New York City Kids Weekend Events for September 11-13: Free Festivals Galore, Hudson Celebrations, Drinks for Mom and More
Summer may be over, but the events are not slowing down at all. In fact, it’s almost as if everyone waited for summer vacation to end and planned all these absurdly cool (and mostly free) events for this weekend. From celebrating Henry Hudson’s 400th anniversary, to county fairs, book festivals, motorcycle shows, films, and more fun on Governor’s Island (and you thought GI was done for the season…) there’s almost too much to do to fit it all into one weekend. Ease everyone's transition back-to-school by picking your favorite events and then heading out—there’s no time to waste!
Don't forget we have more weekend activities in our event calendar and separate round-ups for Long Island and New Jersey on those pages. Or sign up to get our new Long Island and New Jersey newsletters.
Remembering Henry Hudson
Sat, Sept 12 at 1PM
Riverside Park (at 83rd St)
There are so many events going on to celebrate Mr. Hudson’s famous voyage this weekend, but this one is educational while being pretty damn adorable. In the afternoon, kids can make model boats to “sail” on the playground’s replica of the Hudson River, and at 1:30, there’s a guided walk about the famous trip.
Cupcake Kids Family Fun Event
Sat, Sept 12 at 10AM
Stand (24 E 12th St)
In honor of Cupcake Kids second birthday and the start of the new school year, they are throwing a party complete with hands-on cooking, crafts and lots of giveaways. Kids will make their own pancakes and yogurt parfaits, while parents can enjoy coffee and tea. And yes, it’s totally free.
New Island Festival
Fri, Sept 11; Sat, Sept 12; Sun, Sept 13 11AM-11PM
Lots of free events, some you need the $35 pass for
The New Island Festival makes all of Governors Island the stage for the Dutch, American, and other international artists who will use the waterfront promenade, historic homes, barracks and open green spaces to re-imagine this Island in the middle of New York Harbor. Performances will begin in the early afternoon and continue through the evening (this will be the first time Governors Island has been open at night). There is $35 passport that gets you into all the events, but the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, “the heart of the festival” is free (along with some other events; see website for details). Known locally in the Netherlands as the Parade, the Boulevard is the only traveling theatre and music festival in the world. Instead of placing the performance at the center, it creates a place where the audience is in the middle and performances surround them, competing for attention. This is the performers’ first trip to NYC.
NYC Shorts Festival: Kids Program
Sun, Sept 13 at 12PM
This Sunday, the 5th Annual NYC Shorts Festival becomes kid-centric, showcasing the best of the festival's children's shorts from the past five years, including Sleeping Betty, Rocketboy, Right Place and six others.
West Side Country Fair
Sun, Sept 13 at 1PM
Riverside Park (between 59th and 72nd Sts)
Enjoy a little country right here in Manhattan with carnival rides and games, music, square dancing, sideshow performers, a petting zoo, greenmarket and more. Visit the “Green Acre” environmental corner with hands-on activities for kids about environmental awareness, green living, and animal care.
Free Family Day at Sportime Randall’s Island
Sun, Sept 13 at Noon
Sportime on Randall’s Island
SPORTIME will host a free all-day family event with activities, games, giveaways, food and refreshments. There’s a tennis boot camp, fastest serve contest, king of the court contest and more. SPORTIME will also be providing free transportation to and from Randall's island, all in celebration of their brand-new facility.
Harmony on the Hudson
Sun, Sept 13 at 1PM
Battery Park City Waterfront
Part of the Harbor Day celebration, Harmony on the Hudson is a family event featuring live entertainment along the waterfront by popular musical and street performers, including Tom Chapin & Friends, the Funky Fritters, Princess Katie & Racer Steve, The David Roche Band, and the Double Dutch Divas.
Sat, Sept 12; Sun, Sept 13 at 1PM
Lefferts Historic House at Propsect Park
Come celebrate the 2009 harvest the same way Brooklynites did years ago. Help harvest, cook and eat the potatoes planted last May, and work the cider press and help cook tasty apple fritters.
Mommy Needs a Cocktail
Sun, Sept 13 from 4:30PM-7PM
Melt Restaurant (Park Slope)
$10 online, $15 at the door
Dad/Babysitter/Partner can take care of the kids for one night. Come and enjoy a free cocktail (or mocktail), win raffle prizes, get a professional photo taken, enjoy a free massage and network/mingle with other local moms. If you can’t make this one, don’t stress, MOMASPHERE is making this a bi-monthly event.
Brooklyn Book Festival
Sun, Sept 13 10AM-6PM
Borough Hall Plaza
This festival is going to be fabulous, and even with all the high-profile appearances and lectures, it is still completely free. The Target Children’s Area is providing day-long readings and literary activities for kids ages 2-9. Troupe performs classic children’s books, and there will be readings from Paul O. Zelinsky (Wheels on the Bus), Judi Barrett (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and just in time for the movie), and ten other events readings and events. The Youth Stoop is providing day-long literary activities for youth ages 10-18, including readings from student finalists in the “Brooklyn Next” Borough-wide writing contest, and panels on fantastical journeys, love and longing, high school and the paranormal and more.
Back to School Festival
Sat, Sept 12 at Noon
Little Bay Park
Beat the stress of returning to school with an afternoon of fun activities including games, rides, craft projects, and giveaways.
Antique Motorcycle Show
Sun, Sept 13 at 11AM
Queens County Farm
This show will include a display of various makes and models of motorcycles that have been out of production 10 years or more. Music, farmhouse tours, hayrides, petting zoo and food will keep everyone in the family happy.
Queens County Folk Festival
Sun, Sept 13 at Noon
Queens College Campus Quad
Round up family and friends, bring your chairs, and spend the day outdoors listening to the rich and varied sounds of the Queens music scene. It will feature an all-local lineup of musicians representing Queens’ various cultural and ethnic communities.
Richmond County Fair
Fri, Sept 11; Sat, Sept 12; Sun, Sept 13
Historic Richmond Town
$15/adults, Kids under 34” Free, Friday is free all day
Celebrating it’s the 30th anniversary, the Richmond County Fair is bigger than ever this year. Friday is free to everyone, with a free teen movie and DJ, a preview show of local bands, street and food vendors and amusement rides (they aren’t free, though). On Saturday & Sunday the fair is open from 11AM-9:30PM, and admission includes all the concerts, amusement rides, pig races, historical demonstrations, contests, meeting The Bernstain Bears, and fair games. There will also be food vendors, and tons of kid-friendly stage entertainment.
Birds of Prey Show
Sat, Sept 12; Sun, Sept 13 at 11:30, 1PM and 2:30PM
The Bronx Zoo
Free with admission
Bring the family for a fascinating experience with eagles, hawks, falcons, and vultures, as you watch these raptors of the wild soar and dive overhead. After “Nature’s Air Show,” visit the hariss’ hawk, saw-whet owl, augur buzzard, gyrfalcon, golden eagle and five more birds of prey up close.
- New York City Kids Weekend Events for September 18-20: Free Fall Festivals, Feasts, Harvests, and Fairs, Books, Chess and More
- September Fairs & Festivals for NJ Families
- Weekend Events for Kids on Long Island, September 11-13: End of Summer Festivals, Pet Expo, and More
- New York City Kids Weekend Events for August 7-9: Free Movies, Dragon Boat Festival, Yo-Yos, Music, Dance and More