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
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.
Ring in spring and celebrate the first anniversary of the JJ Byrne Playground with music, face painting, a cake walk and mask-making workshops. Also on the menu: Entertainment by local performers like City Stomp and a Puppeteers Cooperative parade. As the sun starts to set, head to the turf field where DJ Chowtime will be spinning tunes from 5:30–10pm for a family-friendly dance party. All ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.