RECOMMENDED: More Labor Day for kids in New York City
If you're not heading out of town on one of our hand-picked Labor Day weekend getaways, don't fret! Summer is prime time for NYC street fairs and festivals, and there are plenty of fun events on offer for families right here in the city. Hit up cool Labor Day festivals like the West Side County Fair, complete with carnival rides and a petting zoo, or a kids' back-to-school celebration like the one at Habana Outpost. Just be warned: With so many kid-friendly festivities going on, your long weekend will fly by!
The Upper West Side gets countryfied with carnival rides, games, music, square dancing, sideshow acts, a petting zoo and a Greenmarket. In the Green Acre environmental corner, young fairgoers get some hands-on schooling in eco-friendly living and animal care. Stay tuned for new of headliners on the mainstage this year. Last year's acts included Frets in Fire, PitchBlak Brass Band, Sioux City Kids and The Willies, plus more plaza performances. All ages.
Fill the dog days of summer every sunday with jazz, world and Latin jams at this lakeside performance series. Bring a blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy while you listen to the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band (Aug 9), Quimbombo (Aug 16), Ebony Hillbillies (Aug 23), Garifuna International (Agu 30) and the Dee Dee LeVant Gospel Ensemble (Sept 6). See the website for a full schedule. All ages.
Bring your tiny tykes to The South Street Seaport for fun-filled events featuring storytellers, music, arts and crafts and more. Take the little artists to Cannon's Walk for art-making with Crayola chalk (8/6, registration required), an Engineering with LEGO workshop (8/14) and a session with artist Joe Vena, where kids will craft dinosaurs our of modeling clay (8/28). In September, head to Peck Slip and learn how to safely use hammers and nails with ConstructionKids before making a wooden project to take home (9/19). Prior registration recommended. Ages 4–8.
Line up with your kids and cheer for your favorite tugboat in this exciting 23rd annual competition. After the race is over, check out the amateur line toss, spinach-eating contest (think Popeye) and tugboat-related exhibits for families, and see the tugs up close. To get your youngsters an even better view of the action, grab tickets to the spectator boat that follows the race along the Hudson River to the finish line ($25, children $12, ages 2 and under free). All ages.
Throughout the summer, the Central Park Conservancy will present eco-friendly performances for families every Sunday. Think and dance green to musical performances by the likes of Bash the Trash (June 21), Billy B (August 2), Diane Edgecomb (August 3), and Story Laurie (August 24). Hum and listen to musical storytelling by Play Me a Story (June 28) and Ira McIntosh (July 12). Play along with puppets like Clementine the Hipster (July 26), boogie with the butterflies presented by Central Park Zoo Wildlife theater (August 9), solve the Case of the Missing Chipmunk (August 28), and dance along to musical puppetry by Arm of the Sea Theater (August 30). Explore the environment of Central Park on an educational adventure with George Steele (August 16). All ages.
To get kids pumped for back-to-school, this week-long event entertains kiddos with meet-and-greets with amazing authors, book readings, interactive performances and activities that give school supplies a “new twist,” like creating a monster-inspired pencil case. All ages.
This wacky one-wheeled weekend rolls into town with a One Wheel the West Side course from Battery Park up the West Side to Central Park (Sept 3), a ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, finishing with a stage show at Coney Island in celebration of Brooklyn Unicycle Day (Sept 4). Don't miss the main event—a giant festival on Governors Island with races, competitions, exhibitions, unicycle sports (basketball, hockey and sumo on wheels!), music, live performances and more one-wheeled activities for the whole family (Sept 5, 6). All ages.
Grab the fam and head to Historic Richmond Town, a preserved museum-village dating from the late 17th century, for its 34th annual county fair. Three stages of live music, puppetry, dance performances and rides are sure to keep the little ones occupied all day. Plus, check out the Ultimate Air Dogs: These athletic pups perform tricks while jumping off a dock into water, catching mad air (20 feet!) in the process. All ages.