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Columbus Day
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Peter T

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

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

Watch the Columbus Day Parade

Things to do

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

Celebrate Native American culture

Things to do

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

See a live taping of NPR’s Quiz Show

Things to do TV, radio and podcast recordings

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.

Paint and workout at the same time

Things to do Classes and workshops

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

Test your Stranger Things knowledge

Things to do Trivia

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

Go ice-skating before the crowds

Things to do

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

Ogle some brilliant photography

Things to do Exhibitions

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.

Looking for more upcoming events?

Fall in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best things to do in the fall in NYC

Things to do

Fall in NYC is everything you could hope for in a season. First, the city gets delightfully spooky for Halloween. With thrilling Halloween events and Halloween festivals happening in every borough, it’s easy to get in the spirit of things! Aside from pumpkins and funky costumes though, you can keep the autumn excitement going by leaf peeping around the city, warming up with whiskey, parades, virtual parties and so much more. Autumn in NYC is tough to match!

Central Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

NYC events in October 2020

Things to do

'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

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

The best Halloween events for 2020 in NYC

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. For one, the Village Halloween Parade is canceled, and it's likely most of the city's regularly scheduled scary haunts will be as well given the current pandemic. That being said, 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. Don't bother breaking out your sewing kit, New York's greatest Halloween stores have plenty of options to make you look really spooky. Make sure to check out our NYC events in October too for even more activities to finish off the month in killer spirits. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

Fall in NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Loic Lagarde

NYC events calendar for 2020

Things to do

Want to know what’s happening in New York today, this weekend or in the coming months? Use our NYC events calendar 2020 as your guide to find the best things to do in the fall, winter and spring. Major events to look forward to this time of year include The Village Halloween Parade, Oktoberfest and the best places to see fall foliage in the city. Ready to unleash your inner culture vulture? Peep our top picks for the best art shows and concerts this year. All you need to do is buy the tickets!


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