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The best Columbus Day events in NYC

Check out our list of the best Columbus Day events, including the Columbus Day Parade, comedy shows and trivia

By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors |
Columbus Day
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Peter T

If you’re searching for fun Columbus Day events to check out during your day off from work (lucky you), we have a list of Christopher Columbus-themed happenings. One of the most popular things to do happens to be one of the top NYC events in October—the Columbus Day Parade. There’s also a mass celebration at one of the city’s most popular New York attractions—St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Since it’s a federal holiday, you can expect great discounts at some of the best clothing stores in NYC, too.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Columbus Day in NYC

Best Columbus Day events in NYC

Things to do

Watch the Columbus Day Parade

He may be one of the most famous failures in history, but 35,000 marchers and nearly 1 million spectators are expected along Fifth Avenue to mark the day when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas and to celebrate the heritage of the Italian-American community. Sure, it isn’t New York’s glitziest parade, but where else can you catch the tarantella, a frenzied Italian folk dance? Fifth Ave from 44th St to 72nd St.

The Shops at Columbus Circle
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephen R.

Hit the shops at Columbus Circle

Federal holidays are the perfect excuse to revamp your wardrobe and swap out past-season duds for new threads. Sure, you could check out killer Columbus Day sales online, but why not hunt for discounts at the Shops at Columbus Circle, and tip your hat to the statue of Christopher Columbus while you’re there?

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Grand Canyon National Park’s Photostream
Things to do

Celebrate Native American culture

Join Redhawk, the Native American Arts Council of NYC, for a community reclamation of Columbus Day. Local chiefs —like Harry Wallace of the Unkechaug Indian Nation on Long Island—join musicians, spoken-word performers and artists on the grass. Look out for multimedia pieces from Bronx-based Intikana, percussion from Caribbean-originated Kasibahagua Taino Cultural Society and more.

Ask Me Another
Photograph: Courtesy Jakub Mosur
Things to do, TV, radio and podcast recordings

See a live taping of NPR’s Quiz Show

Stranger Things’ resident police babe David Harbour and Hamilton’s Javier Muñoz take the hot seat in this live edition of the NPR quiz show.

Things to do, Classes and workshops

Paint and workout at the same time

Alternate between body-weight exercises and painting—yes, actual painting, with an easel and stuff—at this outdoor class designed to energize your body and mind.

Stranger Things
Curtis Baker/Netflix
Things to do, Trivia

Test your Stranger Things knowledge

Assemble a team of up to four pre-teen Goonies and gather to solve the mysteries of the Upside Down, Silkwood-era haircuts government science conspiracies. Try not to devolve into too many arguments during the rounds of hardcore trivia: you might anger any telekinetic patrons of the bar.

Photograph: Patina Restaurant Group
Things to do

Go ice-skating before the crowds

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.


Laugh at this unique Golden Girls revival

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.

Talking Heads, CBGB, 1977
Photo Courtesy of Godlis: History is Made at Night
Things to do, Exhibitions

Ogle some brilliant photography

If you yearn for a time when CBGB was not a hopelessly depressing restaurant in the Newark Liberty International Airport, you’re in luck. The photographs of David Godlis, a fixture of the legendary punk club and a faithful chronicler of the musicians who frequented it (like the Ramones, Patti Smith and Blondie), are on display downtown. The images are part of Godlis’s fine art book of the same name, which you can also pick up at the gallery.

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Things to do

NYC events calendar

Find the best things to do all year with our NYC events calendar of the coolest events, including parades, concerts, films and art exhibits

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