Thirteen Can’t-Miss NYC Festivals This Fall


Is that a chill in the air? Unlikely. Autumn in New York doesn’t lack for sizzle. With heat and humidity subsiding and tourists making tracks, New York is left for its locals to enjoy in the months before the holidays. Though the leaves are changing, there are still plenty of outdoor activities and some indoor ones, too: tastings, festivals, markets, parades, and street fairs. There’s the briny rites of Pickle Day (October 19) and Oyster Week (September 12–28), and at least two dog costume contests. (Cat person? You’ll have to hitch north for the Westchester Cat Festival. The ride should give you time to contemplate your life choices.)

See also: The 2014 Fall (Arts) Issue: An Index

Street fairs throng the streets of New York, but precious few have the history or the trans fats of San Gennaro. From September 11 to 21, Little Italy will host its annual festival celebrating Januarius, the martyred patron saint of Naples. How best to celebrate martyrdom? With rickety rides and zeppole, apparently. Begun 88 years ago as a religious rite by immigrants homesick for Napoli, the Mulberry Street festival, which straddles Januarius’ feast day, still features a special Mass and a procession, and now also includes a highly competitive cannoli-eating contest.

With the crime rate constantly dropping, New York is a lot less scary than it used to be. But there are quite a few ways to find scares in the city. Beginning on September 21, the New York Botanical Garden offers a “Haunted Pumpkin Garden.” In addition to the hundreds of pumpkins artfully slit and gashed, you can find “spooky scarecrows, frightening spiders, and sneaky snakes.” Merchant’s House Museum, which claims actual haunting, features “a ghostly walking tour, a 19th-century funeral re-enactment, and five nights of candlelight ghost tours,” while City Tech’s theater students manufacture Gravesend Inn, a high-tech haunted hotel. For a cuter, furrier way to celebrate Halloween, visit “Boo at the Zoo” at the Bronx Zoo, highlighting the Komodo dragons and other creepy critters.,,,

Equinoctial nights will get a lot hotter when the 12th annual New York Burlesque Festival kicks off October 25. Expect a run on G-strings and nipple glitter as more than 100 performers pack such venues as the Bell House, the Highline Ballroom, and the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. Local legends like Murray Hill and the World Famous *BOB*, whose breasts deserve their own zip code, will host a variety of events as ecdysiasts compete for the coveted golden pasties award. A few boylesque performers will also offer a phallic take on the classic striptease.

We tend to think of the U.S. as a beer-obsessed country. Who else but Americans could make the beverage a verb, as in that boozy imperative, “Beer me”? But it wasn’t always this way. In colonial times, hard cider was the drink of choice. Children even sipped it at breakfast. (This was a time before television. Parents had to find some way to keep them quiet.) You can celebrate this proud and tasty heritage with Cider Week. From October 24 to November 2, producers from upstate New York, as well as international distillers, will partner with local restaurants for tastings, demonstrations, panel discussions, and multicourse meals. The week culminates with “Applepalooza.”

Christmas is still weeks and weeks away, but you might as well get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping. Those with a taste for vintage finds can browse Pier 94’s Pier Antique Show, November 22 to 24, with more than 500 exhibitors showcasing art, furniture, jewelry, and fashion. A week earlier, the Metropolitan Pavilion hosts the Renegade Craft Fair, a juried pop-up sale for those in search of newer DIY gifts. (The event also features artisanal food and drink and an owl mascot.) And if you have still more presents to buy, beginning on November 17, Grand Central offers its annual holiday fair, crowding 76 vendors into the Vanderbilt Hall, while Union Square transforms into a European-style Christmas market just a few days later, adorning the park with lights, pine boughs, and several hot-chocolate booths.,,,

Correction: An earlier version of this article listed an incorrect date for Pickle Day. The correct date is October 19.