Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Halloween plus Coney Island equals a perfect fall day for kids. Photo by Mommy Poppins
Free NYC Carnivals and Fairs: West Side, Atlantic Antic, San Gennaro and More Street Celebrations

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

Click through to our listings for all the details, including time, location, and price.

NYC Unicycle Festival – Governors Island
Thursday, August 30-Sunday, September 2
Unicyclists of all ages and skill levels hit Governors Island for races and kooky competitions. Don't know how to ride? Give one-wheeling a go with help from pros—there's even a stationary unicycle to try. Though the main fest takes place on Saturday and Sunday on Governors Island, there's pre-festival fun to be had in Brooklyn and Manhattan, too. FREE

West Indian American Day Junior Carnival Parade – Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 1
Kids get their own chance to party at this Junior Carnival where they can show off their costumes, eat, dance, and party in advance of the main parade on Labor Day. FREE

Richmond County Fair – Staten Island
Saturday, September 1-Monday, September 3
Head to Historic Richmond Town for old-fashioned fun, including amusement park rides, country crafts, sideshow acts, four stages of live music, pony rides, a petting zoo, and more.

Festival Minokan: A Song and Drum Celebration – Canarsie, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 8
Join this festival of all things Haitian including singing, drumming, and a Lakou Souvenance ceremony honoring the spirits of Dahomey with music, dancing, and food. FREE

West Side County Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, September 9
Best for the preschool set, this Riverside Park South staple features mild carnival rides and games, sideshow performers, aerialists, a green market, and live performances. FREE

Ferragosto – Belmont, the Bronx
Sunday, September 9
Head to NYC's other Little Italy in the Belmont section of the Bronx for a taste of old-world culture with Commedia dell'arte-style street performers, live music, face painting, and the delicious eats for which Arthur Avenue is famous. FREE

26th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition – Hell's Kitchen
Sunday, September 9
This annual gathering kicks off with a Parade of Tugs followed by a race. Visitors can get a great view of the action on board a spectator boat. Additional events include a line-toss competition, a Popeye-inspired spinach-eating contest, a tattoo tournament, and an awards ceremony.

Feast of San Gennaro – Little Italy
Thursday, September 13-Sunday, September 23
Though this fest is officially a religious celebration, families come for the food and carnival atmosphere. Top Little Italy restaurants dish out amazing sausage sandwiches, fried Oreos, Italian pastries, and more right on the street. Plus, there's live music, games and rides, including a Ferris wheel. At night, it becomes quite the party scene, so go early in the day to avoid rowdy crowds. FREE admission but there are fees for activities.

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Catch storytime or load up a book bag at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Photo courtesy the festival.

Brooklyn Book Festival Children's Day – Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 15
The Brooklyn Book Festival's popular Children's Day returns for 2018, inviting bookworms young and old to MetroTech commons for readings by kid-lit luminaries, plus theatrical performances, illustrator draw-offs, book sales, food truck eats, and more reading-themed fun. FREE

NYC Honey Fest – Rockaway, Queens
Saturday, September 15
Celebrate bees and honey at Rockaway Beach. Enjoy a marketplace featuring honey-infused eats, themed art projects, beekeeping demos and, of course, lots of honey tastings. FREE

Kids Fest: Stages in the Square will get kids dancing. Photo courtesy of the event

Kids Fest: Stages in the Square – Flatiron
Saturday, September 15
This daylong event for children up to 12 years old and their families will feature a variety of performances including music, dance, theater, puppetry, magic, and storytelling. FREE

Adoptapalooza – Union Square
Sunday, September 16
Meet more than 300 cats, dogs, and other animals looking for forever homes at this annual pet adoption event in Union Square Park. Training demos, pet care advice, grooming, and kids' activities such as face painting and temporary tattoos are also on tap. FREE

Submerge: NYC Marine Science Festival – Tribeca
Saturday, September 22
Calling all budding marine biologists. The New York Hall of Science and Hudson River Park team up for this festival that celebrates our local marine life through hands-on experiments, catch-and-release fishing, science demos, kayaking, and more. FREE

Astor Alive Festival – East Village
Saturday, September 22
The East Village comes alive with this fest dedicated to performance arts. There will be multiple stages of live entertainment, plus family-friendly art- and puppet-making workshops. FREE

Breukelen Country Fair – Canarsie, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 22
Hit the historic Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum for live performances, pony rides, games, face painting, arts and crafts, a pop-up farmer's market, cider pressing, and farm-fresh foods. FREE admission, but there are fees for some activities.

Head to the beach for the annual NYC Honey Fest where kids can enjoy face painting and more family activities. Photo by Chris Taylor/courtesy the festival.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – Chinatown
Saturday, September 22
Celebrate the Chinese harvest season at this annual fest featuring crafts, live performances, and pan-Asian eats from area restaurants. FREE

5th Annual Touch-a-Truck Fall Festival
Saturday, September 22 – Jamaica, Queens
Kids get to explore, climb, and touch trucks and vehicles including fire engines, police cars, dump trucks, monster wheel tow trucks, and more. Plus, there will be bounce houses and inflatables, face painting, balloon animals, and live performances.

Maker Faire New York — Corona, Queens
Saturday, September 22-Sunday, September 23
Maker Faire is a true Mommy Poppins favorite. The grounds of the New York Hall of Science explode with all kinds of inventions and creations—from knitting to robotics, circus to interactive sculptures, computers to crafts. Purchase your tickets online in advance (by September 21) to receive discounted admission. Everyone over age 2 requires a ticket.

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See farm animals, hit the kiddie rides, or try to find your way out of the corn maze at the Queens County Fair. Photo courtesy the Queens County Farm Museum.

Queens County Fair – Floral Park, Queens
Saturday, September 22-Sunday, September 23
Enjoy a full-fledged county fair right here in NYC at the Queens County Farm Museum, with pie-eating and corn-husking contests, pig races, hayrides, a petting zoo, livestock, produce and craft competitions, and lots of traditional carnival rides. You also can get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze, which opens for the season this weekend.

Festa D'Italia & Motori D’Italia – Staten Island
Saturday, September 22-Sunday, September 23
Celebrate Italian culture at Staten Island's Casa Belvedere with live entertainment, homemade Italian treats, games, rides, crafts, and a display of exotic cars and motorcycles. Can't get enough Italian food? Be sure to enter the all-you-can-eat contests.

Flatbush Frolic – Flatbush, Brooklyn
Sunday, September 23
This community celebration features the usual street fest fun, including delicious treats, live music, a craft fair, and a dedicated kids' area with games and bouncy houses. Admission is FREE but there are fees for certain activities.

Atlantic Antic – Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Sunday, September 23
Hit Atlantic Avenue for the biggest street fair in Brooklyn, featuring multiple stages of live music and a slew of vendors, including plenty of tasty eats. The block between Boerum Place and Smith Street is dedicated to kid-centric activities. Admission is FREE but there are fees for certain activities.

Little Red Lighthouse Festival – Inwood
Saturday, September 29
Celebrate Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse with readings of the eponymous children’s book, fishing clinics, live music, food and art vendors, Urban Park Ranger presentations, and activities for all ages. FREE

Halloween Harvest Festival – Coney Island, Brooklyn
Weekends, Saturday, September 29-Sunday, October 28 and on Wednesday, October 31
Luna Park's annual harvest fest kicks off in September and runs through Halloween weekend with a pumpkin patch, spooky crafts, dance contests, Halloween-themed temporary tattoos, balloon animals, special events, and more. Of course, you'll be able to enjoy all those famous Luna Park rides, too.

This post, originally published in September 2010, is updated annually.