Free Outdoor Kids' Summer Music Concert Series in New York City Parks
While lots of New York City's fantastic summer music series are kid appropriate, children know when an event isn't aimed directly at them. So while we totally encourage you to bring your preschoolers to see Philip Glass at the River to River Festival, make sure you take them to a few outdoor concerts just for them, too.
Happily, that's easy to do in this town. NYC's kiddie music scene seems to get bigger every year. In fact, this season, there are almost as many free concert series aimed at kids as there are at adults!
We’ve got the scoop on the coolest under(play)ground concerts in New York City. So grab the blanket, score a good spot and enjoy the tunes, weather permitting.
Madison Square Kids – Madison Square Park
Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 12-August 9 at 10:30am
One of NYC's best known kids' concert series celebrates its tenth anniversary this summer, and as usual the lineup is packed with the best family rock bands around. The season kicks off on Tuesday, June 12 with popular local group AudraRox. Other notable acts include The Deedle Deedle Dees (Thursday, June 14), Shine & the Moonbeams (Thursday, June 28), David Weinstone and the Music for Aardvarks Band (Thursday, July 12), Recess Monkey (Thursday, July 26) and Princess Katie & Racer Steve (Thursday, August 2). It's definitely worth browsing the complete schedule to see if your family's favorite band is playing. After the show, hit the popular playground and then eat at one of the area's delicious kid-friendly restaurants. There are a lot of other choices besides Shake Shack.
Summer in the Square Festival – Kids in the Square – Union Square Park
Thursdays, June 14-August 9; yoga at 10am, concerts at noon
Warm up before the concert with a 10am Mommy & Me Yoga session courtesy of Bija Kids. This year's lineup includes Baby Loves Disco (Thursdays, June 14 and July 19), Hot Peas 'N Butter (Thursday, June 21) and Suzi Shelton (Thursday, June 28), plus performances by off Broadway shows like Voca People (Thursday, June 21) and Traces (Thursday, July 19). Spend the rest of the afternoon in the Union Square Playground. If you're still around at 6pm, you can enjoy free dance lessons courtesy of Peridance.
Sandbox Music – Central Park
Wednesday-Friday, July 11-August 17 at 11am
This kids' music series takes place in various playgrounds throughout Central Park. Children can drum along with the musicians from the Central Park Brass quintet. The Central Park Conservancy hosts three other kids' culture series as part of its Sandbox Program: Sandbox Dance July 9-August 14 on Mondays and Tuesdays at 11am, where kids can dance along to Michael Wimberley's live African djembe drumming. Sandbox Stories, spirited tales performed by awesome storyteller Dan Kitorsser July 30-August 16 Monday through Thursday at 2pm. And new this year: Sandbox Puppets, interactive performances by WonderSpark Puppets July 9-July 26 Monday through Thursday at 2pm.
Children's Performance Series – Riverside Park South
Thursdays, July 12-August 16 10:30-11:30am
Head to Pier I at 70th Street to see an eclectic lineup of family entertainment. There's theater like Thaddeus Rex (Thursday, August 2), a puppet performance by the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre (Thursday, August 16) and bands like Baze and His Silly Friends (Thursday, July 12), Bash the Trash (Thursday, July 19), Erin Lee & the Up Past Bedtime Band (Thursday, July 26) and The Funkey Monkeys (Thursday, August 9).
Carroll Park Concert Series – Carroll Gardens
Saturdays, June 23, August 25 and September 29, and Wednesday, July 18 2-5pm
The popular Brooklyn park hosts four free summer concerts starring big names on the little kid music scene: Karen K and the Jitterbugs (Saturday, June 23), Astrograss (Wednesday, July 18), Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (Saturday, August 25) and The Deedle Deedle Dees (Saturday, September 29). This year, bands from nearby public middle schools will be the opening acts.
Washington Market Park Summer Concert Series – Tribeca
Thursdays, June 14-July 19 at 6pm
The Tribeca tot spot hosts four cool kids' concerts: Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could (Thursday, June 14), Princess Katie & Racer Steve (Thursday, June 21), Astrograss (Thursday, July 12) and the Pop Ups (Thursday, July 19). In case of rain, the show still goes on at the nearby Downtown Community Center (120 Warren Street).
Music In The Grove Kids – Fort Greene Park
Wednesdays, June 20-August 15 at 10am
Head to this lovely Brooklyn green space for gigs by beloved local bands like AudraRox (Wednesday, June 20), Suzi Shelton (Wednesday, July 18), Astrograss (Wednesday, July 25), Moey's Music Party (Wednesday, August 8) and Rolie Polie Guacamole (Wednesday, August 15). Be sure to browse the complete schedule as other bands are playing.
Albee Square Summer Concerts for Kids – Downtown Brooklyn
Second and fourth Thursdays through August 31 at 10am
The Fulton Mall’s public plaza hosts bimonthly concerts on the square. The lineup includes Dog on Fleas (Thursday, June 28), Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz (Thursday, July 12) and the Fuzzy Lemons (Thursday, August 9).
SummerStage Family Days – Citywide
Various dates and locations. See below.
While much of SummerStage is technically for adults, the citywide fest sponsors Family Days in every borough except Staten Island. Brooklyn Family Day (June 10) features FELA Queens, The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and DJ Stormin' Norman. Bronx Family Day (Saturday, June 30) features a Little Club Heads dance party, the Red Trouser Show and the Bindlestiffs' Hell on Wheel Unicycle Club. Central Park’s Family Day (Sunday, July 8) stars Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players and performances by the New York Chinese Cultural Center and The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Marcus Garvey Park's Family Day at (Sunday, August 12) includes a Jazz for Young People concert, the Double Dutch Dreamz and live DJ Bobbito Garcia. Queens Family Day (Sunday, July 29) features singer Randolph Matthews, LuckyBob's Magic Juggling Comedy and a dance party by Little Club Heads.
SummerStage Kids – Citywide
June 7-August 22
SummerStage also offers an awesome lineup of kids' entertainment at various city parks throughout the season. In fact, there are so many incredible performances, it's hard to choose highlights! But the ones we're really looking forward to include CityParks PuppetMobile's show Bessie’s Big Shot, singer Robbi K, traditional Chilean music from Andes Manta, physical comedy by Parallel Exit, acts by the Zany Umbrella Circus Company and kindie band Recess Monkey. You'll definitely want to scan the full calendar.
We've been in touch with Jam on Dumbo and details about this summer's concerts are still being finalized. We do know that this season's events won't take place under the archway. Stay tuned for info on the new location and upcoming dates.
There are also many one-off concerts throughout the summer, so be sure to check our Event Calendar to see who's playing.
For more seasonal happenings, check out our Summer Fun Guide.