Greenwich Village

Christmas Tree Lightings in New York City This Holiday Season

You don't have to brave the Rockefeller Center commotion to witness a fabulous Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

We've rounded up some tree lightings that are much less crowded and every bit as hip, from Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx and everywhere in between. These community holiday celebrations are festive and (mostly) FREE, and there’s no need to stand on your car to glimpse the goings-on. So grab that cup of hot chocolate and cozy up to one of these holiday illuminations in New York City. Find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, which means we're all absolutely smitten with Halloween parades. While families with older kids may dare to take in the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded, loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

Best Free Halloween Events for Kids in New York City

What's the one way to make a costume-and-candy filled Halloween celebration even sweeter? Make it FREE. In New York City there are so many no-cost fetes, we've decided to give parents a real treat: a roundup of FREE Halloween events for kids in all five boroughs, including big annual family favorites like Fort Greene's BAMboo! block party, the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park and the one-night-only theatrical spectacle at Brooklyn's Halloween 313 house.

So bring your trick-or-treat bags, but leave your wallets at home for these gratis happenings, and then check out our Halloween Fun Guide for details on the best costume parades, trick-or-treat spots, and other seasonal activities.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, ride a pony or meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Guide for the best of the season.

Pete the Cat Comes to Life in Free Off-Broadway Musical

Kids love music. And most of them love Pete the Cat. And pretty much every parent adores any FREE city activities. So my family was very excited to see the skateboard-riding, guitar-playing feline from the popular picture books come to life onstage in this year’s show by Theatreworks USA as part of its FREE summer series.

The 45-minute musical, recommended for ages 5-8, is nonstop action, with lively singing and dancing throughout, and plenty of funny jokes and scenes guaranteed to make kids laugh.

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. After clarifying that we were talking about shelter from the sun's rays, not sketchy parks, they came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

A Dozen Baby and Me Music Classes Around NYC

Music classes are often the first "mommy and me" experience parents try, so it's no coincidence such classes are offered all over the city. When you're ready to get out and spend some time jamming with other adults and their wee ones, check out one of these 12 baby music classes in Manhattan and beyond.

We also have roundups of parent and child classes in Queens and music classes in Brooklyn. As always, you can find even more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Fashion Classes for NYC Kids

Buying clothing is fun, but nothing beats making your own outfits and accessories. And since New York City is the fashion capital of the world, there are lots of kids' classes where budding designers can learn how to sew, embroider, knit, weave, and crochet.

While tweens and teens can go all in with advanced programs that often include runway shows, younger kids can also get in on the fashion fun by trying less complicated projects, like making tote bags and scarves, and decorating clothing with paint, no-sew appliques, and sparkly embellishments. So for all of the aspiring Vera Wangs out there, here are the best fashion classes for kids in NYC.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Best Summer Theater and Shows for NYC Kids (Free Options Too!)

New York City's family theater scene is hotter than a heat wave. Some people might think the dog days of summer are a cultural wasteland and that all the cool openings won't start again until fall, but that's not the case when it comes to the stage.

There are shows for all ages, interests, and budgets throughout the season, including a FREE page-to-stage adaptation of the Pete the Cat picture books, family-friendly outdoor Shakespeare, the launch of new kid-friendly matinees for a long-running Harry Potter parody, and a rare revival of the musical Really Rosie based on Maurice Sendak stories. Best of all, many of our picks cost less than $25 per ticket, and four are 100 percent FREE! Plus, we found discount codes for the pricier ones.

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