While lots of New York City's fantastic summer performance 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 hear the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera perform in Central Park, 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 is as hot as ever this summer with top family bands playing annual series like Mad. Sq. Kids and SummerStage Family Days. We’ve got the scoop on the coolest FREE music series in New York City's parks, playgrounds and plazas this season. For specific family concert picks, check out our roundups of the best bands playing in June, July and August. You can find even more family fun in our jam-packed Summer Guide.
Hudson RiverKids – Tribeca
Mondays, June 1-August 17 at 6:30pm
This evening family entertainment series features bands, puppet shows and sketch comedy just for kids. Come early to enjoy all that Pier 25 has to offer, including a state-of-the-art playground and a mini-golf course.
Summer Sandbox Music Series in Carl Schurz Park – Upper East Side
Tuesdays July 7-28 at 4pm
The lovely Upper East Side green space hosts four alfresco concerts for tots.
Music In the Grove: Kids – Fort Greene Park
Wednesdays, June 24-August 5 at 10am
Head to this lovely Brooklyn green space for gigs by beloved local bands. See the complete lineup. Afterward, discover all Fort Greene Park has to offer.
Hippo Playground Concert Series – Upper West Side
Wednesdays, July 8-29 at 4pm
Grab your tot and head to Riverside Park's beloved Hippo Playground for interactive bands perfect for the preschool set.
Albee Square Summer Concerts for Kids – Downtown Brooklyn
Thursdays, May 7, June 4, July 2, August 6, September 3 at 10am
The Fulton Mall’s public plaza hosts family-friendly performances throughout the summer, including kids' concerts on the first Thursday of every month. See the complete lineup.
Mad. Sq. Kids' Concert Series – Madison Square Park
Thursdays, May 28-July 30 at 10:30am
One of NYC's best known kids' concert series celebrates its 13th anniversary this year, and as usual the lineup is packed with some of the best family rock bands around. See the complete lineup. After the show, hit the park's popular playground for active fun and art projects, and then eat at one of the area's delicious kid-friendly restaurants—there are a lot of other choices besides Shake Shack.
Washington Market Park Summer Concert Series – Tribeca
Thursdays, June 18 and 25 at 5:30pm
The Tribeca tot spot hosts a pair of local family bands: country-bluegrass outfit Astrograss on June 18 and DJ Kai Song on June 25.
Summer in the Square – Kids in the Square – Union Square Park
Thursdays, June 18-August 13; yoga at 10am, performances at 11am
Warm up with a yoga storytime session courtesy of Karma Kids Yoga. Afterward, enjoy a variety of live family entertainment, including bands, puppet shows and theater. In the afternoon, there's often storytime and fitness fun, too. Peruse our listing for the complete lineup. In between activities, kids can romp in the awesome Union Square Playground.
Summer on the Hudson: Children's Performance Series – Riverside Park South
Thursdays, July 2-30 at 10:30am
While the Summer on the Hudson arts and culture festival is filled with offerings for all ages, its Thursday morning Children's Performance Series at Pier I at 70th Street is aimed specifically at young kids. See the complete lineup.
Word for Word Kids – Midtown West
Saturdays, June 6-August 22 at noon except July 4
While this series in Bryant Park leans more toward lit (the kickoff event stars Ms. Frizzle & The Magic School Bus), it features magic, theater and music, too. See the complete lineup. Afterward, go for a spin on the carousel.
Hip Tot Family Days – Prospect Park
Sundays, June 14, July 12, August 9 and September 13 at 11am
The NYC parents behind the Hip Tot Music Fest mount a series of no-cost concerts at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. See the complete lineup. After the concert, enjoy storytime, and arts and crafts.
Pier Kids – Brooklyn Heights
Sundays, June 21-August 9 at 11am
Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1 performance series is a mash-up of theater, kid lit, science and music. See the complete lineup. In addition to the main event, every session includes crafts, an outdoor pop-up reading room and art activities run by Private Picassos.
Central Park Family Performance Festival – Upper West Side
Sundays, June 21-September 6 at noon
Head to the Great Hill for an eclectic lineup of dance, theater, storytelling and, occasionally, music. Shows are usually interactive and include nature-themed crafts. See the complete lineup.
SummerStage Family Days – Citywide
Sundays, June 21 and 28, July 5, 12 and 19, August 2 and 9
Various locations and times
While much of SummerStage is technically for adults, the citywide fest sponsors Family Days in every borough. All of these events feature roaming performers, face painting and giveaways in addition to the main entertainment. See the complete lineup.
More Cool Family Concerts
SummerStage Kids – Citywide
Various dates and locations
In addition to three-hour Family Days, SummerStage presents shorter kids' concerts and circus shows all over the city throughout the season. Check the lineup for the complete schedule.
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, peruse our Summer Fun Guide.