With peak season prices dropping, enduringly warm weather and a glut of great festivals taking place across the city, Fall is a fantastic time to visit NYC.
One of the world’s most vibrant metropolises, it’s little surprise that New York is a hotbed of events throughout the year. And one of the busiest times is Fall, when the city plays host to a packed roster of indoor and outdoor festivals. If you’re planning to be in NYC over the coming months and would like to check out a festival or two during your stay, we’ve picked out 10 of the best below.
America’s rich history of immigration has comprised a large number of German settlers – a trend that has given rise to Oktoberfest celebrations across the nation, with numerous towns and cities staging their own versions of the famous festival that originated in Munich, Germany back in the early 18th century. New York’s contribution to the global phenomenon takes place on the banks of the East River. Here, an Oompah band performs for a captive audience of festival-goers, all well-lubricated thanks to the litre steins of Oktoberfest suds on offer, while snack stands peddle traditional treats such as cotton candy, gingerbread and pretzels. Live music is delivered by established acts, including notable special guests. Staff kitted out in lederhosen add to the occasion.
70 South Street / 8 September – 19 October 2023
Taste of the Seaport
Dishes from some of downtown Manhattan’s finest restaurants, cooking and cocktail demos, live music, and fun for the kids is just some of what visitors can expect at the latest edition of this hugely popular local food festival. Now in its 11th year, the festival will showcase more than 30 city eateries, while, for the first time, there will be a demonstration stage where guests can learn the art of pizza and cocktail-making. Proceeds from the festival go towards supporting local schools and their endeavours in the arts.
Pier 16 & 17, 89 South Street / 23 September 2023
Global Citizen Festival
There are few festivals with such a philanthropic focus as Global Citizen. Held in Central Park each year to coincide with the UN General Assembly, the festival strives to leverage opportunities to get policy and financial commitments from government, corporate, and charitable leaders to defeat poverty and defend the planet. To achieve this aim, it puts together a stellar line-up of musical acts, with the likes of Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Rihanna, Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Pearl Jam, Stevie Wonder and Billie Eilish having performed down the years. Prospective attendees can secure tickets through a points-based system by taking actions such as signing petitions, calling political representatives, and undertaking challenges.
The Great Lawn, Central Park / 23 September 2023
Brooklyn Book Festival
New York’s largest free book event returns in 2023 – promising to be bigger and better than ever. Taking place over nine days across NYC’s five boroughs but centred in Brooklyn, an assortment of international and local authors, poets, and graphic novelists will come together to present book-lovers with never-told-before stories and different points of views on society’s most pressing issues. The festival is also a unique opportunity to meet some of the greatest minds of our times, including the likes of Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Toluse Olorunnip, and The New Yorker writer Robert Samuels, who will all take part in panel discussion, readings, and book signings.
Throughout New York / 24 September – 2 October 2023
New York Comedy Festival
A major event on the international comedy circuit, New York Comedy Festival draws some of the biggest names in the industry who come to perform at large and small venues across the city. From stand-up to improv to sketch acts, every comedic discipline is represented at the festival, which has been extended from 7 to 10 days for the 2023 edition – testament to its growing popularity. Among the comedians set to perform this year are Jeff Ross, Ilana Glazer, Robyn Schall, Margaret Cho, Bill Burr, Brett Goldstein, Nicole Byer and Dave Attell.
Venues across NYC / 3-12 November 2023
Atlantic Antic Street Festival
Said to be the oldest and largest street festival in Brooklyn, the Annual Atlantic Antic sees hundreds of food and craft vendors take over the borough’s bustling Atlantic Avenue for one whole day each Fall. The eclectic music line-up brings together diverse local talent and there’s the chance to graze on grub from a variety of artisanal vendors – washed down with locally brewed ale. Among the other entertainment, festival-goers can look forward to incredible circus performers, belly dancers, arts and crafts, fashion, and more. For little ones, there’s also tons of free family-fun entertainment including a face painting, mini squash court, cardboard maze, free goodies, and interactive games.
Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn / 1 October 2023
New York Food and Wine Festival
Another festival with a benevolent purpose, the four-day New York Food and Wine Festival aims to raise money for local poverty and hunger causes by showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, culinary personalities and beloved television chefs. Throughout the festival, themed seminars, wine pairings, and cooking demos are held at venues throughout New York. Highlights include the Grand Tasting events, which invite attendees to visit tasting stations hosted by chefs from around the country, while mingling with celebrity chefs in the crowd.
Venues across NYC / 12-15 October
Brooklyn Americana Music Festival
The biannual Brooklyn Americana Music Festival (BKAMF) returns to Brooklyn Bridge Park in celebration of NYC Pride this October after another hugely successful summer runout in June. Throughout the event, the free family-friendly festival presents live music from both emerging and established Brooklyn-based LGBTQ artists along Pier 6, including a bluegrass jam session at the Flower Field, a buskers stage, a ‘make your own rainbow flag’ station and mini Pride parade. Refreshments, beer, and wine and revellers are encouraged to ring a picnic blanket to lounge on the lawn and enjoy the show.
Venues across DUMBO and the Red Hook Waterfront, Brooklyn / 28-1 October 2023
New York Coffee Festival
New Yorkers are famously fussy about their coffee and this festival offers lovers of the iconic bean the chance to meet and engage with local roasters, baristas and innovators at the cutting edge of the sector. Over three days, festival-goers will have the chance to taste their way through the local coffee scene, watch live latte art demonstrations, and sip coffee-themed cocktails. Be sure to grab front-row seats for the hotly contested global barista tournament, and there’s also delectable street food to help settle the stomach.
Metropolitan Pavilion, Chelsea / 6-8 October 2023
New Yorker Festival
There are only a select few magazine publications anywhere around the world that are sufficiently prestigious to warrant their own festival. First launched in 1925, The New Yorker Magazine is one such esteemed title. Its first festival was held almost 25 years ago, and each year features some of the world’s most eminent and thought-provoking authors, artists, filmmakers, actors, comedians, and musicians spanning politics, literature, film, music, art, and pop culture, all of whom take part in a packed programme of talks, conversations, readings and panel events in front of discerning audiences.
Venues across NYC / 6-8 October 2023
By Paul Joseph