Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

Family Festivals and Fairs in NYC This July: City of Water Day, Thunderbird Powwow, More Festivals for NYC Kids July 2018
Bastille Day brings music, food, and family fun to the streets of NYC. Photo by Michael George

So far this summer, we've posted FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in the month of July.

Two of our favorite annual fests take place this month: the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side, and City of Water Day at South Street Seaport and other locations around town. But that's just the beginning. We've rounded up lots of other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day, this year in Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Family Day.

So go grab your calendar (and check ours frequently)! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

Click through to our listings for all the details, including locations and times.

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This was the view when the fireworks were on the West Side. Is the East Side view better? Photo by mamojo/CC BY 2.0.

Happy Fourth of July! — Citywide
Tuesday, July 4
Watch the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks in several FREE spots, including Dumbo and along the FDR in Midtown East. Other Fourth of July fun includes the hot-dog eating contest on Coney Island and more free fireworks on Staten Island and in Brooklyn. FREE

RELATED: Best Summer Events for NYC Preschoolers

Check out the floats at the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photo courtesy of the festival.

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel — Williamsburg
Wednesday, July 5 through Sunday, July 16
A sort of mini-San Gennaro, this Catholic fest has been celebrated in Williamsburg for more than a century. The multi-day festivities include live music, carnival rides, and great eats, along with a traditional procession of flower-strewn towers and the big feast on Sunday, July 16. Be sure to check the full schedule before heading over, because there are different activities every day. FREE

Make a wish and explore the Tanabata legend. Photo courtesy of the Japan Society

Japan's Star Festival: Tanabata — Midtown East
Sunday, July 8
The Japan Society celebrates a star-crossed legend with storytelling and crafts. Advance registration is required.

Make a cardboard boat and test it out in celebration of City of Water Day. Photo courtesy of Governors Island

City of Water Day — South Street Seaport
Saturday, July 14
Celebrate NYC's waterfront at this annual eco-fest, which takes place this year at the South Street Seaport and at other points along New York Harbor (called "In Your Neighborhood" locations). Activities include kayaking, historic boat tours and rides, live entertainment, face time with aquatic creatures, and fishing lessons, along with landlubber favorites like arts and crafts, and bouncy castles. Catch a free boat tour on a tugboat or a tall ship. Fans gobble up most of the FREE tickets as soon as registration opens, so either be ready to snap some up when they're released in early July, or settle for standby the day of, as there are often no-shows. FREE

Back to the Beach Fest — Midland Beach, Staten Island
Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15
Back to the Beach is one of Staten Island’s biggest events, and features vendors, live music, rides and games for the kids, great food and—of course—an amazing fireworks display, which sparkles up the night sky (happy Bastille Day!). FREE

Bastille Day – Upper East Side
Sunday, July 15
And speaking of Bastille Day, vive la France! Celebrate French Independence Day at this outdoor cultural fête sponsored by the French Institute/Alliance Française. Attractions include French cuisine, live music, and can-can dancers, an artisan market, and a Kids' Corner with face painting and art projects. Admission is FREE but there are fees for certain activities.

Governors Island Family Fun Day — Governors Island
Sunday, July 15
Rescheduled from May, the annual Family Fun Day on Governors Island is a day-long celebration packed with performances, arts and crafts, and hands-on projects (like building your own playground!). Head to Nolan Park to catch the family concerts and activities, then explore the rest of the isle. FREE

Come Out & Play Family Day offers a variety of games to play together. Photo courtesy of the festival

Come Out & Play Family Day – Dumbo, Brooklyn
Saturday, July 21
Ready, set, play! This fest, which aims to turn NYC into a giant playground, was once solely for adults. But a few summers back the organizers added a Family Day aimed at fun lovers of all ages. This year, the fun moves to the Manhattan Bridge Archway in Brooklyn, where families can participate in multiple interconnecting games themed around time travel, both back to the distant past and ahead to the future. Hit the official Time Travel Agency to get started, and then play as few or many games as you'd like. Developed by ESI Design, the games are best suited for children ages 6 to 11 and their adult companions. FREE

Explore sound and shapes at Sing! The Family Festival on the High Line. Photo courtesy of The High Line

Sing: The High Line's Family Fest in July Chelsea
Saturday, July 28
The High Line’s summer family festivals offer families the opportunity to explore how experiences change when we create together. All activities in the monthly series take place on the High Line between 15th and 16th Streets. In July, the theme is "Sing!" and, as you might imagine, music rules.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors Family Day — Upper West Side
Saturday, July 28
Lincoln Center's 48th season of free performances on the plaza ramps up on Family Day, which features an invitation to dance with the Mark Morris group, catch a performance by Marching Cobras, and participate in an interactive performance by Soul Science Lab, among other showstoppers.

RELATED: Best of Summer in NYC: Festivals, FREE Fun, Plus Beaches and Pools

Take part in the Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Powwow in a beautiful setting. Photo courtesy of the Queens County Farm Museum

Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Powwow — Floral Park, Queens
Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29
Members of 40 tribal nations participate in this popular powwow at the Queens County Farm Museum, which features Native American dance contests in the farm's apple orchard. Visitors can also browse a market filled with amazing art, crafts, jewelry, and eats. Afterward, enjoy face time with the farm's furry and four-legged residents.

Read your poetry on stage at the New York Poetry Festival on Governors Island. Photo courtesy of Governors Island

New York City Poetry Festival — Governors Island
Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29
As if you need an excuse to haul the family over to Gov Isle, well, now you have another one. Nico Tortorella, from TV Land's Younger series, is a featured performer, and poetry of all kinds abounds. FREE

Brooklyn Roots Festival — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Sunday, July 29
This daylong event celebrates Brooklyn’s diverse traditional art forms through a lively, family-friendly afternoon of performances, workshops, interactive kids’ activities, and more. FREE

Check out our Event Calendar for additional fun in NYC with the kids, every day of summer.

A version of this post was published in 2017; it is updated annually.