Timeout New York Kids

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38 fun and free things to do in NYC in October 2012

There's nothing we love more than free things to do in NYC; behold, our list of 38 gratis October events that won't cost your family a dime.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    The Little Red Lighthouse and the GWB

  • Open House NY

  • Photograph: QCFM staff photographer

    Queens County Farm Museum

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Fall Kids Fest

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Century of the Child at MoMA

  • My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair

  • Harmony on the Hudson

  • GrowNYC's Halloween Costume Swap

  • Halloween Harvest Festival

  • Dia de los Muertos

  • World Financial Center Screamin' Green Halloween

  • LES Pickle Day

  • Central Park Pumpkin Sail

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    39th Annual Village Halloween Parade

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

The Little Red Lighthouse and the GWB

RECOMMENDED: More things to do in the fall with kids

Who says living in the city has to be expensive? In honor of one of favorite months, we've put together a list of the best free things to do in NYC—everything from movie nights at children's stores to harvest festivals and Halloween events. We're especially excited about our Fall Kids Fest presented by World Class Learning Academy—stop by Madison Square Park on Saturday, October 13, for free concerts, art activities, story sessions and treats.

Meet the Author: Lois Lowry
Incontestably one of the most revered children's book (and YA) authors of our time, Lois Lowry—the winner of two Newbery Awards, for Number the Stars and The Giver—is in town to launch her sequel to The Giver (1994), a dystopian novel that's found its way onto many a middle-school and high-school reading list. In Son, Lowry picks up where she left off, concluding the story of Jonas and Gabriel, the baby whose life Jonas saves when he learns the boy has been chosen for "release" by the Orwell-esque society that surrounds them. Tue Oct 2 at 7pm. Barnes and Noble. Ages 9 and up.

First Saturday for Families: How to Create a History
This New Museum First Saturday focuses on New York City's artistic past. In conjunction with the exhibit "Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery 1969-1989," kids can see how artists during that time documented and changed the neighborhood they lived in. Then, young historians can start an archive of their own past. Participation is first-come, first-served and includes museum admission. Sat Oct 6 at 10am. New Museum. Ages 4 and up.

Pumpkin Day
Can't make it to a real pumpkin patch? No worries: At this annual Brooklyn event, kids can pluck pumpkins from a man-made "patch," then decorate their gourds in spooky styles. Before helping your babe carry his find home, stick around to enjoy live music, sample yummy treats and help your darling make other kiddie crafts. Sat Oct 6 11am1pm. McCarren Park. All ages.

Czech Street Festival
Celebrate Czech Independence Day at this annual street festival, where families can check out authentic food, marionettes and games while rocking to the beats of live Czech bands. Sat Oct 6 noon5pm. W 73rd St between First and Second Aves. Ages 3 to 12.

Little Red Lighthouse Festival
Celebrate the last remaining lighthouse in Manhattan, and the subject of the 1942 children's book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, at the 20th anniversary of this festival. Kids can take a tour of the lighthouse, engage in craft activities, and take in music and dance performances. Sat Oct 6 noon4pm. Fort Washington Park. All ages.

MoMA Family Films: Lessons Learned
Check out MOMA's free screenings of classic family films throughout the fall, each followed by a discussion with a museum educator. This month, view shorts with morals, like "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Miriam's Broken Picture." Pick up your gratis tickets between 10 and 10:30am or 11:30am and noon on the day of the program at the information desk in the Museum's main lobby or at the reception desk at the Education and Research Building. Tickets are good for a family of two parents and three children and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Sat Oct 6 noon1pm. Ages 5 and up.

Pumpkin Patch and October Fest
Step into the members-only green space; it's open to the public one day a year as a pumpkin patch. Once inside, your kids can make sand art, hang out in the storytime tent, participate in a sidewalk chalk-art contest, get their faces painted, nosh on German food, listen to live music by kids' performer Richard Younger and, of course, pick out the perfect pumpkin. Rain date is October 7. Sat Oct 6 noon5pm. Sunnyside Gardens Park. All ages.

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