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Festivals and family events in New York

Whether you’re a New York native or visiting from out of town, here are some fabulous upcoming festivals and seasonal activities you and your kids are sure to enjoy.


May-October: Summer on the Hudson festival

New York City Parks Department’s annual outdoor arts and culture festival is a mix of music concerts, dance performances, movies under the stars, DJ dance parties, kids’ shows, special events and wellness activities. All programs and events are free. Among them are sports and recreational activities such as kayaking, yoga, soccer, basketball, Pilates and all-day events such as the West Side County Fair. The breeze from the Hudson River makes a hot summer night very pleasant.
Riverside Park South
West 59th Street to West 72nd Street at the Hudson River
New York, NY.
May to October 2010; free

June-August: River To River Festival

Lower Manhattan’s waterfront provides the backdrop for a mix of free family-friendly events during the summer’s River to River Festival. These include the American Ballroom Theater performances, Children’s Day at the Seaport, a fireworks display and performances by Apples in Stereo and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Venues span from the World Financial Center, Rockefeller Park, Castle Clinton National Monument and Wagner Park to Battery Park at Manhattan’s tip , the Elevated Acre and the seaport on the East River.
See website for exact dates, times, and locations for all events, all of which are free.

July: Annual International African Arts Festival

Dedicated to the preservation of art forms, traditions and cultures of the African diaspora, the festival unites traditional and contemporary African arts in an outdoor four-day festival. Families will enjoy performances along with an interactive workshop series. The festival also will feature spoken word slams, the most popular African marketplace in Brooklyn, fashion and hair shows, storytelling, clowns and a youth talent search. Families will also enjoy performances by The Arts Sandella Malloy of Harambee Dance Company (African), Jamel Gaines of Creative Outlet (modern), and Arianna Halima of Nubian Moon Daughters (belly dancing).
Commodore Barry Park
Park Avenue and Navy Street
Brooklyn, NY 11205
July 2nd through July 5th, from 10:00 AM until 9:00 PM. Free.

JULY: The Taste of Buffalo

This two-day food festival features more than 60 local restaurants representing 13 different ethnicities, from Indian,  Polish and Italian to Chinese, Caribbean and Irish. Besides tasting all of the food items, you’ll enjoy an entertainment stage packed with local, regional and national talent. The Taste also features a culinary theatre, with local chefs and restaurants in the spotlight cooking and doing interactive demos with the audience. And with interactive sponsor displays, kids will find something along every block of Delaware Avenue.
Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square
Downtown Buffalo, NY
Free admission. Food tickets cost 50  cents a piece (all food items run between two and eight tickets).

August: Lincoln Center Out of Doors (LCOOD)

This outdoor summer festival, in its 40th season, will showcase three weeks of free music and dance on the plazas of Lincoln Center. It features a diverse range of music, dance and street performance events by dozens of international, US and local artists.
All events take place on the Lincoln Center campus—Hearst Plaza/Barclays Capital Grove, Damrosch Park, Josie Robertson Plaza and Broadway Plaza—located between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues, West 65th Street to West 62nd Street. All events are free.

AUGUST: Annual Pageant of Steam

At this flea market, families can marvel at acres of farm machinery, historic steam-powered vehicles, antique machines and John Deere tractors. They can visit food tents and enjoy live entertainment. This pageant explores the unique history of steam engines and their impact on agriculture in the Finger Lakes area. Kids will enjoy saw mill demonstrations, parades, shingle making, grain threshing and plowing demonstrations. Adults will enjoy great food, unique finds at the flea market and fun competitions to watch.

September: The New York Festival of Balloons

Families will enjoy the beauty of an early morning flight and watch as balloons gracefully float over the valley. In addition to hot air balloons, the festival features rides and games for children, tethered balloon rides, hot air balloon launches, arts and crafts, an international food court, a car show and a battle of the bands.
Dansville Municipal Airport (entrance on Maple Street)
Dansville, NY 14437
Availability: Daily, weather permitting. $5.00 per person; children under 12 are free.
8 AM to 8 PM.
Adults, $6; children under 12, free

September: Naples Grape Festival

This celebration of the area’s grape harvest takes place in the hills of the Finger Lakes, where everything is all about grapes; even the fire hydrants are purple! It draws about 100,000 people in two days and takes over the small town’s Main Street. Vendors sell everything from arts and crafts to grape products. Adults can try locally produced wines while the family enjoys numerous food vendor offerings, a grape stomping event, a grape pie contest (in the town where the grape pie was invented!) and the music of regional artists.
Main Street
Naples, NY 14512

October: The Sheep and Wool Festival

Hundreds of sheep, llamas and alpacas are on display and competing for ribbons, while craft and fiber artists from around the country present and sell the best wool and sheep-related items. Family activities include pumpkin carving, a hay maze, horse-drawn wagon rides, music, cooking demonstrations and a “Punkin Chuckin.” A canine Frisbee demonstration will feature canines catching, fetching and doing tricks. A leaping lama contest features six-foot lamas challenging each other and defying gravity.
6550 Spring Brook Ave.
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
$12.00/day. Two-day ticket package is $17.00.

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