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NYC festival and fair guide for families: summer 2014

It’s finally festival season! Celebrate warm weather at these al fresco affairs, including Summer Streets and Midsummer Night’s Swing!

Photograph: Daniel Avila
Adventures NYC 2012 in Central Park

Summer in the city means tons of outdoor festivals—and what’s more, many are even free! We’ve rounded up the best fairs and festivals for kids in New York City this summer to keep ‘em entertained while school’s out, including the Unicycle FestivalCome Out And Play on Governors Island, Intrepid’s SpaceFest and many more. Click to each month to plan your perfect summer!

RECOMMENDED: 50 things to do this summer

Mermaid Parade 2014

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 (TBD, but last year's parade was headed by Judah Friedlander) 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.

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Mad. Sq. Kids Concerts 2014

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. Kicking off the series is Father Goose of Dan Zanes & Friends (6/10), who will be followed every Tuesday and Thursday by other kid faves like ska-reggae group Josh & the Jamtones (6/12), girl-rocker Audra Rox (6/17), East Asian folk band Elena Moon Park & Friends: Rabbit Days and Dumplings (6/19), kindie band Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights (6/24), Latin Grammy winners Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (6/26), the Woody Guthrie-esque Alastair Moock and Friends (7/1), Walkmen alum Walter Martin (7/3), Dog on Fleas (7/8), JazzReach presents ELLINGTON! (7/10), Mister G (7/15), Bari Koral (7/17), Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band (7/22), The Dirty Sock Funtime Band (7/24), Moona Luna (7/29), Shine and the Moonbeams (7/31), The Okee Dokee Brothers (8/5) and finally, Tim and the Space Cadets (8/7). Free. All ages.

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State Fair Meadowlands

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). Opening day (June 20) admission is only $1; kids under 13 are free on June 25. Check the website for the full schedule. All ages.

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Make Music New York

Musicians flood NYC's public spaces during this daylong, citywide, entirely free festival. For tot-friendly tunage, make sure to catch kid-friendly acts like Lily Rose (12:30pm) or The NYC Streetsingers (3:30pm) on Great Oval Hill in Central Park. Plucky tykes can grab free guitar lessons at select NYPL branches throughout the day or pick up harmonicas, recorders and more to join in on group jam sessions alongside the pros. Visit makemusicny.org for the full lineup of events and happenings spanning the five boroughs (you can even search by 'hood!) All ages.

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Harlem Eats

Frederick Douglass Blvd. between 117th and 118th Sts. Every Saturday 'til the weather gets cold again, one block of Harlem will host mobile food vendors that run the gamut from world cuisine to hyperlocal fare. Expect eats from the likes of Takumi Taco, Jerk Shack, It'sKale, Nuchas, Luke's Lobster, Frittering Away and Carnaval, but be sure to bring the Benjamins—it's cash-only. All ages.

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Family Performance Festival

Throughout the summer, the Central Park Conservancy will present eco-friendly performances for families every Sunday. Discover intriguing tales through storytelling with the Storycrafters (June 15), Jackson Gillman, (June 22), Diane Edgecomb (August 3), and Story Laurie (August 24). Bounce around to musical and dance performances by Billy B, the natural science and dance Man (June 29), Bash the Trash (July 20), Roger Tincknell (August 10), the Youth Company (August 17), and Uncle Eye (August 31). Play along with puppets at the Bugaboo Review Puppet show (July 13) and watch circus performers excite the crowd at EarthCapades, the Earth Circus (July 27). Explore the environment of Central Park on an educational adventure with George Steele (July 6). All ages.

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