What’s on in New York this Autumn

By Eloise Barker

Title photography by Alexander Spatari

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Updated May 2019

New York goes all out for autumn, who cares if summer’s ended? The festivities stack up week end after week end – Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday… crack open a pumpkin ale and enjoy.

Go leaf peeping in Central Park

Leaf peeping is an east coast passion: from Vermont to Cape Cod, the trees go all ablaze in autumn and crowds gather to see the spectacle. Whilst many New Yorkers head to the Catskills and the state parks, you don’t have to leave New York City to see beautiful fall foliage, thanks to the parks and botanical gardens. The banks of the Reservoir in Central Park smoulder with the bronzing leaves of cherry trees, whilst The Pool is ornamented by the changing colours of the red and sugar maples. If you’re nearer Brooklyn, go along Brooklyn Botanical Garden to see the acers of the Japanese Hill and Pond garden.

When? From mid-September

Where? Central Park

Nearest subway: 5 Avenue

Where to stay: The Plaza has Central Park as its backyard. Its Guerlain spa and grand halls have stayed unchanged through the seasons for over 100 years.

Affordable Art Fair NYC

It’s time to up your souvenir game – with a visit to the Affordable Art Fair NYC. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this touring event also hits London, Stockholm and Amsterdam at different points in the year (that’s all the coolest cities, then). Browse walls of excellent contemporary art, and maybe run into the artists. With prices for an original print coming in under $100 you can fill that gaping space above your mantelpiece for a song. Seek pieces by local painters to create some holiday memories.

When? 26 - 29 September 2019

Where? The Metropolitan Pavilion

Nearest subway: 18 Street

Where to stay: Royalton Park Avenue is a lofty-ceilinged, luxury hotel that’s – for all its glitz and glamour – surprisingly well-priced. It’s a 20 minute walk to the art fair.

Eat deliciously soft corn arepas, pizza, cakes – almost anything you can think of. This is one of the city’s many superb seasonal street food festivals.

Game season

The New York Giants and the New York Jets start the American football season in September. The teams share the state-of-the-art Metlife Stadium, making their rivalry rather keenly felt. They will play a preseason match against each other in late August, or you can see their early games against other NFL teams on certain dates in September. So whether you like the Giants or the Jets, or just want to see them getting beaten by the Dolphins, the Cowboys and the Patriots, head down to the Metlife. And dress for all weathers – the game will go ahead even if there’s autumn rain.

When? From mid-September

Where? Metlife Stadium, 1 MetLife Stadium Dr, East Rutherford

Nearest subway: Meadowlands Sports Complex Station

Where to stay: The Shelburne is a boutique hotel that’s good for families, so small sports fans will be welcome. It’s another great hotel with a rooftop bar – often voted one of the best in the city and the grill bar does great burgers for after the game.

  • Met Life stadium. ©PCN Photography / Alamy Stock Photo.


    The Metlife stadium is home to the Jets and the Giants. It’s also a major concert venue. Recent performers include Beyoncé, The Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift.

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  • Affordable Art Fair NYC Fall 2018. Photography by Reed Photographic.

    A closer look

    Art you can touch – once you’ve bought it – at the Affordable Art Fair NYC.

  • Atlantic Antic aerial view. ©Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation.

    All the stalls

    The Atlantic Antic dominates the avenue. Even the fussiest eater will find plenty to enjoy at the food stands.

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Atlantic Antic

One Sunday in September, Atlantic Avenue holds a massive street food festival. Work your way down the longest street in Brooklyn and enjoy kids events, musicians and a big main meal. Once famous for antiques, this street has since sprouted bakeries, quirky designers and even a cat café. On the day of the Atlantic Antic itself, eat deliciously soft corn arepas, pizza, cakes – almost anything you can think of. This is one of the city’s many superb seasonal street food festivals.

When? Late September

Where? Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Nearest subway: Atlantic Av

Where to stay: The Ludlow on the lower east side, a hop across from Brooklyn, is a boutique hotel with the kind of décor you wish you had in your own house.

Pumpkin ale

Time for some seasonal ale. Visit Brooklyn Brewery, which now imports its lager to supermarkets worldwide. It’s recognisable logo was designed by Milton Glaser in return for free beer for life. Every autumn the brewery produces Post Road Pumpkin Ale, containing Dickinson pumpkins and nutmeg alongside hops and malts. It goes down a treat with your holiday ham and turkey. Tour the brewery on a small batch tour, open to just 30 people at a time, for just $15 dollars, or try out their tasting rooms.

When? From August until November

Where? 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn

Nearest subway: Bedford Av

Where to stay: The Arlo NoMad is great if you’re travelling with a couple of friends and need a mini base. Complement a brewery tour with rooftop cocktails at The Heights, the hotel bar.

  • Brooklyn Brewery. ©Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY.

    Step inside

    Craft beer might have hit the mainstream recently, but Brooklyn Brewery was founded back in 1988. Go behind the scenes on a brewery tour.

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  • City Hall. Open House New York. ©Vincent Chih Chieh Chin.

    Did you know?

    City Hall is the oldest city hall in the United States. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S Grant both lay in state under its magnificent rotunda ceiling and thousands came to pay their respects. See it at Open House New York.

  • View up First Avenue as New York City Marathon runners enter Manhattan. © Alvis Upitis / Alamy Stock Photo.

    The race is on

    The New York Marathon is now one of the biggest races in the world. But when it started in 1970, it only had 127 runners – and only 55 actually finished.

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New York Comic Con

Look out for capes on the subway: New York Comic Con is in town for four days in October, and it’s one of the world’s biggest pop culture conventions. Fans of all things pop, alt, cartoon and comic-related swoop down to the city in their hundreds of thousands. They’ll be queueing to see guest panels, show off their cosplay, and score original sketches by their favourite comic book artists in Artists Alley. The convention takes place at the Javits Center, but there are events all over the city. Last year, there were appearances from Black Panther, Power Rangers and Archer. This year expect more great guests, plus the usual magical costumery, thanks to the imaginative attendees.

When? 3 - 6 October 2019

Where? Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

Nearest subway: 34th Street-Hudson Yards Subway Station

Where to stay: The funky Doubletree Times Square West is in an excellent location for walking (or teleporting) over to the Javits Center.

Open House New York

Open House New York is a tourist’s dream – a chance to sneak behind the scenes of the city’s architectural marvels. Though you need to book ahead for some attractions, many of the most appealing can be entered on the day. Fans of modern design should head to A/D/O or Scandinavia House. The Ukrainian Institute on Central Park has a great location and is regarded as an architectural treasure. For a rubbish tour, go to the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility – where discarded metal and plastic are transformed to raw materials again.

When? 19 - 20 October 2019

Where? Locations across the city

Where to stay: Enjoy your own open house at The Roger, which has lovely interiors designed by Anna Busta and a stylish photo gallery.

  • Village Halloween Parade. ©Village Halloween Parade.

    Frightfully fun

    Around 50,000 people in costume will join the Village Halloween Parade. There will be even more people lining the streets to watch.

  • Central Park in Autumn. © rabbit75_ist.

    Under the trees

    “I recall Central Park in fall,” so sang Wayne Newton (and Ferris Bueller). Make your own memories this September, when the leaves are especially beautiful.

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  • Macy's Great American Marching Band. ©Rachel Cauvin / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Stars in stripes

    School pupils from every state in the US make up the marching band that takes part in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Only top music students get a place.

Halloween Parade

New York loves a good Halloween celebration, from haunted houses to over-the-top costumes. One of the most famous events is in Greenwich Village on the night of Halloween itself. The Village Halloween Parade is the largest in the world and it’s famous for its puppets. If you’re afraid of haunted dolls – look away now. There’s a new theme each year and you can expect to see all manner of beastly creatures haunting the streets, and parade puppeteers shepherding their charges down 6th Ave. The spectacle should be fantastic.

When? 31 October

Where? 6th Ave. from Spring to 16th Street

Nearest subway: Spring Street

Where to stay: The Knickerbocker is a rarity: a luxury hotel set on Times Square. It’s been here since 1906, but a refurbishment and re-opening in 2015 has made it seriously smart.

New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the world. It attracts 50,000 runners and a million supportive spectators. Those lucky enough to get a place in the race can run across all five city boroughs, soaking up an electric atmosphere – plus, everyone cheers your name. The route starts at Verrazzano Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn and finishes with a final sprint (or limp) through Central Park. Want to watch? You can buy Grandstand seating to watch the finish, or view the 24th mile from Fifth Avenue, or check in at a number of other viewing spots.

When? 3 November 2019

Where? Across the city. The Marathon starts at Verrazzano Bridge and ends on West Drive, Central Park.

Nearest subway: Access the Grandstand from Lexington Av-63 Street Subway Station

Where to stay: Omni Berkshire Place is next to the beautiful St Patrick’s Cathedral. Sit out on the 17th floor terrace and enjoy the views of Midtown Manhattan.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving in New York is a big deal, and Macy’s department store is at the centre of the action. First, there’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – best watched on telly over a full stomach of turkey dinner. At the parade you’ll see floats, marching bands and massive balloons. Each balloon is managed by a team of ninety people and feature favourite pop culture references: spot your favourite characters looming over 6th street. After the rush of the parade, Macy’s department store stays open all night. Then Black Friday hits and the crowds rush to the shop for the legendary discounts. ’Tis the season to spend freely.

When? 28 November 2019

Where? Macy’s, Herald Square, 151 W 34th St, New York

Nearest subway: 34 Street – Penn Station

Where to stay: The Hilton Midtown is a big hotel dominating a great location. There’s even an ice bar in the hotel – a great way to spend an evening if the Thanksgiving Parade fills you with seasonal spirit.

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