March Go List: Best Things to Do with NYC Kids this Month
February is winding down, which means it's time for the March edition of our NYC Go List, our carefully curated roundup of the absolute best things to do with kids throughout the month. A few Mommy Poppins annual favorites take place in March, including the New York International Children's Film Festival, the stunning Easter Parade and Macy's Flower Show. Plus there are lots of cool-sounding one-offs like funky museum family days, incredible concerts, interactive art installations and unique, hard-to-describe experiences. We've kept an eye on the prices, too: Five of our 12 picks are FREE and most of the others are under $15.
If you see something on the list you like (and we hope you do), be sure to click through to our event listing for additional details like time and address. Remember: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often sell out in advance or fill up really quickly, especially when they're free. So buy your tickets ASAP or arrive early whenever possible to avoid disappointment.
Now get your calendars ready! Here are the top 12 things to do with kids in New York City this March.
New York International Children's Film Festival – Manhattan
Friday, March 1-Sunday, March 24
Held at eight Manhattan venues, this annual fest featuring kids' flicks from around the globe is one of my family's favorite things to do all year. We actually plan our whole month around the screenings so we can see as many as possible. Tickets have been on sale since February 1, so a few selections are already sold out. But there are still plenty of cool screenings available, like opening night's Ernest & Celestine from France, Studio Ghibli's Up on Poppy Hill out of Japan and Rompe Ralph, the Spanish version of the U.S. animated hit Wreck-It Ralph. There are options for all ages, including shorts programs, and non-English films aimed at very young moviegoers 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 selling fast so if you find a flick you want to see, order right away. $13-$16
Topsy-Turvy: A Camera Obscura Installation – Flatiron
Friday, March 1-Friday, April 5
Madison Square Park has hosted some of our favorite public art displays over the past year. (See Leo Villareal's BUCKYBALL and Charles Long's Pet Sounds.) So we are really looking forward to the green space's new interactive offering Topsy-Turvy: A Camera Obscura Installation. Visitors can actually step inside Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder's old-school camera and watch it snap photos of the surrounding area and then project them upside down. FREE
Brooklyn Kids Rock – Fort Greene
Saturday, March 2
This third annual music fest is like Lollapalooza for the preschool set. Catch four Brooklyn kindie bands: Jeremy Plays Guitar, Captain Kirk Douglas (best known for his work with The Roots), AudraRox and the Anna Banana Band. In addition to rocking out to tunes about counting, friendship and being yourself, kids can play carnival games, get their faces painted, and do arts and crafts for an additional fee. Proceeds support the Maple Street School. In advance: $14, $48 for a family four-pack; at the door: $17
Japanese Doll Festival: Hinamatsuri – Midtown East
Sunday, March 3
This event is sold out. Also known as Girls' Day, Hinamatsuri is an ancient Japanese festival held annually on March 3. Families display ornamental dolls meant to signify health and happiness for young ladies. At Japan Society's celebration, girls (and boys!) will learn traditional songs, chow down on authentic snacks and beverages, and make and decorate paper hina, a.k.a. dolls. This event usually sells out so buying advance tickets is recommended. $12, free for children under age 2
Sinister Pop Family Day – Upper East Side
Saturday, March 9
Rescheduled from its original February date due to the blizzard, the Whitney Museum of Art will finally get a chance to throw its family party in honor of Sinister Pop, featuring work by Pop Art greats. Inspired by Andy Warhol's notion that everyone will enjoy "15-minutes of fame," children ages 5 to 12 can get their time in the spotlight by making art, singing karaoke, posing for the paparazzi and participating in interactive performances. $18 for adults, free for children under 19
Tubby the Tuba Narrated by Patti Smith – Upper West Side
Saturday, March 16
When we first heard about this offbeat Little Orchestra Society concert, which pairs a punk icon with a kids' classic, we were so excited we wrote an entire post about it. Hit Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, to hear songwriter/poet and artist Patti Smith narrate the musical tale of a big instrument who yearns to play his own little tune. Tubby was a childhood favorite of Smith's, so we expect her affinity to come through. Plus there will be tap dancing and a demonstration of how melodies can come from lots of unexpected places. $15-$55
Gustafer Yellowgold – Midtown East
Saturday, March 23
Singer, songwriter, artist and dad, Morgan Taylor, and his little yellow animated alter ego hit the main branch of the New York Public Library for a rare no-cost performance. We've been raving about his shows for years: They're equal parts concert and cartoon, as Gustafer's animated adventures are accompanied by groovy, Beatles-like tunes. FREE
The Big Adventure – Crown Heights
Saturday, March 23-Sunday, September 15
Although the Brooklyn Children's Museum's latest interactive exhibit will stay on view through summer, my son is so excited about it, he's insisting on going opening weekend! Kids can ride a scooter, scale a wall, walk a balance beam, navigate tunnels and more, all while pretending they're on an amazing journey. So they get a real physical workout and a chance to use their imaginations. And since The Big Adventure caters to children up to age 12, it's fun for big kids, too. Free with admission: $9
Macy's Flower Show: The Painted Garden – Midtown West
Sunday, March 24-Sunday, April 7
Every year, Macy's glorious installation of blossoms officially ushers in spring in the city. In 2012, it was all about Brazilian blooms. This year, the focus is on India, so expect lavish formal gardens featuring thousands of jewel-toned and spice-hued flowers displayed alongside iconic cultural images, like the show's centerpiece: a 10-foot elephant fashioned entirely from beautiful buds. Bonus: Macy's always hosts FREE events in conjunction with the Flower Show. Most of the kid-friendly activities are on opening day, including readings, live music, terrarium making, balloon twisters, cookie decorating, glitter tattoos and a visit from the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Find the full schedule on Macy's website.
Nick Cave: Heard NY – Midtown East
Monday, March 25-Sunday, March 31, crossings at 11am and 2pm
Here's something that's sure to get commuters to slow down during rush hour in Grand Central Terminal: 30 flamboyant, life-size "horses" roaming Vanderbilt Hall. This interactive installation is the brainchild of Nick Cave (the African-American artist, not the Australian goth music star) and the horses are actually pairs of dancers from the Ailey School wearing his soundsuits created from found objects, recycled items and discarded materials. When not quietly grazing, the steeds will burst into choreographed movements accompanied by two harpists twice a day. Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience! FREE
New York International Auto Show – Midtown West
Friday, March 29-Sunday, April 7
Thousands of model vehicles, concept cars and motor-tech feats will roll into Jacob Javitz Center's giant exhibition hall. While the show isn't specifically aimed at kids, there are definitely lots of things young car lovers will enjoy like interactive experiences, off-roading simulators and countless photo ops. We went last year and shared our tips for hitting the Auto Show with kids in tow. $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12; multi-day passes are also available.
Easter Bonnet Parade – Midtown East
Sunday, March 31 .
Calling this annual gathering a parade isn't really accurate. It's more of a promenade as Fifth Avenue between Rockefeller Center and 57th Street is closed to traffic and opened to incredible headgear. There are no floats or procession. Folks just meander about posing for pictures. While many opt for traditional flower-filled bonnets and their Sunday best, you'll see some really outrageous outfits and hats here. Since pictures speak louder than words, check out our Easter Parade 2012 slide show. FREE
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.
Enjoy kids' concerts, yoga sessions, healthy cooking demos and workshops at the second annual Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park on March 2-3
Celebrate World Read Aloud Day with a FREE performance by the Story Pirates at kid-lit haven Books of Wonder on Wednesday, March 6
Use wire, fabric and paper to craft a miniature circus at the Morgan Library & Museum on Saturday, March 9
Groove to the soulful songs of Shine & the Moonbeams for FREE at the Schomburg Center on Saturday, March 9
Hit Coney Island's Luna Park on opening day, Sunday, March 24, to try out a slew of new rides before the tourists descend
Explore the interactive Legoland Discovery Center, which debuts in nearby Yonkers this month. Opening day, Wednesday, March 27, is already sold out so you'll definitely want to buy your tickets in advance before you head there.
And remember to check our Event Calendar, as we're always adding new listings.
- Free & Fun Things to Do this Weekend with NYC Kids: Easter Egg Hunts, Coney Island Rides Opens, Macy's Flower Show March 23-24
- Easter Weekend for NYC Kids: Free & Fun Things to Do, Egg Hunts, Easter Bonnet Parade, Auto Show, Passover Fun March 30-31
- This Week: March Go List, Easter Portrait Deal, St. Patrick's Day Celebrations, New Giveaways
- Circus Elephants Walk Across Manhattan March 22, 2010