Presidents Day weekend kicks off the weeklong February break for New York City public school kids (and a long weekend for many in preschool and daycare), and there's so much to do that we're (almost) wishing for a longer holiday! Five of our top February GoList picks take place this weekend, including the inaugural hands-on Play Fair consumer toy expo, Washington's Birthday Ball and a wide variety of science activities at the Intrepid and nature fun in NYC parks. The Lunar New Year festivities wrap up with the China Institute's fete in their new downtown location and the big parades in Chinatown, Sunset Park and Flushing. Plus, Sunday is Valentine's Day and we've rounded up lots of creative family activities around the city to honor the occasion. Or visit some of these DIY spots to craft handmade chocolate treats for your sweet, or stay in and make these adorable chocolate heart pops at home.
Got to get some work in next week? Try one of these midwinter break camps for last-minute openings.
These are just a few of the great things going on this Presidents Day weekend. All of our best bets are below. You can find lots of other options in our Event Calendar, our Winter Fun Guide and our list of 35 things to do over midwinter break.
Play Fair — Midtown West
From our February GoList. Nickelodeon, Lego and the folks behind the industry-only Toy Fair are hosting the first-ever Play Fair at the Jacob Javits Center. Meet beloved characters like the PAW Patrol, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob; build and race Lego cars and learn from Master Builders; gawk at the new Batmobile from the upcoming Batman v. Superman flick; catch live performances and author readings and play in a massive board game zone. The focus is on trying new toys, not buying them! Check out old favorites, new releases and even Play Fair exclusives you won't find anywhere else. Saturday and Sunday only.
Catch The Gumball Gang's last performance this weekend! Photo by Kaila M. Stokes/courtesy of the production.
The Gumball Gang: Crime-Solving Kids — Chelsea
There's still time to catch TADA! Youth Theater's latest show featuring local youngsters (including one of Mommy Poppins' own: Sonia's super talented son) as aspiring sleuths trying to solve the mystery of the missing masterpiece. Filled with comedic songs and lots of high jinks, this production is great for kids of all ages. This is closing weekend, with performances Friday-Monday.
Lunar New Year Parades and Festivals — Chinatown, Sunset Park and Flushing
The big parade is Sunday's pan-Asian spectacle through the streets of Chinatown followed by a multiculture fest in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park. Chinatown's parade is a festive and loud affair with thousands of spectators. For equally celebratory but somewhat quieter celebrations, hit Flushing's annual march on Saturday or Sunset Park's on Sunday. FREE
Sword Dance Festival — Manhattan and Brooklyn
Watch this all-women team of dancers display their mastery of the old English art form of sword play. NYC’s own Half Moon Sword troupe and many others perform in various Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. Saturday and Sunday only.
The three-day Ponycon in Brooklyn offers family concerts, crafts and a behind-the-scenes look at My Little Pony. Photo courtesy of Ponycon.
Ponycon 2016 — Park Slope
Friendship is magic at this three-day conference devoted to My Little Pony and its fans. While not specifically aimed at kids, the event in family-haven Park Slope includes a Family Zone featuring crafts, games, multiple live kiddie concerts, storytime, a costume contest and other My Little Pony fun for kids. You'll see cast members, costumes and other behind-the-scenes peeks. Older kids can try a family DIY sewing workshop to create (and take home) their own Plush Parasprite or take part in an artist-led Pony Drawing workshop.
Stir, sample and create at NY Botanical Garden's Culinary Weekend for kids. Photo courtesy of NYBG.
Culinary Kids Weekend — the Bronx
Celebrate the farm-to-table movement at the New York Botanical Garden's hands-on annual culinary fest for children. Enjoy cooking demos, tastings, activity stations, historical sing-alongs and workshops where kids prepare a healthy dish to take home.
Saturday, February 13
Family Valentine's Day Bash — Williamsburg
NYC's newest museum, and the only one dedicated to exploring food and drink, is hosting a Valentine's Day party for families. Get a pic snapped in the photo booth, create a food-themed holiday card, design a tote bag and enjoy doughnut decorating at the Museum of Food and Drink.
Elizabeth Mitchell in Concert — Upper West Side
Catch popular kiddie folkster Elizabeth Mitchell and her band, You Are My Flower, live at Symphony Space. Enjoy listening to her soft and sweet renditions of classics from Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley and The Velvet Underground.
Family Affair: New York I Love You — the Bronx
The Bronx Museum of the Arts invites families to celebrate Valentine's Day by exploring its current exhibit Martin Wong: Human Instamatic, followed by making some NYC-themed artwork using the exhibit as inspiration. FREE but pre-registration is required.
Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Monkey — Financial District
Catch a lion dance and kung fu demos outside the China Institute at no cost—a great way to celebrate Lunar New Year with young children who aren't ready for a big parade. For a more immersive experience, head inside for workshops on dumpling- and lantern-making, storytime, kid-friendly tours of the galleries and food. The lion dance outside and storytime are FREE; workshops require fees.
A little boy pets a Dalmatian puppy at AKC Meet the Breeds. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images/courtesy of AKC.
Meet the Breeds — Midtown West
Get up close to more than 100 canine breeds and learn about responsible dog ownership at this event presented in conjunction with the Westminster Dog Show, which hits Midtown this week.
Why not take in a romantic ice carving at the Central Park bandshell for V-Day? Photo courtesy of Central Park Conservatory.
Ice Festival — Central Park
Celebrate Valentine's Day at the Naumburg Bandshell as artists from the Okamoto Studio carve a 6,000-pound block of ice into a replica of the green space's famous "Romeo and Juliet" statue. Also on tap: Central Park trivia, an ice molding station and a silent disco at dusk where revelers wear headphones. FREE
See all Saturday events.
Sunday, February 14
Celebrate Valentine's Day at CMA — Hudson Square
Happy Valentine's Day! Mark the occasion with hands-on workshops at the Children's Museum of the Arts where kids can make embroidered pouches perfect for holding their valentines, special V-Day recordings, stop-motion animated cards and handcrafted "chocolates" at the Clay Bar. Free with paid admission.
See all Sunday events.
Monday, February 15
The Big Quiz Thing’s Presidents Day Family Trivia Spectacular — Upper West Side
Another February GoList pick: Enjoy a POTUS-themed family quiz competition at the New-York Historical Society this election year. Test your knowledge of past, present and possible future presidents via questions and video and audio puzzles. All in attendance get to play and vie for prizes. Afterward, stick around and explore the Dimenna Children's History Museum and other Historical Society exhibits, including Superheroes in Gotham which closes later this month.
Kids Week at NYC Parks — Citywide
Yet another February GoList pick: Urban Park Rangers will lead enriching and educational programs at nature centers in all five boroughs throughout the week beginning with Presidents Day. Locations and activities vary so check our event listing for details. FREE
Kids Week at the Intrepid includes geeky demonstrations, exhibits and hands-on fun. Photo by Erika Kapin/courtesy of the venue.
Kids Week at the Intrepid — Midtown West
More from our February GoList: The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's weeklong vacation celebration kicks off today. Explore this year's theme, Extreme Environments, with geeky demos by Mad Science and The Franklin Institute; high-tech workshops and talks; live birds of prey; author readings and fun hands-on activities like making Rube Goldberg machines. Activities are free with admission and you can snag FREE tickets with this coupon.
Teddy Bears for Teddy Roosevelt — East Harlem
Mark Presidents Day by learning more about the nation's 26th president and NYC-born Theodore Roosevelt. Learn about his friendship with social reformer Jacob Riis at the Museum of the City of New York's latest exhibit and find out why Roosevelt was the inspiration for the teddy bear. Plus make your own toy bear, too. Free with paid admission.
Staten Island Children’s Museum Cool School Holiday — Staten Island
If you've always wanted to check out this tot spot, go today. The museum is offering no-cost admission in honor of the holiday. FREE
See all Monday events.
Don’t forget: There are lots of other options in our Event Calendar.
Top image courtesy of Ponycon.