The city that never sleeps also offers events and activities that never end. New York City has a full calendar of FREE and cheap events in October. Here are our choices for more than a dozen of the best FREE & cheap things to in NYC to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap.
Nothing on the NYCOTC list is over $25, except for important charity fund-raisers to support NYC parks and gardens, children with cancer, the homeless, or similar, and an occasional splurge-worthy event.
Outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Everybody loves a parade
Korean Parade – Sat., Oct 7, Noon to 3pm, on Sixth Ave. between 27th and 38th Streets
Nigeria Independence Day Parade – Sat, Oct. 7, 10am-5pm, Second Avenue from 44th to 54th St.
Columbus Hispanic Day Parade – Sun. Oct. 8, Fifth Avenue from 44th to 70th St,
Columbus Day Parade – Mon., Oct. 9, Fifth Ave from 44th to 72nd St. starting at 11am.
Oktoberfest & more
See our full list of NYC restaurants and bierhauses celebrating Oktoberfest
Queens Beer Festival with unlimited tastes from every Queens-based brewery along with a curated selection of brews from Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island, at LIC Flea the weekend of Oct. 14/15. Tickets are $29 and up.
Jameson Love They Neighborhood Brewery Fest – Drink beer and whisky while you listen to live music and support the non-profit charity that plants trees and flowers in NYC parks, gardens and sidewalks in the bargain. All proceeds support the New York Restoration Project which plants trees and flowers in NYC parks and sidewlks. Tickets for the Oct. 14 event are $20 with the special NYCOTC discount code.
There’s just too much Halloween happening in NYC to include here. We’ll have a full events list in a few days.
You and the Night and the Music
The Armstrong Continuum – This periodic FREE night of music features top jazz artists playing music associated with the ongoing legacy of Louis Armstrong. This concert includes performances by Kidd Jordan, known as the dean of avant garde music in New Orleans, and the Louis Armstrong Tribute Band All Stars, performing compositions and music he made famous. The band is lead by famed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. At Miller Theatre at Columbia University,2960 Broadway @ 116th Street, 7pm on Thurs., Oct. 12. Note – there are no reservations and no tickets; seating is first come first serve.
Talks and Discussions
1917: How One year Changed the World: Explore how Jewish New York responded to the US entry into World War I, including issues of Jews in the military. This panel discussion features authors Deborah Dash Moore and Ronit Stahl, in conjunction with the publication of two landmark books on Jewish history in America. Tickets are $10 online, $12 at the door. At the Leo Baeck Institute/Center for Jewish History in Flatiron on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like …..
The Rink at Rockefeller Center re-opens for the season on Oct. 7.
Winter Village at Bryant Park – The FREE ice skating rink and holiday shopping kiosks return on Oct. 28th.
Street Fairs and Block Parties
Diwali Times Square – Celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights in Times Square on Oct. 7 with Bollywood stars, music and dancing.
Lower East Side Pickle Day – Buy a pickle on a stick or other pickle-themed food, take part in games and activities, and hear live music. Festival is on Orchard St., between Delancey and E. Houston, where once upon a time you could buy a pickle for a nickel from vendors selling them out of giant barrels. Noon to 5pm, Sun., Oct. 15.
Take the Kids
Little Red Lighthouse Festival – Celebrate Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse with Urban Park Ranger educational presentations, visits to the lighthouse interior, readings of eponymous children’s book, fishing clinics, live music, food vendors, and fun family activities, on Sat. Oct. 7. The entertainment line up includes performances of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge musical (Noon-1pm), ensembles from The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, and Cinderella Samba by the Swedish Cottage Marrionette Theatre PuppetMobile (2-3pm). Between those performances there will be educational talks from the Urban Park Rangers and readings of our giant copy of the book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge written by Hildegarde Swift, illustrated by Lynd Ward.
The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter, an annual favorite visited by millions of children and adults, returns to the American Museum of Natural History on Sat., Oct. 7, on view through the end of May 2018. Celebrating its 20th year at the Museum, this popular attraction transforms the coolest day into a summer escape, inviting visitors to mingle with up to 500 fluttering, iridescent butterflies among blooming tropical flowers and lush green vegetation in 80-degree temperatures. Butterflies are also important harbingers of environmental change. It’s a magical 1,200-square-foot vivarium, a freestanding transparent structure aflutter with activity because you interact with the butterflies as you stroll along a winding pathway of by tropical plants and colorful blossoms.
Broadway Bites returns to Greeley Square on Oct. 4th with nearly 30 of NYC’s finest fresh, inventive street international cuisines, desserts, and beverages. It’s a mix of veteran vendors and exciting newcomers, including Arepa Factory, Chick’n Cone, Hold My Knots, Mr Bing, Jicama, Enfes NYC, DAA! Dumplings, Bao by Kaya, Baked Cheese Haus, Todaro Bros., Frida’s Favorites, Kimchi Bowl, Hai Street Kitchen, Empanada Papa, Delicatessen Taco, Bento by Bessou, Oconomi, Bolivian Llama Party, Casa Toscana, Coney Shack, Paella Shack by Barraca, Mian Kitchen, and Bex Waffles. Top Hops returns to offer a selection of beers to pair your food with. To satisfy that craving for something sweet, try Melt, Doughnuttery, Dulcinea, Jars by Dani, and Mochidoki.
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Smorg Square is back at 76 Varick St. (at Canal St.) on the border of Soho, Tribeca, and Hudson Square, every Friday-Sunday through Christmas, with a rotating lineup of food vendors curated from the Brooklyn Smorgasburg markets, with 20+ vendors every weekend, and seating for 120. Plus, 60 world-class vintage, furniture, and handmade vendors at Brooklyn Flea’s new year-round indoor location directly across the street, at 100 Avenue of the Americas (at Watts St.).
Tribeca Drive-In – This is the final weekend of this year’s first-weekend of the month FREE outdoor film screenings on Oculus Plaza. This weekend, it’s the Academy Award-winning classic Annie Hall on Friday, and Spider-Man on Saturday.
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival featuring films about climate change, saving endangered elephants and tigers, dolphins and whales, disappearing coral reefs, growth of plastics in the ocean, and more. Each screening includes a panel with the filmakers Oct. 20-26 at Cinema Village Theater.
New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center -The 55th annual New York Film Festival features more than two dozen films from around the globe, including award-winners at the recent Cannes Film Festival, through Oct. 15.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival – 50 outstanding non-fiction films plus panel discussions and performances that explore world cultures at this annual event. Oct. 19-22 at the American Museum of Natural History.
Every Day or Weekends
Hallett Nature Sanctuary – This is an almost-secret hideaway spot in Central Park. Unlike past years with extremely limited days and hours, the gates to this locked-off sanctuary will be open daily this year for the first time, from 10AM to 30 minutes before sunset, with the caveat that it is closed occasionally due to inclement conditions. Wear sturdy closed shoes for the uneven walkways, and bring a camera. No dogs, bikes or strollers permitted.
- SEE ALSO Description of Hallett Nature Sanctuary
- SEE ALSO8 secrets of Central Park
- SEE ALSOBest spots in Central Park to have a picnic
DeKalb Market – The city’s newest food hall is open in downtown Brooklyn with local food vendors, including an outpost of famed Katz’s Deli from the Lower East Side, across the East River. See what else is to eat here
Hester Street Fair – On the site of what was New York City’s largest pushcart market in the early 1900s, this street fair pays homage to it’s strong neighborhood roots by re-creating a bustling outdoor marketplace. There’s a different “theme” practically every weekend. Corner of Hester and Essex, take the F J M Z to Delancey or the F to East Broadway.
LIC Flea & Food continues to grow, with favorite vendors returning and some new ones, too. LIC Flea & Food is at 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue, just one block behind the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign. It opens directly into the waterfront park with amazing Manhattan skyline views Easily accessible from the 7, G, E, and M trains, or via the East River Ferry. FREE admission.
Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg is in different locations each weekend day. This year, Saturday Smorgasburg remains at East River State Park in Williamsburg; Sunday Smorgsaburg remains at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill.