Best NYC Events In September: A Guide from A-to-Z

A group of people dressed in costume at the 2013 DUMBO Arts Festival

Summer's end, as sad as that can feel for some of us, does have its wide, bright, sterling-silver lining. Namely: September! Yes, if there's one thing that's even better than summer in the city, even more jam-packed with great things to see and and do and hear and eat, then it's the start of the NYC fall season. So here's a by-no-means exhaustive A-to-Z list of reasons to be excited for September. And just wait until October, when things REALLY get busy around here!  

Thomas Jackson's Glow Sticks #1 - artwork from last year's Affordable Art Fair

Affordable Art Fair  – September 25th to 29th
The Affordable Art Fair returns to the Tunnel in Chelsea again this September, where you'll find a fantastic selection of contemporary art from 50 galleries, both local and international. Affordable Art Fair founder Will Ramsey (who also began the great Pulse art fair that runs during Armory week), has always said that you shouldn't have to be a "squillionaire" to hang exciting, original works of art in your home, and, judging by the very small preview of all the pieces that will be on sale this year–nothing more $5,000, with many works available for less than $1,000–it seems like there will be plenty of items there to bear that out. Like Thomas Thomas Jackson's Glow Sticks #1, pictured above.Tunnel, 11th Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets.

Burlesque Festival – September 25th to 28th
Maybe it's not for everyone, but if you've ever been to a high-quality burlesque show, you know how much raucous, campy, sexy fun it can be. And the 12th Annual New York Burlesque Festival is offering a whole weekend of jam-packed shows, with first-rate performers letting loose in venues all over town! From the Teaser Party on Thursday night at the Bell House through to the Golden Pastie Awards on Sunday at the Highline Ballroom, this internationally-renowned event will delight and mock-shock in equal measure. Bell House, Brooklyn Bowl, BB Kings and Highline Ballroom, respectively            

Coney Island Tattoo & Motorcycle Show – Starts September 26th
Speaking of a rowdy good time, the Coney Island Tattoo and Motorcycle Show returns for its 30th year this September 26, with competitions and special events going on all weekend long. 30 years! When the show began in 1986, tattooing was still illegal in NYC! Anyway, expect a visual feast of inked-up bodies and customized bikes. Tats are judged in categories like Black and White, Tribal, and Butt, while motorcycles compete for trophies in divisions such as Oldest and Ugliest. With this crowd, it's pretty much guaranteed that things will get a little out of hand. Details TBA.    

Dumbo Arts Festival – Sept 26th to 28th
One of my personal favorite annual September traditions goes down in DUMBO. And even though they've had to acquire more and more corporate sponsors to keep it alive (and even though that neighborhood's changed a LOT since I first went in 2007), there still is a wonderful underground-ness to the weekend, with many individual artists keeping it real and slightly crazy even as the crowds get bigger and bigger. There's something unexpected around every corner, AND this is a great event for families. Various streets, parks, and galleries around DUMBO.  

Edible Manhattan's A Cook's Tour of Chinatown – Sept 16th
The crew over at Edible cover a lot of territory–in addition to their flagship "Manhattan" and "Brooklyn" magazines/websites, Edible's also out at the beach, on the East End–so you know they're pretty street wise when it comes to finding the best restaurants in any given neighborhood. And in no neighborhood in Manhattan is it more useful to have an expert guide than in Chinatown, home of a hundred similar-seeming spots, but only a few really, really good ones. Organized by 92Y and led by Chef (and life-long New Yorker) Russell Moss, the Edible Manhattan's Cook's Tour of Chinatown is sure to introduce you to someplace new and wonderful. Chinatown. 


best-nyc-september-fashion-weekFashion Week – Sept 4th – 11th
Even though they've discontinued the awesome spectacle that was Fashion's Night Out to kick things off, there are still plenty of opportunities during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to hang out with supermodels and see outrageous runway shows and get free fabulous goodie bags. No, not really, unless you're famous, or work for Vogue, but we can pretend, right?! What you CAN do is hang around the Lincoln Center plaza any time before any of the shows there in Damrosch Park for some of the best fashion/people-watching in town. Chelsea and the Meatpacking are usually good spots, too. Various Locations.

Great Irish Fair of New York – Sept 13th – 14th
The Great Irish Fair out on Coney Island falls almost exactly at the mid-point between St. Patrick's Days past and future, so if March 17 seems too, too far away to "get your Irish on", hop on the train and go check out this celebration of Irish music, dancing, food, and hospitality. Performers this year include U2 cover band Unforgettable Fire, the Canny Brothers playing more traditional tunes, and the O'Malley School of Irish Dance. And the GIF, as they call it, is definitely family-friendly, with activities for the wee ones as well. Surf Avenue and 21st Street, Coney Island.        

Honey Week – Sept 8th -14tg
YUM. Also: IMPORTANT. You've likely heard about the honeybee's alarming drop in population worldwide, putting massive amounts of our food supply at risk. Now, here's a chance to meet some of the people who are trying to do something about it. And eat a bunch of delicious, locally cultivated honey. Organized by the amazing Brooklyn Grange, which operates rooftop farms all over the city, including the world's largest in Long Island City, Honey Week features apiary tours, several honey-themed dinners and cocktail hours, tastings, workshops, and kid-focused activities. And it all culminates with a blow-out Honey Fest in Rockaway, at the Beach 97. Various Locations

Ice cream at Milk Bar in Soho – Late Sept
Yes, the original Momofuku Milk Bar opened up in 2008, and there are already five locations all over the city, but when mad-dessert-genius Christina Tosi opens up a new branch in Soho, a neighborhood you'll likely find yourself in this fall, it's good to know that you can get some of her soft serve ice cream–and cake truffles, and crack pie, and everything else–at a moment's notice. On Wooster near Spring.       

A young kite-flyer enjoys herself with her pink kite at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Kite FestivalJazz at Lincoln Center – Begins Sept 16th
The vital Jazz at Lincoln Center kicks off the 2014-15 season on September 16 with its Jazz Across Americas Opening Night Party, featuring live performances by the Rodriquez Brothers, a full buffet dinner, and plenty of cocktails. And after the partying and schmoozing ends, the music begins in earnest, with an impressive schedule in September that includes one-off concerts by the likes of Marcus Roberts, Bill Frisell, Chucho Valdes and Jazz at Lincoln Center house master Wynton Marsalis. And that's all in addition to the regular events going on at JALC, like the Late Night Sessions at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Season begins September 16; other concerts and events performed nightly.  

Kite Festival at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Sept 13th
Add the annual Kite Festival to Brooklyn Bridge Park's ever-expanding roster of fun events for families. The concept here is simple: tons of neighborhood folks show up on the lawns of Pier 1, with kids or without, and do their best to get dozens of kites, of all description and degrees of fanciness, soaring through the air. How the actual kite-flying part of day goes depends on cooperation from the wind, of course, but last year an impressive number of kids got theirs up. Bring your own or buy one of the cheap, basic models on sale there. And you can't go wrong with those views! September 13, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.   

Ludlow Hotel's Dirty French, from the team behind the Torrisi empire  – Opens Sept 2nd
I had the great pleasure of eating at Torrisi's on Mulberry before the whole thing exploded and the prices doubled and now you can't get in. I've also had several first-rate casual meals at the far more affordable Parm a few doors down. And although the new restaurant, Dirty French (no menu yet… but it'll be French) from the can't-lose team of Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick seems like it'll be league with their Carbone and ZZ's Clam Bar, price-point-wise, maybe I can get someone to treat me? Opens September 2; Ludlow Hotel, Lower East Side.    

best-nyc-september-madMuseum Day Live! – Sept 27th
Smithsonian Magazine is sponsoring a nationwide free museum day, with institutions around the country offering admission to anyone holding a Museum Day Live ticket. You can get your admit-two ticket (one per household per institution) now to one of several area museums by registering for a Smithsonian account and, HERE'S THE CATCH, you will then also receive a free year-long digital subscription to the august magazine which, one can imagine, will then be automatically renewed for money and you'll probably get a lot of emails and spam and such along the way. NYC museums available in the promotion include The Morgan Library, the Jewish Museum (which is always free on Saturdays, by the way), the Museum of Arts and Design, and the always-engaging New York City Fire Museum. Museums nationwide. 

New York Film Festival – Sept 26th – Oct 12th
Since its inception in 1963, the New York Film Festival has brought the world's most important new films (and, sometimes, simply the biggest crowd-pleasers) to the screens of Lincoln Center. For this, its 52nd iteration, beginning on September 26 and running through October 12, the NYFF holds true to form. Those attending the glittering opening gala will see the premier of David Fincher's Gone Girl, those lucky enough to secure closing night tickets will (likely) enjoy Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman, and in between there are still plenty of seats left for the rest of us to take in an astonishing array of films both big and small, domestic and foreign, plus a whole Revivals series, as well as workshops and panels and the like. Don't wait, though! Many screenings will sell out, if they haven't already.Alice Tully Hall and various Lincoln Center campus screens.      

Oyster Week – Sept 11th to 28th
There was a time when our city was the oyster capital of world, with beds so plentiful that half of the planet's entire oyster population lived (and died, and were eaten) right on these shores. In 1880 alone, more than 700 million of these delicious bivalves were harvested! It's certainly appropriate, then, that NYC will once again celebrate Oyster "Week" from September 11 to 28, with limited-time-only dishes at restaurants around town, and a host of different events, like the Oyster Frenzy in Grand Central (home of the iconic Oyster Bar), and the rowdy Stone Street Oyster Festival, at which last year more than 10,000 people slurped down some 35,000 of these beauties (and probably had a similar number of beers). Various Venues throughout NYC.

Two knights face off at the Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon ParkPig Island – Sept 6th
Like feasting on all things pork? Of course you do. So on September 6 hop on the East River Ferry and head over the Red Hook's beautiful waterfront area for Pig Island 2014. Tickets are $75 (kids under 12 are free!) which gets you a whole day of unlimited pig dishes (plus sides and desserts, natch) from 25 different chefs, plus all of the local craft beer, hard cider, and NY state wine you can drink. This is a great time, with live music and good vibes, no VIP passes or special exclusive areas. Just bring your own blanket; there's plenty of lawn on which to lounge and play… and EAT. Erie Basin Park Waterfront – Red Hook, Brooklyn.  

Queens County Fair – Sept 20th – 21st
My absolute favorite booth at the great Union Square Greenmarket is from Queen County Farm; they're there on Fridays only, everything they sell is remarkable, and the staff couldn't be more friendly and helpful. So, no surprise, when they throw a party, they do a terrific job at that, too. The 32nd Annual Queens County Fair happens on September 20 and 21, and features all of the classic sorts of county fair-ish things you'd expect: pie-eating and corn-husking contests; pig races; amusement-park rides and games; blue-ribbon competitions in livestock, produce, and home crafts; and the opening of the always popular Amazing Maize Maze. And it's all right here in New York City! Queens County Farm Museum.    

Renn Faire! (aka Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park) – Sept 28th
Ok, because it's held right near the Cloisters up in lovely Fort Tryon Park, this is technically the NYC Medieval Festival, rather a Renaissance Faire, but no matter. Rennies (as they call themselves) in full regalia flock to Inwood for this event, now in its 30th year, and everything you'd expect to find at a Renn Faire, you'll find here. Jousting knights, roasted turkey legs (EVERYONE is eating one of these), insanely vicious-looking weaponry, live falconry, music and (medieval) crafts, blacksmiths, flagons of meade, Shakespeare, wenches… the park does get packed, especially as the day goes on, but this is a great time–and a real eyeful–if you've never been. Fort Tryon Park.      

Two vendors, Maude and Bruce working the games at NYC's San Genarro festival.San Gennaro Feast – Sept 11th to 21st
Speaking of an eyeful (and a bellyful), the 88th Annual Feast of San Gennaro hits Mulberry Street and its environs on September 11 to 28. This is the grandaddy of all NYC street fairs, with old-school hustlers coaxing you to, for example, knock over a stack of milk bottles to win a massive stuffed (un)licensed cartoon character; fried-everything and a million different sweets; lots of beer and booze; and, if you go at night (when it gets mobbed!), packs of teenagers looking to impress. Go for the spectacle–there are all sorts of bands and eating contests as well–but also for the food, as some of the city's best restaurants now have booths at the northern end of things. And, thanks to the LISA Project, there's tons of great street art on this stretch these days. Mulberry Street in Little Italy.     

Tacos at Alex Stupak's Empellon al Pastor – Early Sept
Sometime in early September, one of my favorite NYC chefs Alex Stupak (who did stints at wd-50 and Alinea, before opening two amazing Mexican restaurants in both the West and East Village) will hit St. Marks Place with his most casual, cheapest, and likely most addicting spot yet. At Empellon al Pastor, Stupak will make his own tortillas, and, though there will be a few taco varieties on the menu, as well as several sides and guacamole (a must-get, if the stuff he makes at Empellon Cocina is any indication), the star here will clearly be the Taco al Pastor, made the classic way with thinly sliced roasted pork, pineapple, salsa and cilantro. Expect long lines when this baby opens. St. Marks and Avenue A.

Union Square's Harvest In The Square – Sept 18th
The Union Square Greenmarket is the biggest and best in the city (every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, all year round), and the park itself is surrounded by fantastic restaurants, so it's no surprise that the annual Harvest in the Square Benefit celebration is always overflowing with food and plenty of adult beverages. The cheapest tickets to the event, which it will be held as usual in the North Plaza, will set you back $125, but most of that goes to Union Square Partnership, which helps maintain and beautify the park, so you'll get to spend the night eating, drinking, AND doing some good. Union Square Park.         

  A dish of ceviche including calamari and avacado from NYC's Cosme. Village Voice Brooklyn Pour – Sept 27th
For their 4th Annual Brooklyn Pour, the folks at the Village Voice have gathered together some two dozen craft brewers–both local and nationwide–to serve more than 100 different beers in the glorious old Williamsburg Bank building in Fort Greene. Try to taste them all! I'm kidding. Sort of. But really, if you like beer, this is where you should be on September 27. Among those pulling seasonal, micro, and reserve brews will be Radiant Pig, Two Roads, Shipyard, Bear Republic, Dyckman, and Bayou Teche. There will also be food. Tickets start at $55, with VIP passes (early entry, exclusive mezzanine access) setting you back $85.Skylight One Hanson, Fort Greene.   

West Side County Fair – Sept 7th
While not nearly as County Fair-ish as the Queen County Fair, the folks at Riverside Park always do a good job bringing that wholesome rural-fun spirit to this annual event. Now in its 12th year, the West Side Count Fair will feature the usual carnival games and rides, as well as sideshow performers, acrobats, and aerialists, reptile shows (because why not) and a greenmarket. Food vendors and such will also likely be in attendance, as will everyone you know with little kids on the Upper West Side. Riverside Park between 66th and 72nd Streets.          

Xcellent ceviche and other Mexican delights at Cosme  – Early Sept
With the promise to open its doors within a week or two, the internationally-acclaimed Chef Enrique Olvera (his restaurant Pujol in Mexico City is world renowned) gives us Cosme in the Flatiron District. Although menus have not yet been released, previews hint that Cosme will be more casual than Pujol, but still forward-thinking in its approach to traditional Mexican cuisine. I had the great pleasure of eating Olvera's "Coctel de Pulpo con Maiz" (pictured above), at Rockaway Beach one afternoon this summer, and if his dishes at Cosme are even half as good (and some are bound to be twice as good), 35 E 21st Street

Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter's final home game – Sept 25th
There are lots of reasons why this game, the final one of the regular season at Yankee Stadium, is sold out. First, because it might be Derek Jeter's final appearance in the Bronx, where he won five World Series over a 20-year career and amassed more hits, games played, stolen bases, and at-bats than any other Yankee in their long and storied history. Much respect. But perhaps more urgent, the game is against first-place Baltimore, and, as of this writing, the Yanks are still 2.5 back in the Wild Card race. So, if you already have tickets, congratulations. And if you feel like spending a big pile of money, check any number of those ticket scalping sites. Yankee Stadium          

Zines galore at the MoMA PS1 Art Book Fair – Sept 26th – 28th
Here's another of my favorite September events, the Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, which may sound like a bit of a snooze, but is actually enormously entertaining even if you have no interest in buying anything. There are two reasons why this is true. First, most vendors, whether they're hawking self-published zines or fancy coffee-table tomes, deck out their tables and booths in any way possible to get your attention. So it's visually engaging, to walk around (and it's huge, taking up all of the museum's interior and the courtyard). Second, most of the folks who are selling the stuff–or, even better, who have created the work–tend to be entertaining and chatty. Oh and also it's a great excuse to eat at the incomparable M. Wells Dinette, which functions as PS1's cafeteria. MoMA PS1


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