Best NYC Family Festivals and Street Fairs This May

May 2017: Governors Island, Ninth Ave Food Fest, Hippo Spring Fair

There are street fairs and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is knowing which is which, but don't worry, we've taken the guesswork out of it for you.

We've gone through the city's list of festivals, street fairs, and carnivals for the month of May and put together our roundup of top picks. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are 20 awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And remember, FREE festivals tend to get crowded fast, so arrive as early as possible to try to avoid the crowds.

Cherry Blossom Festival – Randall's Island
Saturday, May 6
In addition to checking out the beautiful blooms, families can enjoy drumming performances, face painting, spring-themed arts, crafts, and enjoy other seasonal fun. FREE

NYC Holi Hai – Governors Island
Sunday, May 6
On the island's opening weekend, celebrate the coming of spring and the diversity of our city by joining in this colorful fest near the ball fields. A special kids area engages youngsters in the action, which celebrates love and togetherness.

LIC Springs Block Party – Long Island City, Queens
Saturday, May 6
Celebrate the change of season in one of the borough's most family-friendly neighborhoods with this lively street fest. Expect live music and dance performances, sports and games for the kids, tons of pop-up activities sponsored by local businesses, and plenty of tasty food to nosh on, too.

Greek Heritage Festival – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 6
The parishioners of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church transform West 91st Street into a Greek "plaka," or central plaza, and serve plenty of community. There are tours of the church sanctuary and the streets outside are filled with the smells of traditional Greek eats, kid-friendly entertainment, and dance demonstrations.

Calhoun Carnival – Upper West Side
Saturday, May 6
Enjoy carnival rides, bouncy houses, games, arts and crafts, and other kiddie fun at this annual school fundraiser. Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.

Spring Fair – Morningside Heights
Saturday, May 6
Best for the preschool set, the Columbia Greenhouse Nursery School's benefit features a petting zoo, pony rides, carnival games, and craft projects. There will also be a rummage sale with gently-used kids' gear. Rain date: Sunday, May 7. Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.

PS 84 International Spring Fair– Upper West Side
Saturday, May 6
Head to the Sol Bloom Playground (adjacent to the schoolyard) to enjoy a day of springtime fun at this annual school festival. Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.

RELATED: 7 Free Outdoor Art Exhibits to See This Spring in NYC

Hippo Playground Spring Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 7
An Upper West Side tradition for more than 30 years, this annual benefit promises pony rides, a petting zoo, maze, bouncy castle, and arts and crafts. Free admission, but there are fees for certain activities.

Irish Dance Festival – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 7
Watch as professional Irish dancers from NYC and beyond hit the stage, and then give it a go yourself at a movement workshop. Other activities include a singing circle and Gaelic classes. FREE

Court Street "Brooklyn" Festival – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Sunday, May 7
Hit this neighborhood fete for children's rides, 200 vendors, and live entertainment. Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.

PS 267 Spring Fling – Upper East Side
Sunday, May 7
This school benefit promises bouncy houses, rides, carnival games, arts and crafts, snacks, and more family fun. Free admission but there are fees for activities.

RELATED: Hidden NYC: 21 Fun Things to Do in Central Park Besides the Zoo


Kids can literally climb on the trucks at the Touch-a-Truck fair and school fundraiser—every kid's dream. Photo by Dan Janzen.

Touch-a-Truck – Park Slope, Brooklyn Saturday, May 13
Hit PS 295 to explore all sorts of vehicles like dump trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances, and tow trucks. Buy a treat from one of Brooklyn's famous food trucks, enjoy arts and crafts, and hit the bounce house. All proceeds support the elementary school.

Dance Parade New York & DanceFest – Flatiron & East Village
Saturday, May 20
Watch as 10,000 movers and shakers make their way down Broadway doing more than 75 dances, including salsa, tango, waltz, African, Asian, the hula, break dancing, and more. If you want to participate, you must register in advance and join a group. The procession ends in Tompkins Square Park with an after-party featuring choreographed performances, workshops, and lots of dancing. FREE

Essex Street Market's Block Party – Lower East Side
Saturday, May 20
Celebrate the Essex Street Market's 77th birthday—and its last year in its current location—with this food-fueled street party. Vendors promise to bring their grills, pushcarts, and picnic tables street-side for some good, old-fashioned grilling and chilling. There will be live music, face painting, temporary tattoos, and balloons for kids. FREE but there are fees for food.

Ninth Avenue International Food Festival – Midtown West
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
Try international cuisines from Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Thailand, and more. There will also be children's games, and activities, and a stage with global music and dance performances. Festival is free, but there are fees for foods.

CMA Kids Fair – Hudson Square
Sunday, May 21
The popular Children's Museum of the Arts returns with its Kids Fair, a FREE outdoor block party. Kids can participate in art projects, bubble making, chalk drawings, interactive performances, and creative play. There will also be carnival-staples like face painting and bouncy-house fun. If you want to step inside the museum, you'll have to purchase a special (and expensive) Family Day Benefit Ticket.

Memorial Day Fair – Sunnyside, Queens
Saturday, May 27
Kids can hit the sandpit, swoosh down the slide or swing in the lovely members-only Sunnyside Gardens Park, which opens its gate to the public for this fair. Other attractions include a bouncy castle, an obstacle course, a kiddie nail salon, and more fun. Rain date: Sunday, May 28. Free admission, but there are fees for certain activities.

Dance Africa Bazaar – Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Saturday, May 27-Monday, May 29
The streets around BAM are transformed into an African bazaar to honor the ongoing Dance Africa performances happening inside. More than 150 vendors will be on hand to sell wares from Africa, the Caribbean, and beyond.

Mamapalooza – Upper West Side
Sunday, May 28
This annual fest features moms rocking out, reading poetry, doing comedy, and other types of family-friendly performances. There will also be kids' activities, vendors, and fitness demos. FREE


Catch the ferry to Governors Island for a day of games, crafts, and other Memorial Day weekend fun.

Governors Island Family Fun Day – Governors Island
Sunday, May 28
Enjoy performances by Mario the Magician, Tim Kubart and the Space Cadets, and Story Pirates. Join the Children's Museum of the Arts for arts and crafts, make puppets with Lisa Abbatomarco, and take compost lessons from Earth Matter. National Park Service Rangers will answer your questions about the historic isle. Get your face painted and enjoy tons of other great games and activities. Free except for the cost of the ferry.

Find more great things to do this season in our Spring Fun Guide.

Top photo: Watch as thousands, old and young, dance their way down Broadway during Dance Parade New York. Photo by Ben Orlansky. All photos courtesy the festivals.

This post was first published in May 2010.