Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Free NYC Carnivals and Fairs: West Side, Atlantic Antic, San Gennaro

Kick off autumn at one of these fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the Little Red Lighthouse Festival. But there are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a kite festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a sweet honey celebration in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro. There's also farm fun and even more kiddie rides.

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

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

NYC Unicycle Festival – Governors Island
Thursday, September 1-Sunday, September 4
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. FREE

Richmond County Fair – Staten Island
Saturday, September 3-Monday, September 5
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.

West Side County Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, September 4
Best for the preschool set, this Riverside Park South staple features mild carnival rides and games, sideshow performers, a green market, and a reptile show. FREE

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Let 'em soar in Brooklyn Bridge Park for the annual kite fest. Photo by Alexa Hoyer/courtesy BBP.

Brooklyn Kite Festival – Brooklyn Heights
Saturday, September 10
Bring your kite and let it soar in Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you don't have one, flyers will be available for purchase. Afterward, explore everything this gorgeous green space has to offer, including an historic carousel, and awesome playgrounds. FREE

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – Chinatown
Saturday, September 10
Celebrate the Chinese harvest season at this second annual fest featuring crafts, live performances, and pan-Asian eats from area restaurants. FREE

Ferragosto – the Bronx
Sunday, September 11
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

Astor Alive Festival – East Village
Thursday, September 15-Saturday, September 17
The East Village comes alive with this three-day fest dedicated to performance arts. For the most family-friendly entertainment, visit on Saturday when there will be a youth stage and a parade put together by the talented folks behind the Village Halloween Parade. It promises colorful, oversize puppets and is sure to impress.

Feast of San Gennaro – Little Italy
Thursday, September 15-Sunday, September 25
Though this fest, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2016, 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.

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.

NYC Honey Fest – Rockaway, Queens
Saturday, September 17
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

Farm Fresh Festival for Kids – South Street
Saturday, September 17
The South Street Seaport transforms into an interactive farm for city kids during this one-day fete. Taste farm-fresh fare, meet real farmers, and get up close with furry friends. There will be farm-themed readings and a "music shed" with plenty of entertainment. FREE

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

Brooklyn Book Festival Children's Day – Brooklyn Heights
Saturday, September 17
The Brooklyn Book Festival's popular Children's Day returns in 2016, 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

Adoptapalooza – Union Square
Sunday, September 18
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

92Y Street Festival – Upper East Side
Sunday, September 18
The venerable Upper East Side institution sponsors this multiblock street fair. Check out the Y's fall programming and classes, and hit KidCentral Avenue for family performances, arts and crafts, and sports and games. The 92Y Wonderplay Early Childhood Learning Center sponsors a special little-kid-friendly section for the toddler-and-preschool set. FREE

Autumn Moon Cultural Festival and Lantern Parade – Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Sunday, September 18
Head to Leif Ericson Park for this afternoon-long festival celebrating Chinese culture. The annual Lantern Parade takes place 1-3pm, ending in the park.

Medieval Festival – Washington Heights
Fort Tryon Park
Sunday, September 18
Party like it's 1399 at this fest along the Hudson River. Watch knights joust and other pageantry of the era, enjoy live strolling musicians, dramatic minstrels, and juggling jesters, and browse old-school wares. Make sure you dress up! Velvet and corsets should be mandatory (my family always puts on our best period garb.) If you can't make it to the annual New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest, this is the next best thing. You'll see some of the same booths and performers, plus it's FREE.

Breukelen Country Fair – Canarsie, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 24
Hit the historic Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum for a PuppetMobile presentation, pony rides, games, face painting, arts and crafts, a pop-up farmer's market, cider pressing, and farm-fresh foods. Note: Some activities require no-cost tickets so RSVP. FREE

Bounce Back to School Carnival – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, September 24
Support the hardworking families at Brooklyn's PS 9 at the school's annual fall fundraiser. Enjoy bouncy houses, face painting, games, raffles, and an outdoor dance party, plus lots of yummy things to eat and drink.

Little Red Lighthouse Festival – Washington Heights
Saturday, September 24
Celebrate Manhattan's only remaining lighthouse by taking tours with the Urban Park Rangers. Tickets for the FREE tours are given out beginning at noon. Even if you don't score one of the limited spots, stick around for readings of Hildegarde H. Swift's 1942 children's book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, fishing clinics, and live performances. FREE

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 – Glen Oaks, Queens
Saturday, September 24-Sunday, September 25
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 24-Sunday, September 25
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.

Halloween Harvest Festival – Coney Island, Brooklyn
Weekends, Saturday, September 24-Sunday, October 30
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 like the dog costume parade, and more. Plus, the annual fete expanded this year to include a petting zoo and pony rides. Of course, you'll be able to enjoy all those famous Luna Park rides, too.

Enjoy transportation-related crafts and climbing aboard historic buses at the annual Bus Festival. Photo courtesy the New York Transit Museum.

Atlantic Antic – Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Sunday, September 25
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, including a new-in-2016 petting zoo and trackless train as well as returning favorites such as pony rides, inflatables, face painting and balloon sculptures. If that's not enough of a draw, the nearby New York Transit Museum holds its annual Bus Festival, where you can check out all kinds of retro rides parked right on the street. Kids (and transpo-geeks) climb in and out of the old-fashioned vehicles and can even participate in cool crafts. Admission is FREE but there are fees for certain activities.

Flatbush Frolic – Flatbush, Brooklyn
Sunday, September 25
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. FREE

Top photo: You can always expect some surprises at the popular West Side County Fair. Photo by Zhen Heinemann/courtesy Summer on the Hudson.

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