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The 20 best fall events in NYC

Check out the festivals, live acts and holiday throwdowns you definitely don’t want to miss this season

Written by
Lea Ceasrine
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You may have to trade in your tank top for a cardigan, but don’t think that the party’s over just because it's fall in NYC. Keep the fun going with awesome fall concerts and movies, and geek out with the best of them at events like the Medieval Festival and New York Comic Con. So go on and embrace autumn, because fall in New York is the best!

RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in NYC this fall

  • LGBTQ+
  • price 1 of 4
For the past three years, drag queens Horrorchata and Babes Trust have been building the community of drag artists to bring you Bushwig. The festivities warm up at LoveGun on Friday night and then continue at Onderdonk House for the rest of the weekend, which boasts more than 150 performers, 26 musicians and tons of enticing games. It’s bound to be both electric and eccentric.

September 11–13; Lovegun; $30–$40

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
Street food is classier than ever these days. That’s why 25 of New York’s most popular trucks are pulling up to Governors Island to earn your votes for this year’s favorite. With popular picks like Home Frite, bite-size doughnut dugout Doughnuttery and last year’s Rookie of the Year winner Snowday Food Truck, you’ll get unlimited tastings (plus drinks!) and maybe even the chance to meet the infamous baby foodie @foodbabyny, whose dad is one of this year’s judges.

September 12Governors Island, 12:30–5pm; $100

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Justin Vivian Bond: Dixie McCall's Patterns for Living
  • LGBTQ+
  • price 2 of 4
You may have seen Mx Justin perform at Joe’s Pub several times over the last few years, but her latest showcase, “Dixie McCall’s Patterns for Living,” celebrates the 25th anniversary of V’s career and cabaret.

September 18–October 4Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, 9pm; $25 plus two-drink minimum

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New York Film Festival
  • Movies
While most film festivals tend to be more exclusive and costly, the 53rd annual edition of this highbrow fest provides reasonable prices to members and non-members of the Lincoln Center Film Society. Get the know on Oscar-bait treasures like Carol and The Walk.

September 25–October 11$20–$25

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
The largest street fair of the season consumes four Brooklyn neighborhoods with more than 500 vendors and 16 live stages. This year’s fair showcases local youth talent from companies such as Brooklyn Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group and Wicked. Download the app to map out all the places to snack between performances.

September 27Brooklyn, 12–6pm; free

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  • Theater
  • price 3 of 4
Before she was turning heads on the red carpet, Lupita Nyong’o performed onstage at the Yale School of Drama. Now, the Mexican-Kenyan actress is heading Off Broadway to to star in this compelling true story about the women who fought to end the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

September 29–November 8Public Theater; $80–$110

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
Sport a pleated kilt and cloak and head up to the hidden Washington Heights park for a day of die-hard DIY adventure. If you’re not feeling ubercrafty, purchase a wide selection of medieval-style attire, henna and temporary tattoos from craft vendors and artisans. The daylong festival includes traditional Irish music, chess tourneys and quintessential medieval eats like potato pancakes, bratwurst and pork shank.

October 4Fort Tryon Park, 11:30am–6pm; free

 

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  • Music
  • Rock and indie
  • price 2 of 4
You’ve definitely jammed out to hit song “Elephant” since the rising psychedelic rock band became a festival-circuit sensation in 2012. The Aussie crew brings tracks from their moody new album Currents to Radio City.

October 6Radio City Music Hall, 8pm; sold out

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  • Things to do
The second-biggest event of the year in NYC (and perfect primer for Halloween) is where genre, anime and comic fans unite. Bring your best Sailor Moon, Immortan Joe or Poison Ivy for this glorious cosplay gathering and line up for signatures from hundreds of industry stars like X-Men writer Chris Claremont, cover artist J. Scott Campbell and even some actors from Game of Thrones. Check out Comic Con’s slate of Super Week events to extend the convention madness.

October 8–11Javits Center; $40

  • Restaurants
  • American creative

It’s time to abandon the notion that having “eyes bigger than your stomach” is a bad thing. Choose from four days of rooftop feasts, all-you-can-eat tastings, cooking classes (with the likes of master ramen iconoclast Ivan Orkin) and even a jazzy midnight brunch hosted by Rev Run and his wife Justine Simmons. While some of the ticketed events are more costly than others, there are still plenty of $95 options—like Napa Valley wine tastings and ómbre cake decorating classes. Expect to see some big-name celebs turned chefs throughout the weekend like Haylie Duff and Chrissy Teigen as well as culinary icons from Food Network’s Chopped. The festival is partnered with No Kid Hungry and the Food Bank for New York City (they donate 100 percent of the net proceeds to them), so you’ll be eating for a good cause.

October 15–18times, prices and locations vary

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
Meander around all five boroughs for an an inside look on the sites that keep the city operating, including the NYC Sanitation platform, the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn Army Terminal and many more. This year’s tour includes City Hall, Google headquarters and the New York State Pavilion. Some sites require advance reservations, but you also have the option to volunteer or buy all-access tickets to avoid long lines and max capacity (more than 40,000 people attended last year’s event!).

October 17–18prices, times and locations vary

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  • Theater
  • Drama
With the return of fall comes Al Pacino’s long-awaited return to Broadway in David Mamet’s China Doll. In his fourth collaboration with the prolific playwright, Pacino plays the role of tycoon Mickey Ross, a man whose overconsumption of money and sex results in a life-altering realization that starts with an unexpected phone call.

October 21–December 30Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre; $72–$157.50

  • Things to do
If you’re a “Thriller” pro or have always wanted to learn the infamous dance, sign up to partake in one of this year’s largest dance events hosted by Thrill the World New York City. Once you sign up, you can learn the choreography at a meet-up class or via YouTube, then show up for a zombie makeup treatment and take your MJ-claws out for the manic masquerade ball.

October 24Location TBA, 2–6pm; $10–$40

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  • Things to do
Have you ever gone pumpkin picking in the dark? Navigate by flashlight on these haunting sightseeings walks and awe at the magical gourds and carved pumpkin pieces (some of the largest pumpkins in North America travel all the way to the Bronx for this annual event.) Check out pumpkin carving sessions right before Halloween and take them home to add your own bit of spook to your stoop.

October 24–25New York Botanical Garden; $20–25

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  • Things to do

If you’re feeling bold this Halloween, join thousands of New Yorkers (and more than 50 bands!) and walk the 42nd annual village parade. The costumed crowd will meet at Sixth Avenue, but if you just want to watch the chaos and creations, grab a spot anywhere between Spring and 16th Street. This year’s theme is “Shine a Light,” so if you’re going for the morbid look, at least set your phone camera to flash.

October 31Sixth Ave at Canal St, 7pm; free
  • Comedy
See every household name in comedy you’ve always wanted to see—including Billy Crystal, Kathy Griffin, Norm MacDonald and Sarah Silverman—as Comedy Central takes over the city for this week of top-tier sets from the best names in the industry.

November 10–15; various prices and locations

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