Columbus Day Weekend in NYC: Free Festivals, Parades, Ice Skating

Kids in NYC have another long weekend on the horizon and we will have many activities.  Check out the New-York Historical Society’s new exhibit The Battle of Brooklyn, take to the ice for the first skate of the season at Rock Center’s Opening Day, or celebrate Italian heritage at Rome Through Richmond Town.

This weekend is also full of seasonal celebrations including the annual Harlem Harvest Festival, the Halloween Harvest: Dog Parade and Costume Contest, and the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. And let’s not forget the annual Columbus Day Parade.

Read on for our top picks for the coming weekend. Also, be sure to check our October GoList to help you plan out the month and, as always, our Event Calendar is full of activities and events for every day of the week.

All Weekend

Learn how to draw Manga style
Learn how to draw Manga style. Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

CMOM Comic Con — Upper West Side
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is celebrating New York Comic Con with a full weekend of themed programming. Create your own comic book, design superhero capes, and learn how to draw comic book characters with artist Misako Rocks. Included with admission.

Living History Days: Revolutionary Soldiers and Citizens — Upper West Side
In conjunction with its exhibition, The Battle of Brooklyn, the New-York Historical Society will have living historians from the 3rd New Jersey Regiment (a reenacting troop) stationed at the museum to answer questions about life during the Revolutionary War. Included with museum admission.

Swale: Floating Food Forest — Brooklyn Bridge Park
Check out this floating food forest in its final weekend in NYC! Catch views of Manhattan but also bok choy and other vegetables growing on this barge docked in the harbor.

Saturday, October 8

The skating season begins at Rock Center
The skating season begins at Rock Center.  

Rock Center Skating Rink Opening Day — Midtown
Be one of the first to lace up those ice skates on opening day of this quintessential NYC experience.

Harvest Festival — Upper East Side
Children can pick a pumpkin to decorate from the pumpkin patch, ride a horse-drawn carriage along the river, and enjoy a concert in this scenic Upper East Side park. FREE

Harlem Harvest Festival — Harlem
Enjoy an urban take on a traditional state fair with baking competitions, live entertainment, farmer’s market, and kids corner featuring arts and crafts, pumpkin decorating, and fun fitness activities. FREE

Just Kidding Concert: Steve Weeks — Upper West Side
Preschoolers will love Steve Weeks’ acoustic-style songs and experimentation with unusual percussion (including cans, pots and pans, and even tinker-toys), as he weaves together wonderfully outlandish stories and endearing tales with unusual characters (like a dandelion that wants to be considered a flower rather than a weed).

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival — Staten Island
Pick a prize pumpkin, go for a spin on the Carousel for All Children and enjoy other entertaining games, crafts, and more. FREE admission; fees for certain activities.

Rome Through Richmond Town — Staten Island
This annual celebration of Italian heritage infuses live musical performances, delicious eats, and vibrant cultural fun for the whole family. Expect an even larger kids’ plaza this year with kid-friendly activities and games. FREE

Sunday, October 9

Watch tugboats race and more at the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition
Watch tugboats race and more at the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. Photo courtesy of the Waterfront Alliance.

Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition — Midtown West
Rescheduled from September due to inclement weather, this annual event made our October GoList. Watch 15 tugboats race from Pier 1 in Riverside Park South down to Pier 84 in Hudson River Park. The festivities continue with live music, spinach-eating contests, knot-tying demos, and other nautical-themed fun. View the race between West 44th and West 70th Streets, along the waterfront. Then head to Pier 84 for the other activities. FREE from the shore.

Jefferson Market Garden Children’s Festival — Greenwich Village
Little ones score a free pumpkin and supplies for decorating and enjoy other themed crafts and tasty treats at this local festival. FREE

Josh & the Jamtones Family Concert — The Jewish Museum
Let loose at this kindie rock-and-roll concert by the popular band Josh & the Jamtones.

Halloween Harvest: Dog Parade and Costume Contest — Luna Park
Canine friends are welcome to strut their stuff at Luna Park. Bring your furry pal or just enjoy the procession. Also be sure to check out Luna Park’s annual Harvest Festival every weekend in October. FREE but all dogs must be registered to enter the park.

Opera Pomme Rouge Presents Hansel and Gretel — Flushing
Take a journey into the magic forest with Hansel and Gretel in this interactive show. Learn songs and dances, use homemade props, and maybe even play the part of the witch!

Kids Clothing and Toy Swap Party — Riverdale
Bring your new or gently used kids clothes, maternity wear, toys, and books, and scout for items you may need. All guests must bring at least 8 items to participate in the swap.

Monday, October 10

Columbus Day Parade — Midtown and Upper East Side
Arrive early if you want a good spot for this celebration honoring Italian-Americans. The procession starts at 44th Street and marches north on Fifth Avenue. Along the way, spectators can enjoy traditional Italian music and folk dancing. FREE

Columbus Day in Prospect Park — Prospect Park
Join the Prospect Park Alliance for a day of outdoor fun. Borrow a complimentary Discover Pack filled with nature-themed activities, participate in a Citizen Science experiment, and meet some of the Alliance’s ambassador animals. FREE

Screening & Live Event The Muppets’s Heroic Sci-Fi/Fantasy Spectacular — Astoria
Celebrate the conclusion of New York Comic Con with a special compilation of great Muppet moments involving science fiction, fantasy, action heroes, and horror movies. Enjoy a silly spin on genre classics.

Get a close up look at gorgeous falcons, owls, and more
Get a close up look at gorgeous falcons, owls, and more.

Falconry Presentation: Skyhunters in Flight — Riverdale
Marvel at master falconer Brian Bradley and his feathered friends at the bucolic Wave Hill. See hawks, owls, and falcons up close and learn about these birds and the sport of falconry. Included with admission.

Discovery Walks for Families: PARK-itecture — Central Park
Help decode the sculpted secrets of Bethesda Terrace and learn how nature inspires this iconic park’s design. FREE but advanced registration is required.