Culture, crafts, and nature are what’s in store for this month of NYC family freebies. Enjoy a month packed with free activities for kids and parents as the city gears up for the warmer weather (it’s about time!). This May, you’ll get a chance to watch glass being made, take in the great outdoors (sometimes from inside a ship), attend festivals and parties, and much more!
Swale at the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Like your food fresh? Pick it right off the stem — on a barge. Visit the floating garden of Swale for a one-of-a-kind experience. Throughout the months of May and June, Swale will be open to the public on weekends, with educational programs for families and kids, as well as an opportunity to pick fresh food from the 5,000 square feet of perennial freshly grown food.
Sat., May 5-Sun., July 1
Sats & Suns
Brooklyn Army Terminal
140 58th St.
NYC Wildflower Week in all Five Boroughs
The weather is warming up, the flowers are blooming, and it's a perfect time to take a stroll through the park and enjoy nature. The NYC Wildflower Week is all about becoming one with nature, featuring guided walks, butterfly and flower exploration, urban foraging and conservation projects and more. The week is full of events happening in many of NYC's main parks, all completely free and family-friendly.
Various times and locations
Holi Hai Color Festival at Governor's Island
It's finally time: Governor's Island is opening to the public again in May. And what better way to ring in a new season of fun events on the island than with a literal explosion of color? Visit the island for the Holi Hai Festival, where visitors will be given colorful packets of powder for throwing into the air (and at each other — wear white for an extra-colorful experience). Live music, lots of food, and a special area just for kids will be on display. The event is free but it gets crowded so book your ticket today.
Sat., May 12
Japan Day in Central Park
Celebrate a day of culture and nature merged together with Japan Day, a grand celebration in Central Park. Visit early to participate in the Japan Run, or show up throughout the day to enjoy live performances, food vendors, and some really fun cultural activities for kids like kabuki face painting, a Hello Kitty photo booth, a bullet train ride simulator (complete with the conductor outfit), and plenty of other fun booths and events. Expect plenty of traditional Japanese culture, food, and entertainment!
Sun., May 13
Run: 8 a.m.; festival: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Central Park Bandshell
Enter at 69th St. and 5th Ave.
Ensemble Signal Plays Lachenmann at Miller Theater
Ensemble Signal is back with another free pop-up program for the whole family. This time, visitors will be treated to a 30-minute piece performed on clarinet, cello, and piano and composed by Helmut Lachenmann. Though the event is free, admission is first-come-first-serve, so show up earlier to snag seats.
Mon., May 14
Doors open 5:30 p.m.; music begins 6 p.m.
Columbia University School of the Arts
2960 Broadway Ave. (at 116th St.)
Upper West Side
Glass Blowing Demonstrations at GlassBarge
Have you ever watched glass getting shaped? For two weeks in May, GlassBarge will be offering free glass blowing demonstrations where anyone can watch this fascinating process. Tickets are free but it's recommended that you get one for an up-close-and-personal view of this experience.
11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina
12 Joralemon St.
Dance Parade and Festival in Lower Manhattan
For one day, the streets of Manhattan fill with music and dance as the entire lower half of the city becomes host to over 10,000 dancers, performers, DJs, and live bands representing 80 different cultures. The theme for this year's festival is "The Cabaret of Life" and it's sure to be a bright and exciting experience for all. The event stretches from Broadway and 21st through Astor Plaza and to Tompkins Square Park, with various performance areas set up along the way.
Sat., May 18
Various times and locations
Super Saturday Stem Expo at the Harlem Children's Zone
Get your STEM on in Harlem this May as the Harlem Armory celebrates the STEM subjects with a day full of fun and learning for kids. The event will feature over 100 hands-on exhibits, tech demos, hands-on projects, Q&A with experts in the field, and competitions in robotics, math, and chess — and that's just the beginning! Kids of any age are welcome to participate in this STEM-filled experience that's sure to get kids excited about learning.
Sat., May 19
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Harlem Armory
40 West 143rd Street
Bloc Party at Essex Street Market
In celebration of the Essex Street Market's 78th birthday and big move to Essex Crossing, the market is throwing their annual bloc party for the entire neighborhood. Visit the site of the current Essex Street Market for a fun day of live music and DJs, and, of course, eating! This year's food fare will include both existing vendors and a preview of next year's newcomers. And don't worry about breaking the bank: the event deets boast that most food items will be $5 or less.
Sat., May 19
Outside 120 Essex Street
Lower East Side
Doll-E 1.0 at Lincoln Center
This installment of Storytime at the Atrium is all about a STEM-friendly story by Shanda McCloskey. A little girl transforms a doll from a lifeless companion into a good friend by giving her a tech upgrade. This adorable little tale is a great introduction of the STEM-related industry to little girls (and boys!). This STEM-friendly tale is recommended for ages 2-5, and seating is limited, so show up early for this one.
Sat May 19
David Rubenstein Atrium
Frieda and Roy Furman Stage
Broadway Bet. 62nd & 63rd St.
Bronx Week Parade in the Bronx
Are you a proud resident of the Bronx? Whether you're a Bronx native or simply appreciative of its history, join other local families in this week-long celebration of this borough. Although most of the week will be celebrated in corporate settings, the celebration culminates in a parade and concert fun for the whole family. Bring your kids and your Bronx pride to the parade, where you'll find celebrities, civic groups, schools, organizations, and many other parade participants marching through their beloved borough. Finish the day by purchasing some local food and crafts, getting a free health screening, or enjoy the concert put on by local talent.
Sun., May 20
Parade proceeds along Mosholu Parkway
Puerto Rican Day Parade at 152nd Street
Puerto Rican pride is here for the annual Cultural Festival and Puerto Rican Day Parade in the Bronx. Pay this festival a visit for traditional food, live music, lots of dancing, and lots of other family-friendly festivities. Keep an eye out for celebrities dropping by, or visit the children's pavilion for face painting, storytelling, arts and crafts, and other fun activities for the kids.
Sat., May 26
11 a.m.-5 p.m.
152nd St. and Jackson Ave.
Passport to Taiwan Festival at Union Square North
Live music, traditional Taiwanese food, and plenty of fun for young and old will be on display at the Passport to Taiwan Festival this month. Visit for a fun cultural experience, where kids will have plenty to do like folding paper cranes, learning about traditional Taiwanese toys, make crafts, learn about Taiwanese culture, and enjoy the exciting atmosphere.
Sun., May 27
Union Square North
Free Summer Movies in NYC Parks
Get your popcorn out because it's outdoor movie season. Starting in May, many parks around the boroughs will be holding outdoor movie screenings for free. Check your local park to find the next upcoming kid-friendly movie night in your nabe.
Various times and locations
What free event are you definitely checking out in May? Tell us in the comments!