Looking for something fun to do over the long weekend? Then you’re in the right place, because The Gavel has compiled a list of some of the best Columbus Day happenings, for those looking to get off campus and try something new. Won’t be in town or hoping to take a road trip with friends? No problem. There are events happening all throughout New England, so you’ll be sure to have a blast no matter where you end up.
Columbus Day Parade — Boston, MA — Free
For students at BC, seeing the annual Columbus Day Parade in Boston will be a totally new and exciting experience. This Sunday, Oct. 8, the parade will kick off at 1 p.m., next to the Boston Public Market near City Hall Plaza. Featuring marching bands, parade floats, entertainers, musicians, and more, the fun-filled event will make its way through the streets of the North End. Especially for those not local to Boston, coming out to see this parade will be a real treat, and definitely something to write home about. As a final incentive to college students, the event is free—what is there to lose?
Opening Our Doors — Boston, MA — Free
Another Boston Columbus Day tradition is the Opening Our Doors cultural event, taking place on Oct. 9. This event aims to make learning about the local Boston culture accessible to all. Activities will range from musical and dance performances to historic walking tours and lectures. For both education and entertainment, take the T down to Fenway to experience more than 80 free artistic, musical, and cultural happenings.
Oktoberfest and Honk Parade — Cambridge, MA — Free
Harvard Square is the place to be if you want to go out for a good time, but don’t quite want to make the trek all the way into the city. This Columbus Day Weekend, visit Harvard Square to experience the Boston Oktoberfest and Honk Parade. Featuring foods from all over the world, sidewalk sales, free samples, vintage goods, and tons of arts and crafts, just walking through the streets and window browsing is sure to be a blast. Wander your way towards the Honk Parade later to have some “horn-tooting, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, mind-blowing” fun and enjoy the live music. Or even jump in at the back of the parade for a bit to join in on the good times.
MFA Open House — Boston, MA — Free
Have you been wanting to visit Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts for some time now, but never got around to it? Use your day off to explore Boston’s artistic side and learn something new. Exclusive for one day only, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is offering free admission to all on Columbus Day. Come for as long or as little as you like and experience the amazing exhibits!
Southwind Alpaca Farm’s Annual Fall Festival and Open Farm Days — Watertown, CT — Free
Looking for something a bit different to do this Columbus Day Weekend? If you happen to be near Watertown, CT, consider stopping by the Southwind Alpaca Farm. Selling both alpacas themselves as well as their wonderfully soft yarn, this unique fall festival includes a variety of fun activities all revolving around alpacas. So if you’re in the area and have a hankering to meet these beautiful creatures, stop by for free on one of their open farm days—Oct. 7 and Oct. 8—and take a look!
Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta — Damariscotta, ME — Free
This free festival includes a plethora of activities that everyone can enjoy. Starting on Saturday, Oct. 7, watch the annual Giant Pumpkin Parade, where tractors drag massive pumpkins through the streets as onlookers watch. Then, perhaps use one of these colossal beauties to build a pumpkin boat and participate in the pumpkin boat derby the next day. Finally, watch them get catapulted through the air or dropped from an 180-foot crane and land with a huge splat on the last day of the festival, Sunday, Oct. 8.
Warner Fall Foliage Festival — Warner, NH — Free
Enjoy music? Round up a group of friends and head up to Warner, NH to enjoy a three-day-long music festival this Columbus Day Weekend. The community festival is free and open to all. Including two different parades, a five-mile road race, amusement rides, street performers, food vendors, and a full line-up of open-air concerts throughout, this relaxed environment is a great place to hang out with friends for the day!
Columbus Day Parade — New York, NY — Free
Ever wanted to see a New York City parade in person? The Columbus Day Parade is an ideal choice for beginners and students who haven’t had the opportunity before. Avoid the chaos and intense crowds that usually accompany the more famous parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, while still experiencing the great features of any NYC parade. The event begins at noon on Columbus Day, and over 100 groups with bands, floats, and contingents, are expected. So if you’re thinking of visiting NYC this long weekend, be sure to stop by.
Rhode Island Oktoberfest — East Providence, RI — $15 in advance / $20 at the door
This cute, local festival features dozens of seasonal, craft, local, and imported brews, as well as food trucks offering festival fare and traditional German favorites. This year, the original Rhode Island Oktoberfest will take place with a lively backdrop of live music and spirited Bavarian/American entertainment. With relatively cheap tickets for admission and a location only an hour or two away from Boston, this fun event is a perfect choice for a group of college friends looking to take a day trip this holiday.
Oktoberfest at Mount Snow — West Dover, VT — $15 in advance / $20 at the door for non-drinkers; $30 in advance / $40 at the door for drinkers
A Columbus Day Weekend tradition since 1997, the Mount Snow Oktoberfest is one of Vermont’s signature festivals. An ideal scene for older college students looking for an excuse to party throughout the day, the traditional German theme of this fair promises to include plenty of beer, as well as schnitzel and Oom-pah music. Also including traditional fall activities like pumpkin painting, an apple slingshot and the famous “schnitzel toss,” it’s guaranteed to be nothing but fun for everyone involved.
Whether you stay near Boston or hit the road with friends, Columbus Day is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a day off and experience something new and different. Trade homework and responsibilities for nice weather, fall spirit, and a unique local event—you won’t regret it!