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The best things to do in the fall in NYC

We have the ultimate list of things to do in the fall—NYC's Halloween events and autumn activities can't be beat

By Collier Sutter and Jennifer Picht |
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Fall in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

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 slurping down oysters during Oyster Week, leaf peeping around the city, warming up with whiskey at the Irish Whiskey Festival, attending the biggest NYC street fairs, parades, parties and so much more. Autumn in NYC is tough to match!

Best things to do in the fall

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Photograph: Courtesy Jennifer Mitchell
Things to do

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze guide

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is one of the best things to do in the fall in New York, during which you’ll witness an army of more than 7,000 glowing pumpkins. This is the tristate area’s most spirited Halloween happening, with the most impressive and intricately carved pumpkins shining along the riverside near Van Cortlandt Manor. It's also one of the best and easiest day trips from NYC! 

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TWA Terminal at JFK
Photograph: Nicolas Lemery Nante
Things to do, Festivals

Open House New York

Open House New York is a weekend-long festival where more than 250 fascinating sites across New York are 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.

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Oktoberfest NYC
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars

Oktoberfest

Strap on those lederhosen—really, people will be wearing them—and raise a mammoth, beer-filled stein to Oktoberfest NYC. The Bavarian celebration is one of the best NYC events in September, featuring some of the best beers in NYC as well as traditional favorites and delicious food. Take in the beautiful fall foliage while guzzling brews at some of the best beer gardens and beer halls in New York, or outside like under the Dumbo Archway. Prost! 

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Bushwick
Photograph: Time Out New York/ Ali Garber
News, Art

Check out Elsewhere’s new immersive art show about smells

Ever wondered what Bushwick would smell like if it was perfume? A new exhibition launching on October 22nd at the music venue Elsewhere will feature the work of Marissa Zappas, a Brooklyn-based perfumer who is a year-long artist-in-residence, crafting ethereal scents inspired by the space’s seasonal programming. Though there is not much to see in her installation save for a diffuser, the room will be scented with ingredients like jasmine, mushroom fleuressence and myrrh. (Not exactly the sweat and Juul smoke you may have imagined.)  “The essence of Bushwick is already reflected within the Elsewhere space... spilled alcohol, sweat, a mishmash of trendy perfumes, perhaps even a little sewage, just really primal... it's a dance club, after all. For the fall installation I really embraced what in perfumery we refer to as ‘repulsive’ or 'animalic' notes," says Zappas, who has worked at a commercial perfume lab and has been creating a private collection of olfactory art for the past two years. "For the Fall installation at Elsewhere, the art in general is darker and more sensual compared to summer, so I wanted to create a scent which reflected that. I'm interested in how life transforms at night, particularly through smell." The exhibition will run in the space until January 15th 2020 and is curated by Molly Surno, the art director behind Elsewhere’s creative gallery model called Landscape, where shows are subsidized through the club's ticket sales. 

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NYC Marathon Main
Things to do

New York City Marathon

More than 40,000 marathoners hotfoot it (or puff, pant and stagger) through all five boroughs over a 26.2-mile course. Stake out a lively spot—we recommend along Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn; First Avenue between 60th and 96th Streets in Manhattan; or Central Park South near the finish line—to cheer on the passing throngs.

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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

For the 92nd year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will usher in the holiday season with familiar sights like giant balloons, high-kicking Rockettes and Santa’s sleigh, plus celebrity appearances. Begins at W 77th St and Central Park West; for the complete parade route, visit macys.com/parade.

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Yvonne Orji
Comedy, Stand-up

The New York Comedy Festival

The New York Comedy Festival is a bonanza of comedy shows, drawing national headline acts and the cream of the local scene. It’s also one of the best NYC events in November. Use our guide as your go-to for everything you need to know about the hilarious spectacle, hitting somes of our favorite NYC comedy clubs. This year you can catch shows from Trevor Noah, Jenny Slate, Stephen Colbert, Nate Bargatze, Bill Maher, Nicole Byer and many more. 

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The Village Halloween Parade in NYC
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do, Festivals

Village Halloween Parade

Now in it's 45th year, march with the ghouls during NYC's infamous Halloween Parade. Sign up via halloween-nyc.com now to volunteer to be a puppeteer or a performer in the procession; to walk in the parade, just turn up in an amazing outfit.

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New York Comic Con
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do, Festivals

New York Comic Con

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.

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Things to do, Literary events

Pop-up Magazine

This live talent showcase invites authors, comedians, scientists and others to present researched stories on a wide range of interesting topics. Presentations include spoken word, musical compositions, photography, animation and more. They hit BAM with an excellent lineup and musical support from the Magik* Magik Orchestra. This Escaope edition features multimedia stories from Jo Firestone (Actress, ShrillHigh Maintenance, comedian and writer, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), Jordon Carlos (Comedian and writer, Divorce) and Lucas Foglia (Photographer, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic) among others.

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More fall stories

Photograph: Courtesy Steve Acres/Into the Veil
Things to do

The best fall date ideas in NYC

We’re familiar with “summer loving,” but once you take a gander at our list of fall date ideas, you’ll soon see that “autumn loving” is what it’s all about. Just think of all the possibilities! From admiring fall foliage at the best NYC parks, to holding your S.O.’s hand during New York’s spookiest ghost tours, we think these activities are the foundation for a long-lasting relationship. And, hell, these date ideas will get your through cuffing season at the very least. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in the fall in NYC

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Things to do in New York by month

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