Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: March Go List
The coming of spring isn't the only thing to look forward to this March. There are lots of awesome upcoming events in the latest edition of our NYC Go List, our carefully curated roundup of the absolute best things to do with kids throughout the month. March picks include two annual Mommy Poppins favorites, the New York International Children's Film Festival and Macy's Flower Show, as well as cultural celebrations like St. Patrick's Day and Purim. Plus there are some cool new happenings like awesome family theater shows, a funky arts festival at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine and a rare appearance by Diary of A Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney.
As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And keep in mind: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to try to beat the crowds.
Now get your calendars ready! Here are the top 13 things to do with kids in New York City this March, four of which are FREE.
Jim Dale Reading – Upper East Side
Although kids may not know this Tony Award winner's name, they may very well recognize his voice—make that voices. The extremely versatile actor voiced all of the characters for the audio recordings of the seven Harry Potter books. See and hear him in action at the Y, where he'll share some of his favorite children's stories. Knowing his work, we suspect it will be more like a performance than a simple reading. $10
Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral — Arts Festival and Performance – Morningside Heights
Saturday, March 1
Marvel at Chinese artist Xu Bing's enormous Phoenix sculptures at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The pair of 12-ton birds are suspended from the ceiling and were fashioned from debris and discarded tools salvaged from construction sites in Beijing. Although the installation will be on view for a year, it will be unveiled in high style on March 1 with a festival featuring storytelling, creative workshops for kids, family-friendly tours, and performances by the Southern Praying Mantis Lion Dancers, tightrope master Philippe Petit, members of the Big Apple Circus, puppeteer Ralph Lee and West African dance troupe Forces of Nature Company. FREE but $10 suggested donation
New York International Children's Film Festival – Manhattan
Friday, March 7-Sunday, March 30
Held at six Manhattan venues, this annual fest features kids' flicks from around the globe. It's one of my family's favorite things to do all year and we actually plan our whole month around the screenings so we can see as many as possible. Tickets have been on sale since February 3, so a few selections are already sold out. But there are still plenty of cool screenings available, like opening night's Amazonia 3D from France, the behind-the-scenes Broadway doc Annie: It's the Hard Knock Life, an English-language version of the Oscar nominated Ernest & Celestine and a special The Muppets sing-along with Academy Award winning songwriter (and former Flight of the Conchords star) Bret McKenzie. There are options for all ages, including shorts programs, and many foreign films are dubbed. (Be careful when ordering though: Some flicks are subtitled.) There are often pre- or post-show Q&As with the filmmakers and other special events, and everyone gets voting ballots to help select the festival winners. Tickets are going fast so if you find a flick you want to see, order right away. $13-$16. Save $2 per ticket with the exclusive Mommy Poppins discount code MOMPOP14.
St. Patrick's Day Open House – Midtown West
Sunday, March 9 noon-5pm
Everyone feels a wee bit Irish around St. Patrick's Day. And although the holiday and Manhattan's iconic parade official fall on Monday, March 17, there are plenty of other celebrations throughout the month that are much more family-friendly. Our pick for the best way to celebrate: The Irish Arts Center's annual open house featuring authentic Irish music and dance performances, storytelling, arts and crafts, face painting and a slew of Irish culture workshops. Although the full schedule has yet to be released, in past years offerings included tin whistle, Gaelic and Irish step-dancing sessions. FREE
Peace, Love and Cupcakes – Upper West Side
Saturday, March 15-Sunday, April 27
Vital Children's Theater makes a big change with its brand-new page-to-stage production. Unlike the troupe's hit musicalizations of picture books like Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious, this show is based on The Cupcake Club chapter book series and is aimed at children ages 6 to 12. The show stars Kylie, a quirky unpopular girl who starts a cupcake club in order to make friends. But can the bakers stand up to the school's big bully? Written by real-life NYC mom Sheryl Berk and her 11-year-old daughter Carrie, the books have an authentic feel and young girls devour them like the title sugary sweets. We're hoping the musical will be as delectable. $30
20th Anniversary Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret – Park Slope
Saturday, March 15-Sunday, March 16
There are a lot of circus shows coming to town this month but we're particularly excited about the 20th anniversary revue by NYC's own Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Their style is pure old-school vaudeville, comedic and edgy but still kid-friendly, and you may have seen their schtick in the past at SummerStage or Lincoln Center Out of Doors Family Day. Catch one of their kid-friendly matinees at the Brooklyn Lyceum featuring juggling, the diabolo, unicycling, Ringmistress Philomena's wicked humor and whip-cracking, and Kinko the Clown's silly silent antics. $12, family four-pack $40
Purim Family Carnival at the JCC – Upper West Side
Sunday, March 16
You don't need to be Jewish to enjoy Purim, a super-fun holiday celebrating the biblical tale of Queen Esther, who saved the Jews from annihilation by standing up to her husband's evil adviser Haman. Revelers read the Megillah (Esther's story), nosh on hamantaschen (triangular fruit-filled pastries meant to represent Haman's ears—gruesome but tasty) and rejoice in a carnival-like atmosphere. While there are many Purim parties throughout March all over town, our top pick is the JCC's carnival on the Upper West Side. It's a ton of fun on multiple floors including games with tchotchkes as prizes, holiday goodies to eat, multiple inflatable houses, face painting and an exotic animal petting zoo. All the kids (and some adults) come in costume. Although admission is free, you need to buy activity tickets, so it can be costly if you don't set a firm limit. And it's always pretty crowded, but there are so many things to do, the lines tend to move quickly. Free admission but there are fees for activities
Thalia Kids' Book Club: Jeff Kinney Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Upper West Side
Tuesday, March 18
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is one of my nine-year-old's favorites and he's not alone. Tens of millions of Wimpy Kid books have been sold worldwide! So as you can imagine, this in-person chat with Jeff Kinney, author/illustrator of the wildly popular series, is a hot ticket for tween bookworms. Kinney will share his favorite moments from his eight hysterical books, talk about his inspirations and delve into how he got the quirky series published in the first place. My son and I already have tickets and if your kid is interested, don't hesitate. Despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon, tickets are going fast and we expect this event to sell out soon. $15
Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna – Queens
Thursday, March 20-Sunday, May 18
Cirque du Soleil's over-the-top shows always deliver spectacular visuals, amazing circus skills and grand pretentious. Love them or hate them, there's nothing quite like them and we are particularly intrigued by this new show, which takes girl power to a whole new level. In addition to being directed by 2013 Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (the current circus-themed Pippin), Amaluna features an overwhelmingly female cast and a plot inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. Goddess Prospera is overseeing a coming-of-age ceremony for her daughter on their island nation. But when young men suddenly arrive, their presence sets off an epic power struggle and love story. Sound highfalutin? Don't worry, the plot is most likely incomprehensible anyway. Cirque is all about style, not story. $50-$145
VH1's Annual Save the Music Day – Upper West Side
Saturday, March 22
Get into the groove at this third annual music fest sponsored by VH1's Save the Music Foundation and hosted by former boy band heartthrob turned hunky dad Nick Lachey. Catch performances by Colour of London, The Annie Minogue Band, and DJ Beauty & the Beatz, as well as a few talented local students. Kids can try out different instruments, participate in a drum circle, pick up healthy snacks and test their musical knowledge in NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan's Music Trivia Showdown. Proceeds support the restoration of music education programs in public schools. FREE but advance registration required
Charlie's Kid – Fort Greene
Sunday March 23, Saturday, March 29-Sunday, March 30
Calling all Charlie Chaplin fans: Swedish mime troupe Pantomimteatern translates his classic 1921 silent film The Kid to the stage at BAM. In this live theater production, three actors use mime and half-masks to play all 14 characters in this tale of the Tramp and his loving relationship with an abandoned child. Projected backdrops give the show an innovative cinematic feel. Judging from this video trailer, it's truly one-of-a-kind. $12
Macy's Flower Show: The Secret Garden – Midtown West
Sunday, March 23-Sunday, April 6
Every year, Macy's glorious installation of blossoms ushers in spring in the city. In 2012, the show was all about Brazilian blooms, last year the theme was Indian gardens. For 2014, Macy's looks to England for inspiration for its Secret Garden display. The megastore hosts FREE events in conjunction with the Flower Show but all of the kids' activities take place on opening day, including terrarium making, flower manicures, live music performances, a reading of the book picture book Ladybug Girl, paper crafts and complimentary snacks. FREE
Brooklyn Kids Rock – Fort Greene
Saturday, March 29
This fourth annual music fest is like Lollapalooza for the preschool set (especially now that Kindiefest is no more). Catch four Brooklyn-based family bands: Jeremy Plays Guitar, Captain Kirk Douglas (best known for his work with The Roots), Rolie Polie Guacamole and Carol's Band. In addition to rocking out, kids can play carnival games, get their faces painted, and do arts and crafts. Proceeds benefit Brooklyn's Maple Street School. In advance: $15, $50 for a family four-pack; at the door: $18; there are additional fees for certain activities
NYC always has so many amazing things going on, it's difficult to choose. So here are a few more cool events worth considering for your March calendar. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletters so you can get our weekly picks in your inbox.
Create rubber-band-powered vehicles, Rube Goldberg machines and more at the Makery's pop-up studio at the 92nd Street Y's 7 Days of Genius fest on Saturday, March 1-Sunday, March 2.
Enjoy kids' concerts, yoga sessions, healthy cooking demos and workshops at the third annual Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park on Saturday, March 1-Sunday, March 2.
Commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's British invasion at the Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles! exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on view through Saturday, May 10. FREE
Get creative at Artopia, Wingspan Arts' annual fest where kids can make wearable art, learn puppetry or enjoy a cabaret performance by some of the program's talented students at the Anderson School on Saturday, March 8. FREE
Ring in the Himalayan New Year with art projects and live performances at the Rubin Museum of the Arts on Saturday, March 8.
Head to the 92nd Street Y to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NYC's own Harriet the Spy with readings and discussions on Saturday, March 15.
Learn the athletic street art of parkour at the New York Hall of Science on Saturday, March 15-Sunday, March 16.
Catch the original Ghosbusters in grand style at the historic United Palace Theater in Washington Heights on Sunday, March 23.
- Cool Movies for NYC Kids: BAMkids, New York International Children's Film Festival & Ongoing Family Film Series
- St. Patrick's Day for NYC Kids: Parades, Celebrations and Irish Culture
- Purim Parties for NYC Kids: Put on Your Costumes and Make Some Noise in Honor of the Festive Jewish Holiday
- Best NYC Kids’ Theater for Winter 2014: 14 Great Family Shows Most Under $20