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NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

It’s finally festival season! Celebrate warm weather at these al fresco affairs, including Summer Streets and Midsummer Night’s Swing!

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Mermaid Parade 2014

  • Photograph: Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Madison Square Kids Concerts

  • NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    New Jersey State Fair

  • NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    MMNY

     

  • Photograph: courtesy Harlem Eats

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Harlem Eats

  • Photograph: courtesy Billy B.

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Family Performance Series

  • Photograph: Daniel Avila

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Adventures NYC 

  • Photograph: Courtesy of City Parks Foundation

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    SummerStage Kids Brooklyn Family Day

  • Photograph:Eduardo Patino

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Harlem Meer Performance Festival

     

  • NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

  • NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Stars of Tomorrow

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Festival de las Flores at Queens Botanical Garden

  • Photograph: courtesy Children's Museum of Manhattan

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Pride Night at CMOM

  • NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn

  • Photograph: courtesy NYC Pride

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    PrideFest

  • Photograph: Courtesy Aviator Sports

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Everything Kids Expo

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

    Smorgasburg

Photograph: Luciana Golcman

NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

Mermaid Parade 2014

Summer in the city means tons of outdoor festivals—and what’s more, many are even free! We’ve rounded up the best fairs and festivals for kids in New York City this summer to keep ‘em entertained while school’s out, including the Unicycle Festival, Come Out And Play on Governors Island, Intrepid’s SpaceFest and many more. Click to each month to plan your perfect summer!

RECOMMENDED: 50 things to do this summer


Mermaid Parade 2014

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Coney Island’s answer to Greenwich Village’s infamous Halloween parade might be a little risqué for some tiny ones, but plenty of families scope out King Neptune (TBD, but last year's parade was headed by Judah Friedlander) as he presides over wacky floats, marching bands, drill teams, vintage cars and a dazzling array of scantily clad seafaring sirens. From W 21st St and Surf Ave to the Boardwalk at W 10th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn. All ages.

  1. Parade route
  2. Until Sat Jun 20
More info

Mad. Sq. Kids Concerts 2014

  • Free

Madison Square Park hosts some of the best names in children music for a special series of free outdoor entertainment for kids and their families. Kicking off the series is Father Goose of Dan Zanes & Friends (6/10), who will be followed every Tuesday and Thursday by other kid faves like ska-reggae group Josh & the Jamtones (6/12), girl-rocker Audra Rox (6/17), East Asian folk band Elena Moon Park & Friends: Rabbit Days and Dumplings (6/19), kindie band Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights (6/24), Latin Grammy winners Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (6/26), the Woody Guthrie-esque Alastair Moock and Friends (7/1), Walkmen alum Walter Martin (7/3), Dog on Fleas (7/8), JazzReach presents ELLINGTON! (7/10), Mister G (7/15), Bari Koral (7/17), Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band (7/22), The Dirty Sock Funtime Band (7/24), Moona Luna (7/29), Shine and the Moonbeams (7/31), The Okee Dokee Brothers (8/5) and finally, Tim and the Space Cadets (8/7). Free. All ages.

  1. Madison Square Park 23rd St to 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Thu Jul 30
More info

State Fair Meadowlands

  • Price band: 1/4

The giant fair offers more than 150 rides and attractions, plus tons of free entertainment, including master hypnotist Steve Bayner, racing pigs, an open-air circus, a petting zoo, lions and tigers, and fireworks (July 3 & 4). Opening day (June 20) admission is only $1; kids under 13 are free on June 25. Check the website for the full schedule. All ages.

  1. Meadowlands Fairgrounds 50 Rte 120
  2. Until Mon Jul 6
More info

Make Music New York

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Musicians flood NYC's public spaces during this daylong, citywide, entirely free festival. For tot-friendly tunage, make sure to catch kid-friendly acts like Lily Rose (12:30pm) or The NYC Streetsingers (3:30pm) on Great Oval Hill in Central Park. Plucky tykes can grab free guitar lessons at select NYPL branches throughout the day or pick up harmonicas, recorders and more to join in on group jam sessions alongside the pros. Visit makemusicny.org for the full lineup of events and happenings spanning the five boroughs (you can even search by 'hood!) All ages.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Sun Jun 21
More info

Harlem Eats

  • Price band: 1/4

Frederick Douglass Blvd. between 117th and 118th Sts. Every Saturday 'til the weather gets cold again, one block of Harlem will host mobile food vendors that run the gamut from world cuisine to hyperlocal fare. Expect eats from the likes of Takumi Taco, Jerk Shack, It'sKale, Nuchas, Luke's Lobster, Frittering Away and Carnaval, but be sure to bring the Benjamins—it's cash-only. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Until Sat Nov 1
More info

Family Performance Festival

Throughout the summer, the Central Park Conservancy will present eco-friendly performances for families every Sunday. Discover intriguing tales through storytelling with the Storycrafters (June 15), Jackson Gillman, (June 22), Diane Edgecomb (August 3), and Story Laurie (August 24). Bounce around to musical and dance performances by Billy B, the natural science and dance Man (June 29), Bash the Trash (July 20), Roger Tincknell (August 10), the Youth Company (August 17), and Uncle Eye (August 31). Play along with puppets at the Bugaboo Review Puppet show (July 13) and watch circus performers excite the crowd at EarthCapades, the Earth Circus (July 27). Explore the environment of Central Park on an educational adventure with George Steele (July 6). All ages.

  1. Peter J. Sharp Children's Glade, Central Park W 103rd St, Central Park West
  2. Sun Aug 2 - Sun Sep 6
More info

Adventures NYC 2014

  • Free

Experience the great outdoors without leaving the city at Central Park's bandshell. Kids and families will enjoy kayaking, fishing lessons, a rock climbing zone and a chance to meet the NY Liberty basketball team, plus live music, free bike rentals and bike helmet giveaways. To celebrate Adventures NYC's tenth annual event, there'll also be a Sunday festival at Marine Park in Brooklyn, where they'll be canoe tours, guided gikes, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and more. Ages 4 and up.

  1. Marine Park 3302 Ave U, at E 33rd St
  2. Sat Jun 20
More info

Brooklyn Family Day: Barolosolo Cirkus Company

Join SummerStage Kids sponsored by Disney at this entertaining circus show with the Barolosolo Cirkus Company as they combine comedy, theater, poetry and music in a pool performance. There will be two shows per day starting at 3pm and 7pm. Ages 4 to 12.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sun Jun 22
More info

Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

  • Free

This free outdoor movie festival brings weekly screenings to the lawn of Bryant Park every Monday throughout the summer. This season's best family-friendly offerings are the 1940 flick The Mark of Zorro (June 23) and The Karate Kid (Aug 4), but tweens and teens might also enjoy A Soldier's Story (June 30) and Lover Come Back (Aug 11). Consider leaving the kids at home for the fest's other grown-up flicks. Check the event's website for a full schedule of films. The lawn opens at 5pm and movies start at sundown, so show up early if you want a good spot. All ages.

  1. Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Until Mon Aug 18
More info

Stars of Tomorrow

  • Free

Take a seat on the riverside lawn for a Jazz performance by students from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music on June 19 and July 17 and watch students from Mannes College The New School for Music play classical music on June 26 and July 31. All ages.

  1. Hudson River Park at Pier 45 West St at W 10th St
  2. Until Thu Jul 31
More info

Festival de las Flores

  • Critics choice

Head to the Queens Botanical Garden with the family for the Festival of Flowers, a traditional Colombian rite of summer, on June 22 to see the Colombian artists hard at work on the floral creations, enjoy music and dance performances, and jump in on crafts, storytime, face painting, a petting zoo and old-fashioned games. Witness the creation of elaborate silletas at the QBG throughout the week, then follow the fest on June 29 as it moves to Manhattan at Central Park West and 106th Street, where floats, floral displays, dancers, musicians, cultural delegations and elected officials salute summertime. Ages 4 and up.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sun Jul 12
Buy tickets

Children's Museum of Manhattan Pride Night

In partnership with Center Families (a family program of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center), the Family Equality Council, and Goldman Sachs & Co. Community TeamWorks volunteer program, CMOM will host its 9th annual Pride Night celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents as well as extended family and friends. Aside from exploring CMOM's hands-on exhibits, kids can munch on healthy snacks, create their own unique family tree, have their faces painted and get their hands dirty fingerpainting on the PlayWorks mural wall. All ages. Note: Admission is free, but RSVP is required to 212-721-1223, ext 241 or mswanby@cmom.org

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan 212 W 83rd St, between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 10024
  2. Until Thu Jun 18
More info

Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn

  • Free

Head down Fifth Ave to 4th St and you'll stumble upon puppet-making ($2), t-shirt decorating ($4), a bouncy moonwalk ($4) and tons of delicious festy food. Groove to live tunes and performances courtesy of Yellow Sneakers (2:30pm), Tuffy's Great Adventure (11:30am), Arlee Chadwick (12:15pm) and Charlie Kanev (1:15pm). Kids can even snag a photo op with a real, live Star Wars character, and keep an eye out for wandering dinos from Field Station: Dinosaurs! Proceeds benefit Puppetry Arts. Get there quick—the first 200 kiddos get a free gift bag. Fifth Ave at 4th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn
  2. Sat Jun 27
More info

Everything Kids Expo

  • Price band: 1/4

While moms and dads shop for kid-related products, enter raffles and speak with business professionals, tag-a-long little ones can watch a performance by the Big Apple Circus, enjoy a storytime, get their faces painted and make spin art. Register online and get a free goody bag. Ages 0 to 12.

  1. Aviator Sports and Events Center Floyd Bennett Field, Hangar 5, 11234
  2. Until Sun Jun 29
More info

Smorgasburg

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The venerable epicurean extravaganza spends Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 through the summer. We're still waiting on details for the 2014 iteration, but previous years have featured returning vendors such as comfort-food maestro Buttermilk Channel, offering its beloved fried chicken and cheddar waffles and newbies like Vermont’s Rockville Market Farm, peddling breakfast gorditas ($5) with farm-made sausage, eggs, butternut-squash hot sauce and Shelburne Farms cheddar wrapped in a double tortilla; they’ll also be hawking farm-fresh eggs by the carton ($5 for a dozen).

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sat Jul 18 - Sun Nov 22
More info

  1. June festivals
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