Fall Festivals, Fairs, Carnivals and Celebrations for NYC Kids September 2012
Summer break may be over but just because the kids are going back to school doesn't mean you can't continue having lots of family fun. Some of New York City's best annual events take place in September including free family favorites like the West Side County Fair, the Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park and Children's Day at the South Street Seaport.
There are also celebrations that aren't aimed at families but have plenty of kid appeal, including Little Italy's Feast of San Gennaro, the multidisciplinary Dumbo Arts Festival and the mind-blowing Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science, which we rave about every year.
We've got the scoop on all of these plus 11 other shindigs, 17 in total! So mark your calendar: You don't want to miss these fun and mostly free festivals and celebrations.
West Side County Fair – Upper West Side
Riverside Park South, 68th-72nd Streets
Sunday, September 9 1-6pm
Can't make it to a county fair outside of NYC? Then check out this Upper West Side favorite, which is the closest thing Manhattan has to one. Enjoy square dancing, carnival games and rides, sideshow performers and a petting zoo. There's also the Green Acre environmental corner with hands-on eco-activities. Warning: When the weather's nice, this fair gets mobbed and the lines for the rides are especially long, so try to arrive on the early side.
Ferragosto – the Bronx
Arthur Avenue between Crescent Avenue and 187th Street
Sunday, September 9 noon-7 pm
Head to NYC's original Little Italy in the Belmont section of the Bronx for this fest. Get a taste of old-school Italian culture with Commedia dell’Arte-style street performers, lots of live music (including tunes from Sopranos star Dominic Chianese), and special surprise guests. There will also be kids' activities, shopping and the delicious food Arthur Avenue is famous for.
Feast of San Gennaro – Little Italy
Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets, and Grand and Hester Streets between Mott and Baxter Streets
Thursday, September 13-Sunday, September 23. Hours vary. Visit the website for details.
Free admission but certain attractions cost extra.
This legendary 11-day fest is officially a religious celebration with masses, processions and other liturgical events, but for most visitors the main draws are the food and carnival atmosphere. Thirty-five of Little Italy’s restaurants dish out amazing sausage sandwiches, fried Oreos, Italian pastries and more right on the street. Plus there's live music, games and rides, including a Ferris wheel. At night, it becomes quite the party scene, so be sure to go early in the day to try to avoid rowdy crowds.
New York City Honey Fest 2012 – Rockaway
Rockaway Boardwalk Beach Club, Shore Front Parkway and Beach 96th Street
Saturday, September 15 11am-sundown
NYC Honey Week wraps up in sweet style on the boardwalk at Queens' Rockaway Beach. Festivities include beekeeping and honey extraction demos, and tastings from local honey makers and food purveyors. Kids can also work on a giant, collaborative honeybee mural.
Breukelen Country Fair – Canarsie
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, 5816 Clarendon Road near East 58th Street
Saturday, September 22 1-5pm
$5 for adults,$3 for children under age 10
Celebrate Brooklyn's farming history at this historic institution dedicated to early life in NYC. Enjoy live music, puppet shows, food cooked in a fire pit, freshly pressed apple cider and old-time crafts and games.
Queens County Fair – Floral Park
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Saturday, September 22-Sunday, September 23 11am-6pm
$8 for adults, $5 for children. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
NYC's only historic working farm, the Queens County Farm Museum, hosts this annual fair with blue ribbon competitions in livestock, produce, home crafts, arts and crafts, and more. Other old-fashioned fun includes pie-eating and corn-husking contests, pig races, hayrides, a petting zoo, carnival rides and a midway. For an additional fee, you can also get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze.
Edible Garden Festival – the Bronx
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard at Bronx Park Road
Sunday, September 23 10am-5pm
Free with All-Garden Pass: $25 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-12, free for kids under 2.
Celebrate the harvest of Mario Batali’s Kitchen Gardens in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Kids can decorate harvest bags or make paper chef hats, go on a scavenger hunt, watch cooking demos by garden staff and sample yummy snacks. For an additional $5 fee, families can attend a cooking workshop with Batali himself.
Autumn Moon Cultural Festival and Children Lantern Parade – Chinatown
Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Canal and Forsyth Streets
Sunday, September 23 11am-5pm
There are a number of Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon fests throughout the city this month, but this shindig, hosted by the Better Chinatown Society, sounds like one of the best. Families can enjoy cultural performances, arts and crafts, food vendors, and a children's lantern exhibit and parade in honor of the Chinese harvest season. Can't make this fest? The org is hosting the similar China Week Cultural Festival at the same spot on Sunday, September 30.
Brooklyn Book Festival – Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street between Court and Adams Streets
Sunday, September 23 10am-6pm
Attention bookworms: Meet more than 200 local authors at this annual lit fest. Kids will want to head to the Target Children's Area for readings by awesome kids' authors like Selina Alko (B is for Brooklyn) and Judith Viorst (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), plus cool activities like a Comics Quick Draw! competition and YA Jeopardy.
Dumbo Arts Festival – Dumbo
Various locations in Dumbo. Visit the website for details.
Friday, September 28-Sunday, September 30. Hours vary.
This massive, multiday festival takes over the funky neighborhood with visual arts, live performances and interactive activities for all ages. This year, the waterfront area will feature a slew of hands-on fun aimed at families courtesy of the Children's Museum of Arts, including a carousel-themed art project inspired by the magnificent Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. For more info about the kinds of fun you'll find here, read our in-depth post from last year's edition.
Maker Faire New York 2012 – Corona
New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street
Saturday, September 29 10am-7pm and Sunday, September 30 10am-6pm
In advance: $27.50 for adults, $12 for children ages 2-17, free for kids under 2. More at the door (price TBD). Various discount packages available on the website.
As you can probably tell from how often we write about it, Maker Faire is a true Mommy Poppins favorite. Founded in California, Maker Faire debuted in NYC in 2010, and my family and I have attended ever since (and we will again this year). The grounds of the New York Hall of Science explode with all kinds of inventions and creations, everything from knitting to robotics, circus to interactive sculptures, computers to crafts. My family and I found the Young Makers area particularly inspiring, with students from all over NYC showing off their cutting-edge projects. And of course everyone's awed by the life-size working replica of the Mouse Trap board game (pictured above). Check out our highlight reel from the debut fest, and then be sure to buy tickets for this year's edition.
Chile Pepper Fiesta – Prospect Heights
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern Parkway between Underhill and Washington Avenues
Saturday, September 29 11am-6pm
Free with admission: $15 for adults, free for children under 12.
While this fiery festival isn’t aimed specifically at kids, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions here. Kids can pot their own chile pepper to take home or enjoy entertainment like pepper juggling and fire swallowing. There will also be live music and dance, and lots of spicy grub.
National Estuaries Day Festival – Douglaston
Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Boulevard
Saturday, September 29 11am-3pm
Enjoy a canoe or kayak ride, a nature walk or one of the other special activities celebrating Alley Pond's local estuary Little Neck Bay.
Medieval Festival – Washington Heights
Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters, Margaret Corbin Circle, 190th Street and Fort Washington Avenue
Sunday, September 30 11:30am-6pm
If you missed the Renaissance Faire in upstate New York, don't fret: You'll find many of the same vendors and performers at this no-cost, one-day fest right here in NYC. Put on your best retro garb (velvet dresses, corsets and armor are favorites) and make like it's 1399 along the Hudson River. Watch knights joust and other pageantry of the era, catch live strolling musicians, dramatic minstrels and juggling jesters, browse the old-school wares and feast on turkey legs and fried dough.
Atlantic Antic – Brooklyn
Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and Fourth Avenue
Sunday, September 30 noon-6pm
The biggest street fair in Brooklyn boasts several stages of live music (R&B, jazz, rock, country, kids' bands, you name it) and literally hundreds of vendors. There's a whole block dedicated to kids' activities like pony rides, inflatables, face painting and balloon sculptures. Grown-ups will appreciate the eclectic selection of international eats, like grilled sardines, pulled pork, baklava and carnival favorites.Plus, as usual, the nearby New York Transit Museum is holding its annual Bus Festival in conjunction with the fest, where you can check out all kinds of retro rides.
Children’s Day – South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport, Fulton and South Streets
Sunday, September 30 noon-4 pm
We're still waiting for details about this annual favorite, which was rescheduled from its usual June date. In the past, Children's Day has brought a slew of kiddie activities and entertainment to the Seaport, including rockin' family bands, arts and crafts, and special appearances by Gordon and Elmo from Sesame Street. We're trying to find out what's in store for this year's edition, so check back for updates.
Autumn Moon Festival – Flushing
Queens Botanic Garden, 43-50 Main Street near Dahlia Avenue
Sunday, September 30 4-6pm
Free with admission: $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 3 and up, free for kids under 3
The New York Chinese Cultural Center hosts this Chinese harvest celebration, where families can enjoy moon cakes, arts and crafts, cultural performances and the bounty from the lovely Queens garden.
Life Size Mousetrap photo courtesy of lifesizemousetrap.org.
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- Free Dumbo Arts Festival: Children's Museum of the Arts Debuts Cool Hands-on Activities for NYC Kids
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