It’s not summer until you’re jamming to your favorite tunes in the great outdoors, and we’ve got you covered nearly every day of the week. Check out our list of the best open-air concert series for kids this summer, taking place at museum gardens, street corners and even on a floating barge. So whether your little one is the get-up-and-boogie type or prefers chilling out on the picnic blanket, she’ll find something to love.
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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. Dubbed the “Queen of the NY Kids Rock Scene” (by us!), Steve Songs kicks off the series and will be followed weekly by such acts like Audra Rox (6/13), The Deedle Deedle Dees (6/18), Matt Wilson's Family Jazz Band (6/20), Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (6/25), KBC Kids (6/27), Big Bang Boom (7/2), Alastair Moock and Friends (7/9), David Weinstone and the Music for Aardvarks Band (7/11), Recess Monkey (7/16), Robbi K & Friends (7/18), The Rockdoves (7/23), Songs for Seeds (7/25), The Dirty Sock Funtime Band (7/30), Billy Jonas and the Billy Jonas Band (8/1), The Suzi Shelton Band (8/6) and Shine and the Moonbeams (8/8). Free. All ages.
While we dig the free Wi-Fi, Summer in the Square is an even better reason to visit Union Square Park on Thursdays. Get in some early-morning fitness with Yoga Storytime at 10am hosted by Karma Kids, followed by performances by popular kid's musicians at 11am, like Meg's Melodies (June 27, Rolie Polie Guacamole (July 18) and Hot Peas 'n Butter (August 15). Stick around for lunchtime jazz, courtesy of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, while the rest of the day promises family-friendly activities ending with free dance lessons from various contemporary companies at 6pm. See the website for a complete schedule. All ages.
Lay out a blanket, pack a picnic and get serenaded by kiddie rock up–and–comers like Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could (June 13), spewing rootsy tunes steeped in American folk and R&B. The group's most recent album was inspired by their performances with children on the autism spectrum: Themes deal with positivity amid change and challenges through songs like "Who Wants to Wear Shoes?" and "Keep Your Wiggle Alive". Next, return for a pop–rock show by costumed goofballs Princess Katie and Racer Steve, who encourage young fans to dress like rock stars (June 27). Ages 6 and under.
The kids’ edition of the popular Word for Word reading series includes music, arts and crafts, and storytimes. This summer, expect appearances by the likes of Clifford the Big Red Dog (June 8), Rolie Polie Guacamole (July 13), Erin Lee and the Up Past Bedtime Band (July 27) and Moey's Music Party (Aug 3). On other weeks, kids can look forward to a 50th birthday party for Amelia Bedelia, a Comic Con Bryant Park graphic novel celebration and Where You Come From, an original play by Daniel Kitrosser (a.k.a. Flaubert Frog). Visit bryantpark.org for a complete schedule. Ages 2 to 8.
Take the crew to sit waterside in Hoboken's Shipyard Park, where they'll have the chance to check out a slew of outdoor kid-friendly performances. Featured performers include The Hey Ya Brothers (June 4), the Kidville-sponsored Rockin Railroad (June 18), the Fuzzy Lemons (July 23), Erin Lee & the Up Past Bedtime Band (July 30) and others. All ages.
You'll want to bring a picnic blanket to the 11th season of Madison Square Park's outdoor concert series—the Fatty Crew (that's drool-worthy restaurant trifecta Fatty Crab, Fatty Cue and Pig & Khao) will be dishing out some of their famous fare. Hosting a wide range of musical acts, the summerlong series kicks off with the folksy Suzanne Vega (June 19), followed by the clarinet-led Anat Cohen Quartet (June 26), bluegrass band The Grascals with eclectic collective Joy Kills Sorrow (July 3), jazz singer Rene Marie (July 10), celloist Ben Sollee (July 17), the Cuban-bred Dafnis Prieto Sextet with the Yosvany Terry Quintet (July 24), kooky folk star Erin McKeown with indie poppers Lake Street Dive (July 31) and Big Easy natives Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk (August 7). All ages.
Top children’s-music acts like the folksy Astrograss (June 26), kindie stars Rolie Polie Guacamolie (July 10) and the old–timey Deedle Deedle Dees (July 24) play every Wednesday morning. Additional names include Suzi Shelton (July 17) playing poppy, girl–power tunes like "Tomboy in a Princess Dress" and Vered Music (Aug 7) whose songs are designed to assist healthy growth in babies. (The July 31 headliner is still TBA.) There’s ample stroller parking, but you’ll want to bring a blanket to sit on. Ages 0 to 8.