Many families flee the city in August for end-of-summer vacations, but it's actually one of my favorite months to be in NYC. With summer staples like swimming, play fountains, and Governors Island, plus hundreds of free summer activities and only-in-August favorites like Summer Streets and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, there's plenty to do if you stick around.
So we've rounded up a dozen FREE family-friendly festivals happening throughout the Big Apple in August to help you get the most out of NYC with kids during the last month of summer.
Be sure to click through to the listings for all the details, including times, locations and recommended ages.
Summer on the Hudson: Game Days — Harlem
Wednesday, August 1–Wednesday, August 29
This summer series of children's entertainment continues through August with active fun for the whole family. Games like giant tic tac toe, hopscotch, jump rope, and more will be available for lots of outdoor play. FREE
Sweet Spot Festival — Harlem
Saturday, August 4
Dance the afternoon away at this outdoor family party in West Harlem Piers Park. Enjoy the cool sounds of reggae, soulful house, disco, and Afro-Beat spun by top DJs. FREE
Kids Rule Weekend — The Bronx
Saturday, August 4–Sunday, August 5
Head to the beautiful campus of Lehman College for this all-weekend fest focused on kid-friendly fun. There will be performing arts to enjoy, bouncy houses to conquer, ponies to ride, arts and crafts to create, and more fun to be had. FREE
RELATED: Free Outdoor Movies for Families in NYC this Summer
The streets of Manhattan close down for the Summer Streets Festival.
Summer Streets — Upper East Side to Lower Manhattan
Saturdays August 4, 11, and 18
This uber popular annual favorite car-free festival shuts down miles of Park Avenue and Lafayette Street to traffic, allowing bikers, skaters and pedestrians alike to frolic in the streets. There will be multiple rest stops along the route with plenty of fun, free activities to enjoy—including a climbing wall and zip line. FREE
One Crown Heights Neighborhood Festival — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Sunday, August 5
Bring your family and friends to this neighborhood party in Brower Park with games, festival rides, arts and crafts, food, and live entertainment. FREE
International Day of Friendship — Downtown, Brooklyn
Sunday, August 5
Join Borough President Adams and delegations from around the world to celebrate our city's diversity, featuring a Unity Parade of flags, cultural performances, a global village, tasty food from around the world, giveaways, and kids' activities.
National Night Out — Citywide
Tuesday, August 7
Get to know the men and women of the NYPD who keep your neighborhoods safe at these locally organized events around city. Aside from the meet and greet, kids can enjoy face-painters, carnival games, food, music, and more. The Bronx location at 234th Street really steps it up, offering the Knightsbridge Arts and Music Festival as its local gathering. FREE
Watch the colorful boats race at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival — Flushing, Queens
Saturday, August 11–Sunday, August 12
Over two thrilling days, more than 200 dragon boat teams race across Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Other activities include a food court, Chinese music, folk arts and craft demos, and martial arts displays. Afterward, check out all of the fun Queens' largest green space has to offer, including a carousel, the New York Hall of Science, and the Queens Zoo. FREE
RELATED: 50 Free Things to Do with NYC Toddlers this Summer
Kids craft their own paper kites at the sweet Kite Flying Festival.
FlyNYC Kite Flying Festival — Upper West Side
Saturday, August 18
This cute kite-flying fest is best for young children. Head to Riverside Park South where the Parks Department staff helps kids craft their own paper kites, which they then launch right on the pier. There’s usually a good breeze, so the flyers take right off, and there's also live music all day. FREE
Harlem Week 2018 & Harlem Day — Harlem
Saturday, August 18–Sunday, August 19
Although this Harlem celebration runs for the entire month, this particular weekend focuses on family fun. On Saturday, enjoy Children's Day with games, arts and crafts, live music and dance performances, sports and recreation clinics, and a National Historic Black Colleges Fair. Sunday is Harlem Day with a focus on back-to-school activities, plus grown-up draws like the Upper Manhattan Auto Show and a healthy living expo. FREE
Kids get in on U.S. Open action by participating in Arthur Ashe Kids' Day.
Arthur Ashe Kids' Day — Flushing, Queens
Saturday, August 25
Kick off the U.S. Open at this annual family favorite at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Kids can enjoy tennis clinics, watch big-name pros practice, run obstacle courses, play games, and get their faces painted. FREE.
Imagine a future for our city that includes everyone's dreams at Dream! It's a Family Festival.
Dream! It's a Family Festival — Chelsea
Saturday, August 25
What will the future look like? Together, families will imagine a future for the city that includes everyone's dreams. This fest features story time, a musical performance, art workshops, a mobile garden, and more. FREE
Craving more entertainment? Find it in our Summer and Water Fun Guides or our jam-packed Events Calendar.
A version of this story was published in 2017; it is updated yearly.