Best Family Festivals and Street Fairs in NYC This May

May 2018 Spring Events in NYC: Governors Island, Irish Dance, Kite Flying, and Food
Fly a kite at the waterfront festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Alexa Hoyer for the park

There are street fairs—and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is knowing which is which, but don't worry, we've taken the guesswork out of it for you.

We've gone through the city's list of top annual festivals, street fairs, and carnivals and put together our roundup of top picks for May—more than two dozen. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are some awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And remember, FREE festivals tend to get crowded fast, so arrive as early as possible to try to avoid the crowds.

Urban Wildlife Festival – Washington Heights
Saturday, May 5
Head to this FREE festival and get up close and personal with owls, hawks, porcupines, tortoises, and other critters. Learn about their traits and behaviors from New York state licensed rehabilitators and don't miss the other activities like relay races, animal-themed arts and crafts, and live music.

Lift Off: A Waterfront Kite Festival – Brooklyn Bridge Park
Saturday, May, 5
Have an outdoor adventure with the family and reinforce S.T.E.A.M. concepts at the same time. Kids get to learn all about the science of flight through kite-flying and experiments. Don't forget the camera; there are sure to be some awesome photo ops. FREE; kites will be available for purchase.

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The street closes down for the Calhoun Carnival. Photo courtesy of the school

Calhoun Carnival – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 5
Enjoy carnival rides, bouncy houses, games, arts and crafts, and other kiddie fun at this annual school fundraiser. FREE admission, but there are fees for certain activities.

Spring Fair – Morningside Heights
Saturday, May 5
Best for the preschool set, the Columbia Greenhouse Nursery School's benefit features a petting zoo, pony rides, carnival games, and craft projects. There will also be a rummage sale with gently-used kids' gear. Rain date: Sunday, May 6. FREE admission but there are fees for certain activities.

PS 84 International Spring Fair – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 5
Head to the Sol Bloom Playground (adjacent to the schoolyard) to enjoy a day of springtime fun at this annual school festival. FREE admission but there are fees for certain activities.

Hippo Playground Spring Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 6
An Upper West Side tradition for more than 30 years, this annual benefit promises pony rides, a petting zoo, maze, bouncy castle, and arts and crafts. FREE admission but there are fees for certain activities.

Children's Day Festival: Kodomo no Hi. Photo courtesy of the Japan Society

Children's Day Festival: Kodomo no Hi – Midtown East
Sunday, May, 6
The Japan Children's Day fest for families boasts the interactive "Peach Boy" show, an all-women Samurai sword demonstration, and character candy-making workshops.

Irish Dance Festival – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 6
Watch as professional Irish dancers from NYC and beyond hit the stage, and then give it a go yourself at a movement workshop. Other activities include a singing circle and Gaelic classes. FREE

Court Street "Brooklyn" Festival – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Sunday, May 6
Hit up this neighborhood fete for children's rides, 200 vendors, and live entertainment. FREE admission but there are fees for certain activities.

PS 267 Spring Fling – Upper East Side
Sunday, May 6
This school benefit promises bouncy houses, rides, carnival games, arts and crafts, snacks, and more family fun. Free admission but there are fees for activities.

NYC Holi Hai on Governors Island will put a smile on your face. Photo courtesy of Governors Island

Queens Spring FairCorona, Queens
Thursday, May 10-Sunday, May 20
This family-friendly event features midway rides and games, classic fair food, and sideshow acts under the big top.

NYC Holi Hai – Governors Island
Saturday, May 12
Celebrate the coming of spring and the diversity of our city by joining in this colorful fest near the ball fields. A special kids area engages youngsters in the action, which celebrates love and togetherness.

LIC Springs Block Party – Long Island City, Queens
Saturday, May 12
Celebrate the change of season in one of the borough's most family-friendly neighborhoods with this lively street fest. Expect live music and dance performances, sports and games for the kids, tons of pop-up activities sponsored by local businesses, and plenty of tasty food to nosh on, too.

Greek Heritage Festival – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 12
The parishioners of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church transform West 91st Street into a Greek "plaka," or central plaza, and serve plenty of community. There are tours of the church sanctuary and the streets outside are filled with kid-friendly entertainment, dance demonstrations, and the smells of traditional Greek eats.

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Kids can literally climb on the trucks at the Touch-a-Truck fair and school fundraiser—every kid's dream. Photo by Dan Janzen.

Touch-a-Truck – Park Slope, Brooklyn
Saturday, May 12
Head to PS 295 to explore all sorts of vehicles like dump trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances, and tow trucks. Buy a treat from one of Brooklyn's famous food trucks, enjoy arts and crafts, and hit the bounce house. All proceeds support the elementary school.

Kids Food Fest – Financial District
Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13
Through fun, hands-on activities kids get empowered to become more involved in their own meal planning and learn to make better food choices (or at least that's the dream!) at this family-friendly fest. FREE except for the cooking workshops.

Dance Parade New York & DanceFest – Flatiron & East Village
Saturday, May 19
Watch as 10,000 movers and shakers make their way down Broadway doing more than 75 dances, including salsa, tango, waltz, African, Asian, the hula, break dancing, and more. If you want to participate, you must register in advance to join a group. The procession ends in Tompkins Square Park with an after-party featuring choreographed performances, workshops, and lots of dancing. FREE

Essex Street Market's Block Party – Lower East Side
Saturday, May 19
Celebrate the Essex Street Market's last year in its current location—with this food-fueled street party. Vendors promise to bring their grills, pushcarts, and picnic tables street-side for some good, old-fashioned grilling and chilling. There will be live music, face painting, temporary tattoos, and balloons for kids. FREE, but there are fees for food.

The National Museum of the American Indian celebrates the opening of a new activity center for kids this spring. Photo courtesy the museum 

Annual Children's Festival: Celebrating imagiNATIONS! – Financial District
Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20
This not-to-be-missed opening celebration of the new imagiNATIONS Activity Center debuting at the National Museum of the American Indian showcases the ingenuity of the Indigenous cultures of the Americas and includes loads of interactive events.

Ninth Avenue International Food Festival – Midtown West
Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20
Try international cuisines from Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Thailand, and more. There will also be children's games, and activities, and a stage with global music and dance performances. Festival is FREE, but there are fees for food.

24th Annual Fleece Festival: Wild and Wooly Weekend – Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20
After a long winter, the sheep are ready to get their thick, wooly coats sheared. All weekend long, kids get to learn about farming and farm life and try their hand at felt-making. Plus, zoo volunteers and wool experts will be on-hand to answer any questions about wooly animals and their coats.

The Fabulous Fifth Avenue Street Fair – Park Slope, Brooklyn
Sunday, May 20
This hugely popular annual street fair will feature lots of music and dance performances, art, shopping, vintage cars, activities, and demos. Food and drink will be available from local eateries. This one gets super crowded, so try to check it out early to avoid the long lines for bouncy castles and food.

CMA Kids Fair – Hudson Square
Sunday, May 20
The Children's Museum of the Arts returns with its Kids Fair, a FREE outdoor block party. Kids can participate in art projects, bubble making, chalk drawings, interactive performances, and creative play. FYI: The museum is also hosting its Family Day Benefit inside the museum. Tickets for the event raise funds for museum art programs provided to kids in need, including children with disabilities and those living in transitional housing.

Memorial Day Fair – Sunnyside, Queens
Saturday, May 26
Kids can hit the sandpit, swoosh down the slide, or swing in the lovely members-only Sunnyside Gardens Park, which opens its gate to the public for this fair. Other attractions include a bouncy castle, an obstacle course, a kiddie nail salon, and more fun. FREE admission, but there are fees for certain activities.

Dance Africa Bazaar – Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Saturday, May 26-Monday, May 28
The streets around BAM are transformed into an African bazaar to honor the ongoing Dance Africa performances happening inside. More than 150 vendors will be on-hand to sell wares from Africa, the Caribbean, and beyond.

Mamapalooza – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 27
This annual fest features moms rocking out, reading poetry, doing comedy, and other types of family-friendly performances. There will also be kids' activities, vendors, and fitness demos. FREE

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Catch the ferry to Governors Island for a day of games, crafts, and other Memorial Day weekend fun.

Family Fun Fest – Governors Island
Sunday, May 27
Enjoy family-friendly performances by popular kid-approved bands and join the Children's Museum of the Arts for arts and crafts projects. National Park Service Rangers will be on-hand to answer your questions about the historic isle. Get your face painted and enjoy tons of other great games and activities. FREE except for the cost of the ferry.

World Science Festival NYC – Citywide
Tuesday May 29–Sunday, June 3
The 11th annual World Science Festival promises a week jam-packed with more than 70 events across the boroughs including discussions and debates, theatrical performances, films, town hall gatherings, fireside chats, hands-on experiments, and outdoor explorations.The schedule includes both FREE and ticketed events.

This article was first published in May 2010 but is updated annually.