events in the city, and it has been going strong for more than two decades.

Read more
Financial District

Shop the Brooklyn Flea in grand surroundings

Critics' pick

After Thanksgiving, the indie market moves back to the spacious, regal Art Deco digs of Skylight One Hanson lobby and basement, so you can pick through vintage duds, funky jewelry, quirky furnishings and more handmade fare from a variety of local vendors without freezing to death. To find out who’s selling that weekend—as well as what food vendors will be on hand—check Brooklyn Flea’s site the Friday before doors open.

Read more
Fort Greene Free

Embrace your nerdy tendencies at the World Maker Faire

Critics' pick

Creators of all ages and stripes convene at this geeky gathering, which is now in its third year. During the two-day extravaganza, you can career through a life-size mousetrap, take workshops on lock-picking, watch a car-building competition, play a homemade instrument and find dozens of other quirky ways to sate your inner inventor. Visit makerfaire.com for more information.

Read more
New York Hall of Science 21 Sep 2014

Feed your mine at “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture”

Critics' pick

The American Museum of Natural History’s ongoing Adventures in the Global Kitchen series has explored molecular gastronomy, tequila, why French women don’t get fat and more. Next, prepare for an investigation into human nutrition at this wide-ranging showcase: Displays look at early diet staples and the history of agriculture, as well as current environmental, health and safety concerns relating to the food industry. While parts of the exhibit aren’t particularly appetizing—challenges of feeding the global population are more sobering—it’ll still satisfy your culinary curiosity.

Read more
American Museum of Natural History 11 Aug 2013

Screw the haters—sip a pumpkin-flavored brew at Bierkraft

Critics' pick

Pumpkin beer is a divisive drink—some people love it; others find it cloying and gross. We’re staunchly pro-pumpkin, especially since there are several beers that buck the stereotype and skillfully incorporate the gourd. A perennial favorite is Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, a not-too-sweet variety sold at Bierkraft. Sixpoint will release this year’s batch of its seasonal quaff, Autumnation, on September 30. The brew, which is wet-hopped using Citra hops, will be on tap at bars throughout the city and will also be available in the brewery’s 16-ounce cans. And Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has already released its Leaf Pile beer, which is flavored with nutmeg and vanilla. You can find it on tap at Bierkraft, or head to the brewery’s headquarters (234 Carpenter Street between Bay Ave and Front St, Greenport, Long Island; 631-477-6681, harborbrewing.com) to pick up a growler.

Read more
Park Slope

See dogs fly at Historic Richmond Town Fair

Critics' pick

Grab the fam and head to Historic Richmond Town, a preserved museum-village dating from the late 17th century, for its 33rd annual county fair. Three stages of live music, puppetry, dance performances and rides are sure to keep the little ones occupied all day. Plus, watch sand man Matt Long create a giant sculpture over the course of three days (you can even pick up tips from the expert sand carver during one of his kid-friendly workshops), or check out former Detroit Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox’s Ultimate Air Dogs. The athletic pups perform tricks while jumping off a dock into water, catching mad air (20 feet!) in the process.

Read more
Historic Richmond Town 01 Sep 2014

Prove you can hold your liquor and hold forth during Lit Crawl NYC

Critics' pick

This progressive event, an offshoot of San Francisco's Litquake, happens in three different phases of readings and parties, spread across two dozen venues in lower Manhattan. This year's offerings include events with Molly Ringwald and Irvine Welsh, along with a series of public apologies from the National Book Critics Circle. Check litcrawl.org/nyc for the full schedule.

Read more
Various locations Until Sat Sep 14 Free

Celebrate 50 years of Judson

Critics' pick

The fall Platform, presented by Danspace Project, pays homage to the artists of the revolutionary Judson Dance Theater, which rejected the principles of modern dance in favor of a fresh, pedestrian approach. This year marks the organization’s 50th anniversary, and it’ll celebrate with a series of events and performances by postmodern luminaries including Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer. Danspace will also host showings by current choreographers inspired by Judson ideas.

Read more
East Village

Comments

3 comments
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

Mandy
Mandy

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!!