Cultural Festivals in the New York Metro Area

Cultural Festivals in the New York Metro Area


Updated: August 2015. We’re lucky to live in the New York metro area, a virtual melting pot of cultures. So if your budget doesn’t allow for family jaunts to India, South Africa, and other exotic locales, you can still introduce your kids to the cultures of the world in your own backyard by attending one of these celebrations in Rockland, Westchester, and Fairfield counties, as well as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island.


Rockland County Cultural Festivals

Greek Festival
Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, West Nyack
Our region’s largest celebration of Greek culture is a staple of early summer. Kids can experience homemade Greek food, authentic music and dancing, plus rides and other entertainment.

Congers-Valley Cottage Italian Festival
Congers Station Park, Congers
This popular annual event, held in late September, features live entertainment, food and desserts from local restaurants, crafts, specialty vendors, and Italian-themed novelty items.

Redhawk Native American Arts Council Pow Wow
Harriman State Park
The Redhawk Native American Arts Council hosts four of the largest Native American Pow Wows in New York and New Jersey. These annual summer events feature Native American food, music, dance, crafts, art, storytelling, and more.


Westchester County Cultural Festivals

Asian Heritage Celebration
Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla
Kids can sample Asian foods and experience the arts and entertainment of this region at this festival held in late spring. Highlights include hands-on cultural crafts and live music and dance performances representing many Asian countries, such as China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Burma.

Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow
Held over Labor Day Weekend, this celebration is the region’s only corn festival. Kids and parents alike can compete in corn shucking competitions, learn how to make corn husk dolls, wind their way through a maize maze, enjoy historic (and modern) cooking demonstrations, enjoy live music, snack on free popcorn, and more.

Discover Pinkster!
Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow
This African-American celebration of spring dates back to the 17th century in the Hudson Valley. The modern-day version, held in May, re-creates the spring holiday with a rousing colonial-style celebration. Festivities include lively presentations of drumming and traditional dance, African folktales, and demonstrations of traditional African instruments and utilitarian wares.

Redhawk Native American Arts Council Pow Wow
FDR State Park, Yorktown Heights
The Redhawk Native American Arts Council hosts four of the largest Native American Pow Wows in New York and New Jersey. This annual late summer/early fall event features more than 500 Native American artists, educators, singers, dancers, and performing groups from across the Americas, plus traditional food, music, dance, crafts, art, storytelling, and more.


Manhattan Cultural Festivals

Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow Wow
Theater for the New City, East Village
This troupe that represents more than 40 Native American nations comes together for several days in late January or early February to present dances, stories, and traditional music from the Iroquois and Native peoples of the Northwest Coast, the Southwest, the Plains, and the Arctic regions.

Egg Rolls, Egg Creams & Empanadas Festival
Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., Lower East Side
This cross-cultural celebration of the Jewish and Chinese communities of the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood, typically held in early to mid-June, includes Chinese opera and acrobatics, klezmer music, Yiddish and Mandarin language lessons, scribal arts, challah making, food and folk art demonstrations, Eldridge Street Synagogue tours, and more.

Bastille Day
French Institute Alliance Francaise, Upper East Side
In mid July, this festival celebrates French culture with traditional music, food, and artists and artisans from various regions of France and other French-speaking countries.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., Chinatown
This September festival celebrates the traditional Chinese harvest celebrations that take place throughout East Asia on the full moon day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Learn about Chinese culture through storytelling, arts and crafts, performances, and tours of the museum’s galleries.

Feast of San Gennaro
Little Italy
Although this is a celebration of faith, this multi-day Italian festival held each September is known throughout the world for its festive atmosphere, colorful parades, musical entertainment, wide variety of ethnic foods, and cannoli-eating competition.

Korean Parade & Festival
Held in early October, this event celebrates Korean culture with a colorful parade, authentic cuisine and crafts, dance and music performances, and more.


Brooklyn Cultural Festivals

Sakura Matsuri: Cherry Blossom Festival
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 900 Washington Ave., Prospect Park
This annual festival, held in late April or early May, celebrates Hanami, the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. The festival features performances, demonstrations, and family activities that help visitors learn about both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.

Gateway to Nations Powwow
Floyd Bennett Field, 50 Aviation Road, Lower Brooklyn
Held in early June by the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, this annual Native American heritage celebration features traditional music, singing, dancing, artists, jewelry, crafts, and food. In the past, the festival has included more than 500 Native performers from across North America.

International African Arts Festival
Commodore Barry Park, Navy Street and Park Avenue, Vinegar Hill
Held in early July, this four-day celebration of African culture has been a summer staple in Brooklyn since 1971. It features an African marketplace with traditional crafts and fashion items, dance and music performances, food, and more.


Queens Cultural Festivals

Annual Grand Mid-Summer Pow Wow
Queens County Farm Museum, Floral Park
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, a group representing more than 40 Native American nations, come together to perform in a traditional dance showcase over a long weekend in late July. The event also features Native American food, art, and crafts.

Greek Festival
St. Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th Drive, Astoria
Held in May, this annual celebration of Greek culture spans several days and includes music, Greek food and pastries, a flea market and boutique, children’s games and rides, and more.


Long Island Cultural Festivals

Asian Festival
North Hempstead Beach Park, Port Washington
Held in May for the past three years, this event spotlights Asian culture through food, folk art, and performances from Japan, India, China, Korea, and Pakistan. Look for performances and folk art that include Japanese Taiko drumming, traditional Chinese lion dancers, Indian henna tattooing, and a Korean Hanbok fashion show.

Scottish Games
Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury
Held over a weekend in late August, this festival has celebrated Scottish heritage for more than a half century with bagpipes, caber tossing, highland dancing, and other cultural entertainment. These Games are a nod to those used by the ancient highland chieftains to help them select the strongest men for their armies. 

Shinnecock Powwow
Shinnecock Indian Reservation, Southampton
Held in late August or early September, this annual gathering of Native Americans features drum and dance contest, award-winning performers, vendors selling traditional arts and crafts, Native foods, and more.

Grande Festa Italiana
North Hempstead Beach Park, Port Washington
This festival, held annually in early September, is both the largest and oldest Italian feast on Long Island. Along with the rides, fireworks, and live music, kids can enjoy sampling a variety of Italian foods and watching cooking demonstrations, which will help them understand the role food plays in Italian culture.


Fairfield County, CT Cultural Festivals

Bon Odori (Summer Festival)
Jesup Green, Jesup Road, Westport
Typically held in mid- to late summer, this festival celebrates a time when Japanese people traditionally return to their ancestral homes to pay homage to their ancestors. The festival typically includes Taiko drum performances, martial arts demonstrations, participatory dance, and activities for children.

Heritage India Festival
Fairfield Town Hall Green, 725 Old Post Road, Fairfield
The Hindu Cultural Center of Connecticut (based in Stratford) hosted the first Heritage India Festival in September of 2007, and it is now the largest ongoing Indian community event in Connecticut. In 2012, the festival featured musical performances, henna artistry, yoga demonstrations, Indian cuisine, and more than 40 artists selling arts and crafts, jewelry, and other traditional items.


Also see:

One Adventurous Dad Shares Why Traveling With Kids Is Important

Cultural Adventures in Your Own Backyard

Main photo: Dancers at the French Institute Alliance Francaise's Bastille Day celebration.
Photo by Sasha Arutyunova