Think autumn is all about Halloween? Think again. Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights takes place in the fall, and people party, big time. (With good reason. The holiday celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair — which are triumphs we all could use a little more of these days, no?) Read on to see where you and the family can join in on the fun!

photo: Diwali Times Square Facebook

Diwali Times Square
This is the big one. Thousands of people pack into Times Square for a colorful, high- energy celebration that goes on into the night. The event features performances by Bollywood stars, performers and artists, Diya lighting ceremonies, cultural performances, Indian food and drink, and ethnic clothes, jewelry and more for sale. (Be forewarned: it gets crowded, a la New Year’s eve.)

Tickets: free
Sat., Oct 7, 2 – 9 p.m.
Times Square

photo: Diwali Motorcade Facebook page 

Diwali Motorcade & Cultural Show
While the Diwali celebration in Times Square is a big deal, The Diwali Motorcade and Cultural Show in Richmond Hill, Queens is no slouch either. Participants compete for the top spot in the procession by decorating vehicles, which serve as chariots for equally-done up riders. Entries are judged on creativity, relevance to Diwali, originality, beauty and music. In addition to the mobile spectacle, expect performance by dance troupes and appearances by radio and TV personalities.

Tickets: free
Sat., Oct. 14, 3 p.m.
104-20 133rd St.
Arya Spiritual Center Grounds
Richmond Hill, Queens

photo: Abhinaba Basu via Flickr

Diwali Celebration at the Museum of the City of New York
Head to the City of New York for a weekday Diwali celebration. Enjoy a special performance, mold and decorate your own diya to take home, and savor a traditional Indian treat. All families and friends are welcome.

Family programs are free with museum admission, geared to families with children ages 6-12 years old, and include a snack. Activities are designed for adults and children to complete together.

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Museum of the City of New York
Tickets: Adults/$14 (suggested); Under age 20/free
10 a.m.-6 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve)
1220 5th Ave.
Upper East Side

photo: The Culture Tree Facebook page 

Diwali: Festival of Lights at CMOM
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan celebrates Diwali in a big way, with events all day long on October 22. The Culture Tree leads helps kids explore different aspects of the holiday through storytime, block printing, a culinary workshop (sweets are a big part of Diwali), sand art and Bollywood dance. Some sessions are drop-in, others you need to register for in advance. All are free with admission.

Sun., Oct. 22, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Admission: $12/children & adults; $8/seniors

photo: via Flushing Town Hall Facebook page 

Diwali Festival: Kathak, Bhangra & Beyond
Celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, with this all-ages festival and dance party, featuring Kathak classical dancer Abha Roy and the Basement Bhangra’s DJ Rekha. Each artist will introduce you to her form and invite you to learn traditional Kathak dance moves and bhangra folk dances mixed with hip-hop. Then hit the dance floor! Join us for Kathak and bhangra dance lessons, cooking workshops, and henna painting, with Indian handicrafts and Indian foods for sale.

Tickets: $20/adults; $10/kids
Sat., Oct. 29, 1 – 4 p.m.
137-35 Northern Blvd.
Flushing Town Hall


Will you be heading to a Diwali celebration this month? Tell us where in the comments!

— Mimi O’Connor