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The best things to do for families at the 2012 Dumbo Arts Festival

From a CMA-run kids' area to a superhero-style installation, we present great things to do for families at one of Brooklyn's most popular art fests.

DUMBO Arts Festival

DUMBO Arts Festival Photographer: Jane Kratochvil

Every year at the Dumbo Arts Festival (Fri Sept 28--Sun Sept 30), hundreds of artists and art enthusiasts take over the neighborhood for a three-day event celebrating all things creative. Not only are there countless art installations and exhibitions to see—there are also tons of fun performances and activities for kids. Read our guide to the fest's best things to do for families, then start planning your time at the artsy weekend festival.

Get creative at the CMA tent
As we first reported in July, this year the fest is partnering with the Children's Museum of the Arts for a special kids' area called Art Village at the Tobacco Warehouse (Sat Sept 29, Sun Sept 30 noon--5pm). Kids can sculpt their own creations at the clay bar, build a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, work with recycled materials, design finger puppets, learn about stop-motion animation and make a Jane's Carousel--inspired mobile. You'll also want to stop by the bike-decorationg station, where little ones use tissue paper, beads and colorful string to spruce up their wheels.

Meet a super author-illustrator
Stop by The powerHouse Arena to meet Frank Viva (Sun Sept 30 at 4pm), the author and illustrator of two of our favorite books in recent years, Along a Long Road and, most recently, A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse. He'll be reading from the latter book, about the journey of a child and his friend Mouse to Antarctica, where they encounter penguins, a whale and other polar inhabitants.

Check out a musical performance
The two-person band and "nomadic theater" group the Friendly Falcons performs Soundmoves, its set of kid-friendly tunes, each night at 6:30pm, incorporating playful, colorful riffs that draw inspiration from the Dumbo skyline. Kids can also watch artist Martin Janicek play the Metal Bow, an instrument made from sheet metal and a single metal string. After, they can pluck the instrument themselves to make their own beautiful music (at 20 Adams St. Fri Sept 28 at 6pm; Sat Sept 29, Sun Sept 30 at noon).

Take part in a hands-on workshop
Tykes can make their own banners and puppets with Great Small Works, then take their creations to the street for a parade through Dumbo (Sun Sept 30; workshop starts at noon, parade starts at 2pm). They can also use markers to trace a design onto a wall and see how their interpretation stacks up to the artist's vision at powerHouse Arena's Trace with Me workshop (Sat Sept 29, Sun Sept 30 at noon). At the Toytoa Creation Station, children can color tote bags, create spin art and make leather bracelets.

Scope out one of many large-scale installations
At Heart Path, kids can manipulate lengths of rope designed to resemble a human heart; Los Osos Estan Aqui (The Bears Are Here) is a collection of three giant candy-colored bear sculptures. One of the weekend's coolest installations, though, is Superhero, which uses video and mapping technology to project images of participants flying over Empire Stores on Main Street and showing off superhuman powers.

Enjoy the neighborhood
After oohing and aahing at the outdoor installations, take a spin on the beautifully restored Jane's Carousel or enjoy one of the many playgrounds in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The three-day Dumbo Arts Festival takes place from Friday, September 28, thruough Sunday, September 30, at various locations in Dumbo, Brooklyn. For more information on the fest, visit the Dumbo Arts Festival website.

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