Martin Luther King Day Weekend with NYC Kids: Life-size Dinosaurs, BAMfamily Launch Party, MLK Celebrations January 19-21
Monday is Martin Luther King Day, which means your family is probably looking at a three-day weekend. Whether you choose to celebrate the civil rights leader's life, take a quick trip or spend quality time with your kids right here in NYC, we've got plenty of ideas about how to enjoy the holiday weekend. (And if you have to work on Monday, we also have a roundup of MLK Day camps.)
My family's plans include ice-skating at Citi Pond at Bryant Park and seeing the New Vic's new show Erth's Dinosaur Zoo. But there are lots of other cool activities over the weekend, like Central Park's Ice Festival at Belvedere Castle, the launch party for BAM's new family series and the International Motorcycle Show at the Javitz Center.
Those are just a few of the great things going on this Martin Luther King Day weekend. Read on for all of our picks and remember, you can find additional options in our Event Calendar. Have a great holiday weekend!
Martin Luther King Weekend Birthday Celebration – Crown Heights
The Brooklyn Children's Museum celebrates MLK with interactive activities that explore his contributions to our society. Young visitors can add their wishes to the big birthday cake of dreams on Saturday and Sunday, or create a peace-themed craft. On Monday, school-age children can learn about Dr. King and make an art project inspired by his work. Free with admission: $9
Erth's Dinosaur Zoo – Midtown West
My seven-year-old son and I are psyched to see this brand-new show at the New Victory Theater. Extinct creatures rule the stage during this hour-long spectacle, in which reptile wranglers introduce families to a parade of puppet dinosaurs, and explain how they eat, play and live (or, you know, not). After the show, kids get a 30-minute dino meet and greet. $14-$38
Pippi – Upper West Side
Central Park's Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre revives its hit show based on the classic Pippi Longstocking tales. Like all of the troupe's productions, Pippi features handmade marionettes and a new twist on a familiar story. A great experience for young or first-time theatergoers. Saturday and Sunday only. $8 for adults, $5 for children under 12.
The Little Moon Theater – Chelsea
TADA! Youth Theater debuts its latest musical performed by local youngsters ages 8 to 18. The show sounds like a revue of greatest TADA hits, as a traveling troupe of actors comes across a variety of offbeat characters. $8-$20
International Motorcycle Show – Midtown West
A wide array of awesome motorcycles are racing into the Javitz Center this weekend. Check out the latest models by Harley-Davidson, Honda and Kawasaki, along with vintage and custom wheels. Kids will love the Strider Adventure Zone where they can hop on a bicycle and join in on the fun. Friday through Sunday only. $18 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-11, free for children under 12 on Sunday with paid adult admission.
Circus in a Trunk – Tribeca
The delightful clowns of the Piccolini Trio return for their third annual engagement at the Canal Park Playhouse. My family and I saw the show a few weekends back and we were charmed by their wacky antics and silly circus stunts as they attempt to put on an entire circus using just the contents of an old trunk. Lots of audience participation! Saturday and Sunday only. $20
Martin Luther King Day Weekend at the New-York Historical Society – Upper West Side
Head to the Children's History Museum at the New-York Historical Society for multiple ways to celebrate Dr. King and black history. Learn about 19th-century New Yorker James McCune Smith, the first African-American physician, during a DIY history scavenger hunt. Enjoy an MLK-themed story time on Sunday and on Monday, mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with author Tonya Bolden. All activities are free with admission: $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children ages 5-13
Family Art Project: Freedom Pillows – the Bronx
Draw inspiration from Dr. King's message and classic African-American quilts to fashion pillows with help from a professional artist. A wide assortment of cloth, yarn, felt and other items will be on hand for you to work with. Afterward, stay and explore the gorgeous garden grounds. Saturday and Sunday only. $8 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 and up, free to all until noon on Saturday.
Saturday, January 19
BAMfamily Launch Party: Down the Rabbit Hole – Fort Greene
Celebrate the launch of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's new family series with sketch comedy from the Story Pirates, Urban Stages’ interactive show Blown Away by Poetry, puppet and poetry workshops, face painting and a chance to win BAMfamily season tickets. Kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite storybook characters. FREE
Tim and the Space Cadets and Mario the Magician – Gowanus
The NYC-based kindie band and one of our favorite magicians team up at this album release party for Tim and the Space Cadets' first full-length album Anthems for Adventure. Expect tricks, tunes, temp tattoos, tap dancers and aerialists, and free copies of the CD for every child. In advance: $12, $40 for a family four-pack; at the door: $15 or $50 respectively.
Bronx Winterfest – Norwood
Kick off the winter season with sports clinics, fitness demos, outdoor games and live entertainment at the Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center. FREE
Ice Festival at Belvedere Castle – Upper East Side
Enjoy hot chocolate as artists from the Okamoto Studio carve Central Park's signature castle and its surrounding landscape out of ice, take tours with the Urban Park Rangers and make your own masterpieces out of play-dough. FREE
Future City Competition – Midtown East
Drop by the Sony building plaza to cheer on local middle schoolers participating in the 2013 National Engineers Week Future City Competition. Check out the students’ unique 3-D models of their dream cities and learn how they used the popular Sim City video game for inspiration. Afterward, head inside the Sony Wonder Technology Lab to play at a variety of high-tech hands-on stations. FREE
A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Jamaica
Queens' Children’s Library Discovery Center celebrates the civil rights icon with storyteller Joy Kelly Smith, who met Dr. King and Rosa Parks back in the day after becoming the first African-American student at her school. Kids can listen as she shares her story and then work on a craft project inspired by King's "I Have a Dream" speech. FREE
Family Films: Classic Tales Retold – Midtown West
Enjoy an hour-long program of international shorts featuring fresh takes on familiar stories at MoMA. The lineup includes A Little Girl and a Gunny Wolf, The Gingerbread Man and The Princess and the Pea. Afterward, stay and enjoy the museum at no additional cost. FREE but tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10am.
Sunday, January 20
Animals Illuminated Family Day – Upper East Side
Hit the Jewish Museum for an afternoon of artistic activities. Kids can create golden illustrations and animal crowns, learn calligraphy, go on DIY gallery hunts of the exhibit Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries, listen to the Caribbean-style tunes of Father Goose and more. Free with admission: $12 for adults, free for children under 12
Secret Agent Architect: Decoding the Architectural Shapes of the Museum – East Harlem
Further up Museum Mile, the Museum of the City of New York invites families to learn about its Colonial Revival building via a scavenger hunt. Afterward, kids create their own model. Reservations suggested. Free with suggested admission: $10 for adults, free for children under 13
Kids Club Thirteen Presents All Aboard with Thomas and Friends – the Bronx
Are you a member of Kids Club Thirteen? It certainly has its privileges, including free admission to 13 family events throughout the year, like today's offering at the New York Botanical Garden, where families enjoy no-cost admission, members-only activities and a discount to see the live performance All Aboard with Thomas and Friends. Read our post about Kids Club Thirteen for details on member benefits and how to join. Free for Kids Club Thirteen members.
Monday, January 21
Earlier this week we did a post about ways to mark Martin Luther King Day, including celebrations and kid-friendly volunteer opportunities. In addition to our roundup, there are a few non-MLK-related activities going on.
Make It/Take It! A Roving Hackerspace – Gowanus
One of our favorite NYC educational programs, Curious Jane, is hosting a day of girls-only drop-in workshops where little ladies can make cards, candy, hand pies and dumplings, dye fabric or even do some upcycling. $10 or $8 with a friend
Holiday Monday at the Met – Upper East Side
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open on the holiday and offering fun family programs for children ages 5 to 12 and their parents. Explore the works on display and then sketch and discuss. Free with suggested admission: $25 for adults, free for children under 12
Cool School Holiday – Staten Island
Spend the day playing at the Staten Island Children's Museum, which offers no-cost admission in honor of the holiday. FREE
Outside of NYC
If you're thinking about going out of town over the holiday, our Family Travel Guide is full of day and weekend trip ideas. Plus our Winter Fun Guide has info on the best nearby skiing and snow tubing spots. Don't worry if it doesn't snow, many of these resorts blow their own.
In New Jersey, families can celebrate Martin Luther King's life and legacy at the Newark Museum's family day, which marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The museum will stream President Barack Obama’s inauguration live and host a performance by the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club.
Don't forget: We have additional activity options in our Event Calendar.
- Martin Luther King Day 2012 with Kids: Celebrate in Connecticut
- Things to Do in Boston with Kids to Celebrate the Legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr
- This Week: Martin Luther King Day Celebrations and Volunteer Projects, Film Series for Kids, Family Skiing Near NYC
- Things to Do for Kids and Families on Long Island January 14 and 15: MLK commemorative events & Jack Hanna's Into the Wild