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, including the annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert, featuring Los Lobos in 2018.
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 nearly two dozen cool concerts happening this June for NYC kids.
Click through to our listings for all the details, including time, location, and recommended ages.
City Stompers perform as part of the NYC Park free outdoor summer series. Photo courtesy of the band
Arts, Culture & Fun: Dance Away the Night with the City Stompers — Murray Hill
Saturday, June 2
Part of the NYC Parks free outdoor performance series across the city, this show by City Stompers brings Appalachian clogging to the Big Apple. All ages get to shake a leg to old-time fiddle and bluegrass music.
Spend a rockin' evening with the Jonny Hirsch Band. Photo courtesy of the band
Jonny Hirsch Band — Tribeca
Thursday, June 7
Head to Tribeca for a rockin' evening of tunes with the Jonny Hirsch Band. Hirsch and his band are a groovy combo of jazz, funk, and rock and appeal equally to both parents and kids. Host venue Washington Market Park's three shows this June (including Astrograss listed below) 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.
Fitzgerald Sam — Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Friday, June 8
The four-week-long Fab Friday Kids Concert Series moves to a new location this year: Crispus Attucks Playground. This week features the Congolese drums of Fitzgerald Sam of Brooklyn Music School. Dance to these West African beats for FREE.
Rolie Polie Guacamole Album Release Parties
Friday, June 8 in Manhattan and Sunday, June 10 in Brooklyn
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. Join Rolie's front-man Frank and his Dad Lou to celebrate the release of their new kindie supergroup album Sun is a Star. The Brooklyn show is also the kickoff of Rolie Polie Guacamole's annual JJ Byrne Park summer residency.
Esther Crow at Summer on the Hudson: Play Dates — Harlem
Saturday, June 9
Join this interactive show (part of a monthly series happening every second Saturday through August 11) with the eclectic Esther Crow and her crew of quirky puppet friends. A singer/songwriter, and the founder of Thunder & Sunshine—a NYC-based funky rock band for kids performing later this month—Crow hosts a bimonthly musical storytime at the Bank Street Bookstore, but also performs all over town.
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Los Lobos will perform in Prospect Park for the annual Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert. Photo by Jester Jay Goldman via Flickr
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert: Los Lobos — Prospect Park
Sunday, June 10
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival's annual FREE family concert in Prospect Park features celebrated Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos, whose breakthrough moment came in 1987 when their cover of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts, making it the first song in Spanish to do so.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park — Citywide
June 12-15, and Sunday, June 17
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 Snug Harbor Cultural Center And Botanical Garden. These shows are all outdoors and include fireworks except for the Staten Island show.
Little Rockers — Union Square
Thursday, June 14
Catch this free weekday concert for kids in Union Square as the neighborhood kicks off its annual Citi Summer in the Square slate of kid-friendly entertainment at 11am every Thursday through August 9th. Kids can even pick up an instrument and join the fun at this particular show.
Live at the Archway: Ljova — Dumbo, Brooklyn
Thursday, June 14
The music series Live at the Archway in Dumbo returns for summer Thursdays in 2018. While not just for kids, this free summer concert series is certainly all-ages appropriate. It comes with the popular "In The Gallery" project, where audience members can complete an art project with a local artist while listening or, in this case, watching performances. Live art will be led by Dumbo-artist Katie Hector, while Moscow-born Ljova and his band perform.
Scandinavian Music Festival: Children's Day — Inwood
Sunday, June 17
Now in its 14th year, NY Scandia Symphony serves Washington Heights and Inwood with three outdoor music programs in Fort Tryon Park. This special concert, an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Tinderbox, is created to captivate the imagination of children and the young at heart. Grab a blanket and enjoy the spectacular setting with the whole family.
RELATED: Family Festivals and Fairs This June in NYC
Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band puts on an interactive, all-ages show. Photo courtesy of the band
Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band at Hudson RiverKids — Chelsea and Tribeca
Monday, June 18 in Tribeca
Thursday, June 21 in Chelsea
Alex and the Kaleidoscope rock both dates for Hudson RiverKids, an ongoing summer series jam-packed with fab kids' entertainers. Held this year as usual at two locations, on Mondays at Chelsea's Pier 62 and on Thursdays at Tribeca's Pier 25.
Make Music New York — Citywide
Thursday, June 21
Mark the official first day of summer by hearing (or making) beautiful music. From morning to night on the longest day of the year, hundreds of no-cost concerts take place in public spaces like parks and plazas throughout the five boroughs. This year's schedule includes lots of kid-friendly shows like kids' entertainer Mr. Nickle at Apple Seeds on the Upper West Side and the Brooklyn Conservatory Suzuki students playing on Union St. and 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Brooklyn-based Astrograss has been serving up the best family-friendly bluegrass for years. Photo courtesy of the band
Thursday, June 21 at 11am in Union Square
Thursday, June 21 at 5:30pm in Tribeca
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. They play two shows on this special summer solstice day!
Anza's Spanish Singalong — Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Friday, June 22
This week's Fab Friday Kids Concert Series features Anza’s Spanish Sing-Along, a lively concert where the under-5 set get to dance and learn some Spanish, too.
Tim Kubart — Tribeca
Monday, June 25
Grove to the infectious, engaging music of Grammy-winner Tim Kubart in Hudson River Park.
Thunder & Sunshine — Union Square
Thursday, June 28
Thunder & Sunshine, a groovy kids band with a funky 1970s vibe performs tunes adults will love as much as their kids as part of the Citi Summer in the Square.
Live at the Archway: Grupo Rebolu — Dumbo, Brooklyn
Thursday, June 28
Join Live at the Archway in Dumbo for this art-fueled music session. Just try to sit still during the infectious rhythms laid out by Afro-Colombian music ensemble Grupo Rebolu. It all happens "under the archway," under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Tim Kubart — Chelsea
Thursday, June 28
Join Grammy-winner Tim Kubart for one of his highly interactive children's pop shows pre-bedtime in Hudson River Park.