New York City's spring outdoor festival season kicks off this April with 10 fun and mostly FREE fairs, fetes and carnivals. Some annual Mommy Poppins favorites take place, including the 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival's annual family street fair, which has been renamed Tribeca On Location; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival; the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival; Staten Island's St. George Day celebration; and Street Games in East Harlem. We highlight those and a handful of smaller festivals worth putting on your radar.
These events aren't just fun, they also foster community spirit by bringing folks together for a common cause. Many include old-fashioned games, eco-activities, homemade treats and live performances. Here are 10 awesome NYC fairs, carnivals and festivals for families this April.
Click through to our listings for all the details, including address, time and recommended ages.
Take a twirl on a kiddie ride at the annual Children's Carnival in Queens. Photo courtesy the Queens County Farm Museum.
Children's Carnival – Floral Park, Queens
Saturday, April 9-Sunday, April 10 and Saturday, April 16-Sunday, April 17
If you've never visited the Queens County Farm Museum, this is the time to go. This historic working farm is a hit with kids year-round, but on these two consecutive April weekends it hosts a huge, old-time carnival complete with a midway, magic show and lots of kiddie rides. Bonus: Unlike some carnivals, all rides are included with the admission price; some other activities do cost extra.
Good Deeds Day – Herald Square
Sunday, April 10
Head to Herald Square for an international day of doing good and join volunteers for a "cause-agnostic" event, where there will be many ways to give back, from writing letters to the elderly to donating canned goods and clothes and more. Good Deeds Day is an international event; Herald Square is just one of thousands of spots where the do-gooders will take action on April 10.
The National Grid Earth Day Celebration – Flatbush
Sunday, April 17
Celebrate Earth Day a little early at this annual fest on the Great Artists Plaza outside the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. The afternoon features interactive storytelling, yoga workshops, puppet shows, live music and a slew of eco-activities.
RELATED: Spring Break Camps for NYC Kids This April
Earth Day New York takes over Union Square with educational activities and plenty of family entertainment. Photo by Cait Opperman/courtesy of the Earth Day Initiative.
Earth Day New York 2016 – Union Square
Sunday, April 17
Head to Union Square for this eco-fair with live music, green goods and educational activities. If you're looking for something to do on Earth Day itself, April 22, the group is sponsoring an Earth Day 5K, in which participants move from site to site, scavenger-hunt style, learning about green initiatives in the city.
The Tribeca Film Festival’s annual street fair hosts blocks of family fun like the opportunity to act like a star. Photo courtesy of the festival.
Tribeca On Location and Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day – Tribeca
Saturday, April 23
One of the most popular festivals in town, this amazing (but very crowded) family favorite features block after block of fun. Formerly known as the Tribeca Film Festival Family Street Fair, the festival, now in its 15th edition, has been re-named Tribeca On Location. The celebration takes fans behind the scenes to experience gaming, filmmaking, sports and more. The popular ESPN Sports Day also returns.
RELATED: Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC
Dragons soar overhead at the annual St. George Day festival on Staten Island. Photo courtesy of the festival.
St. George Day 2016 – Staten Island
Saturday, April 23
There are a ton of things going on at this annual community festival celebrating the arts and the Earth in Tompkinsville Park. Local artists sell their wares and run workshops, in addition to live performances, storytelling, poetry and prose. The Earth Day Zone is full of eco info, herbs for sale, composting demos and more. There's also an entire area devoted to kids with arts and crafts and a fanciful puppet show that recounts the St. George dragon-slaying legend with a less gruesome ending. The highlight is the interactive 35-foot puppet dragon parade. Best of all, the shindig is a quick walk from Staten Island's St. George Ferry Terminal so it's an easy journey from lower Manhattan.
Dumbo Family Festival – Dumbo
Saturday, April 23
Head to Brooklyn Bridge Park for a day-long celebration of spring. You'll be able to climb the newly-opened Dumbo Boulders, enter (or observe) the Dog Olympics and check out the new Environmental Education Center. There will be family-friendly performances, classic lawn games, glitter tattoos and more fun.
Arbor Festival – Flushing
Sunday, April 24
Free with admission, extra fees for some activities
In honor of Arbor Day, kids enjoy all kinds of nature fun at Queens Botanical Garden, including a petting zoo, pony rides, games and crafts, face painting, composting workshops, garden tours and live music. Bonus for grown-ups: a beer tent.
Street Games – East Harlem
Saturday, April 30
We're big fans of this annual fest dedicated to the analog amusements we grew up with in the '60s and '70s. Leave your tablets and smartphones at home and encourage the kids to try out classics, including pogo sticks, hula hoops, Yo-Yos, hippity hops and Double Dutch jump rope. There's even an old-fashioned soap box derby race, local DJs spinning tunes and performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem.
Park Slope Family Festival – Park Slope
Saturday, April 30
Free admission, fees for certain activities
This annual neighborhood favorite is organized by the creative folks at Puppetry Arts. Enjoy live family bands, bike spin art, carnival games, bouncy houses and other kid-centric fun.
The Sakuri Matsuri festival includes Taiko drumming and other Japanese arts performed alongside the blooms. Photo by Michael Ratliff/courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Sakura Matsuri 2016/Cherry Blossom Festival – Crown Heights
Saturday, April 30-Sunday, May 1
$25 for adults, $20 for children ages 12-17, free for children younger than 12
This fantastic, extremely popular two-day festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden gives visitors a chance to immerse themselves in all aspects of Japanese culture alongside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's blooming cherry trees. In addition to stunning flowers, there are plenty of activities, including Taiko drumming performances, art and flower arranging workshops, Samurai sword play, tea ceremonies, manga drawing, magic and drumming workshops for kids. Plus, a host of revelers come dressed in their best anime-inspired outfits and show them off in a cosplay fashion show. It's no wonder Sakura Matsuri is No. 52 on our list of 100 things to do with kids in NYC.
This post, originally published in April 2010, is updated annually.
Top image: Giant puppets float by at the St. George Day festival. Photo provided courtesy the event organizers.