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The best things to do on Labor Day

Enjoy your extended three-day weekend by checking out these great Labor Day events, from dance parties to festivals

Photograph: Syd London
West Indian American Day Carnival

Need some help finding the best things to do on Labor Day? Well, the best way to salute America’s workers is to show them (and yourself) a rocking good time! Go day-glo crazy at a summer music festival, celebrate Caribbean culture at the annual West Indian American Day Carnival, cheer hard at the US Open and make your day memorable by hitting our favorite New York beaches and happy hours. Whether you’re an indoor type or looking for things to do outside, we have the perfect Labor Day events for your long weekend.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Labor Day in NYC

Best things to do on Labor Day


Electric Zoo Festival

Come ready to dance away the end of summer at the annual EDM three-day bonanza. Many of the biggest names in electronic music descend upon the park’s four stages. This year’s headliners have yet to be announced, but the theme is “Wild Island,” so be prepared for a crowded lawn of rowdy movers and shakers.

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By: Vivienne van Vliet

Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition

Cheer on the hardest workers in the harbor, the tugboats, at the 24rd annual race. From your viewing spot on Pier 84, not only can you admire the vessels, but you can also compete in an amateur line-throwing competition or prove you’re strong to finish when you channel your inner-Popeye for a spinach eating contest. If you’re looking for a better view of the proceedings, jump on board the Circle Line Spectator Boat ($25, children $12).

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04 Sep 2016

Labor Day at Riis Park Beach Bazaar

Riis Beach’s summer-long shindig is all about laying back with ice cold drinks and getting down to chill music, and for those of us who aren’t in the restaurant or service industry, a chance to be horizontal on the sand on a Monday is too good to pass up. Good food, hula hoops, and tunes curated by the Get Summered DJs will likely keep you celebrating longer than you’d planned to.

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By: Jennifer Picht

Labor Day Parade

Cheer for America’s workforce—teachers, firefighters, doctors, construction workers and everybody who keeps modern life going—as representatives from various industries march in the parade organized by the New York City Labor Council. Held the Saturday after Labor Day, the procession of laborers start at 10am at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street and will continue up the avenue to 67th Street.

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10 Sep 2016

The U.S. Open

While you may not remember what you did on Labor Day Weekends past, take a swing and make this year memorable by seeing the champions slay it on the tennis court. Added bonus: You’ll be the Instagram winner of Tuesday morning.

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By: Tazi Phillips

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Instead of just bumming at the beach this weekend, why not grab some culture and support up-and-coming artistic folks? Browse fine art, photography, artisanal crafts and sculptures from artists and crafters near and far at this biannual sidewalk show in the West Village.

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Washington Square Park , Greenwich Village Saturday May 27 2017 - Sunday September 10 2017

West Indian-African American Day Carnival

For some, Labor Day is just another Monday off, but the costumed gods and goddesses of this wild parade spend the whole year hot-gluing feathers and stones to their magnificent outfits. Party all the way down Eastern Parkway and enjoy technicolor floats representing countries like Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobego while you indulge in jerk chicken and other delicacies.

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By: Tazi Phillips

NYC Unicycle Festival

Forgive the analogy, but unicycles are the Nickelback of the cycling world: misunderstood by many but cherished by a select few who love them more than anything else. Enjoy four-days of one-wheel madness including a 13-mile unicycle ride from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island, Battery Park to Central Park and a bunch of events that take place on Governors Island. There you’ll find races, freestyle competitions and even unicycle sports including basketball, hockey and even—not making this up—unicycle sumo wrestling.

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Thu Sep 1 - Sun Sep 4

Need a break from the city instead?