Free & Fun Things to Do this Weekend with NYC Kids: World Science Festival, Frolic Music Fest, Howl!, Dan Zanes June 2-3
When we posted our roundup of June festivals and fairs earlier this week, we pointed out that a lot of our annual favorites take place this month. And guess what? A bunch of them are happening this weekend, and most of them are FREE. We wish we could clone ourselves so we could hit the World Science Festival's Ultimate Science Street Fair in Washington Square Park, the Howl! Fest's Great Howl Out Loud Carnival for Kids of All Ages! in Tompkins Square Park and the Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn in Park Slope's recently renovated J.J. Byrne Playground. Plus there's a brand-new fest to add to your list: Family Fun on the Williamsburg Pier & Frolic! Rock Fest, where you can say hi to the Mommy Poppins gang—we're media sponsors so we'll be there dancing to all of the great kindie bands.
Those are just a few of the great things going on this weekend. All of our best bets are below. You can find additional options in our Event Calendar and our Summer Fun Guide, which is jam-packed with info on NYC beaches, awesome water playgrounds and other ways to cool off.
Howl! Festival – East Village
Named after Beat poet Allen Ginsberg's iconic poem, this funky art fest takes place at various venues throughout the East Village. However, the main events for families are in Tompkins Square Park on the North Stage. On Saturday, enjoy the Great Howl Out Loud Carnival for Kids of All Ages! with games, storytelling, face painting, clowns, arts and crafts, miniature golf and entertainment provided by Rosie’s Theater Kids, Tap City and others. On Sunday, there will be kids' performances from 1-6pm. FREE
Saturday, June 2
Dan Zanes Concert – Flatiron
To celebrate his latest release—a whinsical line of dishware inspired by his music available at Fishs Eddy—the Grammy-winning kids' rocker will play a no-cost concert in the Flatiron store. FREE
Meet the Artist Saturdays: Mil's Trills – Upper West Side
Kids can make their own instruments with help from Children’s Museum of the Arts educators and then join in Mil's Trill's “Million Trillion” Marching Brass Band at Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium. FREE
Puppetry Arts Festival – Park Slope
Head to the Old Stone House (right next to the recently renovated J.J. Byrne Playground) for the Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn. Meet Noel MacNeal, the man behind Lionel the Lion from PBS Kids' Between the Lions, pose with Star Wars characters, hit the bouncy house, play games and catch puppet shows taking place every 30 minutes throughout the day. Free admission but there are fees for activities.
Local Produce in the Gardens – Park Slope
While not specifically aimed at kids, this celebration of Park Slope's community gardens is family-friendly, and features performances by Spoke the Hub Dancing and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Spend the day exploring three lovely local green spaces, and then head indoors in the evening for a swing dance party. FREE
Go With the Flow – Randall’s Island
The footbridge from East 103rd Street to Randall’s Island reopens today after a lengthy renovation, and the isle is throwing a family fete to celebrate. Cross the river to enjoy public art, nature activities, mariachi performances, soccer, tennis, and track and field events, and snacks. FREE
Science on Site: Explorations at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Dumbo and Downtown Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park gets in on the World Science Festival action with a bunch of hands-on science experiences for kids, like seining the river, a geological scavenger hunt, insect studies, sailing, stargazing and even an engineering lesson inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge. Nearby in downtown Brooklyn, families can explore Innovation Square featuring a robot petting zoo, video games, circuit bending performances and other geektastic fun. FREE
Stories at the Hans Christian Andersen Statue – Upper East Side
A new season of the long-running storytelling series kicks off today in Central Park. This weekend, kids can hear The Flax and Monkey King told by Diane Wolkstein and Jeff Greene. FREE
Amble: BBG June Jubilee – Prospect Heights
In honor of its brand-new Visitors' Center, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is offering free admission today along with a bunch of special activities like live music, gardening workshops, composting and planting for kids, tours and treats at the tea house. FREE
Swindler Cove Family Day – Inwood
Enjoy nature fun at this uptown spot in Sherman Creek Park. Kids can meet live animals, step into the Harlem River, hike up a 200-foot hill and take plants home. FREE
Bronx River Festival – the Bronx
More nature activities: Families can go on canoe trips, scavenger hunts and bike rides, and hear live music. FREE
Strawberry Festival – Jamaica
The fifth annual fest in Highland Park features inflatables, face painting, carnival games, crafts, bull riding, live music, tattoos, hay rides and lots of its namesake fruit. FREE
Sunday, June 3
Family Fun on the Williamsburg Pier & Frolic! Rock Fest – Williamsburg
Mommy Poppins is a media sponsor of this awesome celebration. Kids can hit the rides, eat some ice cream and rock out to Tim Kubart, AudraRox, Suzi Shelton and other kindie stars, while parents sip on adult beverages and barbecue. Free admission but there are fees for activities.
Ultimate Science Street Fair – Greenwich Village
One of my family's big annual favorites takes over Washington Square Park today. This amazing fest is the climactic event of the massive multiday World Science Festival and features tons of booths with hands-on science activities, crafts and experiments. There will also be live animal demos and a carnival-style Math Midway. Be sure to catch the shows by the traveling scientists from Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute; they're awesome and keep kids on the edge of their seats as they play with fire and homemade cannons. Get there early, it's super-crowded but totally worth it. FREE
Community Festival at the Glass Gardens – Murray Hill
With a petting zoo and pony rides, this is another fest we look forward to every year and we're really bummed it may be the last one. Sadly, the Glass Gardens at the Rusk Institute at NYU are scheduled to be demolished later this year. So now's the time to explore these lovely green spaces, including a Children's Garden. FREE
A Clearing in the Forest: Stories in Central Park – Upper West Side
Head to the Peter Jay Sharp Children's Glade to hear storyteller LuAnn Adams' intepretation of Why the Sky is Far Away and other eco-stories in honor of World Environmental Day. FREE
Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower – Staten Island
The beloved kids' crooner hits the Snug Harbor Cultural Center for an interactive concert of American folk tunes and original songs. FREE
Farm in the City Fair – East Village
This country fest for the preschool set features chickens and rabbits to pet, live music, a beekeeping exhibit, face painting, plus arts and crafts, storytelling and a bouncy castle at the 14th Street Y. In advance: $20 per family; at the door: $25.
Do your kids like dinosaurs? Then they'll love Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus, New Jersey, a brand-new attraction featuring more than 30 animatronic life-size dinos. We went last weekend and really enjoyed it. And it's just 9 minutes from Manhattan by New Jersey Transit.
Your kids are more into horses, you say? Then Apassionata: The Beginning is the show for you. This theatrical spectacle at NJ's Izod Center stars more than 40 beautiful horses performing amazing feats and stunts, sort of like an all-equine circus show.
Last weekend was a bust for strawberry picking. Many of the farms on my list reported that the berries weren’t ready when I called to inquire. We're hoping there's a bumper crop this weekend but it's important to call and confirm before you head out. Great spots include New Jersey's Sussex County Strawberry Farm and Connecticut’s March Farm. See all our pick-your-own recommendations in our Fun on the Farm Guide.
Don't forget: There's even more fun to be found in the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar.