The Best Grown-Up Outdoor Music Festivals for Families

The great thing about New York City's outdoor festivals is that everyone can enjoy them. If it's kids music, at least the grown ups can enjoy being outdoors on a lovely day or evening, relaxing. And, generally kids will put up with an outdoor concert or performance if they can run around, dance, play and picnic while you enjoy a little grown up entertainment for once.

The following (mostly) free outdoor festivals are not specifically children's festivals, but they, for the most part, each have at least one kids performance and otherwise offer great performances in great outdoor environments around NYC, making a fun day or evening out with the kids either way.

Celebrate Brooklyn
is considered by many to be NYC's best summer festival. Located at the Prospect Park bandshell, Celebrate Brooklyn is a great venue with a diverse range of excellent performances. Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year the line includes music, dance, films and more including Issac Hays, Deerhoof, Mark Morris Dance Group, and more. Don't miss the Family Concert including Father Goose, The Sippy Cups, Joan Osborne and Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street) on August 2.

Lower Manhattan's River to River Festival has hundreds of events including dozens of children's and family events. As part of the River to River Festival you'll find children's workshops, story times, fairs, singing and dancing and more. Check out the calendar for the full list of children's events.

Everyone is familiar with Central Park's Summer Stage. Many of the Summer Stage events will be enjoyed by children, but for sure kids will love the Summer Stage Global Family Day on July 13th.  There will be masked musicians, Little Maestros and the Puppeteers from the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater.

With over 100 performances this summer The City Parks Foundation is in parks throughout the city and if you pay attention you can catch some seriously impressive performers in your own neighborhood for free.  It’s like stumbling into a Bjork concert at your local bar.  The seriously long list includes Jungle Brothers in Red Hook, salsa legend Willie Colon at the East River Park, Naughty By Nature in Queens and a line up of theater, dance and soon to be posted kids events.   You can search for events by your zip code to see what is closest to home.

The NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks Festival travels to all five boroughs plus Long Island and New Jersey, making classical music from the oldest philharmonic in the United States available to all for free. While there are no children performances, classical music under the stars, followed by fireworks is sure to be enjoyed by the entire family. Or it's a least a good way to sneak a little classical music into your children's repertoire.

The NY International Fringe Festival has a very cool section called FringeJR with events speicifcally reccomended for kids aged 5-12.  Tickets cost $10 and productions include Angela’s Flying Bed, a story about a lonley girl with busy parents who goes on a wacky musical adventure and Myles The Hypoallergenic Superhero And His Superhero Friends about a boy who is bestowed with magical powers to battle his allergens and save the planet.


WIth the Governor's Island Folks on the Island Folk Music Festival, the journey is it's own reward. Take the free ferry to bucolic Governor's Island and enjoy an afternoon of music in a beautifull setting that feels miles away from the city. It's like a mini vacation from New York.

Where can you enjoy a free concert, while watching the sun set over the Hudson River and go kayaking, all for free at at the same place, except at the Clinton Concert Series

Blessing of the Animals and the Feast of Saint Francis
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine - 10:00 AM Pick
The Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park - 11:30 AM Pick
Art Sundae with Arghavan Khosravi
Rockefeller Center - 11:00 AM Pick
47th Annual Atlantic Antic
Atlantic Avenue - 12:00 PM Pick
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