Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: April 2013
Spring has finally arrived and so has our new NYC Go List, our carefully curated roundup of the absolute best things to do with kids in NYC throughout the month. Given the season, our April Go List includes lots of annual outdoor favorites. These are the kinds of must-do events that Mommy Poppins families put in their calendars every year, like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival, Tribeca Film Festival's huge Family Street Fair, the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival, Staten Island's St. George's Day celebration and the old-school Street Games fest in East Harlem. Plus there are a number of other cool-sounding family shows, concerts, films and other experiences worth fitting into your family's schedule. Best of all, four of our 12 picks are FREE and almost all are under $15 per person.
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 although we've said it before we'll say it again: 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.
Now get your calendars ready! Here are the top 12 things to do with kids in New York City this April.
BAMcinématek: Miyazaki – Fort Greene
Friday, April 5-Sunday, April 7 and Friday, April 12-Sunday, April 14
During the first two weekends of April, BAM Rose Cinemas will screen eight films by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki. If you read Mommy Poppins regularly, you've undoubtedly heard us rave about Miyazaki's movies like My Neighbor Totoro and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. This retrospective features both of those flicks plus six other hand-drawn Studio Ghibli contemporary classics, and each title will be shown multiple times. Two things to keep in mind: Not all of the screenings are dubbed in English, some have subtitles, and a few of Miyazaki's movies, like Princess Mononoke, are PG-13, so check the ratings. $13 for adults, $9 for students and children under 13
The Story Pirates Present: Pseudonymous Bosch's Write This Book – Upper West Side
Sunday, April 7
We're always recommending the Story Pirates theater troupe, which mounts wildly creative mini shows at the Drama Book Shop, all based on tales penned by grade-schoolers. At this special interactive Symphony Space performance, the cast members use best-selling kids' mystery author Pseudonymous Bosch's latest title, Write This Book: A Do It Yourself Mystery, as a template. But the show can't go on without input from the kids in the audience. Definitely come willing to participate. $15
Children’s Carnival – Glen Oaks
Saturday, April 13-Sunday April 14 and Saturday April 20-Sunday April 21
My family loves the 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum, a real historic working farm with crops in the fields and all sorts of animals that kids can feed. While the agricultural spot hosts lots of great events throughout the year, the two-weekend long Children's Carnival is my family's favorite. It's a huge, old-time affair with an authentic midway complete with kiddie rides, games and family entertainment. The best part? All rides are included with admission. $11
Wanda's Monster the Musical – Midtown West
Friday, April 19-Sunday, May 12
Nonprofit children's theater company Making Books Sing debuts its page-to-stage adaptation of Eileen Spinelli's picture book Wanda's Monster about a feisty five-year-old whose grandma turns the tables on the old monster-in-the-closet legend. While we've loved many of the troupe's other shows like The Butterfly and Sky Boys, the big news here is that preschool rock goddess Laurie Berkner wrote the songs! It's her first foray into musical theater and the numbers include her hit "Monster Boogie" as well as brand-new tunes. $20 for adults, $15 for children under 12
Adventures From Ezra Jack Keats – Flatiron
Friday, April 19-Sunday, May 19
TADA! Youth Theater is another family theater company that we're always writing about. But unlike other NYC children's theater troupes, this one is made up entirely of local youths ages 8 to 18. TADA!'s latest production is based on two of Ezra Jack Keats's beloved picture books. Watch as talented local youngsters bring the hidden saxophone player from Apt. 3 and the adventures of Maggie and the Pirate to life through song and dance. $20 for adults, $8 for children
St. George's Day 2013 – St. George
Saturday, April 20
Celebrate Earth Day and the arts on Staten Island at this annual fest, which takes place near the ferry terminal. There's a ton of fun on tap, including local artists selling their wares and leading workshops, live music and dance performances, storytelling and poetry, a giant community swap, an Earth Day Zone full of eco info, and an entire area devoted to kids with arts and crafts and a fanciful puppet show that recounts the St. George dragon-slaying legend with a less gruesome ending. The highlight of the day is the 35-foot puppet dragon parade. FREE
Disney's Fantasia Live In Concert – Upper West Side
Friday April 26 and Saturday April 27
As of April 22, this event is sold out. When we first heard about this special Little Orchestra Society concert at Avery Fisher Hall, we were so excited we wrote a post about it. A full orchestra will play some of the Disney movie's well-known classical pieces by Beethoven, Bach and others while sequences from both the 1940 original and the 2000 reboot are shown on a giant screen. While the performances sold out last week, we spoke with the folks at LOS and they promise to release additional tickets this week. So if you're interested don't delay: Buy your tickets right away! $15-$55
Tribeca Film Festival Family Street Fair and ESPN Sports Day – Tribeca
Saturday, April 27
This is no ordinary street fair. This annual celebration is the highlight of the Tribeca Film Festival's family programming and is really two fests in one. The Family Street Fair features contests, bouncy houses, giveaways, performances by Broadway musicals like Annie and Wicked , kids' bands, vendors, food and a slew of other attractions. Along the route, you'll also find one block set aside for ESPN Sports Day, with games, demos, and appearances by pro athletes and sports teams. FREE
Street Games – East Harlem
Saturday, April 27
Last year we wrote an entire post about this annual fest in Thomas Jefferson Park dedicated to the kinds of analog amusements we grew up with back in the '60s and '70s. Leave your iPads and iPhones at home and encourage the kids to try out classics like pogo sticks, hula hoops, yo-yos, hippity hops and double Dutch. In addition, there will be an old-fashioned soap box derby race, a Radio Disney deejay, performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, skateboard clinics with the Uptown Skate School and soccer clinics with major league soccer's Red Bulls. FREE
The Big Swim – Upper East Side
Saturday, April 27
Registration ended on April 17. Awesome athletics complex Asphalt Green (which is where 2012 bronze medalist Lia Neal trained) hosts this noncompetitive swim meet for children ages 6 to 12 in its Olympic-size pool. Kids of all skill levels (save for those currently on competitive swim teams) can experience the excitement of a race with starting blocks, officials and a timed finish. Every child goes home with a medal for participating and a T-shirt. Advance registration required by Wednesday, April 17. While The Big Swim is FREE, the event is meant to raise awareness and money for Asphalt Green's Waterproofing program, which teaches inner city kids to swim at no cost.
Sakura Matsuri 2013/Cherry Blossom Festival – Prospect Heights
Saturday, April 27-Sunday, April 28
Although I have been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's amazing fest several times myself, this year will be the first time for my eight-year-old son. The weekend-long celebration of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture is set in and around the garden's beautiful blooming Cherry Esplanade. The lineup includes Taiko drumming performances, Samurai swords, flower arranging workshops, martial art displays, Japanese pop bands, tea ceremonies, cooking demos, and, new this year, manga drawing, origami, crafts, magic and drumming workshops for kids. Plus lots of revelers come dressed in their best anime-inspired outfits. Although the fest usually doesn't sell out, the lines often snake around the block so arrive early. Or better yet, buy tickets in advance so you can go right in. $20 for adults, free for children under 12
Kindiefest – Fort Greene
Sunday, April 28
As of April 9, this event is sold out. Kindiefest, the annual conference for family music, always closes out with an open-to-the-public concert of big-name little kid bands. This year the show moves to BAM and features four hours of rockin', boppin' family bands, including Portland, Oregon's Cat Doorman a.k.a. Julianna Bright; Boston's Mexican-style folk band The David Wax Museum; alt rockers The Terrible Twos from Kansas; San Fran's educational hip-hop outfit the Alphabet Rockers; singer-storyteller Robbi K; L.A.'s awesome Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band and NYC's own high-energy Dirty Sock Funtime Band. $12
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 April calendar. Be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can get our weekend picks delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.
See a FREE multimedia presentation of The Dark, the kooky and creepy new picture book from Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, and meet the authors. Reservations required.
Cross the Hudson to go back in time at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus, New Jersey. The animatronic dino theme park opens for its second season on Friday, April 5.
Soak up Scottish culture during the Tartan Day Parade featuring thousands of bagpipers marching up Sixth Avenue on Saturday, April 6.
Get into a fighting mood—a pillow fighting mood, that is—at NYC's Annual Pillow Fight Day in Washington Square Park on Saturday, April 6.
Hit the Bronx's bucolic Wave Hill for its FREE arts weekend on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.
Celebrate the Cambodian New Year at Asia Society's FREE family day with music and dance performances, arts and crafts, and traditional holiday games on Sunday, April 21.
More multicultural fun can be had at the Children's Museum of the Arts' Korean Festival on Saturday, April 27 featuring calligraphy and embroidery workshops, and folk dance performances.
Go back in time at the 19th Century Extravaganza. Although the three-day event at Park Slope's Old Stone House isn’t aimed at families, there's lots for kids to enjoy like an old-school photo booth, a Steampunk and neo-Victorian fashion show, and the full-day dress-up picnic on Sunday, April 28.
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