Best fall festivals and fairs for NYC families

Enjoy the perks of the season with NYC's best fall festivals and fairs. Say hello to an autumn state of mind!
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock
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Don the flannel and grab a pumpkin-spiced treat. Autumn is upon us, and the best fall festivals and fairs will return to put NYC in a festive spirit. With all of the goodies coming our way, you won't be sorry to see summer go. 

Weekends during September and October mean seasonal goodness at Luna Park in Coney Island. Don't forget for all-things creepy, cooky and fun at Brooklyn Botanic Garden's annual Ghouls and Gourds extravaganza. 

Find the perfect pumpkin for your family's Jack-o-lantern and sip on some delicious cider—there's nothing quite like fall in NYC! 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the fall with kids

While you're planning your calendar, don't forget to check out the best apple picking near NYC, the most adventurous corn mazes NY and the surrounding area have to offer and, of course, binge on the spookiest scary movies for kids

Best fall festivals and fairs

Fri Sept 30
Things to do

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

icon-location-pin Van Cortlandt Manor,
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There's nothing else quite like the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze for experiencing the magic and wonder of Halloween with your family. The attraction is set along the beautiful 18th century riverside landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor, and you can stroll along the Pumpkin Promenade to take in over 7,000 Jack O' Lanterns (all of which are hand-carved)! This delightfully eerie walk is also set to cool sound effects, synchronized light displays and an original soundtrack. Expect to see spiders and snakes, animals of all kinds on this spooky stroll. Be sure to get your tickets early—they sell out fast and required to gain access to the event! Also note that the tickets you purchase are for specific times. All ages.

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Movie theaters

NYICFF Five Borough Tour

icon-location-pin Various locations,
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The movies are on the move! The best of the New York International Children's Film Festival—Kid Flicks One (ages 3–7), Kid Flicks Two (ages 8 and up) and ¡Viva Kid Flicks! (7 and up)—is returning to the big screen. The flicks will be screened at various theaters throughout the five boroughs to give children a taste of other cultures, and budding film buffs need to get tickets. Learn more about the tour here. Ages 3 and up.  Queens: Oct 13-14 — Museum of the Moving ImageStaten Island: Oct 13-14 — Staten Island MuseumEast Harlem: Oct 20 — El Museo del BarrioHarlem: Oct 21, Nov 18, Dec 16 — Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of StorytellingWashington Heights: Oct 25 — Kid’s CinemaFest/Dominican Film FestivalBronx: Coming soonBrooklyn: Coming soon

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Photograph: Grand Central Holiday Fair
Things to do

Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair

icon-location-pin Grand Central Terminal, Midtown East
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Forty unique vendors come together in one of NYC's most gorgeous architecutral attractions to provide a can't-miss holiday experience. If your daily commute's got you down, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is surely one way to make you feel merry and bright. Explore the wide array of handmade goods—toys, games, accessories and more—before boarding your train home. Chances are, you're bound to find some great gifts for loved ones. Even better? You also have the option to snag a sneak peek at the holiday train show too, so you're truly entering a winter wonderland. You'll be spending a lot of time wandering the train station this season! Note that the market won't be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, so plan your shopping ahead of time. All ages.

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Things to do, Festivals

Light Up Luminaries

icon-location-pin Brookfield Place | Manhattan, NY, Battery Park City
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Brookfield Place is embracing the holiday spirit with its beloved event, Light Up Luminaries. As we usher in wintertime festivities, guests at the holiday kickoff wil enjoy a gorgeous light installation, ice skating, delicious sweets and entertainment from the Loser's Lounge and the Original Dickens Carolers. All ages. 

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11th Annual Brooklyn Children's Book Fair
Photograph courtesy Rachel Papo
Things to do, Literary events

Brooklyn Children's Book Fair

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Museum | Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park
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The annual fair returns to the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion at the Brooklyn Museum for its 12th year with 40 Brooklyn-based authors and illustrators of picture books, storybooks, novels, and graphic novels. Check out readings and various hands-on activities appropriate for different age groups from toddler through middle schoolers. All ages.

Things to do

Union Square Holiday Market

icon-location-pin Union Square, Union Square
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Grab a cup of hot cocoa or cider to beat the chill as you navigate this holiday market, a favorite among shoppers looking to support local businesses. Foodies can grab a taste from  a variety of vendors here before browsing through kiosks featuring jewelry, artwork, candles, home goods, beauty products and gifts for kids. Here, you’ll find many artisanal products that are NYC-made, USA-made, Fairtrade/Organic Certified and made from recycled, reused or vintage items. All ages.

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Shopping, Markets and fairs

Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

icon-location-pin The Green Building, Gowanus
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More than 60 makers will help shoppers usher in the holiday season at this special weekend market at 452 and 501 Union Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The curated market will feature food and drink vendors, a live DJ, photo booth, kids’ crafts and more. But while you’re having all that fun, don’t forget to shop from the selection of local and indie makers. There are so many amazing shops selling wares for kids including JamJamsJam and Fairyland Amigurumi. All ages.

Things to do

Winter Jam 2019

icon-location-pin Central Park, Great Lawn, Central Park
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Amid the messy streets and cold temps, we may sometimes forget that winter in New York is supposed to be awesome. (Seriously.) The Parks Department reminds us why we should love the colder months thanks to Winter Jam, its annual winter sports festival in Central Park. Families can learn or take part in snowshoeing, skiing and sledding. Bring your own snow sports gear or borrow the equipment on load at no cost, then while away the hours sipping hot chocolate and enjoying the outdoors during this ultimate snow day. The rain date for the 2019 event is Feb 2. Enter the park at 72nd St, as the festivities will take place in the Bandshell area. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier
Things to do

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

icon-location-pin Bryant Park, Midtown West
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Every year, Bryant Park transforms into a winter village complete with an outdoor ice skating rink right at the center. Shop from local vendors selling food and drinks and get an early start on those holiday wish lists. Wonderful pop-up shops for kids include Kubiya Games for those who enjoy a good brainteaser and New York Puzzle Company for jigsaw puzzles based on classic children’s book covers. All ages.

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