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20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

May is full of festivals and fairs for families—everything from a spring fair at the Hippo Playground to an opening weekend party on Governors Island.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Family & Playlab

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Ideas City StreetFest

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Spring Fling at the Old Stone House

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Touch-a-Truck Street Fair

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Hippo Playground Spring Fair

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Hoboken Arts & Music Festival

  • Photograph: Darial R. Sneed

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Irish Arts Center New York City Irish Dance Festival

  • Photograph: Photo Bureau

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Kite Flight

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Bronx River Flotilla

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Grand Centennial Parade of Trains Weekend

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Go Green! Greenpoint

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    On a Wing: Family Festival

  • Photograph: Fiora Watts

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Spring Kids Fest

  • Photograph: Ron Greenfield

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Drums Along the Hudson

  • Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Fleece Festival

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Mamapalooza

  • 20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Family Festival at the Cloisters: In Search of the Unicorn

  • Photograph: Kirstin Burns

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Memorial Day Fair at Sunnyside Gardens Park

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

    Governors Island Family Fun Festival

Photograph: Courtesy Family & Playlab

20 spring festivals and fairs for NYC families in May 2013

Ideas City StreetFest

Right on the heels of some of our favorite April festivals and fairs (think Sakura Matsuri and the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair) comes a spectular new lineup of festivals and fairs for May. This month, families can attend interactive workshops at Ideas City StreetFest, learn about historic trains at Grand Central's Parade of Trains Weekend, hang out with Time Out Kids at our Spring Kids Fest at Madison Square Park and welcome summer with an opening weekend festival on Governors Island. The best part: Many of the festivals and fairs are free!

Festivals and fairs in May

Ideas City StreetFest

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Four days of art exhibits and workshops once again take over downtown Manhattan during the second biennial New Museum-sponsored Ideas City festival (formerly known as the Festival of Ideas for the New City). Saturday’s interactive street fair, which takes place outside the museum on the Bowery, is the best bet for families. Highlights include a Citizen Science workshop where kids and parents can try their hand at strawberry-DNA extraction and painting with bacteria, a Sandy Storyline that encourages New Yorkers to contribute to a collaborative documentary and innovative "MirrorMirror" tents—comprised of mirrored surfaces, they'll reflect the cityscape above and the bustle of human activity below. All ages.

  1. New Museum of Contemporary Art 235 Bowery, at Prince St
  2. Until Sat May 4
More info

Touch-a-Truck Street Fair

  • Price band: 1/4

At this extravaganza, youngsters are free to explore police cars, fire trucks and other vehicles. Kids who aren't as enthused about automotives can jump around in bouncy castles, listen to live music , get their faces painted, create crafts, and munch on food from yummy vendors. All proceeds from the event will benefit P.S. 295. Event will go on rain or shine. All ages.

  1. PS 295 330 18th St, between 6th and 7th Aves
  2. Until Sat May 17
More info

Hippo Playground Annual Spring Fair

This festival, now in its 30th year, comes complete with a bouncy castle, pony rides, a petting zoo, a maze, face painting, games and more. The proceeds will help raise funds for Hippo Playground maintenance and public programs. All ages.

  1. Riverside Park, Hippo Playground 91st St, at Riverside Dr
  2. Until Sun May 4
More info

Hoboken Arts and Music Festival

  • Free

Three stages of live music and over 300 artists, crafters, photographers, food vendors and local businesses make up this annual celebration. Head over to 3rd St for a special kid's area filled with rides, games, face painting, sand art and entertainment. Festival takes place on Washington Street between Observer Highway and 7th Street. Visit hobokennj.org for more information. All ages.

Irish Arts Center New York City Irish Dance Festival

  • Free

The 12th annual celebration of Irish hoofers features traditional music and moves from notable talent and local students alike. Audience members can immerse themselves in the Emerald Isle's arts culture with workshops, language lessons and dance classes for all ages, among other offerings. All ages.

  1. Riverside Park, Pier I W 70th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Until Sun May 4
More info

Children's Festival of Flowers

  • Free

Kids can explore the Jefferson Market Garden and the various flowers, shrubs, and shade trees that bloom there. The festival will also include educational and art activities, as well as live music and entertainment. All ages.

  1. Jefferson Market Garden Greenwich Ave, between Christopher and 10th Sts
  2. Until Sat May 31
More info

Kite Flight: DIY and Fly

Go fly a kite—literally. The nearby Noguchi Museum cosponsors this annual event, which invites kids to use recycled newspaper and other repurposed paper products—materials are provided—to build and decorate kites. We think you can guess what happens next. This season, artist Miguel Luciano will also lead a workshop centered on Caribbean kite traditions.Free. All ages.

  1. Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Blvd, at Broadway
  2. Until Sat May 11
More info

Amazing Bronx River Flotilla

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Got a kayak or canoe lying around? (Hey, you never know!) Well then, join a paddling excursion down the Bronx River in honor of the start of boating season and the opening of the borough's new Starlight Park. Paddlers of all ages can take part in the family fun paddle around the dock, which includes a quick canoe orientation; more experienced boaters can canoe upstream to Concrete Plant Park or take a three-hour tour of the Bronx River Estuary and the Soundview Park tidal marsh. And although participants must be 14 and up to compete in this year's first-ever Starlight 5K Canoe Challenge, little ones can greet the boaters as they finish up in (it's free to watch, of course!). Plus, there's plenty in the mix for landlubbers, including free bike rentals, fishing demos, music and bird watching. Rain date is May 12. All ages.

  1. Starlight Park Sheridan Expy, between Jennings and 177th Sts
  2. Until Sat May 11
More info

Grand Centennial Parade of Trains Weekend

  • Free

Travel back in time at Grand Central Terminal as it displays a collection of historic train cars, including "The Most Famous Train in the World": the 20th Century Limited. Kids can also take part in train-themed activities, watch performances, and check out other historical artifacts from the railroads of yesteryear.All ages.

  1. Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall 42nd St, between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves
  2. Until Sun May 12
More info

Go Green! Greenpoint

  • Free

At the Brooklyn nabe's sixth annual Earth Day celebration, families will find gardening demos, a Greencycle swap station, eco-friendly goods for sale, plus an array of children's activities and arts-and-crafts projects. All ages.

  1. McCarren Park Bayard St to Nassau Ave, between Leonard and North 12 Sts
  2. Sat May 18
More info

Spring Kids Fest

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Time Out Kids and Madison Square Park Conservancy join forces to host an afternoon of free family fun, headlined by kid-friendly hip-hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and featuring appearances by Brooklyn kindie rockers Rolie Polie Guacamole, Apple Seeds’ Songs for Seeds and Field Station: Dinosaurs. Arts-and-crafts sessions with MoMath, the Rubin Museum and Taro’s Origami—plus face painting, Hill Country Chicken’s pie-in-the-face activity and the Time Out Kids photo booth—round out this year’s stellar lineup. All ages.

  1. Madison Square Park E 23rd St to E 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves
  2. Until Sat May 17
More info

Dance Parade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

At this annual procession, which features more than 70 styles of dance, thousands of moving and grooving marchers make their way through lower Manhattan to Tompkins Square Park, where a post-parade festival will include performances, lessons and a dance party. The parade starts at 21st Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue South. All ages.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Sat May 17
More info

Drums Along the Hudson

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Manhattan's only open-air pow wow includes a performance by the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, storytelling, international cuisine, and craft projects. Stop by the environmental tent where families can learn about eco-appreciation. All ages.

  1. Inwood Hill Park Indian Rd, at 218th St
  2. Until Sun Jun 1
More info

Fleece Festival

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Your brood can watch as the sheep have their coats snipped in anticipation of hot summer days. Afterward, head next door to Lefferts Historic House for free demonstrations and lessons on spinning and weaving fleece into cloth. All ages.

  1. Prospect Park Zoo 450 Flatbush Ave, at Empire Blvd
  2. Until Sun May 19
More info

Mamapalooza

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This 10-year-old celebration on the Hudson is all about motherhood: Mamas are honored with music, live stand-up routines and lots of activities for little ones. Don't miss NYC-based kindie rocker Moey's Music Party as she leads the "Princess Revolution" (no damsels-in-distress allowed), or a chance to jump around in the Gymboree play tent. All ages.

  1. Riverside Park, Pier I W 70th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Sun May 18
More info

Family Festival at the Cloisters: In Search of the Unicorn

Kids and their families can spend the day at the Cloisters at this mythical-beast-themed festival. Mary Pop Osborne will read from her book, Blizzard of the Blue Moon, about a boy and a girl who travel through time with a unicorn and land in the Cloisters. Kids can also work on mythical art projects and go on a self-guided art hunt through the museum. Ages 4 to 12.

  1. The Cloisters Fort Tryon Park, 99 Margaret Corbin Dr
  2. Until Sun May 26
More info

Sunnyside Gardens Park Memorial Day Fair

  • Free

Spend Memorial Day weekend in Sunnyside Gardens' Park, a lovely location where families can take in some nature and bond with the neighborhood’s diverse and lively community. This free fair will feature a wide range of kids’ activities: a partial list that includes an obstacle course, bouncy houses, kiddie nail salon, clowns and crazy costume professional photos. BBQ, beer and juice boxes will also be available. Rain date is Sunday, May 26. Free. All ages.

  1. Sunnyside Gardens Park 48-21 39th Ave, at Barnett Ave
  2. Until Sun May 26
More info

Governors Island Family Fun Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Celebrate the seasonal reopening of Governors Island with a fun-filled family extravaganza. Families from all over the city are invited to come out and enjoy the opening festivities, including music, theater, dance and arts and crafts. Last year, groups like Astrograss, The Maybelles and Arm of the Sea Theater took to the stage; we'll keep you posted as we get more information. Free. All ages.

  1. Governors Island Governors Island
  2. Sat May 24
More info
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