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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.