Midtown East

Circus Arts Classes for NYC Kids: Learn Acrobatics, Juggling

My daughter was just 18-months old when she saw her first circus show (Big Apple Circus, of course). We've gone back every year and by the time she was in preschool, she was begging me to show her how to hula hoop, juggle and clown around. Except for the acting like a clown part, I am seriously circus-skill challenged. But there are lots of cool circus programs in NYC that are happy to teach aspiring acrobats and budding Bozos the tricks of the trade.

While we already have a post on trapeze classes for kids, the programs spotlighted here train children in a wide variety of circus skills, not just the aerial arts. Similar to theater courses, circus arts classes can help kids build their confidence, spark their creativity and get a great physical workout. Not sure how your kid would take to a circus class? A lot of these programs offer drop-in sessions so you don't have to make a long-term commitment. On the acrobatic flip side, if your kid is obsessed with circus, many of them offer semester-long courses and awesome summer camps, too. Here are 11 circus classes for kids in New York City.

You can find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Trapeze Classes for NYC Kids: Where to Study Circus Arts

Some kids are content to sit and watch others fly gracefully above their heads. And then there are the ones who crave the adrenaline rush and, let's face it, the coolness of being able to say nonchalantly, "Yeah, I've totally been on a trapeze before."

If you've got one of those young thrill-seekers at home, it may be time to consider aerial arts classes. Flying trapeze isn't the only way to swoosh through the air. At these five circus spots, kids can learn how to defy gravity on silks, ropes, the lyra (aka aerial hoop) and more, all on safe equipment under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.

Summer Streets 2016: Car-Free Fun for NYC Kids

For the ninth year in a row, New York City is hosting Summer Streets on three consecutive Saturdays. On August 6, 13 and 20 from 7am to 1pm, the Department of Transportation closes Lafayette Street and Park Avenue to motor vehicles from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street so people can enjoy cycling, scootering, skateboarding or strolling. Plus, there's lots of entertainment and attractions along the way.

My family and I look forward to Summer Streets every year, and we always make sure to attend at least one of the Saturdays. We're big urban bike riders, so we really make the most of the long, safe, car-less route.

7 Free Outdoor Art Exhibits to See in NYC This Spring

New York City's parks and plazas are brimming with a new crop of kid-friendly public art installations just in time for springtime neighborhood walks.

These seven eye-popping statues are larger than life. There are gigantic glowing bunnies at Brookfield Place and a massive recreation of a DNA molecule in Marcus Garvey Park. You'll also find a 30-foot swimming pool propped up on its side in Rockefeller Center; a 25-foot-tall spinning, neon sign in Brooklyn Bridge Park; a pair of towering orchids at the entrance to Central Park; and an awe-inspiring, 30-foot-tall aluminum humanoid on the Park Avenue Mall. 

Visit these gigantic pieces one by one or link a couple together for a fun family outing, perhaps over the upcoming NYC public school April break. The best part of these seasonal art installations is that they all can be spotted in parks or other public places, so you can view them at your convenience and for FREE.  

The Best Children's Theater in NYC This Spring

Beloved children's characters spring to life on stage this season. Our top theater picks for the coming months include musicals starring popular little-kid icons such as Curious George, Peppa Pig, Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Runaway Bunny. But there are plenty of cool shows for tweens, too, including an interactive adventure staged throughout Lincoln Center's grounds, a trio of offbeat circus performances and a revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown starring theater pros who are still in middle school.

While there are some big Broadway shows debuting this spring, including a musicalization of Tuck Everlasting and Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Main Stem spectacle Paramour, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. A dozen of the 14 shows we're highlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.

Best Events for Preschoolers in NYC This Spring

We've rounded up 14 of the city's best spring events for the preschooler and toddler set just as we near the end (we hope) of sub-zero temps and snow! We've included buzzy shows like Peppa Pig Live!, mellow but lovely performances like Curious George: The Golden Meatball, the always blow-your-socks-off Sakura Matsuri spring festival, a preschooler-friendly ballet and much more happening in April and May 2016 for New York City's younger kids.

Even more family springtime entertainment ideas can be found in our 2016 GoList, March GoList and our Event Calendar

See the Totally Revamped Nintendo NYC Store in Midtown

After witnessing several big-name kid stores shutter Midtown locations, we were happy to learn that Nintendo NYC took a different approach. The gaming paradise overhauled its flagship Rockefeller Center location over the last month, reopening on Friday, February 19 with lots of fun new interactive features, ensuring its place on our list of favorite indoor places to play for years to come. 

The two-story, 10,000-square-foot Rockefeller shop also displayed a new name, going from Nintendo World to Nintendo New York, or Nintendo NYC for short. We visited on opening weekend (despite the epic lines!), and it's definitely a spot to add to the NYC must-visit list for gamers and nostalgia fans. Read on for the details like a 15-foot gaming screen, a display of Game Boys from years past and even a sneak peek at the latest Zelda.

New Vikings Exhibit in Times Square Puts Focus on Family Life

Most of us, when we think of the Vikings, imagine a horned skullcap and stormy shores. We imagine swashbucklers with swords plundering nearby nations. After all, isn't that what TV and the movies want us what to think?

But while the signature skullcap can be found on fun goodies in the gift shop, Discovery Times Square’s new Vikings exhibit—organized with the Swedish History Museum and MuseumPartners Austria—goes out of its way to debunk stereotypes, introducing the ancient culture as one of farming and family, where art and textiles were explored and trade was the major reason for travel, not a bloodthirsty need for empire expansion.

Manhattan's Most Captivating, Twinkly Holiday Displays

Manhattan's impressive Christmas trees and department store windows aren't the only things decked out at this time of year. All across New York City, corporate buildings, public parks and outdoor plazas display eye-catching holiday exhibits, offering a perfect family diversion during holiday shopping or even as a fun seasonal destination. 

We've rounded five of the city's best 2015 displays from glowing indoor lanterns in Battery Park to giant, flashing stars on the Upper West Side that you won't want to miss. Even better? These spectacular installations are put on in public spaces, meaning it is FREE holiday fun with the kids.

Midnight Mass with NYC Kids: Family-Friendly Christmas Eve Services

We've already shared festive ways to celebrate Christmas Eve with kids in New York City with you, but we know many families are looking for a more formal way to celebrate the season while praying for peace on earth and good will toward men.

While lots of NYC churches host kid-friendly religious services and pageants during the afternoon on December 24, you could also consider attending an authentic midnight mass with your family featuring the traditional Christmas Eve liturgy and caroling. We've found five Manhattan churches that welcome visitors to midnight mass with kids in tow—yes, even babies and toddlers (we're sure; we checked!). You don't need to be a regular parishioner to attend and they're not as jam-packed as St. Patrick's Cathedral, although arriving early is still recommended.

However you decide to spend Christmas Eve, we hope you find comfort and joy in the company of family and friends.

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