Timeout New York Kids

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NYC street fairs and festivals for families

This season's awesome lineup of kid-friendly street fairs and festivals present Ferris wheels, puppet shows and beyond

Photograph: Captain Kidder

Warm weather in NYC lets families explore the city in a whole new way. They can embrace nature in scenic NYC parks, enjoy outdoor dining and tackle an awesome lineup of NYC street fairs and festivals. Ride the Ferris wheel at State Fair Meadowlands, check out the coolest art at Figment NYC Weekend and catch an awesome flick at Brooklyn Film Festival kidsfilmfest. Happy adventuring, and be sure to check back soon. We'll be adding more awesome stuff throughout the season!



NYC street fairs and festivals

Sweet Spot Festival

  • Free

Enjoy authentic Jamaican food, lively music, dance parties, a vintage craft pop-up market, free fitness workshops and art displays in Harlem. This month's Jamaican Indepen-dance bash features DJs including Herbert Holler, DJ MoMA, Rice & Peas, the Soul Summit Music crew and Kervyn Mark. All ages.

  1. Location TBA
  2. Sun May 31 - Sat Aug 1
More info

Green-wood Cemetery Memorial Day Celebration

  • Free

Enjoy a full week of educational pre–Memorial Day festivities happening in Green-Wood Cemetery, including an evening illumination of soldiers’ graves (May 23) commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. On the holiday proper, stand watch as reenactors and musicians march to Green-Wood’s Civil War Soldiers’ Lot, then find a grassy spot on a hill and settle in for the 17th annual concert by the ISO Symphonic Band, comprising some of the most talented wind, brass and percussion students in the city. Afterward, hop on a trolley ($15) for a minitour of Battle Hill and other highlights, led by historian Jeff Richman. Registration recommended. All ages.

  1. Green-Wood Cemetery 500 25th St, at Fifth Ave, 11232
  2. Mon May 25
More info

Annual Kings County Fair

  • Price band: 1/4

Older kids can enjoy a bevvy of stomach-churning roller coasters, while little ones have fun on tamer rides. Other classic carnival treats include a Ferris wheel, cotton candy and funnel cakes. All ages.

  1. Aviator Sports and Events Center Floyd Bennett Field, Hangar 5, 11234
  2. Mon May 25 - Tue May 26
More info

World Science Festival

  • Price band: 1/4

Shhh: Your kids might actually learn something while having fun at this five-day educational celebration. Prominent minds from around the world will unite to discuss the brain, time, the origins of the universe and more. This year's fest will include a special series of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of relativity. On Sunday, May 31, attend the Ultimate Science Street Fair in Washington Square Park for loads of fun, free demos and workshops, where kiddos will learn about extreme weather, robotics and outer space. Visit www.worldsciencefestival.com for a full list of events, including the Flame Challenge, where scientists compete to communicate complex topics so that an 11-year-old would understand them (this year the prompt asks, "What is sleep?"), the Cool Jobs panel ($30), special apprentice programs ($30) and Stargazing. Hurry, tickets for these events sell out quickly! All ages.

  1. Various locations
  2. Wed May 27 - Sun May 31
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. Sat May 30
More info

Brooklyn Film Festival kidsfilmfest

  • Price band: 1/4

Young film buffs can spend an hour watching live action and animated shorts from around the world in this cinema extravaganza created just for kids. This year's line up is TBA; last year, audiences enjoyed films like “No More Mister Mice Guy,” about a perturbed man on a mission to hunt down the biscuit-stealing mice living within his walls, filmed by two young Australian boys. Curious kids can pick the brains of directors and actors during a Q&A session and take part in an interactive workshop using storyboards, cutouts, clay and more after the screenings. Be sure to arrive early; tickets sell out quickly. All ages.

  1. IndieScreen 289 Kent Ave, at South 2nd St, 11211
  2. Sat May 30
More info

World Science Festival

  • Price band: 1/4

Shhh: Your kids might actually learn something while having fun at this five-day educational celebration. Prominent minds from around the world will unite to discuss the brain, time, the origins of the universe and more. This year's fest will include a special series of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of relativity. On Sunday, May 31, attend the Ultimate Science Street Fair in Washington Square Park for loads of fun, free demos and workshops, where kiddos will learn about extreme weather, robotics and outer space. Visit www.worldsciencefestival.com for a full list of events, including the Flame Challenge, where scientists compete to communicate complex topics so that an 11-year-old would understand them (this year the prompt asks, "What is sleep?"), the Cool Jobs panel ($30), special apprentice programs ($30) and Stargazing. Hurry, tickets for these events sell out quickly! All ages.

  1. Various locations
  2. Wed May 27 - Sun May 31
More info

Discovery Garden Opening Festival

City kids can get a taste of country life at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s brand-new Discovery Garden. Families can roam the grassy paths and raised boardwalks or scale split logs and boulders like Tarzan to see native plants such as butterfly milkweed, and lady-slipper orchids up close. Before you know it, the kids will be begging to start their own little gardens! Ages 1 to 12.

  1. Brooklyn Botanic Garden 990 Washington Ave, at President St
  2. Sat Jun 6 - Sun Jun 7
More info

22nd Annual Red Hook Fest

  • Free

Dance Theater Etcetera once again turns Valentino Park into an outdoor showcase for young spoken-word artists, performance troupes, dancers and hip-hop acts to kick off summer. This year's event will feature performances from Chop and Quench, Karikatura, Soul Movement, MAWU Dance and A Palo Seco Flamenco Company. Families will enjoy free kayak rides in the New York Harbor throu Red Hook Boaters, face painting, trivia, crafts, a scavenger hunt, a barbeque and a DJ dance party. Visit redhookfest.com for more information. All ages.

  1. Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park and Pier Coffey St, at Ferris St
  2. Thu Jun 4 - Sat Jun 6
More info

Figment NYC Weekend

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Governors Island explodes with artistic energy at this weekend devoted to outside-the-box creativity. Kid-centric highlights include the TreeHouse, a colorful structure made of recycled materials where kids can climb, play, and the City of Dreams Pavilion—a scanopy structure made from used plastic cups and zip ties—open to the public for the summer. Make sure to check out the interactive works of kinetic, playful art featured in the Sculpture Garden and the Artist–Designed Minigolf Course. All ages.

  1. Governors Island Governors Island
  2. Sat Jun 6 - Sun Jun 7
More info

Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival

  • Free

Celebrate Jewish and Chinese cultures at the crossroads of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Only here can you and your little ones marvel at Chinese opera and acrobatics while listening to klezmer music and learning Yiddish. Or, encourage your brood to look over the shoulders of a mah jongg pro after taking a synagogue tour. This year, the festival will incorporate Puerto Rican culture as well, with salsa music, Spanish lessons and empanadas. True to the festival’s name, kosher egg rolls and classic New York–style egg creams will also be in abundance. All ages.

  1. Museum at Eldridge Street 12 Eldridge St, between Canal and Division Sts, 10002
  2. Sun Jun 7
More info

World's Fair Anniversary Festival

  • Free

Curious about the 1939–40 and 1964–65 World’s Fairs? Join Flushing Meadows–Corona Park for tours of both historic sites (yes, you’ll finally get to check out that huge globe you’ve gazed at from afar). On offer will be Fair-memorabilia exhibits, puppet shows, dance performances, face painting and 50¢ rides on the historic carousel throughout the day. Kids will especially love snacking on Belgian waffles (available for a fee), which were first introduced to the U.S. at the 1964 World’s Fair. All ages.

  1. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy, between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy
  2. Sun Jun 7
More info

Museum Mile Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Now in its 37th year, New York’s biggest block party hits town once more, offering free access to nine museums (from the Met to the Guggenheim) along a car-free mile sprinkled with music, art and entertainment. Kids can color up the sidewalk with chalk, attend live model drawing classes, get their faces painted, and enjoy performances by clowns, magicians, jugglers, musicians and more. The festival starts on the steps of Cooper Hewitt's landmark building at 91st St and Fifth Ave. All ages.

Hip Tot Family Day

  • Free

Celebrate the end of each month with Hip Tot–quality entertainment. In June, bring the kiddos to enjoy a few scenes of The Lion King Jr., performed by the students at Brooklyn's Community Roots Middle School before jamming out to tunes by Father Goose (June 14), then hit up a concert from Rolie Polie Guacamole and Dogs on Fleas, featuring Grammy-winning songwriter Dean Jones (July 12). Stay tuned for details on August's gathering (Aug 9), but make sure to come back in September for a fun-filled performance by The Trummytones (Sept 14). Ages 2 to 5.

  1. Lakeside at Prospect Park Prospect Park, enter at Lincoln Rd and Ocean Ave, 11215
  2. Sun Jun 14 - Sun Sep 13
More info

Jazz Age Lawn Party

  • Critics choice

The Jazz Age Lawn Party celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with some Prohibition–era delights. Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra headline the old-timey affair, which also features a Charleston dance contest, a 1920s motorcar expo, tug-of-war, vintage portraits, dance lessons, carnival games and prizes in the Kidland area, plus a ten-girl tribute to the Ziegfeld Follies. Families, who are encouraged to dress in their finest 20s garb, can pack their own picnic lunch, enter a pie-baking contest (sign up by emailing govsislandpie@gmail.com) or buy treats like lemonade sodas and ice cream. All ages.

  1. Governors Island Governors Island
  2. Sat Jun 13 - Sun Aug 16
More info

DayLife

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Orchard St between Delancey and E Houston Sts. Subway: F to Delancey St; J to Essex–Delancey Sts.This outdoor street fair–the first installment for summer–features the best of LES shops, including Melt Bakery ice cream sandwiches, Meatball Shop subs and yoga lessons. Youngsters can partake in badminton and urban croquet, mellow out with face painting and see local DJs like Bruce Tantum, Ellen Kaye and DJ Kai Song take to the stage. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sun Jun 14
More info

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

  • Free

The nation's top pitmasters celebrate summertime barbecues by cooking up their specialties. Dig into tasty grub, enjoy free music and seminars, and take in a cooking demo or two. Admission is free, but the mouthwatering food is not. All ages.

  1. Madison Square Park 23rd St to 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Sat Jun 13 - Sun Jun 14
More info

City of Water Day

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This annual fest celebrates the natural resources of the New York harbor with a host of aquatic-based highlights. Sail to Governors Island or Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken for a kids' fair featuring ecology-themed games and activities. Families can also get gratis access to a plethora of watergoing vessels, including canoes, kayaks and rowboats; or fish, bike or kick back with food and music on dry land. Sign up early to nab a spot on a narrated boat tour of the harbor. Check cityofwaterday.org for events taking place throughout the five boroughs. All ages.

Mermaid Parade 2015

  • 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 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. Sat Jun 20
More info

Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn

  • Free

Set in Park Slope’s coolest playground, this popular community festival celebrates all things puppet! Free performances, $2 games and arts and crafts, $4 T-shirt decorating and $3 bounce-house access are just a few of the cool activities on offer. There’ll even be a few costumed Star Wars characters in attendance, plus Tuffy Tiger, a bright orange puppet that helps pre-K–through–second-grade students discover the world around them through song and dance. Don’t forget to bring swimmies and water shoes so the kids can man the spray cannons, take turns on the waterwheel and excitedly splash through the rocky river that flows through the colorful play space. All ages.

  1. J.J. Byrne Playground Washington Park at 3rd St, between 4th and 5th Aves
  2. Sat Jun 27
More info

PrideFest

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Hudson St between Abingdon Sq Park and W 14th St. Subway: A, C, E to 14th St; L to Eighth Ave. Families are welcome at this colorful celebration of the LGBTQ community, boasting the usual street-fair fare—live music, hilarious T-shirts, and tasty treats. Catch free concerts throughout the day, pick up information about public health, collect swag from corporate sponsors, and mingle with a crowd full of Pride revelers and shell-shocked Village residents.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sun Jun 28
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). Admission on opening day (June 19) is only $2. Check the website for the full schedule. All ages.

  1. Meadowlands Fairgrounds 50 Rte 120
  2. Fri Jun 19 - Mon Jul 6
More info

Bastille Day on 60th Street

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The fireworks from the Fourth of July have barely cooled, but midtown is ready to celebrate France’s Independence Day with face painting, can-can dancers, mimes, a Citreon vintage car show and French language workshops. New this year, families can enjoy a live performance by France's legendary Lyon-based theater group Compagnie des Zonzons, starring the iconic hand-puppet Guignol, plus music by Chorale Arpege, an impressive children's choir from Martinique. Petite New Yorkers will want to practice their fencing and soccer skills and head inside the FIAF building for cooking classes and film screenings before munching on Belgian waffles, crêpes, chocolates and éclairs from local French vendors. 60th St between Fifth and Lexington Aves (bastilledayny.com). Noon–5pm, free. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sun Jul 12
More info

Waterfight NYC

  • Free

No backyard? No problem! Break out those sweet ’90s Super Soakers for a proper water fight in Central Park. Every year, thousands of New Yorkers duke it out with buckets and squirt guns (and siblings look to settle the score). Pack a bathing suit and your water-spraying contraption of choice, slather on the sunscreen, and get pumped for a sopping-wet day of fun. Insider tip: Park officials won’t let you use water balloons, so avoid a Category five kiddie meltdown and leave those at home. Ages 6 and up.

  1. Central Park, Great Lawn midpark, from 79th to 85th Sts
  2. Sat Jul 25
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 May 30 - Sun Nov 22
More info

Brooklyn Flea-Fort Greene

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s that time of year! The Brooklyn Flea comes back outside in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays when the weather warms up. We're still waiting on details for this year's flea, but you'll be able to browse (and eat!) 'til your heart's content. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Flea 176 Lafayette Ave, between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves
  2. Sat May 30 - Sat Nov 21
More info


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