April GoList: Best Things To Do with NYC Kids

Sakura Matsuri, Easter Parade, Children's Carnival, and More for NYC Kids in April

Spring festivities are kicking into high gear, so get your calendars ready! We've rounded up the best things to do in New York City with kids in April—many of them FREE.

Families can finally enjoy many outdoor celebrations. Don't miss the annual Children’s Carnival at the Queens County Farm Museum, the spectacular Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet FestivalBrick Fest Live at NYSCI, Street Games in East Harlem, and Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn and more bloom sightings.

If you're looking for a few more indoor activities (because this Northeast weather is very unpredictable in April), there are a number of exciting children's theater openings this spring, including The Little Red Fish and Geniuses, as well as the monthlong Big Umbrella Festival for children on the autism spectrum and their families. If you're looking for major literary cred, head to Pen World Voices Festival, with kid-friendly events scattered throughout.

For more outing ideas, peruse our Event Calendar and our Spring Guide.

As always, if an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including addresses and times. And keep in mind: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often book up quickly, so buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds.

Celebrate Easter at the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival in Manhattan. Photo by Gille E via Flickr

Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival Midtown East
Sunday, April 1
This is one of our favorite celebrations of the year. Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th streets closes to traffic and opens to revelers in beautiful bonnets, snappy hats, and jaw-dropping headdresses. Show off your craziest hat or just come and take photos. Check out last year's video of some of the most creative hats and revelers. Truly a must-do event, which is why we list it on our top 100 things to do with your kids in NYC. FREE

Air Play — Midtown West
Friday, March 30–Sunday, April 15
A show about airflow? Yes, really! This wordless production at The New Victory Theater is part circus show and part comedy, with a dash of physics thrown in. Watch as this married pair of clowns, the Acrobuffos, perform with silks, umbrellas, balloons, and more things that float and otherwise make mischievous with the air around us. The director has worked on Big Apple Circus and Cirque du Soleil shows! Tickets are selling out fast.

Brooklyn Folk Festival — Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Friday, April 6-Sunday April 8
Jalopy Theatre and School of Music bring us the annual Brooklyn Folk Festival. This three-day music fest includes dozens of bands, dance performances, author readers, sing-alongs, and more. Don't miss Sunday's parade, led by a jug band, that culminates with the "Banjo Toss” banjo throwing competition arena, which children are encouraged to join. Children 5 and under are FREE.

Enjoy the Children's Carnival on a real working farm at The Queens County Farm Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

Children’s Carnival — Floral Park, Queens
Saturday, April 7-Sunday, April 8, and Saturday, April 14-Sunday, April 15
Families love the Queens County Farm Museum, a real, historic working farm with crops in the fields and all sorts of animals that kids can feed. While the agricultural spot hosts plenty of great events throughout the year, the two-weekend-long Children's Carnival is definitely a favorite. It's a huge, old-time affair with an authentic midway, complete with kiddie rides, games, and family entertainment. The best part? Unlimited carnival rides are included with admission, although additional fees apply for some other activities such as the petting zoo and pony rides.

Brick Fest Live – Corona Park, Queens​
Saturday, April 7-Sunday, April 8 
This mega-builder's festival returns with Legos galore. There are enormous Lego models, tons of hands-on fun, a DIY race car derby, glow-in-the-dark options, and even a Lego sandbox for full immersive play. Included with museum admission

The Little Red Fish — Midtown West
Saturday, April 7-Sunday, April 29
Little theatergoers follow Jeje as he searches out his pet fish who disappeared into a book! This puppet show adventure is based on a popular picture book of the same name by Taeeun Yoo. It's brought to the New York City Children's Theater stage along with Puppet Kitchen, the same team who helped craft the popular Very Hungry Caterpillar show. It runs just 50 minutes, making it great for toddlers and up.

RELATED: 50 Things to Do on a NYC Spring Staycation with Kids

See your favorite comic book characters at Big Apple Comic Con. Photo courtesy of the event

Big Apple Comic Con — Midtown
Saturday, April 14-Sunday, April 15
Dozens of independent and up-and-coming comics creators and small publishers display their work at NYC's longest-running comic book/sci-fi/fantasy/horror/pop culture convention. Have a graphic novel fan on your hands? Go for the superhero sightings, autograph ops, merch, and amazing cosplay efforts. Kids under 5 are FREE

The Big Umbrella Festival offers a variety of programs and activities for children on the autism spectrum and their families. Photo by Jessica Wyld

Big Umbrella Festival — Lincoln Center
Saturday, April 14- Sunday, May 6
While this arts festival for children on the autism spectrum and their families begins April 14 with a relaxed concert, there are loads more of events throughout the month, including some terrific immersive theater. Check out all the offerings, including storytimes, films, concerts, games, and even a ballet workshop and jazz lessons.

Create your own poem on the Poetry Wall at the Spring Family Fair at the Morgan. Photo courtesy of the museum

Spring Family Fair at the Morgan — Midtown East
Sunday, April 15
Art and literature go hand-in-hand at the Morgan Library and Museum. This annual event invites families to explore the museum's historic library, create original poetry on its family poetry wall, enjoy creative arts and crafts, and explore the museum's exhibits, such as Tennessee Williams: No Refuge But Writing, and its ancient texts and art from Egypt to the Medieval period. Considering the Morgan is a decidedly grown-up museum, these family fairs are the best time to visit with tykes. Included with museum admission

Pen World Voices Festival — Tribeca
Monday, April 16-Sunday, April 22
While the literary festival isn't geared specifically toward children, there are lots of kid-friendly moments. We're especially excited for Make Some Noise, as the editor of Kazoo, a new, award-winning print magazine for girls ages 5 to 10, hosts a writing/layout session; the Freestyle Rap Workshop, where hip-hop poet Toni Blackman leads attendees in freestyle rap; and an afternoon of family art-making activities featuring Angel Otero’s abstract paintings. Many events are FREE, but require advance registration or tickets.

RELATED: Best Things to Do with NYC Toddlers and Preschoolers This Spring

Learn ways to help the environment at the National Grid Earth Day Celebration in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of the event

10th Annual National Grid Earth Day Celebration — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, April 21
This annual festival welcomes families with a day of activities designed to promote environmental awareness and to highlight ways of creating a more sustainable planet. Festivities include performers, arts and crafts, live music, face painting, and more. This year, the festival moves from Flatbush to the historic Weeksville Heritage Center campus in Crown Heights. FREE

Find more Earth Day celebrations by searching for the holiday in our Event Calendar.

St. George Day — Staten Island
Sunday, April 22
Celebrate Earth Day and the arts on Staten Island at this annual fest, which takes place near the ferry terminal. There's a ton of fun on tap, including local artists selling their wares and leading workshops, live music and dance performances, storytelling, and poetry. There's also an Earth Day Zone full of eco info, an entire area dedicated 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 is the 35-foot puppet dragon parade with fairies and more. FREE

Geniuses — Chelsea
Saturday, April 28-Sunday, May 20
This TADA! Youth Theater musical follows two kids who infiltrate an elite private school and are able to do something incredible despite not being among those chosen to attend. The NYC-relatable theme will keep school-age theatergoers engaged, as will the lyrics (and book) written by celebrated children's book author Jon Agee (Terrific, Milo's Hat Trick, Little Santa). The tunes are catchy and the story line non-preachy. 

RELATED: Parks & Playgrounds Guide for NYC Kids

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Photo courtesy of BBG

Sakura Matsuri/Cherry Blossom Festival — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, April 28-Sunday, April 29
Celebrate spring and Japanese culture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's popular annual fest, which is set in and around its beautiful blooming Cherry Esplanade. The lineup includes Taiko drumming performances, Samurai swords, flower arranging workshops, martial art displays, Japanese pop bands, tea ceremonies, and cooking demos. Kid-specific activities include manga drawing, origami, crafts, magic, and drumming workshops. Plus, revelers come dressed in their best anime-inspired outfits, and there's even a cosplay fashion show. Although the fest usually doesn't sell out, lines often snake around the block so arrive early. FREE for children younger than 12.

It's old-school derby racing and more at the Street Games in Thomas Jefferson Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney/courtesy of NYC Parks .

Street Games — East Harlem
Saturday, April 28
Time to get old-school. Now in its 10th year, this annual fest in Thomas Jefferson Park is dedicated to the kinds of analog amusements we grew up with. Leave your iPads and iPhones at home and encourage the kids to try out classics such as pogo sticks, hula hoops, yo-yos, hippity hops, stickball, hopscotch, handball, skully, and Double Dutch. Also enjoy performances by hip-hop dancers, a yo-yo master and, as in years past, the Dance Theater of Harlem. FREE

Honorable Mentions

NYC always has so many amazing things going on, it's difficult to choose. So here are some more cool events worth considering for your April calendar.

Be one of the first to ride the Prospect Park Carousel, which opens for the season Saturday, April 7.

Get in on a New York City tradition on the roof of the Brooklyn Children's Museum with the Love Double Dutch Party on Saturday, April 7.

Celebrate all things video games as Gotham Gaming brings Geek Fest back to Brooklyn on Saturday, April 7.

Cheer on the adorable players marching in the Opening Day Little League Parade and follow-up with the Prospect Park Alliance Opening Day Fair on Saturday, April 7. FREE

Soak up Scottish culture during the annual Tartan Day Parade, featuring thousands of bagpipers marching up Sixth Avenue on Saturday, April 7. FREE

Don't miss Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's on Tuesday, April 10! FREE

Have a listen as literary-star Junot Diaz reads his first children's book, Islandborn, on Friday, April 13.

Catch preschool sensations Bubble Guppies as they host their first live show in NYC on Saturday, April 14-Sunday, April 15.

Doktor Kaboom returns  to the stage with his wacky science show on Sunday, April 15 in Queens.

Make some Ooey Gooey Oobleck at the New York Hall of Science on Sunday, April 15.

Take a journey through the five boroughs on a quest to save the world with the main characters of La Mama Kids: Don Quixote Saturday, April 21-Sunday, April 29.

Give it up for NYC's amazing trees at the Queens Botanical Garden's annual Arbor Festival on Sunday, April 29.

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