The Kids Guide to ArtsFest

ArtsFest is coming up October 20th to 23rd, and there are plenty of family-friendly events designed to appeal to children all weekend long.

“Most of the events are great for all ages,” says NRCA President Theresa Kump Leghorn, who chairs ArtsFest. “Events like the Classic Car Show, the Music Festival and the Dance Festival are family-friendly, and many of the open studios welcome kids. But this year ArtsFest Committee member Marisa Boan made it her mission to create free and low-cost events especially for children.”

An experienced arts educator and a single Mom, Boan is uniquely qualified for the job. She says “It’s important that we teach children that art is so much more than a painting we see on the wall. Art is how we express ourselves and can take the form of music, theater, sculpture, poetry, cinema, literature, and even the architecture of those incredibly tall buildings downtown. With this year’s Arts Fest Children’s Activities we hope to cover all these areas with experiences created especially for children.”

Boan is the author of a series of bilingual children’s books and literacy-based art instructional materials for elementary school teachers. Her most recent book Diego Rivera introduces children to one of the world’s most famous artists while teaching them new words in English and Spanish. (Read more about her books at

Among the child-friendly ArtsFest events:


Thursday through Sunday families can take self-guided walks of public art, from Halloween window paintings created by students in New Rochelle High School ‘s prestigious PAVE arts program (for a list of Halloween Windows and their store locations go to ) to the 20  large scale #NRNY Murals (download a map of the murals at ) Completed in 2022 the high impact murals were created by a group of world class street artists curated by Street Art for Mankind and sponsored by the New Rochelle Council on the Arts and the City of New Rochelle’s IDA.

During ArtsFest families can also drop into We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym (606 Main Street, NR; 914-365-2585; ) to enjoy a fall art project and free play at this new gym.  Children aged 1 to 5 can stop by from 10 am to 11 am, and older kids aged 6 to 10 are welcome and from 11 am to 12 pm. Please note that a liability waiver must be signed upon entering the gym.

SATURDAY, October 22

Begin the day with children’s theater – featuring a cast of colorful, fun puppet friends – at 11 am at the New Rochelle Public Library. Inspired by Aesop’s famous fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” this production from TheaterWorksUSA features Benjamin Booksmart helping his friend Terrence the Tortoise prepare for another race with Henry the Hare. TheaterWorksUSA at New Rochelle Public Library (1 Library Plaza, NR,  914-632-7878, )

Starting at 11 am and running all day, the Fourth Annual ArtsFest Artisan Market (Thomas Paine Cottage; 20 Sicard Ave. (at North Ave., across from NRHS tennis courts) , NR; 914-633-1776, )  will feature 40 makers, live music, food trucks and a Kids Table hosted by 22KatKrafts: $10 for a min canvas or small skull to paint. Free admission/free parking.

If classic cars are your jam don’t miss the ArtsFest Classic Car Show (Hamilton Avenue Parking Lot, North Ave. at Hamilton, adjacent to City Hall) from 11am to 4:30 pm. Walk through the parking lot to view classic auto beauties on exhibit by invitation only and enjoy rollicking live music by Fat Bois Brass Band from 12 to 2 pm.

On Saturday afternoon the hours from 12 noon to 4 pm offer lots of fun activities geared toward children. Adjacent to the Artisan Market the Thomas Paine Cottage will host a Haunted Pirate Festival  (Thomas Paine Cottage, 20 Sicard Ave., NR; 914-633-1776; ) Enjoy pirate games and prizes, plus a “jolly” good show-and-tell of artifacts and tools used by privateers and pirates. Decorate pumpkins, go on a scavenger hunt, watch a musket demonstration and more. Everyone wearing a costume is invited to Trick-or-Treat at the haunted schoolhouse! All-inclusive $15 donation per child. Rain date: Sunday, Oct. 23rd

 Also at noon students from New Rochelle High School’s prestigious PAVE program will be staging their annual spoken word event A Vente on the Veranda at Starbucks Wykagyl (1278-80 North Ave., NR; 914-654-8651; ) Come hear students share a collection of monologues and performance pieces,  staged outside to demonstrate that you don’t need a theatre to create great art. You might never think of your Chai Latte the same way again.

At Lincoln Park Art in the Garden will feature art inspired by native plant gardens as well as live jazz, a collage workshop and a visit from the “Pollinator Pop-Up Tent,”  an interactive exhibit from the Westchester Land Trust offering hands-on activities as well as fun and practical information about bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators for young gardeners (especially beginners!) and budding citizen scientists. grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden (Lincoln Ave., NR between Prince St. and Memorial Highway, across from 95 Lincoln Ave.)

On the other end of town at Hudson Park kids can visit the site of the future Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse at the Pumpkin Patch (54 Wildcliff Rd, Hudson Park, NR; ) HPCG volunteers will have pumpkins to paint for a nominal charge plus spin art for a nominal price.  Rain date Sunday, October 23rd.

From 1:30 to 4 pm visit the historic Trinity St. Paul’s Church in the heart of downtown for A Musical Halloween Celebration with Songcatchers (311 Huguenot St., NR; 914-632-5368 Take a tour of the 300-year-old church led by City Historian Barbara Davis (choose 1:45 or 3 pm), take in the concert and Halloween Carols at 2:10 pm, and  enjoy craft tables and treats from 2:45 to 4 pm.  Parking available behind the church, off Division St.

And from 2 pm to 4 pm kids can Rock and Roll with Marisa Boan & NRAA at the Huguenot Children’s Library (794 North Ave. at Eastchester Road, NR; 914-632-8954)  Two activities: Kids can roll the dice to create a Picasso-inspired portrait or create new art on river stones. Kids can do one activity or both. Free.

Families with dance-mad kids won’t want to miss the ArtsFest Dance Festival from 3 pm to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday (Whitney Young Auditorium at New Rochelle High School,265 Clove Rd., NR) where local dance schools and professional dance companies will perform dances that showcase their work. On Saturday Ajkun Ballet, Coleman School of Dance, A-Y /dancers, and New Beginnings will perform.

Finally, at 5:30 pm head to the North side of New Rochelle High School and the intimate Linda Kelly Theater (North Ave. at Braemar Rd.) as students from the PAVE acting program present a staged reading of The Sledding Hill.  Written by frequently-banned author Chris Crutcher to raise awareness about Banned Books Week, the play centers on a teen who confronts town censors trying to ban a book from his high school English class. Presented with support from the New Rochelle Public Library Foundation. 

SUNDAY, October 23

The day starts at 11 am with a visit from the ArtsWestchester ArtsMobile (NewRo Parc, 455 Main St. between North Ave. and LeCount Pl.), a colorful van custom-fit with all kinds of art supplies that brings free, hands-on arts workshops led by professional teaching artists  to children and audiences of all ages. New Ro Parc is also the site of the ArtsFest Music Festival, kicking off at 12 Noon with the arrival of Tilted Axes, a marching band of electric guitars. With the help of battery-powered amps this musical procession is untethered by a stage!

Around the corner experience Sunday at The Stella (Stella Lobby, 10 LeCount Pl., NR; enter through Joe Coffee): Unlock your inner artist with 22KATKRAFTS, who will be bringing mini pumpkins, small canvases and mugs to paint from 10:30 am to 2 pm. $10 per mini canvas or pumpkin, $25 per mug covers all materials. Or explore the art of the olfactory, creating your own scented scrub or body/linen spray with Jar Worthy from 9 am to 1 pm. $10 per item covers materials.

At 12 noon the New Rochelle Art Association will be at the New Rochelle Public Library for its annual NRAA Rocks! Scavenger Hunt (1 Library Plaza, NR,  914-632-7878, ) All ages are welcome to paint rocks with artists from the NRAA and take part in a scavenger hunt for rocks hidden at various ArtsFest venues. (One lucky winner will find the “Golden Rock” hidden within the library itself and take home a $50 gift card!) Open to kids and parents.

Sunday afternoon is full of family-friendly possibilities, from a Diwali Celebration at the Pelham Art Center (155 Fifth Ave., Pelham; 914-576-7747, x115; ) — bringing family and community together with a dance performance and a hands-on art project – to open artists’ studios all over town to the ArtsFest Dance Festival (Whitney Young Auditorium at New Rochelle High School, 265 Clove Rd., NR) where local dance schools and professional dance companies will be showcasing their work.  On Sunday Accent Dance, Ballet Arts, Ajkun Ballet, Rooftop Rhythms, New Rochelle High School PAVE Dance and Dance Ministry Institute will perform.

 Finally, ArtsFest winds down at 6:30 pm Pizza with Picasso at Pizzeria LaRosa (12 Russell Avenue, NR; 914-633-0800;  New Rochelle Artists Association member artists will be on hand to help participants create a Picasso-style portrait by rolling dice and selecting different features of the face. Open to children and adults.

Organized by the non-profit New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA) ArtsFest spotlights the diversity of arts and artists in our community: This year ArtsFest will feature 40 participating venues, representing the work of hundreds of artists. For a complete calendar of events visit

ArtsFest sponsors include ArtsWestchester, Gwendolen Appleyard Trust, New Rochelle IDA, Charles Fazzino, Mill Creek Residential, Alvin & Friends Restaurant, Cappelli, L+M Wilder Balter, New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District, RXR, The Standard, Town House and in-kind sponsors AJ’s Burgers and New Rochelle Public Library.

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts is proud to be a grantee of ArtsWestchester with funding made possible by Westchester County government with the support of County Executive George Latimer.

About New Rochelle Council on the Arts

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts mission is to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and the public\’s interest and participation therein. It has been exemplified by our sponsorship of a vast number of exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series. To create opportunities for the public to encounter and explore art and increase access to the arts in New Rochelle.

NRCA has been in existence for nearly 40 years — it was created by a resolution adopted by the New Rochelle City Council on April 8, 1975. Our mission is to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and the public’s interest and participation therein. This is exemplified by our sponsorship of a vast number of exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series.