Your November To-Do List: Free & Fun NYC Events for Kids

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The days are getting shorter and colder, but NYC is just getting into gear for those final (busy!) months of 2021. There are lots of fun and free events for families this November, from big ones that attract spectators from around the world, to art exhibits, ice skating shows and ways to enjoy NYC outdoors. Read on for a month of must-dos with the kids!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

TCS New York City Marathon

Still one of our favorite NYC events of all time, the New York City Marathon marks 50 years this November! It kicks off at 8:30 a.m. in Staten Island and the top athletes cross the finish line in Central Park about two-and-a-half hours later. Grab some bagels and head out to cheer on the thousands of runners who come from literally around the world to do this race. (Lots of New Yorkers, too.) Top spots to root for the runners include Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and Central Park. 

Sun., Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m.

photo: Hudson River Park

Pumpkin Smash at Hudson River Park

Halloween's over. Now what will you do with all those pumpkins? Easy: Smash them! Bring your carved or uncarved pumpkin to Pier 84 for the annual pumpkin smash. The smashed pumpkins will be added into compost to help keep the park growing and happy. This means your pumpkins won't go to waste! Though this event is free, advance registration is required.

Sun., Nov. 7
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Hudson River Park's Pier 84 at W 44 St.
Hell's Kitchen

photo: Hello Bello

Turkey Time at Greenbelt Story Time

It's turkey time at the Greenbelt Nature Center! Learn all about the turkey with fun facts and a take-home themed craft. Although this event is held outdoors, masks and distancing are required.

Thu, Nov 4
10-11 a.m.
Outdoors at the Greenbelt Nature Center in Blood Root Valley
700 Rockland Avenue at Brielle Ave
Staten Island

photo: Colin Miller

Winter Village at Bryant Park

The Winter Village returns for another winter season, featuring the rink and market! 

This year, you'll be able to reserve tickets for the ice skating rink online in advance. Tickets will be released on a rolling basis throughout the season, so don't fret if you can't get a hold of one right away — be on the lookout for more. Entry to the rink is free if you have your own skates, but for those who want to rent skates or a locker, there's an additional fee. 

The outdoor holiday market will be open through January 2, and will feature 170 vendors (including plenty of new faces). Bank of America will also be spotlighting minority-owned small businesses with a rent-free booth. 

When you're ready to wind down, stop by at the Lodge to enjoy a cocktail and watch the skaters.

Fri, Oct 29, 2021-Sun, Mar 6, 2022
Bryant Park

photo: Ice Theatre of New York

2021 City Skate Pop Up Concerts

The free rink at Bryant Park is open, and things are already happening! Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) presents 2021 City Skate Pop Up Concerts throughout the month at The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village. ITNY performers include Olympian Kaitlyn Weaver, ITNY Ensemble members Armen Agaian, Valerie Levine, Liz Schmidt, and young ice dance apprentices Oona and Gage Brown. Read more about the individual performances here!

Nov. 9, 11, 16 & 18, 12:40 p.m.
The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village
42nd and Sixth Ave.

photo: Canstruction


The amazing free design competition that also does good by donating canned goods to City Harvest, Canstruction is back at Brookfield Place. See these large-scale sculptures created by design firms from November 4-15. On November 8, judges of the contest will award titles including "Best Original Design," "Most Cans" and "Best Use of Labels." Want to donate some cans to City Harvest yourself? Drop them off on Level 2 of Brookfield Place at 230 Vesey Street. 

Nov. 4-15 
230 Vesey St. 
Financial District 

photo: Jonas mohamadi via pexels

Ellen Reid Soundwalk at Central Park 

What does the soundtrack of your world sound like? Now it can sound like the NY Philharmonic orchestra! Download the free Soundwalk app and turn on your location, then wander around Central Park. As you walk past landmarks and different areas of the park, the app will play corresponding music by composer Ellen Reid specially paired with your environment. The path you take will influence your personal soundtrack!

Through 2023
Central Park

Governors Island Staying Open All Year

Since its opening in 2001, Governors Island has only been open during certain months of the year. This year, for the first time, the island will be open all year round. This means you can visit the island any time of year! In addition to this, a new Coney Island route ferry is launching, to make getting to the island easier than ever. Visit the island for the huge slides, unique playgrounds, art installations, historic buildings, delicious food vendors, and much more!

Governor's Island

photo: Brooklyn Public Library

Adams Street Library in DUMBO

For the first time since 1983, a new library branch has opened in Brooklyn. The slick new Adams Street library branch is now open for visitors from all over the borough, but especially from the surrounding Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, and Farragut neighborhoods. Housed inside a former factory, the library was designed with input from the community and offers 6,000 square feet filled with books, meeting spaces, and areas for special programs for all ages.

Opened Wed, Oct 13
9 Adams Street (between John and Plymouth)

NYC Libraries Go Fine-free

Late to return your book? No problem — the entire NYC public library system has gone fee-free. Now, returning your books late won't cost you anything. Existing fines have also been wiped from all accounts, for a clean slate. So if you've been avoiding the library because of accumulated fees, now's the time to visit again! (Why not start with the newly opened Adams Street library branch?)

Various locations

Alamo Drafthouse Opens in Manhattan

The Alamo Drafthouse has officially come to Manhattan for the first time! Visit for a grand movie experience, with incredibly comfortable seats, delicious (sometimes themed!) meals, and hand-picked movies new and old presented with the best possible audio and visuals. 

The new Alamo will be showing holiday classics throughout the season, including the family favorite "The Polar Express" and an "Elf" movie party complete with props, a contest, and even an indoor "snowball" fight. This branch of the theater will also be home to The Press Room, a museum, print shop, bar and private event space in one. 

Price: Starting at $16 per ticket
28 Liberty St., Suite SC301
Financial District

Half Price Entry at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

If you're a NYC resident, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is now offering discounted tickets. New Yorkers can enter the space for 50% off the general admission tickets. Tickets will grant you access to the aircraft carrier the Intrepid, the submarine Growler, the Space Shuttle Pavilion, and all the exhibits currently on show at the museum. You can buy tickets online, but will need to show your ID at Will Call to receive the discount.

Price: $16/adult, $15/senior, $12/children ages 5-12
Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
West 46th Street
Hell's Kitchen

photo: Public Art Fund

Bronze Sculpture of Diane Arbus in Central Park 

As you walk through Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, you might notice a woman standing amid the pedestrians, camera at the ready. This new bronze monument by artist Gillian Wearing celebrates Diane Arbus, an influential 1900s New York photographer known for her Central Park photos. The statue stands among the passersby, holding her beloved Rolleiflex camera like she's getting ready to take her next photo. 

Oct 20, 2021-Aug 14, 2022
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park
60th St. and 5th Ave.
October 20, 2021–August 14, 2022

Ghost Forest at Fotografiska

This exhibition looks at the work of Maya Lin, the artist behind the art installation by the same name in Madison Square Park. Named after the devastating losses of forests and trees due to climate change, the installation places 49 dead Atlantic cedars in the middle of Manhattan. See the process that went into the conceptualization and creation of the installation at Fotografiska. Check out photographs, sketches, models, and even a VR experience detailing the artistic process of Maya Lin. 

This is the last chance to see this installation, which is leaving on November 14.

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $26/person, $16/senior and student, free/children under 6
Wed, Sep 1-Sun, Nov 14
The Museum of Photography
281 Park Ave South

Family Sundays at the Rubin Museum

Family Sundays are back in person! Visit the museum on Sundays at 1 or 2 to learn and create at the new space, The Mandala Lab. In the month of November, the family activity will be focused on the feeling of pride at completing something difficult, and how we can (literally!) weave an expression of that feeling into our clothes. This event is meant for ages 3 and up with accompanying adults, and pre-registration is required.

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $19/adult, $14/seniors and students, Free/children 12 and under
Sundays in November, 1-3 p.m.
The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St.

Diablo Yoyo at Washington Square Park

Watch some expert yo-yo masters show off their skills at this presentation and workshop in the park. See the awesome yo-yo juggling antics of the diabolo style, presented by Violet Diabolo, NYU's diabolo club. You can even try it out yourself with one of the yo-yos available to use at the event!

Wed, Nov 3
5-6:30 p.m.
Holley Plaza in Washington Square Park
5th Avenue at, Washington Square N

Generation Rise at the New Victory Theater

Everyone who's come out of 2020 is a changed person. At this powerful event, teenagers share their experiences growing up amid a global pandemic, racial justice movements, and a constantly changing world. Young voices speak up about uniquely human, young adult, and New York experiences, focusing on the power of resilience and optimism — in spite of what the world throws at you. This event is for ages 11 and up.

Price: $25
Fri, Nov 5-Sun, Nov 14
The New Victory Theater
209 W 42nd St

Pollinator Painted Stones at Fort Tryon Park

Pollinators are so important to our food system. Learn all about them and celebrate them with art at this event! Join artist Jessica Maffia in painting on stones and turning them into bees, ladybugs, butterflies and other members of nature's pollination squad. It's recommended that you bring a blanket to sit on for this outdoor event!

Sat., Nov. 6, 1-2:30 p.m.
Fort Tryon Park's Dongan Lawn on Broadway
Fort George

photo: Rob W. via Yelp

Fall Foliage Tour at Snug Harbor

It's the perfect time to visit Snug Harbor, in all its autumn splendor. The gardens will be offering a Fall Foliage tour for visitors, which will take you through the gorgeous fall colors. The tour will start at the Visitors Info Booth, moving through the Pond Garden and ending at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden. 

Price: $10, $9 for members
Thu, Nov 4 and Sat, Nov 6
1-2:30 p.m.
Snug Harbor
Meet at Visitor Info Booth at Gazebo Road and Chapel Road
Staten Island

FAD's Early Bird Holiday Market at City Point

FAD, the Fashion, Art and Design pop-up marketplace, is bringing its local goods to City Point. Browse through handmade goods, food and art from over 40 local vendors and artists in this cozy, indie market. 

Sat, Nov 6-Sun, Nov 7
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
City Point
Prince Street Corridor
445 Albee Square West
Downtown Brooklyn

Mushride Bike Tour at Randall's Island

Become more familiar with the edible nature around you in this bike ride and mushroom foraging excursion. Learn how to find and identify edible mushrooms while you explore Randall's Island's gardens, farm, and wetlands. Although this event will be held on bike, the pace will be leisurely and all ages are welcome.

Sat, Nov 13
2-3:30 p.m.
Sunken Meadow Citi Bike Station
35 Central Rd
Randall's Island

Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Washington at Fort Tryon Park

Commemorate the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Washington at this festival-like event. The event features live 18th-century music, themed arts and crafts, blacksmith demonstrations, and even games from the era. Make it a picnic or dress up for the occasion — the most authentic costumes will receive a prize!

Sun, Nov 14
12-3 p.m.
Cafe Lawn in Fort Tryon Park
Fort George

photo: Joshua Bright

Family Birding at Wave Hill

Explore the wonderful world of birds, guided along by naturalist and birder Gabriel Willow. Learn about bird habitats and search Wave Hill for signs of birds, their homes, and their homes. Space is limited so it's recommended that you register on site the day of the event. 

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $10/adult, $6/seniors and students, $4/children 6+
Sun, Nov 14
1-2 p.m.
Wave Hill
West 249th St. & Independence Ave.

photo: Urban Space

Holiday Markets at Union Square and Colombus Circle

The Union Square and Columbus Circle holiday markets have returned to their rightful winter homes! Over 200 local vendors in total will be on display at the two holiday markets, featuring great chances for some unique presents for the family (or for yourself!), like jewelry, clothing, art, delicious food, puzzles, clocks, quirky conversation pieces, and so much more. Union Square will once again feature an art station from the Children's Museum of Art for free, holiday-themed crafts for the little ones.

Union Square:

Thu, Nov 18-Fri, Dec 24
Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving, closes 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve
Union Square

Columbus Circle:

Mon, Nov 29-Fri, Dec 24
Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closes 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve
Columbus Circle

Holiday Lighting Party at Albee Square

Celebrate the holiday season in style at Albee Square's annual winter holiday lighting party. View special guest performances and join in on the countdown to the holidays. (More details will be released soon!)

Thurs., Nov. 18, 5-6 p.m.
Albee Square
Corner of Fulton and Bond
Downtown Brooklyn

photo: Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Farmhouse Family Day at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Before we had artificial coloring, people made dyes from nature. This month's family day at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum will teach you how natural dyes are made from flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other materials harvested from nature. Visitors will be able to make their own designs using natural dyes, to take home. While you're there, stick around to play with some outdoor colonial games and toys, or bring some food scraps to add to the compost heap. 

Sat., Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Wyckoff House Museum
5816 Clarendon Rd.

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Celebrating 95 years, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on Thursday, November 25 from 9 a.m. - Noon. New floats and balloons for 2021 include Ada Twist, Scientist, Grogu (AKA "Baby Yoda"), a special Pokeman 25th anniversary balloon, and creations from Heinz (a gravy boat!), Disney Cruises and Peacock. 

Nov. 25, 9 a.m. - Noon

—Yuliya Geikhman


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