Prospect Park Boat House in the fall (Eli Mergel, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sep 26, 2023
The 2023 Brooklyn Magazine Fall Entertainment Guide
Our thoroughly incomplete and somewhat arbitrary roundup of the best events on the horizon this season
It is — sadly for some; happily for others — officially fall. The autumnal equinox was on Saturday, meaning summer is officially over. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to end.
We’ve curated the best of this fall’s concerts, book festivals, museum exhibits, record fairs, Halloween shindigs and more, culminating in Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s “Lightscape,” which will return just in time for the holiday season.
We’ll kick off your to-do list with things to check out this very week. Notably, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and De La Soul’s tour will be stopping at Barclays Center on September 27. The ongoing Brooklyn Book Festival will bring the month to a close with a day dedicated to the kids on the 30th.
October is loaded with concerts from Nick Cave, SZA, Kim Petras and others. The Brooklyn Museum’s “Spike Lee: Creative Sources,” a retrospective dedicated to the director’s career, opens on October 7, and The Fugees reunite on October 19 for an ultra-rare reunion show. Spend Halloween partying at the 18th Annual NY Night Train Haunted Hop Halloween Spooktacular at the Knowndown Center.
Come November, you can see Conan O’Brien for two nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of The New York Comedy Festival, or boogie for four nights at Avant Gardner during The Vulfpeck Schvitz Experience.
Bob Dylan is set to take the stage for two nights at Kings Theatre on November 14 and 15, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Lightscape” is back on November 17, with all new installations and lights for the 2023 holiday season.
Here, then, is our somewhat arbitrary and completely incomplete list of cultural offerings in the borough this fall. And remember, daylight savings time doesn’t end until the first Sunday in November. So get out there.
‘The NY State of Mind Tour’ with Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and De La Soul
While Wu-Tang Clan may be forever and all, but they’re only coming to Barclays Center for one night this month: September 27. Co-headliner Nas just released “Magic 3,” his sixth album in two years, and De La Soul finally made their music available to stream in January this year. Enjoy a night of New York hip-hop legends as the genre continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Now through October 2
The Brooklyn Book Festival
The Brooklyn Book Festival is a nine-day extravaganza currently underway through October 2, featuring authors from all over the world and right here in Brooklyn. A couple highlights: Kids can meet and create projects with their favorite authors on Children’s Day September 30, followed by the Festival Day and Literary Marketplace, the city’s largest free literary celebration, on October 1.
Brooklyn’s largest and oldest street festival celebrates 48 years on October 1. The Atlantic Antic festival began in the 1970s to reintroduce fellow New Yorkers and visitors to Atlantic Avenue with dining, shopping, and opportunities to explore its history. The long-running tradition returns with live music, fresh eats and drinks, and more artisanal vendors than you could possibly visit.
Nick Cave at Kings Theatre
The maestro of melancholy will grace the stage of Kings Theatre on October 6 for a solo performance of songs from his 40-years in music. While he’s at it, Cave may also share some of his wit and wisdom from the stage. If he doesn’t, you can always check in on his site, The Red Hand Files.
October 6 and 7
SZA’s ‘SOS Tour’
Maybe you want to leave melancholy behind for the night? SZA’s “SOS Tour” stops at Barclays Center in October with opener d4vd.
Opening October 7
‘Spike Lee: Creative Sources’
Brooklyn Museum presents “Spike Lee: Creative Sources,” a rare glimpse into the world of filmmaker Spike Lee. The exhibit opens October 7 and runs through February 4, and will showcase items from the Brooklyn auteur’s personal collection — and reveal the connections between the people, places, and ideas that have fueled Lee’s four-decade career.
October 8 to 10
The New York Film Festival
The New York Film Festival returns to BAM October 8 through 10 for another year of cinematic treats on Lafayette Avenue. Among the six movies coming to Brooklyn are “Priscilla,” Sophia Coppola’s antidote to last year’s “Elvis,” and “The Taste of Things,” which explores the meaning and textures of food in late-19th-century France — and won Trân Anh Hùng the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Kim Petras: ‘Feed the Beast’ world tour
In June, trans German pop star Kim Petras premiered her debut album “Feed the Beast” at Avant Gardner. On October 9, she returns for round two. This time Petras plays The Brooklyn Mirage at Avant Gardner with guest performers to be announced. The songstress dropped “Problématique,” another new album, earlier this month, and you can expect to hear plenty of songs from both. Tickets are $93.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Fall Plant Sale
Stock up on some indoor greenery to stave off the looming winter blues. Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host its annual fall plant sale on October 10 with a curated selection of plants for your home and garden, including new and unusual varieties of houseplants. Their indoor and outdoor bulbs include uncommon amaryllis and paperwhites, alliums, hyacinths, fritillaria and muscari. Brighten up the dark days of winter while supporting BBG’s programs.
October 12 to 19
Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Get your Halloween started early at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival from October 12 to 19. Opening night boasts the world premiere of “Kill Your Lover” from co-directors Alix Austin and Keir Siewert. Director Pascal Plante’s “Red Rooms” is the centerpiece screening, and the fest closes out with Jenn Wexler’s ’70s supernatural Christmas horror “The Sacrifice Game.” All screenings will be held at Nitehawk Cinema’s Williamsburg and Prospect Park locations.
October 14 to 15
WFMU Record Fair
Diggers rejoice: After taking three pandemic years off, the much-loved WFMU Record Fair is back with its first edition since 2019. The gigantic record sale will be held at the Knockdown Center for the first time, on October 14 and 15. Prepare to get those fingers dusty.
Opening October 14
Cinthya Santos-Briones: ‘Mictlán,’ a Día de los Muertos installation
Green-Wood Cemetery’s large-scale community altar for Día de los Muertos debuts on October 14. The centerpiece, called “Mictlán,” was created by Brooklyn-based artist Santos-Briones and draws inspiration from the underworld of Aztec mythology. Visitors are encouraged to pay tribute to lost loved ones by lighting candles and leaving personal offerings, including flowers, photographs, food, and notes.
October 19 to 21
‘Broken Chord’ at BAM
Near the end of the 19th century, a group of South African singers embarked on a tour of the U.K. and the U.S. under the stage name “The African (Native) Choir,” hoping to raise funds to build a school in the city of Kimberley. Yet any remnants of their tour were lost until glass plates of the singers were found 125 years later — in 2014. Their tour will be brought back to life at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in “Broken Chord” by South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma. Through the combination of dance, song and storytelling, “Broken Chord” reimagines the tour using a chorus of 16 singers and a quartet of musicians.
‘Nightfall: Danse Macabre’
“Nightfall: Danse Macabre” is Green-Wood Cemetery’s culminating event of the season. Inspired by the Middle Age dance of death, this night of music and dancing is a poignant reminder that the inevitable eventually comes for us all. So until then, you might as well enjoy yourself.
Ms. Lauryn Hill & The Fugees
If death isn’t your thing, celebrate the resurrection of The Fugees at Barclays Center on October 19. The 25th anniversary tour of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is the occasion of the first major reunion of the 1990s hip-hop trio for their first major string of performances since 2005.
Harvest Festival at Brooklyn Bridge Park
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy celebrates the changing of the seasons on October 21 at their annual Harvest Festival. Don’t miss their kick-off procession, arts and crafts opportunities, storytelling, lawn games and more — including their signature pumpkin patch. See their website closer to the date for a schedule of events.
Fran Lebowitz at Kings Theatre
What do tourists, baggage-claim areas, adults who roller skate, children who speak French, and anyone who is unduly tan have in common? Well, nothing, but they’re just a few of Fran Lebowtiz’s many targets. The New York Times Book Review calls Lebowitz an “important humorist in the classic tradition,” and you can hear her views on everything at the Kings Theatre in Flatbush on October 21.
October 21 and 22
Arts Gowanus Open Studios
Arts Gowanus is a not-for-profit organization working to support, promote and advocate for local artists and a sustainable arts community in Brooklyn. For two days in October, hundreds of artists open their studios as part of a massive, free art stroll through the Gowanus neighborhood. Artists without local studios will be showing at local businesses. Check out what your neighbors have been creating — and buy something to bring home with you.
October 25 to 29
16th annual Bushwick Film Festival
Bushwick’s big film festival returns for a week of screenings, featuring more than 125 independent films stemming from Brooklyn and around the world. Inspired by the notion of the “Sweet Sixteen,” this year’s festival theme revolves around exploring and embracing our passage through life’s chapters. Audiences will delve into the themes of coming-of-age, self-realization and the quest for personal freedom, all captured through the camera lens.
Joji’s ‘Pandemonium North American Tour’ at Barclays Center
Japanese singer-songwriter Joji brings his “Pandemonium North American Tour” to Brooklyn on October 27 with tourmates Kenny Beats, Lil Toe (AMMO) and Savage Realm. Previously known for making comedic rap under the moniker Pink Guy, Joji switched gears to create a mix of R&B, lo-fi, and trip hop in 2017. Joji is big with Gen Z, and his Barclay Show proves he’s breaking out to an even bigger audience.
Reneé Rapp at Kings Theatre
“Pretty Girls” singer Reneé Rapp performs at Kings Theatre on Halloween. Rapp got her start on Broadway in “Mean Girls,” which got the attention of Mindy Kaling, who cast her in HBO’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” In August, Rapp dropped her debut album “Snow Angel.” You can see the singer for yourself in Flatbush. Alexander 23 and Towa Bird will open.
NY Night Train 18th Annual Haunted Hop Halloween Spooktacular!
Brooklyn’s biggest underground Halloween party New York Night Train Haunted Hop returns on October 31 for their 18th year. This multiroom indoor/outdoor music festival/dance party features 36 bands, seven DJs, horror cinema (projected from 16 millimeter reels) non-stop on Halloween. Wear your best costume for a contest with a grand prize of $500 (don’t be basic). You don’t want to miss their sprawling haunted house either. Plus, there are free shuttles back and forth from the Jefferson L Train stop all night long.
November 2 to 18
‘FOOD’ at BAM
Performer and theater artist Geoff Sobelle hosts an intimate dinner party of smell, taste and touch at BAM beginning November 2. Audience members are invited to a culinary experience that’s “human and surreal, universal and personal.” Sobelle’s creation is an absurdist, immersive and rigorously designed meditation on how we eat, what’s in the soup and who pays the bill. But be warned: There’s no actual eating at this dinner party, so don’t come hungry.
November 7 and 8
‘Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend’
The broadcast legend brings his podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” to BAM on November 7 and 8 for The New York Comedy Festival. After 25 years on TV and despite thousands of interviews, Conan realized he never made a real and lasting friendship with any of his celebrity guests. So, he started “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” to do just that. See who he befriends in Brooklyn this November.
November 9 to 12
The Vulfpeck ‘Schvitz Experience’
The funk wizards of Vulfpeck will play eight shows over four nights this November at Avant Gardner. The residency, dubbed “The Schvitz Experience,” takes its name from Vulfpeck’s sixth studio album, “Schvitz,” and promises to deliver a sweaty good time.
Public Records x Pioneer Works: Durations Festival
Public Records in collaboration with Pioneer Works present the Durations Festival, a weekend-long multi-instrumentalist exploration of sound. Festival programmers call it “an intentional act of connection, and exploration of time as the intensive movement of body and mind.” The artists performing include Tim Hecker, Mule Musiq with Kuniyuki Takahashi, Superpitcher and Toshiya Kawasaki.
Brooklyn Fall Half Marathon
A marathon isn’t exactly entertainment, but the Brooklyn Fall Half Marathon is a sight to see, even if you’re not running it. Organized by Citytri Runs, you can run the half, 10K or 5K — or just hang out along the route and cheer on the runners under on a brisk fall morning in Prospect Park.
November 14 and 15
Bob Dylan at Kings Theatre
His “Never Ending Tour” may have, well, ended — for now, anyway. But two years into the newer “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour, Bob Dylan is still going strong, and will be bringing the show to Kings Theatre mid-November. The concert will be a phone-free experience, so print your ticket out, and expect to drop off your devices at the door. Don’t think twice.
November 17 to January 1
Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s ‘Lightscape’
Brooklyn’s most enchanting winter show is back and reimagined for 2023 with brand new works of art. During “Lightscape,” the garden comes to life illuminated sculptures, bright colors projected on the garden’s trees, seasonally decorated architecture and water fountains and more.
Doja Cat’s ‘Scarlet Tour’ at Barclays Center
Doja Cat brings “The Scarlet Tour” (and Ice Spice) to Brooklyn on November 29, giving us all the motivation we need to drag ourselves out of our Thanksgiving comas. Tickets are moving fast, so grab yours while you still can.
November 29 to December 4
The Hold Steady’s Massive Nights
The Hold Steady’s annual Massive Nights residency at the Brooklyn Bowl kicked off at in 2016 and returns once again on November 30. The band says to expect “songs, drinks, friends, sing-alongs and everything else that makes these nights Massive.”
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