Festivals, celebrations and ceremonies mark the beginning of fall, as the city says goodbye to summer and sneaks in some last warm weather outdoor events. Introduce the family to art, culture, science, and more with these free kid-friendly things to do around NYC in September 2019.

photo: Stephan Yang


Head to DUMBO to see its annual DUMBO drop on September 27, featuring thousands of tiny parachute-wearing elephants floating to the ground at what is arguably New York City's most photographed spot. (It's true!) The yearly event includes food from neighborhood vendors, a drumline from FogoAzul, street games, activities for kids from Creatively Wild Art Studio and New York Kids Club and an elephant bedazzling contest! This year will also feature, in addition to the "classic DUMBO Drop" at 6 p.m., the brand new #DISCODROP, featuring illuminated souvenir elephants at 7:45 p.m. P.S.: It's $20 to drop an ellie, with all proceeds going to local public schools.


Ferragosto Feast at the BID

Celebrate the end of harvest season with the annual Ferragosto Feast, an Italian festival in honor of fall and the bounty that the harvest has brought. The event will have plenty of live Italian music, comedy and theater by the Commedia Dell’Arte, and lots of local spots to eat outside (though those aren't free!).

Sun., Sept. 8
12-6 p.m.
The Belmont Business Improvement District (BID)
Arthur Ave. and E. 187th St.
Online: bronxlittleitaly.com

photo: Tim Hill from Pixabay

West Side County Fair on the Hudson

The carnival is coming to town! Check out the county fair in Riverside Park South for performers on stilts, live music, a Stop N' Swap sponsored by GrowNYC and more. Food, carnival rides, and local merch will also be available for purchase. Rain date is September 15.

Sun., Sept. 8
1-6 p.m.
Pier 1 in Riverside Park South
West 70th St.
Upper West Side
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Nataly via Flickr

Pop-up Concert at the Miller Theater

Stop by for a free concert and a drink at the Miller Theater, where pianist Stephen Gosling will perform a new arrangement of studies put together by John Zorn. This is a great chance for kids to get up close and personal with live music — come early to snag seating onstage.

Tues., Sept. 10
Doors at 5:30 p.m., show starts 6 p.m.
Miller Theatre
2960 Broadway @ 116th St.
Colombia University
Online: millertheatre.com

Tribute in Light at the September 11 Museum and Memorial

Honor the fallen and keep their memory alive by taking a moment to view the Tribute in Light memorial on the fateful day. Stop by the memorial to see the two towers of light rise into the sky or view it from within a 60-mile radius (throughout most of lower Manhattan), to continue the conversation of the tragedy with the younger generations.

Wed., Sept. 11
Memorial Plaza
180 Greenwich St.
World Trade Center
Online: 911memorial.org

photo: Skirball Center

Parade of the Moles in Greenwich Village

Prepare yourself for a surreal image: human-sized moles emerging from the NYU Skirball center to parade around Greenwich Village landmarks. Come along for this silly and informal parade and get to know the punk rock mole band, thought up by Phillippe Quesne.

Thu., Sept. 12
2 p.m.
Begins at NYU Skirball
566 LaGuardia Pl
Greenwich Village
Online: nyuskirball.org 

Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy

Visit Little Italy during the Feast of San Gennaro for 11 days of parading, partying, live music, and, of course, delicious food. This year's highlights will include cannoli, zeppole and meatball eating competitions, celebratory ceremonies, operatic and traditional music performances, and much more. Be advised that this event gets very crowded and loud.

Thu.-Sun., Sept. 12-22
Throughout Littly Italy
Online: sangennaronyc.org

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Coney Island Boardwalk Party 

Party with locals and visitors at this block party on the Boardwalk. Frankie Paradise and Selek will be spinning hot tunes for a family-friendly boardwalk bash, playing varied music from House to Gospel.

Sat., Sept. 14
2-7 p.m.
Brighton Beach Boardwalk
W 15th St. Boardwalk
Coney Island
Online: facebook.com

Raptor Fest at Central Park

See birds of prey up close and personal and learn all about these amazing creatures at the Raptor Fest. Hosted by the Urban Park Rangers, this event features information stations as well as demonstrations and talks starring live birds.

Sat., Sept. 14
12-3 p.m.
Central Park
North of E 97th St. and 5th Ave.
Online: nycgovparks.org

African American Day Parade in Harlem

The 50th annual iteration of this parade celebrates power through unity, and puts the rich heritage and history of Harlem on display in a spectacular manner. This year's theme is "Integrity and Transparency = Good Government,” highlighting how politics and the government can help the people they represent. The little ones can enjoy the live performances and fun festivities even if they don't entirely understand the message.

Sun., Sept. 15
1-6 p.m.
111th St.-136th St. along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
Online: africanamericandayparade.org 

Kids' Yoga at Washington Square Park

Get kids up and moving through stretches, exercises, and dances as they learn some yoga moves to music and song. The weekly event makes yoga fun for the little ones! Adults must be present throughout the class and are encouraged to bring yoga mats, as they won't be provided.

Thursdays through Sept. 19
10-10:45 a.m.
Washington Square Park
Greenwich Village
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Henry Street Settlement

Community Day Block Party at the LES

Sponsored by the Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurse Services of NY, this block party is a family-friendly way to spend the day. Enjoy music and food, and take part in family fun together, while learning about the Lower East Side community and what's on offer for its residents.

Sun., Sept. 15
12-5 p.m.
Henry Street Settlement
265 Henry St.
Lower East Side
Online: facebook.com

photo: Brooklyn Book Festival

Brooklyn Book Festival 

September marks the start of the new school year — so it's the perfect time to celebrate books! This week-long celebration will take place in various locations across the city (not just Brooklyn) and will feature a festivalin and near Brooklyn Borough Hall on Sept. 22, a Children's Day at MetroTech Commons on Sept. 21, and various events throughout the week perfect for book lovers. 

Mon.-Mon., Sept. 16-23
Various times and locations
Online: brooklynbookfestival.org

Museum Day Across the City

If you've been wanting to visit a particular museum but are stopped by the price tag, Museum Day will get you in there for free, for one day only. Download and print a free pass per email to grant two visitors per ticket free general admission to any one of the many institutions across NYC (and the country) that are participating in the event (visit the website for a full list).

Sat., Sept. 21
Various times and locations
Online: smithsonianmag.com

Brooklyn Chess Festival at Dr. Ronald McNair Park

Calling all chess enthusiasts! This event is for everyone from complete beginners to experts. Introduce your children to the world of chess by taking a lesson, challenge a master to test your mettle, or play an assortment of other family-friendly games on offer.

Sat., Sept. 21
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dr. Ronald McNair Park
Eastern Parkway between Classon Ave. and Washington Ave.
Crown Heights
Online: nycgovparks.org

Flatbush Frolic at Ditmas Park

This local block party just keeps growing! The 44th annual Frolic will have dancing and music on a central stage, a pizza eating contest, local vendor stalls, rides and games, and a spot for children to play and enjoy the event at their own pace.

Sun., Sept. 22
11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cortelyou Road (btwn. Coney Island & Ocean Ave.)
Ditmas Park
Online: eventbrite.com

photo: Teresa S. via Yelp

Submerge at the Hudson River Park

Visit Pier 84 for a day of science and water-themed activities for the whole family. Try your hand at catch-and-release fishing, kayaking, science experiments, and more ways for kids to get to know the diversity and nature of the water that surrounds us.

Sat., Sept. 28
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Pier 84 at W. 44th St.
Hell's Kitchen
Online: hudsonriverpark.org

Get Hooked Fishing Festival at Randall's Island

Families are invited to learn all about the diversity of our waterways at this Fishing Festival. Participate in catch-and-release fishing (equipment will be provided by event organizers), and play games that teach about and celebrate marine life. Refreshments and live music will also be provided.

Sat., Sept. 28
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Randall's Island
Southern Shore, just south of 103rd St. Footbridge
Online: randallsisland.org

Parade of Trains at Brighton Beach

If you take public transit on Sept. 28, you might notice some strange-looking trains on the tracks. That's because the day marks the annual Parade of the Trains, when vintage train cars from the NY Transit Museum are brought back to life. Trains will be making rides from the Brighton Beach stop to Ocean Avenue and Kings Highway. Although this does cost the price of a MetroCard swipe, it's otherwise free! 

Sat.-Sun., Sept. 28-29
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Trains depart from the Brighton Beach B/Q train station
Brighton 6th and Brighton Beach Ave.
Online: nytransitmuseum.org

photo: NYC Parks

Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park

From kestrels to corsets, the Medieval Festival is the place to be. Dress the little ones up as knights and royalty and unleash them with foam swords into the fun and festivities. Events to look forward to include live jousting and acrobatics, bird of prey demonstrations, comedy performances, plenty of era-appropriate food, activities, and vendors, themed costumes, and much more.

Sun., Sept. 29
11:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fort Tryon Park
Margaret Corbin Drive and adjacent lawns
Online: whidc.org

—Yuliya Geikhman

feature image: Salon NYC via Flickr 


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