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 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.
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 in different venues, 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.
Jonny Hirsch Band — Tribeca
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 3 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.
Rolie Polie Guacamole Album Release Parties
June 8 in Manhattan and 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.
RELATED: Family Festivals and Fairs This June in NYC
Esther Crow at Summer on the Hudson: Play Dates — Harlem
Friday, 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/song-writer, and the founder of Thunder & Sunshine–a NYC-based funky rock band for kids performing later this month–Crow hosts a bi-monthly musical story hour at the Bank Street Book Store, and performs all over town.
Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert: Los Lobos — Prospect Park
Sunday, June 10
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival's annual family concert 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, 13, 14, 15, and 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 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 in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn are followed by fireworks!
Scandinavian Music Festival 2018 — Inwood
Sunday, June 17
Now in its 14th year, NY Scandia Symphony serves Washington Heights and Inwood with free 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.
Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band at Hudson RiverKids — Chelsea and Tribeca
Monday, June 18 in Chelsea
Thursday, June 21 in Tribeca
Alex and the Kaleidoscope rock both dates for Hudson RiverKids–a 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, 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 concerts; see full schedule here.
Astrograss — Tribeca
Thursday, June 21
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.
Anza's Spanish Singalong — Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Friday, June 22
Putnam Triangle Plaza continues its four-week-long Fab Friday Kids Concert Series with Anza’s Spanish Sing-Along, a lively concert where the under five set get to dance and learn some Spanish too!
Thunder & Sunshine — Union Square
Thursday, June 28
Citi Summer in the Square returns with kid-friendly entertainment at 11am every Thursday through August 9th. Thunder & Sunshine, a groovy kids band with a funky 70's vibe performs tunes adults will love as much as their kids.
Live at the Archway: Grupo Rebolu — Dumbo, Brooklyn
Thursday, June 28
The music series Live at the Archway returns for 2018 and with it 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. On June 28, just try to sit still during the infectious rhythms laid out by Afro Colombian music ensemble Grupo Rebolu. To top it off–it's all happening under the Brooklyn Bridge.