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Free and Fun Things to Do This Weekend for NYC Kids: Hong Kong Dragon Boats, Fringe Festival and Ferragosto August 13-14

Welcome to another New York City weekend jam-packed with fantastic and mostly free things to do for families. Cool vintage VW vehicles are riding onto Governors Island, Staten Island's Garibaldi-Meucci Museum throws its annual Ferragosto fest and Brooklyn Bridge Park hosts its first-ever Kite Festival. The New York International Fringe Festival also kicks off this weekend, and while most of the offerings aren't for kids, its FringeJr shows are specifically aimed at families.

My family and I plan to hit the second Saturday of Summer Streets and then head to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival with a quick stop at the New York Hall of Science's Circus! Science Under the Big Top. If we manage to do it all, I suspect we'll spend Sunday sleeping.

And that's just a bit of what's going on. All of our best bets for the weekend are below. You can find additional seasonal fun in our Summer Fun Guide and our Event Calendar.

All Weekend

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival – Flushing
In honor of the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, more than 100 colorful Dragon Boat teams will race across Meadow Lake. Other activities include a food court, the traditional Dragon dance, folk arts and crafts, and martial arts demos. FREE

FringeJr – Downtown Manhattan
The massive performing arts festival is back and it has four FringeJr shows perfect for families. This weekend, catch Goldilocks & The Three Polar Bears, a musical retelling of the classic tale set in Alaska with puppets and live actors; Happy Worst Day Ever, a comedic look at the problems of sixth graders; and There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly and Other Heroines That Reach for The Sky!, which celebrates famous female fairy tale heroes. Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 5-12.

Map NYC: ABC 123 – Brooklyn Heights
Kids can play cartographer for the day by creating their own maps of our city's public transportation system at the NYC Transit Museum. Afterward, check out all of the other cool attractions at this underground culture spot. FREE with museum admission: $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-17, free for kids under 3.

Carousolar – South Street Seaport
New York is already home to many marvelous merry-go-rounds. Now South Street Seaport gets in on the action with GE's solar-powered model. Through September 6, kids can take a free ride on the company's Carousolar while parents plug their mobile devices into nearby charging stations.

The Great Summer Zoofari: A Lego Wildlife Expedition – the Bronx
We're wild for the zoo's amazing animals... all made from Legos! This incredible display is on view through September 30, and Mommy Poppins is giving away 15 family four-packs to an exclusive Lego Master Builder event next weekend. Click here for info. FREE with zoo admission: $16 for adults, $12 for children ages 3–12., free for kids under 2.


Saturday, August 13

Brooklyn Kite Festival – Dumbo
Build a kite and let it soar high above Brooklyn Bridge Park at this first annual event. Crowds are expected so try to arrive on the early side. FREE

Family Art Workshop Jaume Plensa's Echo Flatiron
Have you seen Echo, the mesmerizing statue gracing the lawn at Madison Square Park? It's such a hit with the public, the park recently decided to extend its stay. Today, kids can create their own mini Echo using urban gardening and art techniques. FREE

Volkswagen Traffic Jam – Governors Island
Finally, a traffic jam you'll enjoy. Peruse vintage VWs (like bugs, campers and vans) parked on Governors Island. Vote for your favorite, grab some grub (there will be great food vendors and a beer garden courtesy of Six Point Brewery) and groove at a dance party. Families can hit the Kids Zone for a punch buggy scavenger hunt and to make VW-inspired crafts. Also on Governors Island today: Civil War reenactments, plus all the other usual arts and attractions. FREE

ForestFest – Staten Island
Head to the Staten Island Greenbelt for this joint celebration honoring the International Year of Forests and the Girl Scouts Centennial. Meet at the Carousel for All Children for a fun day hiking short trails and other athletic activities, as well as crafts and games. Registration recommended. FREE

Hands-on History: Dog Days of Summer – Jamaica
The King Manor Museum sheds light on one of our country's founding fathers, Rufus King, and his four-legged best friends. Find out why the family dogs were so important through stories, crafts and hands-on activities. FREE

Summer Streets Manhattan
Cycle, scooter, skate or stroll your way from the Upper East Side all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge without encountering any vehicular traffic. Take a break at the rest stops for cycling tips, family-friendly activities and performances, sandboxes and sand sculpting, and giveaways. FREE

See all Saturday events.


Sunday, August 14

Ferragosto Celebration – Staten Island
Celebrate Ferragosto—the Italian holiday honoring Virgin Mary’s ascension to heaven—on Staten Island with a big party at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum featuring bocce, the Tarantella, face painting, live music by Le Nozze di Carlo and, of course, food. $1 admission, plus fees for various activities.

Breakfast with the Beasts – Staten Island
Hit the Staten Island Zoo’s kitchen and help prepare a meal for the animals. Preregistration required. $15 per person.

Kids on the Scene: Ice Cream Demonstration – Upper West Side
Head to the Tavern on the Green food court for an alfresco ice cream-making demo led by the Van Leeuwen Artisanal Ice Cream truck. First-come, first-served. FREE

Second Sundays for Families: Asian Americans in the City – Flushing
Take a tour of the exhibit, Asian Pacifically New York: Photos by Corky Lee, and then make Asian-style arts and crafts, join in FreeStyle Arts activities and nosh on Chinese snacks. Afterward, head to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. FREE

Astoria Park Shore Fest: Kids & Family Fun – Astoria
It's the second Sunday of traffic-free fun along Shore Boulevard. Stroll down the street and enjoy educational activities, live music, fitness programs and snacks from local eateries. FREE

See all Sunday events.


Outside of NYC

Visit New Jersey's cool and quirky Space Farms Zoo and Museum, which is home to more than 500 animals and an amazing collection of Americana.

Head out to Babylon on Long Island’s South Shore for the Paumanauke Powwow and Native American Living Arts Festival.

Looking for a great weekend getaway? Try Mystic, Connecticut. Whale lovers will dig the Belugas at the Mystic Aquarium and history buffs will enjoy the Mystic Seaport.


Don't forget: There's more fun to be found in our Event Calendar.

Planning an event? Submit it to our calendar here.

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