The Best Things to Do in NJ This October: Festivals, Comedy Shows and More

This month's hottest happenings in festivals, music, comedy and more.

Girl painting
Don't miss the inaugural Jersey City Art Week. Photo: Jennifer Brown

Looking for fun this October? Check out these events and activities happening all over New Jersey.

Please note that all schedules are subject to change; visit each venue’s website for more information.


Jersey City Art Week
October 11-15
Attend open studios, artist talks, gallery receptions and curated exhibitions—and enjoy live music and kids’ activities—at the inaugural Jersey City Art Week. The state’s largest visual arts event is slated to attract local, national and international artists.

Threading Memories
Opens October 21
In her latest exhibit, artist MiKyoung Lee utilizes textile art to delve into her memories and childhood in South Korea. The artist creates her sculptures by twisting and knotting mass-produced items like pipe cleaners and zip ties. Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton.


Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan is returning to his home state for two stops on his comedy tour.

Tracy Morgan
October 13 & 29
The Garden State’s own Tracy Morgan—known and loved for Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, his hilarious Netflix specials and more—brings his comedy chops to Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City on October 13 (9 pm; $29 and up) and then to Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood on October 29 (8 pm; $45 and up).

Photo: Shutterstock/Fer Gregory

Atlantic City Comedy Festival
October 7-8
Get ready to laugh: the Atlantic City Comedy Festival is gearing up for two days of jokes. Performers include Sommore, Earthquake and Guy Torry. Tickets can be purchased online starting at $59. Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City.


Movie reel, popcorn and soda

Photo: Shutterstock/urfin

Montclair Film Festival
October 20-29
The 12th annual Montclair Film Festival showcases a mix of new releases, comedies, documentaries, family films and works by emerging filmmakers. Among the highlights are post-screening talk-backs with directors and actors, as well as panel discussions with stars, hosted by Montclair’s own Stephen Colbert.

Big stack of old antique books

Photo: Shutterstock/LanKS

Morristown Festival of Books
October 6-7
Attend author talks by best-selling and emerging voices across every genre at the Morristown Festival of Books. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams, in conversation with Brian Stelter, kick off the festivities. Events, held at locations around Morristown, are mostly free. A special KidFest takes place October 7 from 11 am-4 pm.

Bottle Hill Day in Madison

Bottle Hill Day features food, activities, music and hundreds of vendors set up across six blocks.

Bottle Hill Day
October 7
Spend the day in charming Madison for the borough’s annual fall festival, Bottle Hill Day. Expect four stages of family-friendly music from local acts, a beer garden, fare from area restaurants, a food-truck court, children’s activities, rides and more. Park at the Madison Community Pool and take the shuttle to the festivities downtown—or take the train, which stops downtown. 10 am-5 pm.


Still from the movie "Coco"

An orchestra will be performing the score to the Pixar film Coco, transporting attendees to the Land of the Dead. Photo: Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Coco in Concert
October 4
The film may be animated, but the music is live at this screening of the Oscar-winning 2017 Pixar movie Coco. A 20-piece orchestra (the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México) performs the score of this family favorite while it is projected on the big screen. 7 pm; $35 and up. McCarter Theatre, Princeton.

Ms. Lauryn Hill
October 17
Lauryn Hill will be returning to her home state for a special 25th anniversary tour of her hit album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The famous R&B singer will be performing her debut solo album at the Prudential Center. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster ($69.50 and up). Prudential Center, Newark.

Special Events

The Winery Train
Weekends thru October 29
Enjoy a scenic train ride along the Delaware, courtesy of Delaware River Railroad Excursions, followed by a tour and wine tasting at Villa Milagro winery. On the train ride back, you can add stops at the Susquehanna Mining Company ($8) and/or a corn maze ($5). 10 am, noon & 2 pm departures; $45.99. Elizabeth Street, Phillipsburg.

Your First Mud Run
October 1
It’s time to get messy! Your First Mud Run, designed for all fitness levels, is the perfect chance for the whole family to run a mudder together. Five years and up. Fair Lawn, October 1, $43.45-$63.40. Dogs can join for $15.


The Great Gatsby
Opens October 12
This world premiere musical adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved story features a jazz and pop-influenced score written by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen. Step into the Roaring Twenties to hear the mysterious and lavish tale of millionaire Jay Gatsby, played by Jeremy Jordan, as he pursues his longtime love, Daisy Buchanan, played by Eva Noblezada. $35-$175. Papermill Playhouse, Millburn.


Father and daughter kayaking on Lake Hopatcong

Lake Loop is the perfect way to welcome fall. Photo: Courtesy of Lake Hopatcong Foundation

Lake Loop
October 1
Enjoy the cooler weather and changing leaves on a running or bike trail or on the water at the annual Lake Loop to benefit the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. Choose from a variety of cycling, running and paddling courses; afterward, enjoy games, food and live music. 7:15 am; $50 ($15 for kids). Hopatcong State Park, Hopatcong.

[RELATED: What to Do, See and Eat in Hopatcong]

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