12 Spring Festivals, Fairs and Carnivals for NYC Families April 2013
Along with the mild weather comes a fresh crop of outdoor festivals, street fairs and carnivals, big annual favorites like two of our April Go List picks, the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival, as well as smaller community happenings.
These spring fests are a great way to entertain your family for just a few bucks—sometimes even for FREE. And the activities are really diverse: Introduce the kids to old-fashioned games, celebrate planet Earth, chow down on homemade treats or watch live performances by kiddie bands, puppet troupes and more. Plus, these events aren't just fun, they foster community by bringing folks together to support a school, playground, cultural institution or common cause.
Festival season doesn't kick off until this weekend but you can start planning right now. Here are 12 awesome events to put in your April calendar.
Scotland Run & Festival – Upper West Side
Saturday, April 6 8am-noon
Mineral Springs Pavilion in Central Park West, mid-park at 69th Street
Soak up Scottish culture at this annual shindig. After the 10K Scotland Run, the fest offers live Scottish hip-hop, céilidh dancers, a Scotland-themed photo booth and more.
Prospect Heights Craft Fair – Prospect Heights
Saturday, April 13 11am-6pm
P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Ave between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue
Filled with independent artists from Brooklyn and beyond, this fair is actually more of an artisan market with handcrafted clothing, jewelry, metal and wood items, and kids' gear for sale. Kids aren't into shopping? No problem. There will be a bunch of fun activities for children, including storytime, live music, short films, crafts and even drop-off childcare for a mere $5, so you can browse and buy in peace. Proceeds support the hardworking kids at P.S. 9.
Children’s Carnival – Glen Oaks
Saturday, April 13-Sunday April 14 and Saturday April 20-Sunday April 21 11am-6pm
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway
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, a magic show and lots of kiddie rides. Bonus: Unlike most carnivals, all rides are included with the cost of admission.
Cherry Blossom Festival – East Harlem
Saturday, April 20 10am-noon
Randall's Island Urban Farm
The activity-packed Randall's Island is hosting its first-ever Sakura Hanami celebration. In addition to checking out the isle's collection of cherry blossoms, families can enjoy demos and tastings of cherry blossom tea, spring-themed arts and crafts, and other fun.
St. George Day 2013 – Staten Island
Saturday, April 20 noon-8pm
Tompkinsville Park, Bay Street and Victory Boulevard
There are a ton of things going on at this annual community festival celebrating the arts and the earth. Local artists sell their wares and run workshops, live performances include a huge variety of music and dance, storytelling, poetry and prose at an open mic, and a giant community swap. 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 of the day is the 35-foot puppet dragon parade. Kids can join in too! The shindig is an quick walk from the Staten Island's St. George Ferry Terminal.
Spring Fling- A Colonial Celebration to Welcome Springtime – East Flatbush
Saturday, April 20 2-6pm
The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, 5816 Clarendon Road near Ralph Avenue
$5 for adults, $3 for children
Celebrate the season at this Colonial fair with period dancing, storytelling and games. Learn how colonists spruced up their home for spring, sample Dutch treats and tour the oldest home in New York City.
Earth Day New York 2013 – Midtown East & Union Square
Saturday April 20-Monday, April 22 10am-6pm inside Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal
Sunday, April 21 in Union Square Park 11am-6pm
With Earth Day approaching (the official date is Monday, April 22), there are tons of events celebrating this big blue marble we all call home. Grand Central Terminal is throwing its annual shindig, with educational displays from eco-friendly companies along with activities for kids inside Vanderbilt Hall. But the outside portion on Sunday in Union Square is where the real action is, as the green space is transformed into a giant eco-fair with live music, green goods and educational activities.
Earth Day Celebration – Dumbo
Sunday, April 21 10am-1pm
Empire-Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Although parts of the gorgeous Brooklyn Bridge Park are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, the green space's conservancy is launching its spring family programming with this fest, featuring live music, kids activities, arts and crafts, and other as-yet-to-be-determined attractions.
5th Avenue Family Festival – Park Slope
Saturday, April 27 11am-3pm
4th Street and Fifth Avenue
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.
An annual neighborhood favorite! Enjoy live family bands, face painting, carnival games, bouncy houses and other kid-centric fun at this fest presented by Puppetry Arts. The first 200 kids to arrive snag free goody bags.
Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair & Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day – Tribeca
Saturday, April 27 10am-6pm
Greenwich Street between Chambers and Hubert Streets and North Moore Street between Greenwich and West Streets
One of the most popular festivals in town, this amazing (but very crowded!) family favorite features block after block of local organizations offering all sorts of fun stuff for kids, like face painting, arts and crafts, contests, games, bouncy houses, performances and more. There's also tons of entertainment, like performances by Broadway's Annie and Wicked, stilt walkers, magicians and popular kiddie bands. Along the route, you'll find one block set aside for ESPN Sports Day, with games, demos, and appearances by pro athletes and sports teams. No other street fair quite compares to this one!
Street Games – East Harlem
Saturday, April 27 11am-3pm
Thomas Jefferson Park, 114th Street and First Avenue
Last year we wrote an entire post about this annual fest dedicated to the kinds of analog amusements we grew up with back in the '60s and '70s. Leave your iPads and iPhones at home and encourage the kids to try out classics like pogo sticks, hula hoops, yo-yos, hippity hops and double-dutch jump rope. In addition, there will be an old-fashioned soap box derby race, a Radio Disney deejay, performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem, skateboard clinics with the Uptown Skate School and soccer clinics with major league soccer's Red Bulls.
Sakura Matsuri 2013/Cherry Blossom Festival – Prospect Heights
Saturday, April 27-Sunday, April 28 10am-6pm
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Avenue at President Street
$20 for adults, children under 12 free
This amazing, extremely popular two-day festival gives visitors a chance to immerse themselves in all aspects of Japanese culture alongside the blooming cherry trees. In addition to the stunning flowers, there are a bunch of activities on tap, including Taiko drumming performances, Japanese pop bands, art and flower arranging workshops, Samurai swords, martial arts, tea ceremonies, cooking demos and, new this year, manga drawing, origami, crafts, magic and drumming workshops for kids. Plus lots of revelers come dressed in their best anime-inspired outfits. Avoid waiting on a long line to enter by buying tickets in advance.