Across the River and Through the Tunnel, 12 Can’t-Miss Art Events in New Jersey This Fall


Whether you’re looking for arts and crafts, dance, live music, or theater, these top picks of New Jersey events and shows happening throughout the fall will delight locals while attracting visitors.

Sea.Listen.Now. Festival
Asbury Park North Beach – Bradley Park – Atlantic Park
September 17-18

Music, the beach, a surf contest, art and great food – you couldn’t ask for a more perfect start to summer. This two-day event features concerts on three stages, including performances by Stevie Nicks, Green Day, My Morning Jacket and many more. Just across the boardwalk, some of the best surfers in the country will compete for cash prizes in the “North Beach Rumble” contest. Local artists will also be exhibiting their work, and the surrounding area is dotted with some of the best restaurants in the state.

Peters Valley Craft Fair
Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta
September 24-25

Peters Valley is among the top craft schools and its annual fair is a New Jersey fall tradition. Attendees will see the work of over 100 of the country’s finest quilt makers, blacksmiths and furniture makers, not to mention jewelers, glassblowers, basket weavers and many other artisans. A day trip to Sussex county is a long hike – you will be need a car – but it’s a great way to get out of town, clear your head and see some wonderful crafts.

kinetic light
New Brunswick Center for the Performing Arts
September 30-October 1

Disabled arts ensemble Kinetic Light features wheelchair dancers and regularly collaborates with disabled artists in stage design, choreography, and more. During a weekend of performances presented by Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, the company will present “DESCENT”, inspired by the writings and art of Auguste Rodin and focusing on the mythical characters Venus and Andromeda.

Collingswood Book Festival
Haddon Avenue, Collingswood
October 1st

The Collingswood Book Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, brings together over 60 authors of all kinds of books, as well as second-hand book dealers, food, music and games. You can meet the authors, talk to them about their work, and pick up a good selection of reads to keep you going through the winter months. This event is much closer to Philadelphia than the New York metro area, but if books are your thing, it’s worth the trip.

Newark Arts Festival
Various Locations, Newark
October 6-9

A sprawling event featuring open studios, art exhibits, performances, and more, the Newark Art Festival is embracing the concept of “Artful Healing” this year. In response to the overwhelming events of recent years, festival organizers said they aim to create “a collective experience of restoration through carefully curated artwork, performances and programming intended to help the community of Newark artists and festival goers to begin to heal holistically.” Highlights include a group exhibition at the Newark Museum and specially commissioned performances.

Puerto Rico’s El Gran Combo
New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts, Newark
October 8

Puerto Rico’s most popular and successful salsa band celebrates 60 years with a special concert in Newark. This orchestra has been performing continuously since the 1960s, but with a rotating roster. El Gran Combo has won a Grammy, been inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame, and sold out audiences around the world. They are joined in this performance by Latin pop idol Luis Figueroa and actress Sara Contreras. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to meet dedicated fans and absolutely irresistible beats.

“Some Aspects of Conflict in the Black Family”
Liberty Hall Museum, Union
October 13-23

This new play by Tylie Shider shines a light on a tense and important moment in New Jersey history through a personal story. The year is 1967, and the racial and civil unrest of Newark’s “Long Hot Summer” threatens to spill over into nearby Plainfield, where a young family has moved to build a better life for themselves. Shaken by what they see, the family plans to return to the South. Presented by Premiere Stages in Keen, it’s a rare opportunity to see the work of a burgeoning playwright near the place that helped inspire them.

“Richard II”
Luna Stage, West Orange
October 20-November 13

If the machinations of New Jersey (or national) politics have you wondering if things have always been this sleazy and messed up, this production of “Richard II” will put everything into perspective, likely leading you to conclude that Yes they have. Luna Stage has an excellent reputation for mounting experimental productions of new and historical plays, and features four actors playing 16 roles in what it describes as “a tense reimagining of Shakespeare’s intimate and devastating historical play about the danger of unchecked power”.

Montclair Film Festival
Various locations, Montclair
October 21-31

Details are still scarce at this time, but the Montclair Film Festival has had a solid reputation for bringing good films and a healthy dose of stardom to the suburbs for 11 years now. The competitions span a number of categories, including two dedicated to New Jersey filmmakers, drawing creators from near and far to showcase their work in this popular series. Panel discussions, family events and other activities complete this highly anticipated 10-day celebration.

“Jaws in Concert”
Various sites, Red Bank, Newark and New Brunswick
October 28-30

It’s nearly impossible to choose just one offering from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to include in this list – the ensemble’s centennial season includes performances with cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma, guest conductors and crowd-pleasing holiday events. But this offering stands out: the orchestra will perform John Williams’ score for “Jaws” in sync with a screening of the film, terrorizing audiences in the best possible way and showing the power of images paired with sound. We challenge you not to be on the edge of your seat when this haunting two-note theme pops up.

Art Fair 14c
The Armory, Jersey City
November 11-13

Think of it as “Art Basel: New Jersey” – now in its fourth year, Art Fair 14c will move into the 47,000 square foot Jersey City Armory, hosting 95 exhibitors with artists and galleries from as far afield as the United States. Australia and Brazil, as well as an important section, The Showcase, exclusively devoted to artists from New Jersey. Something that makes this event different from most other fairs is its focus on inclusivity rather than exclusivity; programming includes multilingual events and “low stimulation tours” for participants with autism.

Nimbus Dance
Nimbus Arts Center at Lively, Jersey City
December 9-23

There are literally dozens of “Nutcracker” performances taking place across the state during the holidays, but only one incorporates Jersey City history into its narrative. Nimbus Dance presents its local version of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, in which all the usual characters like the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Rat King share the stage with locals like the Statue of Liberty and the infamous Mayor Frank Hague. The set features vivid animated video projections, resulting in a unique performance you won’t find anywhere else.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the Collingswood Book Festival and its location were misidentified.


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