Check Out These Summer Festivals and Street Fairs in New York City
By Michael Kaminer
You can’t cross a New York street in summer without hitting a fair or festival. And if you love music, dance, food, and cultural experiences, you’re in luck. Here are some of the best this season.
Workmen’s Circle Taste of Jewish Culture Festival: Diversity Is Delicious; June 18, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(6th Ave. between 48-49 Sts.; circle.org)
This packed annual street fair near Rock Center showcases some of the hippest purveyors of artisan Jewish food. And there’s an added piquancy this year: Workmen’s Circle, an activist organization, is accenting diversity, with Jewishy mashups like Indian-style latkes and matzo-ball-soup dumplings. Among the 30+ vendors: Foodie faves like Kossar’s Bialys, Mile End Delicatessen, Brooklyn Brine and La Newyorkina.
Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn; June 24, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(J.J. Byrne Playground, 4th St. at 5th Ave., Brooklyn; puppetryarts.org)
You may not know Tuffy Tiger, but the Brooklyn-born puppet’s a celeb among the under-8 set. Tuffy, along with “Star Wars” characters, roving hand puppets and storytellers, should make this an animated afternoon in Park Slope. Children can learn about puppetry and puppet-making crafts at workshops, and the first 200 kids at J.J. Byrne Playground get a free goodie bag filled with puppet-inspired surprises.
(Great Jones St. between Broadway & Lafayette St.;naaponline.org)
“Everyone is welcome!,” say organizers of this lively street fair, presented by a long-established Arab networking group in the Noho section of Manhattan. A celebration of Arab and North African cultures, the festival spotlights these communities’ contributions through food, music, art and literature. An all-day stage show will feature performers representing North Africa, the Persian Gulf and Levant (an area in the Eastern Mediterranean). And vendors will offer everything from food, music, films and clothes to henna and hookah. This is one of the city’s most colorful street festivals.
Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema; Aug. 4-13
(Kew Gardens Cinemas, and other venues across Queens; kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com)
Queens has become a kind of Hollywood East, with movies and TV shows shooting across the borough. So it’s the perfect home for this 10-day fest, which will screen more than 100 indie films. Tickets start at $16 for screenings — $13 for seniors — but there are terrific free events, like an outdoor screening at the Queens Museum.
Jazz Age Lawn Party; Aug. 26-27
(Governors Island; tickets from $45; jazzagelawnparty.com, check site for times and details)
Calling all fops and flappers: The Jazz Age Lawn Party is the bee’s knees, and the 12th annual edition of this 1920s-inspired gathering looks bigger and splashier than ever. You can watch scandalous Charleston dance numbers or the ladies of the notorious, Ziegfeld-invoking Dreamland Follies. Or shake a leg yourself to sounds of performers like “hot jazz” specialists Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, pianist Peter Mintun, and jazz crooner Queen Esther.
Brighton Beach Jubilee Festival; Aug. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Brighton Beach Ave./Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn; brightonbeach.com)
Presented with Kiwanis International, which helps kids worldwide through different causes, this annual festival celebrates one of New York’s most richly textured communities. You’ll find bargains from local merchants, world-spanning food, and genre-hopping music — performers from Russia and Peru top the roster this year. Now in its 41st year, the fair supports the Brighton Neighborhood Association, whose outreach includes services for immigrants, seniors and tenants.
Brooklyn Book Festival; Sept. 17, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
(Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn; brooklynbookfestival.org)
Doubts about the future of the written word may get put to rest after a walk through this massive annual festival. Hundreds of publishers — from giants to indies — hawk their wares here. Stars like Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie have dropped by in previous years. And not-yet-famous authors gaze hopefully from tables bearing self-published titles. This year, the Brooklyn Book Festival will also host a Children’s Day on Sept. 16 at MetroTech Commons, with spotlight on the world of kid-lit.