Our list of fun things to do in Brooklyn this August includes low-cost summer events in Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Williamsburg, and nearby on Staten Island and Governors Island.
Waterfront Museum, Red Hook
Pirate School isn’t really a “school” per se, but rather an interactive, one-man, vaudeville-inspired performance. Bumbling professor Billy Bones (played by comedian/actor David Engel) attempts to teach kids how to be a classic pirate. In full pirate effect, he instructs young audience members on how to talk, stand, sing, and generally behave like a pirate in the 1600s. All the while, parrots squawk, skulls crack jokes, and the atmosphere is pure slapstick. Engel, a veteran of TV, film, and notable theater companies throughout the world, combines his comedic antics with magic, puppets, crazy music with special effects, and elements of clown theater.
Prospect Park Bandshell, Park Slope
It seems like yesterday that many of us parents first heard about They Might Be Giants—yesterday being 1986 via the duo’s breakout hit “Don’t Let’s Start.” They redefined the word “quirky”: drum machines and accordions by two kinda nerdy (for that time anyway) guys named John (Linnell and Flansburgh). But they were funny and our girlfriends loved them! Over the course of nearly 30 years, TMBG has won Grammy awards and released 16 studio albums, three of which are for the kids (Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s, and Here Comes Science), and their songs are all over television (they performed the theme song for Malcolm in the Middle). The band’s aforementioned kids’ music finds them all over nearly every cable outlet from Playhouse Disney to Nickelodeon. Thus, They Might Be Giants, armed with quirk and loads of the “funny,” will entertain everybody when they drop by Celebrate Brooklyn.
The Dirty Sock Funtime Band has often been described as raucous, but in a family-friendly way. They’ve been performing throughout our fair borough (the band’s home base) and throughout the world. Or perhaps you’ve witnessed them on Nick, Jr.’s Jack’s Big Music Show. The Socks don’t merely come out and play songs with the expectation that kids will dance around. Their performances are interactive, featuring songs that are educational but also silly. Kids will also be led through dance routines courtesy of the band’s resident funny guy, Mr. Clown, who wears the distinction of having invented Rock Clowning—the art of rocking out and clowning out. FREE!
Boardwalk and West 10th Street, Coney Island
Jimi Hendrix once wrote: “Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.” And while that may be true, sandcastles are still fun to make and admire between the tides. In fact, the Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest will leave you amazed. Kids, adults, seniors, and everyone in between can put their best creative feet forward to win a “best sculpture” prize in several age categories, either individually or in groups. This is NYC, so some great talent comes down to show off their shovel skills, and the results are indeed awe-inspiring: gargoyle-like demons, sea monsters galore, mermaids of course, Harry Potter-inspired castles, political commentary…. Last year’s winner in the Children and Adults Mixed category was actor Vincent D’Onofrio, from the TV show Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He and his family sculpted a treasure chest guarded by skeletons and decorated with gold coins. Best to think of an idea beforehand, sketch it out, perhaps practice beforehand, and show up ready to sweat, burn, and sculpt. Or maybe that takes all the fun away? You can register for the contest by visiting astelladevelopment.org/formcontest.html, or just come down to gawk and feed some sand monsters a Nathan’s fried clam or two.
Staten Island Zoo, Staten Island
By the time you’re reading this, you’ve likely been clobbered with back-to-school ads from mega retailers. No need to worry, though; we’re not pitching anything except a fun event at the Staten Island Zoo. Animal Training Demonstration is a three-hour school of sorts in which kids and their families can observe some of the zoo’s animals interacting with trainers and zoo staff. Trainers will be teaching various commands and demonstrating enrichment activities with the animals via toys. It’s the interaction between trainers and animals, however, that truly offers an opportunity to understand the animal’s personality and behavior.
Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO, Coney Island, Williamsburg
It’s still summertime, and the lineup of outdoor entertainment continues. Check out our roundup of outdoor movies to find where you can spread your blanket, settle in, and watch a free flick in the open summer air.
Underwood Park, Fort Greene
The Ebony Hillbillies don’t discriminate when it comes to music that was born from the American experience. The group prides itself on being among the last African-American string bands still working. String bands, featuring banjo, fiddle, an upright bass, and washboard for percussion, were once prevalent in African-American culture, and part of this ensemble’s mission is keeping that legacy alive. Meanwhile, their music covers nearly every traditional sound of Americana: blues, jazz, bluegrass, traditional American folk music, country, and even rock and rockabilly (sans guitars and electricity). Field hollers and plenty of foot stomping and hand clapping establish a rhythm that’s infectious across all age groups. Expect the kids to barge right to the front. FREE!
Aug. 31–Sept. 1
Who needs training wheels? Start your child off on a unicycle! Where can you do that, you ask? At Governors Island’s NYC Unicycle Festival. Last year, 300 riders descended on the island and some 500 spectators gave a one-wheeler a try (there were no casualties reported). Kids and grownups can expect a wide range of fun, unicycle-related activities at the festival, including a race, stunt riders, demonstrations of recreational and mountain-oriented unicycles, extreme unicycling, and circus-inspired displays. We might even see that guy who rides around NYC on a unicycle in a costume covered with aluminum cans. Anybody of any age and ability can also try their luck with a unicycle—rest assured you won’t look silly next to a guy covered in cans. FREE!
It's still summer! Visit a nearby beach
Head to a miniature golf course for some friendly family competition
Search for more fun family activities in our full calendar of events