New York City's spring outdoor festival season kicks off this April with almost a dozen fun and mostly FREE fairs, fetes, parades, and carnivals. Some annual Mommy Poppins favorites take place, including the the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival, the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival, Staten Island's St. George Day celebration, and the annual Street Games in East Harlem.
These events aren't just fun, they also foster community spirit by bringing folks together for a common cause. Many include old-fashioned games, eco-activities, homemade treats, and live performances. Here are 11 awesome NYC fairs, carnivals, and festivals for families this April. (One notable omission: The Tribeca Film Festival's annual fair has been discontinued in 2017.)
Click through to our listings for all the details, including address, time, and recommended ages.
By the way, you can find loads of fun spring festivals to our north in Westchester and in Hudson Valley, as well as out on Long Island.
Artopia – Upper West Side
Saturday, April 1
Head to the Anderson School for this annual fest dedicated to all things art. Visitors participate in hands-on art projects, get their faces painted, and partake in performing arts workshops. Event is FREE, though donations are accepted on behalf of Wingspan Arts educational programs.
Children's Carnival – Floral Park, Queens
Saturday, April 1-Sunday, April 2 and Saturday, April 8-Sunday, April 9
If you've never visited the Queens County Farm Museum, this is a great time to go. This historic working farm is a hit with kids year-round, but on these two consecutive April weekends it hosts a huge, old-time carnival complete with a midway, magic show, and lots of kiddie rides. Bonus: Unlike some carnivals, all rides are included with the price of admission price; some other activities do cost extra.
Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival — Midtown East
Sunday, April 16
This is one of our favorite celebrations of the year, not just springtime. Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th streets closes to traffic and opens to revelers in beautiful bonnets. Show off your craziest hat or just come and take photos. Check out last year's photo gallery of some of the most creative hats and revelers. FREE
Earth Day New York 2017 – Union Square
Tuesday, April 18
Head to Union Square for this eco-fair with live music, green goods, face painting, crafts, and educational activities for the kids, including the BioBus, which will be loaded up with hands-on science fun. Later in the week, the group is sponsoring an Earth Day 5K, in which participants move from site to site, learning about green initiatives in the city. The Eco Fair is FREE, but there's a charge for the 5K.
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Dragons soar overhead at the annual St. George Day festival on Staten Island.
St. George Day 2017 – Staten Island
Saturday, April 22
There are a ton of things going on at this annual community festival celebrating the arts and the Earth in Tompkinsville Park. Local artists sell their wares and run workshops, in addition to live performances, storytelling, poetry, and prose. The Earth Day Zone is full of eco info, herbs for sale, composting demos, and more. There's also an entire area devoted to kids with arts and crafts and a fanciful puppet show that recounts the St. George dragon-slaying legend with a less gruesome ending. The highlight is the interactive 35-foot puppet dragon parade. Best of all, the shindig is a quick walk from Staten Island's St. George Ferry Terminal, so it's a fairly easy journey from lower Manhattan.
The National Grid Earth Day Celebration – Flatbush
Saturday, April 29
Celebrate Earth Day at this annual fest on the Great Artists Plaza outside the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. The afternoon features interactive storytelling, yoga workshops, puppet shows, live music, and a slew of eco-activities. FREE
Street Games – East Harlem
Saturday, April 29
We're big fans of this annual fest dedicated to the analog amusements we grew up with in the '60s and '70s. Leave your tablets and smartphones at home and encourage the kids to try out classics, including pogo sticks, hula hoops, Yo-Yos, hippity hops and Double Dutch jump rope. There's even an old-fashioned soap box derby race, local DJs spinning tunes, and live performances.
Puppetry Arts Festival – Park Slope
Saturday, April 29
This annual neighborhood favorite is organized by the creative folks at Puppetry Arts. Enjoy live family bands, bouncy houses, and other kid-centric fun. The first 200 kids receive a gift bag. Event is FREE, but there are fees for certain activities.
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The Sakuri Matsuri festival includes a cosplay fashion show, Taiko drumming, and other Japanese arts performed alongside the blooms. Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Sakura Matsuri 2016/Cherry Blossom Festival – Crown Heights
Saturday, April 29-Sunday, April 30
This fantastic, extremely popular two-day festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden gives visitors a chance to immerse themselves in all aspects of Japanese culture alongside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's blooming cherry trees. In addition to stunning flowers, there are plenty of activities, including Taiko drumming performances, art and flower arranging workshops, Samurai sword play, tea ceremonies, manga drawing, magic, and drumming workshops for kids. Plus, a host of revelers come dressed in their best anime-inspired outfits and show them off in a cosplay fashion show. It's no wonder Sakura Matsuri is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in NYC.
Arbor Festival – Flushing
Sunday, April 30
In honor of Arbor Day, kids enjoy all kinds of nature-inspired fun at the Queens Botanical Garden, including a petting zoo, games, crafts, face painting, garden tours, and live music. Bonus for grown-ups: a beer and wine tent.
Spring Family Fair at the Morgan — Midtown East
Sunday, April 30
This annual event invites families to explore the museum's historic library, create original poetry on its family poetry wall, enjoy creative arts and crafts, and explore the museum's exhibits. FREE
This article first published in April 2010, but is revised annually.
Top image: Enjoy rides, food and more at the Children's Carnival in Queens. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the organizers/festivals.