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Central Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

NYC events in October 2020

Plan your month with the best NYC events in October 2020 including Oktoberfest, freaky haunted houses and more

By Collier Sutter and Jennifer Picht

'Tis the season to get spooky! But beyond the best Halloween events, but there are also plenty of other awesome NYC events in October 2020. Use our events calendar to plan the quintessential month for leaf peeping and spotting fall foliage, pumpkin picking and more things to do in fall.

Kick off fall with some epic cultural events, you don't want to miss happening like Open House New York, Oktoberfest and new haunted pop-up drive throughs.

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for 2020

Featured events in October 2020

NYC Comic Con 2019
Time Out/Ali Garber

1. The New York Comic Con

Things to do Festivals

Get your silicone ears and Infinity Gauntlets ready: The biggest pop culture event in North America is back. The glorious weekend of can’t-miss panels, celebrities and all the cosplay you could ever fantasize is going online this year. While meeting up in person is fun, this is event is free for the first time ever. You can still tune in, in a cape-and-cowl at this packed pop culture extravaganza, where anyone can be a superhero. A full schedule is available here. If you're a super fan you can shell our dough for a digital meet-and-greet with your choice of a variety of different celebrities, including Garrett Wang of Star Trek: Voyager, or attend a virtual Dungeons & Dragons workshop with podcast hosts Clint, Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy.

Jack O Lantern
Photograph: Courtesy Jennifer Mitchell

2. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Things to do

 One of the best things to do in the fall in New York is check out The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Hudson Valley, New York. Trust us, it’s worth the trip. Witness an army of more than 7,000 glowing, intricately carved pumpkins shining along the riverside near Van Cortlandt Manor. This is the tristate area’s most spirited Halloween happening, and this year there is a second location popping up for the first time ever, too, at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island

Photograph: Courtesy the Howard Hughes Corporation

3. Open House New York 2020

Things to do Exhibitions

The famous weekend-long festival where more than 250 fascinating sites across New York open their doors to the public is back. The two-day event offers glimpses into spaces that are usually off limits to the public, from sky-high rooftop gardens to palatial apartments. This year’s extravaganza will feature a hybrid of virtual experiences and outdoor self-guided explorations like digital sneak peeks and crowdless elevator rides.

4. Watermark Oktoberfest

Things to do

Escape to Munich without ever leaving NYC thanks to Watermark’s annual Oktoberfest extravaganza on Pier 15. This year is on a slightly smaller scale, offering a socially distanced party in the 3,500-square-foot-venue. This year a new “mini keg” will be on the menu, giving diners five liters filled to the brim with Hofbrau, Weihenstephan or Radeberger beer German beer right at their table. Of course, while you're slugging back steins, you can gorge on German cuisine such as brats and pretzels while taking in views along the East River. While the event is free, tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 


Lovers Rock
Lovers Rock

5. New York Film Festival 2020


The New York Film Festival stretches back to 1963, when it established a mission of bringing the best work from around the world to Lincoln Center. Excitement is already feverish for this year’s 58th edition, thanks to the announcement of this year's lineup which will include new works from Steve McQueen, Chloe Zhao and Azazel Jacobs. An annual treat that shows off the city's cinematic good taste in a classy way, the New York Film Festival hosts many fantastic movie screenings and events that you won’t want to miss. This year, many of those offerings will be shown in a new and innovative way through virtual screenings, drive-in events and more. All tickets are available here. Individual tickets for the virtual cinema cost $15 for Main Slate picks and $12 for Spotlight, Revivals and Currents. Drive-in tickets are $45 per car. 

Taste of Times Square
Photograph: Courtesy Sara Kerens

6. Taste of Times Square

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tony's Di Napoli, Midtown West

Twenty neighborhood restaurants from New York's Crossroads of the World are offering visitors and natives alike international grub from eateries like Dos Caminos, Gallagher's Steakhouse, Joe Allen, Seamore's Takeover @ Urbanspace, Tito Murphy's, Tony's Di Napoli and Le Rivage. For $35, diners will get a three-course pre-fixe at these restaurants between October 23 and 30. Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krew will be popping up at restaurants to provide free entertainment.


Sunny Jain's Wild Wild East Lincoln Center New Stages
Photograph: Courtesy Sachyn Mital

7. Lincoln Center New Stages series

Music Lincoln Center, Hearst Plaza, Upper West Side

At a time when in-person events are limited, live music is returning to Lincoln Center with a new music series called "New Stages." This month, the institution will host in-person concerts at Hearst Plaza located on Lincoln Center’s iconic campus: on top of the signature sloped Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn and under the peaceful shade of the trees in Barclays Capital Grove. Audience members will need to social distance, so pods for up to two people will be on sale for $25 each ahead of each concert. (Pods in Barclays Capital Grove have chairs, while pods on the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn are on the ground—guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets to sit on.) Music on the setlist will range from chamber music and jazz to Caribbean and Bollywood-inspired melodies, performed by artists from across the campus and New York City.

Trans-Pecos backyard
Photograph: Courtesy Trans-Pecos

8. Independent Venue Week at Trans-Pecos

Things to do Trans-Pecos, Ridgewood

As restaurants have reopened through the summer for outdoor dining, NYC venues are still reeling from the loss of not reopening, many without the luxury of outside space to seat socially distanced to bring in revenue. Fortunately, avant music venue Trans-Pecos, an inclusive space and staple in Ridgewood since 2005, is using their spacious backyard to fundraise for fellow New York venues and clubs. “We're doing our best to keep the music, art and food community together,” explains Trans-Pecos' Lindsey Gardner.

“We're grateful to have the outdoor space during this time, even at 25% capacity we're able to serve 50 patrons. Knowing that other music venues in our community don't have the same luxury and remain closed, we've decided to partner with several of them during Independent Venue Week.”

For the 2020 edition of Independent Venue Week (October 26 to 30), several Brooklyn and Queens venues, Baby's All Right, Sultan Room, The Broadway and Our Wicked Lady, and Market Hotel, have joined with Trans-Pecos to curate together five nights of streamed gigs. The five venues, will each have a respective night where the live performances will be projected in Trans-Pecos backyard. The visiting venue will curate their night with food and merch. Proceeds will go toward each venue's out-of-work staff, as well as the chefs and the artists involved.

Here are streaming ticket links and lineup below:

Oct 26 (Our Wicked Lady): Thick, Haybaby, Brian Don, Niteowl, Adrian is Hungry, food by Traze Pizza Lab (tickets)

Oct 27 (The Broadway): Native Sun, Pure Adult, food by Jerk (tickets)

Oct 28 (Sultan Room): Wiki, Mint & Friends, food by Turks Inn (tickets)

Oct 29 (Baby's All Right): Shamir, Tony and Tony, Stella Donnelly and more, DJ Billy Jones, food by Wah Gwaan (tickets)

Oct 30 (Purgatory): Gustaf, P.E., food by Happy Bull Pizza (tickets)

If visiting Trans-Pecos in person for the event, tickets are entirely donation-based, with 100% of ticket sales and donations going to to the artists and venue staffs. 

Toxic Beauty Ella Yang Art walk
Photograph: Courtesy the artist, Ella Yang

9. Arts Gowanus ArtWalk

Art Atlantic Terminal Mall, Fort Greene
Stroll down Atlantic Avenue to view a 1.5 mile-immersive art exhibit on Saturday, that passes through Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Downtown Brooklyn. Starting at Atlantic Avenue Mall and finishing up at the waterfront, visitors will see more than 65 pieces of art—a mix of photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and large installations—at more than 65 storefronts, outdoor dining areas, medical offices, and public spaces along Atlantic Avenue, between Fourth Avenue and the waterfront. There will also be specials and discounts at participating businesses and music and live dance to accompany the art walk. A list of exhibits and locations can be found here.
Photograph: Courtesy Alan Winslow

10. Photoville 2020

News Art

New York City's five boroughs will be home to more than 60 incredible photography exhibits this fall as part of the annual Photoville Festival. Usually taking place just in Brooklyn Bridge Park for two weeks, Photoville will now also be taking over Astoria Park, Chelsea Park, Jackie Robinson Park, St. Nicholas Park, Soundview Park, Travers Park, Van Cortlandt Park, and the South Beach Promenade among other public spaces across two months. Each exhibit will be completely free to view and spaced out so that taking in a bit of culture in your neighborhood can be safely done.

Green-Wood Cemetery performance
Photograph: Courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery/Maike Shulz

11. Halloween events 2020

Things to do

2020 has been scary enough, but we're throwing the spookiness into high gear for Halloween this month. Typically, October is filled with costumed parties, jump scares at haunted houses, corn mazes and parades, but this year will be a little different. But, there are still quite a few things still taking place, and with Halloween (finally) taking place on a Saturday, it'll be easier to celebrate. 

Green-Wood Cemetery performance
Photograph: Courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery/Maike Shulz

12. 'To America' at Green-Wood Cemetery

News Events & Festivals

The Angel's Share live music series is coming back to Green-Wood Cemetery this fall to celebrate and ruminate on America through song, poetry, dance and storytelling. The series will include A Lament for Troubled Times (September 19 and 26), To America (October 22-24), and six virtual performances, From the Catacombs (dates to be announced), at a time when in-person performances are at a minimum. The highlight of the series, To America, will allow visitors to walk through the cemetery and hear the stories of those buried there, including Margaret Pine, the last slave in New York state; Clarence MacKenzie, a 12-year-old drummer boy who was Brooklyn’s first casualty in the Civil War; and others. As distanced visitors walk through the gravestones, they'll also see live dance, hear classical covers of songs written by Carlos Simon, H. Leslie Adams, Caroline Shaw, Leonard Bernstein, and George Walker, and take in the poetry of James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Terrance Hayes.

You can purchase tickets for $95 here.


nyc haunted house
Courtesy Blood Manor

13. Blood Manor

Attractions Arcades and amusements Tribeca

Garish zombies, monsters and other ghoulish creatures await in this 5,000-square-foot labyrinth of horrors, deemed too scary for children under 14 to enter without supervision. Pass through themed rooms such as The Crypt (where no one rested in peace) and Hannibal’s Hell (with 1,000 ways to die). It’s popular, so lines are likely to be long—consider shelling out for an “R.I.P.” express-access ticket.

Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses
Photograph: Courtesy Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

14. A headless horseman haunted drive-thru

News Weird & Wonderful

Ulster Park's Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses is replacing its hayrides with an experience, "Dare to Ride The Horseman's Trail," that'll give New Yorkers an opportunity to roll down the window and scream this Halloween, starting October 2.

Drivers and their passengers will pass through horrific scenes like "the butcher shop" and see the headless horseman himself all while staying in their cars. 

The Berkeley Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy The Berkeley Hotel/Dylan Patrick

15. The Haunting at Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel

Things to do The Berkeley Hotel,

The historic oceanside Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ has transformed 13 of its rooms into immersive haunted scenes later this month. Guests who check into The Haunting experience will be guided through the rooms on the "haunted" floors of the hotel with their cameras to capture "unexpected frights, spine-tingling thrills, and surprises around every corner."

Safety precautions include temperature checks, regular cleanings, mask requirements, sanitizer stations and no physical contact from performers. There's also a 21+ VIP experience with seating at an exclusive Halloween speakeasy that comes with a welcome cocktail, passed appetizers, and spooky drink specials.

haunted house
Photograph: Courtesy Bane Haunted House

16. Bane Haunted House

News City Life

Ready to live out your nightmares? One of NYC's most terrifying haunted attractions, Bane Haunted House, has announced plans to return this fall. The spooky experience plays on people's biggest fears: claustrophobic, separation anxiety, clowns and more. (According to Bane’s website, last year over 2,000 visitors couldn’t even make it through the whole thing.) Here's everything you need to know.

The fear factory is opening in a five-story building in Hell's Kitchen with 40,000-square-feet of space, and a total of 30 spooky rooms. If you’re up for the challenge, tickets go on sale this coming Monday, September 21 at 11:30am and a general admission ticket will cost you $35.

Looking to get the most out of fall?


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