Free outdoor music is one of the hallmarks of a great NYC summer...in our opinion anyway. Pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket, and soak up some no-cost culture in the form of New York City's top kindie bands as they play FREE concerts at some of the city's most beloved parks and playgrounds.
Of course there are so many performances that it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, energy, and schlep. That's why we've done the work for you. Read on for a dozen-plus cool concerts happening this June for NYC kids, and look out for our recommendations for the rest of the summer, coming soon!
Click through to our listings for all the details, including time, location and recommended ages.
Sbongiseni Duma — Flushing Meadows/Corona Park
Sunday, June 4
Part of the Carnegie Kids performances across the city in different venues, this show by Sibongiseni Duma brings the melodies and rhythms of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province to the New York Hall of Science. Kids can learn dance steps by following the band or make up their own.
RELATED: Family Festivals and Fairs This June in NYC
Tim and the Space Cadets at Mad. Sq. Kids — Flatiron
Thursday, June 8
NYC's best-known family concert series, Mad. Sq. Kids, spotlights NYC's top kindie bands in no-cost concerts every Thursday morning. This year the series opens with Tim and the Space Cadets, a crack outfit topped by Sprout star Tim Kubart. He's been gigging relentlessly around New York City for the past year to meet the high demand of his young audience. This probably isn't one to miss.
Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band at Hudson RiverKids — Chelsea and Tribeca
Monday, June 12 (Chelsea)
Thursday, June 15 (Tribeca)
Alex and the Kaleidoscope anchor these mid-month dates for the Hudson RiverKids series, now expanded to two locations, on Thursdays at Tribeca's Pier 25 and Mondays at Chelsea's Pier 62.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park — Citywide
June 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18
An ideal way to introduce kids to classical music: outside, no price, no reason to stay if you can't stay. Not to mention it's an intro by one of the best orchestras in the biz, each night playing a slightly different selection of classical hits in Prospect Park, Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Cunningham Park, and at the Sung Harbor Cultural Center And Botanical Garden. These shows are also on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in NYC. Bonus: The NY Phil's performances are followed by fireworks!
Rolie Polie Guacamole — Tribeca
Their name may be goofy, but Rolie Polie Guacamole is serious about making quality kids' music with whimsical, NYC-centric songs like "Don't Poop on Me Pigeon" and "Botanic Garden" that fuse folk, classic rock and ska. Host venue Washington Market Park might be the best place for a kids concert in the city: bands play in an ornate gazebo before a lush lawn of crazy kids.
Lisa Loeb and the Knights — Prospect Park
Saturday, June 17
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival's annual family concert pairs indie-to-kindie singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb with Brooklyn's own crack orchestra the Knights, who'll also perform an opening set devoted to Middle Eastern music.
Shira & Friends — Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, June 17
As part of the Music at Albee Square series near Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn, Shira & Friends packages the excellent musicianship of the Friends and bandleader Shira Kobren with Kobren's mini-crowd-pleasing skills as an educator.
Make Music New York — Citywide
Wednesday, June 21
Mark the official first day of summer by hearing (or making) beautiful music. From morning to night, hundreds of no-cost concerts take place in public spaces like parks and plazas throughout the five boroughs. This year's schedule includes a load of kids' concerts, including the Rock-a-Silly Band, Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats, and Hopalong Andrew.
Suzi Shelton at Music in the Grove: Kids — Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Wednesday, June 21
Fort Greene Park's summer kids' concert series schedule remains mostly TBA, but guitar-slinging kid favorite Suzi Shelton says she'll be there on Wednesday at 10:00 am, maybe as part of the above Make Music New York events, if not formally, then coincidentally. Afterward, explore all Fort Greene Park has to offer. If you can't get there today, catch the band during Union Square's Summer in the Square concert series on June 16.
Astrograss — Tribeca
Thursday, June 22
If there's another bluegrass band playing for kid audiences in New York, they probably aspire to be as good as Astrograss, longtime purveyors of sweet, fun songs done in the truly American genre invented wholesale by Bill Monroe. Go ahead and test them, parents: Shout a request for a rare Stanley Brothers tune, and the band will deliver.
Live at the Archway: Rising Choreographers — Dumbo, Brooklyn
Thursday, June 29
The music series Live at the Archway returns for 2017 with a new feature: each week, audience members can complete an art project with a local artist while listening or, in this case, watching performances. On June 29, two DJs spin music while White Wave Dance sings the body electric under Brooklyn Bridge.
Kids can't help but warm up to Moozika performances!
Moozika! — Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Friday, June 30
Putnam Triangle Plaza finishes off its four-week-long Fab Friday Kids Concert Series with a set by Moozika, both a music school for kids under five and, yes, a man dressed as a silly half-chicken, half-cow music machine.
Top photo: Suzi Shelton's catchy pop rock is fun for all. All photos and videos courtesy of the respective bands.