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48 amazing things to do in NYC in October

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Dynamite things to do 

New York Comic Con Javits Center; Oct 6–9; $40
This glorious geek assembly brings in more than 151,000 visitors, beating San Diego Comic-Con and making NYCC the second-biggest event in the city. Wear a Batman T-shirt or a full cape-and-cowl at this packed pop culture mecca, where anyone can be a superhero. 

Open House New York various locations; Oct 15, 16; free-$5
The Metropolitan Opera House is one of this year’s brand-new additions to the Open House New York, the weekend-long festival where more than 250 fascinating sites across New York open their doors to the public. The incredibly popular two-day event offers glimpses into spaces that are usually off limits to the public, from sky-high rooftop gardens to palatial apartments.

Kickoff to Fall Queens County Farm Museum; 11am; free
Fact: Nothing says autumn like an intricate corn maze, wooden bins filled to the brim with just-picked apples and a pumpkin patch overflowing with gourds. All three of these iconic seasonal staples are present at this annual festival, which celebrates the season’s return to Queens County Farm Museum. Tap your toes to country & western band Savannah Sky while sipping crisp apple cider, get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze, and watch the farm’s flock of Cotswold and Romney sheep get a new hairdo during a shearing demonstration. (It’s going to be baaadass.)

The Rink at Rockefeller Center; opens for the season Oct 8; $25, skate rental $12
Even if the sidewalks are overrun with tourists, you’ll have ample room to skate at the city’s most iconic rink; only 150 people are allowed on the ice at once. That also means that by the time Thanksgiving hits you should prepare for painfully long lines. So when the rink first opens in mid October, make like Chicagoans when voting—go early and often.

The New Yorker Festival various locations; Oct 7-9; $65
The New Yorker is sending its finest staffers around town to talk with fascinating figures in literature, film, TV, music, theatre, tech, activism and beyond. Preview upcoming shows and films, hear concerts from star acts like Andre Bird and Father John Misty, one-on-one interviews with Bruce Springsteen and enjoy panel discussions with Mr. Robot with actor Christian Slater. Just be sure to do your research before taking the mic during the Q&A section.

The Village Halloween Parade Line up at Sixth Avenue and Canal St. The parade goes down Sixth Ave from Spring St to 16th St; Oct 31; free
Before you head out to some of the best Halloween parties in NYC, start with the basics: namely, the world’s largest pumpkin day procession, the Village Halloween Parade in NYC. With over 50,000 zombies, giant puppets and Donald Trumps taking to the streets, you may need a little help with navigation. So dress in your best Halloween costume ideas (or else you won’t be allowed to march), work on your Halloween makeup and get ready for the walk of your life.

Hilarious comedy shows

Gypsy Danger and the Baldwins Peoples Imrpov Theater; 8pm; $10
Two of the Peoples Improv Theater's house teams join forces in Flatiron every Sat night: Gypsy Danger performs an improvised movie and the Baldwins, one of PIT's longest-running groups, serves up its signature longform stylings. 

Nothing Important! One and One; Every Friday night; free
One and One hosts this local talent showcase every Friday, with Phil Stamato, Daniel Raderstrong and Matt Leary wrangling acts from across town to headline the bill. Past guests have included Myq Kaplan, Shane Torres and Aparna Nancherla. After the show, performers get the weekend started by joining the audience for a lively afterparty. 

Tonight’s Special with Shane Shane Sid Gold’s Request Room; Oct 4; suggested donation $5
This bizarre improv-variety show puts you in complete control over hard-working one-man act Shane. At the start of the night, audience members are given a “menu” of jokes, songs, video clips and shticks for Shane to perform in the order and style of their choosing. The night ends with piano karaoke. Make sure you give this guy a tip—and a drink.

Comedienne Project The Standing Room; Oct 12; $10
Sharp-tongued stand-ups Katie Hannigan and Corinne Fisher challenged themselves to produce hilarious stand-up that didn't revolve around sex, and the results were surprisingly hilarious. Now, they welcome other ladies to take the test, and even ring the bell if a guest's material slips into prurient territory. 

The Disembodied Hand that Fisted Everyone to Death! The Musical Reckless Theatre; Oct 15, Oct 29; $8
This standout from the 2015 Bad Theater Festival crawled its way to a life of sold-out shows at the PIT and Reckless theaters. If it sounds obscene, that's because it is: The Disembodied Fist tells the story of a reanimated hand that terrorizes a frat house in 1956. Along the way, there's plenty of social critique, musical parody and sexual frivolity to keep all five fingers busy. You'd be horrified if you weren't too busy laughing. 

Can't-miss LGBT events

Big Bush Heavy Woods; Oct 4, 18; free
Queer nightlife ringleader Image Object hosts this twice-monthly throwdown for women of all orientations and identifications. Late-night happy hour specials and booming dance music ensures a rowdy, delirious night for all. 

CucTalk This n’ That (TNT); Oct 4, 18; free
Droll drag queen and cabaret musician Hamm Samwich brings her dry humor to TNT every first and third Tuesday. She'll welcome comedians, queens and entertainment buddies to speak on politics, pop culture and other issues of the moment, and take to the piano whenever it suits her. 

Drag Brunch Hard Rock Café; every Sunday in October; free
After jumping ship from the now-defunct Senor Frogs, this weekly celebration of Times Square tackiness takes over the Hard Rock Cafe for outrageous performances (with bellinis!) from the likes of Sugga Pie Koko, Epiphany, Bootsie LeFaris and more and guest shows by drag stars like Alyssa Edwards and Chi Chi Devayne. 

Nasty Dew and that Harder Boy: Case of the Peepshow Phantom Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café; Oct 7, 21; $22–$35 plus $20 minimum
Relive the pulpy glory of teen mystery novels at this self-aware comedy and cabaret show, which sets sexy burlesque stars Nasty Canasta and Chris Harder off in search of a peepshow creep. This scintillating mystery act features skin and satire from a host of performers including Pearls Daily, Bootsie Lefaris and Roi King. 

That Golden Girls Show: A Puppet Parody DR2 Theatre; various days in October; $69–$99
This is happening. Hot on the heels of his Thank You For Being a Friend live show, Jonathan Rockefeller unveils an all-new stage tribute to Miami's fab four, with puppets. Relive the big-earringed, heavy-sleeved glory of Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia through darling felt effigies at this love letter to one of the greatest (and gayest) TV series of all time. 

Delicious food and drink opportunities 

NYC Wine and Food Festival various locations; Oct 13-16; various prices
Now in its ninth year, the NYCWFF is about as star-studded as food events get, with a myriad of tastings, dinners and classes hosted by Food Network and Cooking Channel personalities including Giada De Laurentiis, Aaron Sanchez and Anne Burrell. Highlights include a late-night sushi party with Masaharu Morimoto and a Nordic breakfast with Claus Meyer.

LUCKYRICE Slurpfest Astor Center; Oct 20; $100
Slurp four bowls of ramen at this speed dating–style dinner: you’ll have 13 minutes to attack each soup, served by four noodle houses from across the U.S.

Cider Week various locations; Oct 21–31; various prices
There are many types of apples (Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Granny Smith), but the best variation of everyone’s favorite autumnal fruit is clearly the fermented kind. And for seven glorious days, you can guzzle bushels of the good stuff at more than 50 bars and restaurants in NYC and indulge in free tastings, events and workshops at popular drinking dens such as Chelsea Wine Vault and Craftbar.  

Porktoberfest SolarOne; Oct 22; $55–$75
The city’s annual Cider Week kicks off with porky bites from the likes of Jimmy’s No. 43 and Blue Smoke, paired with more than 20 crisp, autumnal ciders.

NYC Sweet Treats Bazaar Grand Bazaar NYC; Oct 23; free
Uptown's weekly Grand Bazaar shows off its sweet tooth with this dessert spread, featuring artisanal macarons, pumpkin pies, ice cream sandwiches and more from 25 city pastry chefs and chocolatiers.

Major move and theater premieres 

The Birth of a Nation; hits theaters Oct 7
The film itself deserves consideration, even if its Oscar chances are kaput. Nate Parker’s rapturous and rousing historical drama premiered to a lengthy standing ovation at Sundance; it’s still a massive accomplishment for its writer-director-star. And in bringing the Nat Turner–led slave rebellion of 1831 to screen, the film fumes with timely fury. 

The Girl on the Train; hits theaters Oct 7
A new Gone Girl (we hope), this thriller has a literary pedigree, a well-telegraphed twist (no spoilers here) and a fascinating actor in the central role, Emily Blunt, whom we’d love to see kicked to the top of the Oscar conversation. The less we say about the plot, the better, but director Tate Taylor’s previous film was the extremely underrated Get on Up, which bodes well.

Voyage of Time; hits theaters Oct 7
You might ask yourself: What does director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) really know about planetary science and evolution? Did he go to school for it? Is an IMAX documentary really in his wheelhouse? Don’t ask that. Ask instead: Can I afford to miss a movie that looks this breathtakingly beautiful? Or one that’s in IMAX and narrated by Brad Pitt? 

Mascots; hits theaters Oct 13
We can’t remain calm: There’s a new mockumentary coming from the one-and-only Christopher Guest (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman). Guest’s first feature in a decade is a chronicle of a national competition for those folks who zip themselves up into costumes at sporting events and go nuts. Naturally, this requires a certain intensity: Parker Posey returns, as does Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge and the whole Guest troupe.

Moonlight; hits theaters Oct 21
The tricky coming of age of a poor Miami kid is the subject of Barry Jenkins finely etched indie portrait of African-American life, an exquisite accomplishment. It’s set in Miami, but don’t expect Scarface. Rather, the drama follows a quiet African American boy, tough but vulnerable in his crack-ridden neighborhood. Over the years, he grows up. This is the unmissable film of the fall. 

American Pastoral; hits theaters Oct 21
Is this the year of Philip Roth adaptations or what? After Indignation comes Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, in which he tries his hand at Roth’s Pulitzer-winning novel. The trailer for the postwar drama looks like a million bucks and hints at sharp performances from stars McGregor, Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Connelly, playing troubled members of a crumbling family on the outs.

Inferno; hits theaters Oct 28
Tom Hanks’s museum-prone mystery hero Robert Langdon is back, seven years after Angels & Demons—even if his hairline continues to withdraw faster than his prior female costars. This time, his counterpart, a doctor, is played by Felicity Jones (star of the forthcoming Rogue One). They’re on the trail of some sinister plotters; no doubt plenty of mansplaining is involved.

Rings; hits theaters Oct 28
Call it a mark of our attachment to the frightening 2002’s Naomi Watts–starring original (itself a remake) that we’re ready for another go-around with the cursed VHS tape. This sequel doesn’t have major stars—or any stars, really—and it’s been delayed a zillion times. Still, that girl with the stringy black hair comes out of the television nicely. 

Awesome live music and concerts 

Blood Orange at Terminal 5; Oct 1; $30
An alt-pop visionary with production credits for Solange, Sky Ferreira and a host of others, Devonté Hynes' come a long way since rocking Hot Topic looks in a dance-punk band called Test Icicles. At this gig, you'll hear from his latest ’80s-inspired soul-pop masterpiece, Freetown Sound, an expansive soul-searching journey that winds its way through Hyne's familial lineage in Sierra Leone and back. 

Sigur Rós at Radio City; Oct 5. Kings Theatre; Oct 6, 7; $79.50
Icelandic post-rock crew Sigur Rós craft gorgeously eery soundscapes with bowed electric guitar, immense heaps of reverb and nonsense lyrics that sound strangely universal. The celestial sounds turned surprisingly boisterous and aggressive on the band's latest record, Kveikur, so expect an otherworldly concert by turns elegantly beautiful and overwhelmingly turbulent. 

Drake + Future at Barclays; Oct 11, 12; $49.50-$179.50
Expect selections from these two rap heavyweights' recent acclaimed split mixtape What a Time to be Alive at this four-night stint at New York's massive Barclay Center. Viral hit “Jumpman” is sure to be on the menu, alongside a healthy dose of tunes from Drake's fourth studio album, Views. 

Gojira at Terminal 5; Oct 23; $29.50, at the door $30
Gojira gigs behind its latest album, Magma, which capitalizes on the French extreme-metal band's strongest trait: a rare balance of technical complexity and melodic catchiness. Prepare to headbang.

Sia + Miguel + AlunaGeorge at Barclays; Oct 25; $75-$665
Critically acclaimed R&B crooner Miguel and futuristic soul-pop duo AlunaGeorge join Aussie superstar Sia on this thrillingly talent-packed stadium bill. Expect powerhouse vocals and ascendingly majestic songcraft.

Spectacular art shows

Agnes Martin Solomon R Guggenheim Museum; Oct 6–Jan 11, $25, seniors (65+) and students with valid ID $18, children under 12 free
Agnes Martin was arguably the most important women artist in American art history (1912–2004) after Georgia O’Keeffe, and also one of the most important painters of the 20th century, period. That’s one of the takeaways from this first comprehensive career survey since her death. Another is that while her geometric compositions of subtly colored grids, bands and lines are hailed as precursors of Minimalism, she considered herself an Abstract Expression.

 “Max Beckmann in New York” Metropolitan Museum of Art; Oct 19–Feb 20, suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
Max Beckmann (1884–1950), one of the most prominent modernist painters of Weimar-era Germany, spent the last year of his life in New York City, the final stop in a 12-year journey of exile that began when he fled Hitler in 1937. The Met is an appropriate venue for this show: Beckmann died from a fatal heart attack on the corner of 69th Street and Central Park West just as he was making his way to the museum to see his freshly-installed canvas, Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket.

“Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers” MoMA PS1; Oct 23–Mar 5, suggested donation $10, seniors and students $5
This British Conceptualist bad boy and 2008 Turner Prize winner takes a wry view of culture high and low with ambitious installations, videos and lecture/performances that serve up a collagelike dissection of media with a side order of class critique.

“Kerry James Marshall: Mastry” The Met Breuer; Oct 25–Jan 29, suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
Emerging in the 1990s, Kerry James Marshall, one of the leading contemporary painters of his generation, depicts the African-American experience through a prism of feeling and appreciation for the basic humanity of black people as individuals with hopes and aspirations.

"Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest” The New Museum Of Contemporary Art; Oct 26–Jan 8, $16, seniors $14, students $10, children under 18 free. Thu 7–9pm pay as you wish with a suggested minimum of $2
This Swiss video artist’s provocative productions started out in the late 1980s with depictions of female subjects committing various social transgressions (a women smashing car windows, for example, an image later appropriated by Beyoncé). More recently, she’s focused on trippy, immersive, 360-degree installations backed by hypnotic soundtracks. 

Brilliant dance performances 

Fall for Dance 2016 New York City Center; Sept 26–Oct 8; $15
The super-affordable festival is a smorgasbord for dance lovers. Each evening features a sampling of international superstars and local favorites. This year, 20 companies and artists take part, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Nederlands Dans Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, Jessica Lang Dance and flamenco star Fqrruquito. The lineup includes multiple U.S. or world premieres. 

Shen Wei Dance Arts: Neither BAM Howard Gilman Opera House Theater; Oct 5–8; $15–$65
A towering figure in contemporary dance, who choreographed for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Shen now joins the Next Wave Festival with a commissioned work set to Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett's 1977 opera. (Beckett's text is only 16 lines long.) Shen also designed the piece, in collaboration with lighting master Jennifer Tipton.

Company XIV: Paris Irondale Center; Oct 13–Nov 12; $25–$150
Choreographer Austin McCormick premieres an elaborate adults-only haute-burlesque version of the Greek myth of Paris, who got caught in the middle of an divine apple fight and would up sparking the Trojan War. Baroque design and operatic musical elements give a fancy gloss to the seduction.

American Ballet Theatre Fall 2016 David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center); Oct 14–30; $25–$160
The company—including dancers Stella Abrera, Isabella Boylston, Jeffrey Cirio, Misty Copeland, Marcelo Gomes, Alban Lendorf, Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part, Hee Seo, Daniil Simkin, Cory Stearns and James Whiteside—returns for a two-week fall season. The world premiere of a ballet by Jessica Lang is among other offerings, along with Benjamin Millepied's Daphnis and Chloe, Twyla Tharp's The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Frederick Ashton's Symphonic Variations and Monotones I and II, Alexei Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium and George Balanchine's Prodigal Son.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: Analogy Trilogy Joyce Theatre; Oct 25–Nov 6; $26–$66
Based at New York Live Arts, the company returns to the Joyce to perform two of the three pieces in its Analogy Trilogy, based on interviews conducted by Jones. Analogy/Dora: Tramontane is about a French Jewish nurse who survived World War II; Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist deals with an internal war against addiction and excess.

Marvelous theater experiences 

The Encounter John Golden Theatre; through Jan 8; $89–$155
British theater visionary Simon McBurney stars in this sonically intense one-man show about a National Geographic photographer’s contact with tribes along the Amazon River. 

The Roads to Home Cherry Lane Theatre; through Nov 6; $70
Primary Stages presents a revival of Horton Foote’s homesickness drama about three discontented women stuck in Houston, Texas. Foote veteran Michael Wilson directs.

The Cherry Orchard American Airlines Theatre; through Dec 4; $57–$142
Anton Chekhov’s classic, final drama returns at the Roundabout starring the luminous Diane Lane. Stephen Karam (The Humans) adapts this story of heritage, loss and letting go.

Heisenberg Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; through Dec 4; $70–$150
A woman (Mary-Louise Parker) impulsively kisses an older stranger (Denis Arndt) and sets off a chain of emotional reactions in Simon Stephen’s evocative piece. 

Love, Love, Love Laura Pels Theatre; through Dec 18; $89–$99
In this new decades-hopping piece by Mike Bartlett (King Charles III) a couple is tracked from their promising youth in the turbulent 1960s to present-day troubles.

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