NYC Festivals, Street Fairs and Carnivals for May 2015

Ninth Avenue Food Festival, Hippo Spring Fair, Mamapalooza, Touch-a-Truck in NYC 2015

There are street fairs and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities and food. The hard part, of course, is knowing which is which, but don't worry, we've taken the guesswork out of it for you.

We've gone through the city's list of festivals, street fairs and carnivals for the month of May and put together a roundup of top picks. Though we received the bad news that seasonal staple, Madison Square Park's annual Spring Kids Fest, isn't happening, we still found many favorites from years past along with new events that sound promising. Most of these fetes are FREE or just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are 28 awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And remember, FREE festivals tend to get crowded fast, so arrive as early as possible to try to avoid the crowds.

Calhoun Carnival – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 2
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
Enjoy carnival rides, bouncy houses, games, arts and crafts, and other kiddie fun at this annual school fundraiser.

Cherry Blossom Festival – Randall's Island
Saturday, May 2
FREE
In addition to checking out the beautiful blooms, families can enjoy drumming performances, face painting, spring-themed arts, crafts and enjoy other seasonal fun.

Red Hook Family Festival – Red Hook
Saturday, May 2
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
Jump around a bouncy house, play games and more at Puppetry Arts' annual family favorite. The first 100 kids to arrive snag free goody bags.

Spring Fair – Morningside Heights
Saturday, May 2
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
Best for the preschool set, the Columbia Greenhouse Nursery School's benefit features a petting zoo, pony rides, carnival games and craft projects. There will also be a rummage sale with gently-used kids' gear.

On A Wing: Family Festival – Central Park
Saturday, May 2
FREE
Head to Belvedere Castle to get up close and personal with birds of prey and live bats, and enjoy a guided birding walk with the Urban Park Rangers or Audubon Society and observe a butterfly release.

Touch-a-Truck – Park Slope
Saturday, May 2
Hit PS 295 to explore all sorts of vehicles like dump trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances and tow trucks. Buy a treat from one of Brooklyn's famous food trucks, enjoy arts and crafts and hit the bounce house. All proceeds support the elementary school.

Grand Opening Block Party – Chelsea
Saturday, May 2
FREE
One of our top picks for May: In celebration of its new Chelsea facility opening May 1, the Whitney Museum is waiving admission prices on Saturday, May 2. In addition to checking out the new space, families can also enjoy the free festival, complete with interactive art and performance workshops.

Hippo Playground Spring Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 3
Free admission but there are fees for activities
An Upper West Side tradition for more than 30 years, this annual benefit promises pony rides, a petting zoo, maze, bouncy castle, and arts and crafts.

Irish Dance Festival – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 3
FREE
Watch as professional Irish dancers from NYC and beyond hit the stage, and then give it a go yourself at a movement workshop. Other activities include a singing circle and Gaelic classes.

PS 267 Spring Fling – Upper East Side
Sunday, May 3
Free admission but there are fees for activities
This school benefit promises bouncy houses, rides, carnival games, arts and crafts, snacks and more family fun.

Court Street "Brooklyn" Festival – Carroll Gardens
Sunday, May 3
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
Hit this neighborhood fete for children's rides, 200 vendors and live entertainment.

Affinity Health Plan's Spring Fling – Jamaica
Saturday, May 9
FREE
In the past, Affinity Health Plan had sponsored a large Easter egg hunt in St. Albans Park, but this year, the fete moves to Mother's Day weekend. Expect the same large crowds, live music, pony and carnival rides, arts and crafts and more family-friendly fun.

PS 84 International Spring Fair– Upper West Side
Saturday, May 9
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
Head to the Sol Bloom Playground (adjacent to the schoolyard) to enjoy a day of springtime fun at this annual school festival.

Kite Flight – Long Island City
Saturday, May 9
FREE
Another top pick for May: Socrates Sculpture Park hosts a day of kite- flying fun. Kids can fashion Caribbean-style paper kites out of recycled materials. Once it's finished, let your kite soar against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

Lincoln Center Kids Spring Fling – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 9
FREE
Yet another May GoList pick: Head to Lincoln Center for a day of kid-inspired fun as the cultural hub launches its new kids' series with this free family fest. Highlights include a sing-along with Dan Zanes, a read-aloud with Angelina Ballerina author Katharine Holabird, dance lessons and more from Lincoln Center regulars such as the New York Philharmonic and Big Apple Circus. And I'd be remiss not to mention that yours truly and Anna will be manning a Mommy Poppins craft table, too!

Spring Festival – Park Slope
Saturday, May 9
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
In the past, this PS 133 school benefit has included bouncy castles, face painting, carnival games, and arts and crafts.

Kings County Fair – Marine Park
Thursday, May 14-Monday, May 25
Another May GoList pick: Aviator Sports & Events Center hosts this full-blown, country-style carnival with rides, game booths, live music, a midway, tasty eats and other attractions. It's a great option for Memorial Day weekend! Make sure you look carefully at the pricing page to find the best value for your family as there are a number of packages available.

Touch-a-Truck – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 16
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities
At the West Side YMCA's annual fundraiser, kids can climb into lots of different vehicles—last year's edition featured NYPD cruisers, an ambulance, an FDNY fire truck and even a refrigerated Fresh Direct truck. Also expect bouncy castles, arts and crafts and live music.

Dance Parade New York & DanceFest – Flatiron & East Village
Saturday, May 16
FREE
One of our favorite annual parades for families: Watch as 10,000 movers and shakers make their way down Broadway doing more than 75 dances, including salsa, tango, waltz, African, Asian, the hula, break dancing and more. If you want to participate, you must register in advance and join a group. The procession ends in Tompkins Square Park with an after-party featuring choreographed performances, workshops and lots of dancing.

Families First Annual Spring Carnival – Cobble Hill
Saturday, May 16
Free admission but there are fees for activities
This nonprofit family center hosts a carnival with pony rides, refreshments, games, book and bake sales, arts and crafts, balloons, face painting and a moon bounce.

Ninth Avenue International Food Festival – Midtown West
Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17
Free admission but fees for food
Try international cuisines from Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Thailand and more. There will also be children's games and activities, and a stage with global music and dance performances.

Mamapalooza – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 17
FREE
This annual fest features moms rocking out, reading poetry, doing comedy and other types of family-friendly performances. There will also be kids' activities, vendors and fitness demos.

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Cultural Street Fair – East Village
Saturday, May 23
FREE
The Theater for the New City hosts its 20th annual weekend of visual arts, films, theater and dance performances. While the fest takes place Friday through Sunday, Saturday is family day with a street fair featuring live music, poetry, comedy and special youth performances.

Governors Island Family Festival – Governors Island
Sunday, May 24
FREE except for cost of ferry
The activity-filled isle opens for the season Memorial Day weekend with its annual family fest. Enjoy performances by kids' bands and the Central Park Zoo's Wildlife Theater. There will also be carnival games and bouncy castles, puppet-making with Lisa Abbatomarco, compost lessons and flower planting in addition to tons of other great games and activities.

Memorial Day Fair – Sunnyside
Saturday, May 30
Free admission but there are fees for activities
Kids can hit the sandpit, swoosh down the slide or swing in the lovely members-only Sunnyside Gardens Park, which opens its gate to the public for this fair. Other attractions include a bouncy castle, an obstacle course, a kiddie nail salon and more fun. And yes, we realize this takes place the weekend after Memorial Day but that's still the name of the fete!

A Children's Festival of Flowers – West Village
Saturday, May 30
FREE
Celebrate spring by learning all about worms, making seasonal crafts and enjoying live entertainment in Jefferson Market Garden.

Nature Fest – Staten Island
Saturday, May 30
FREE
Head to Willowbrook Park for the Staten Island Museum's annual fest featuring nature walks, arts and crafts, and other eco-fun.

Ultimate Science Street Fair – Greenwich Village
Sunday, May 31
FREE
The World Science Festival runs from May 27 to 31, but for families, this STEM-themed street fair is the place to be. Expect plenty of science-themed exhibits and experiments. 

Find more great things to do this season in our Spring Fun Guide.

This post was originally published in May 2010.