As soon as the icy air of the colder months starts to lift and you can actually wear dresses and shorts again without freezing, NYC street fairs start to show up in almost every Borough in New York. These street fairs entail any number of stands selling consumer goods, tasty fair foods and even fine arts and crafts.
Some fairs in NYC feature live musicians, free street acts or kid-friendly booths such as face painting and balloon art. Many fairs focus on specific heritages or themes, while others don't seem to have any rhyme or reason and just spring up on the streets of New York. The one thing that holds true for each NYC street fair, however, is that it has plenty of fans, and plenty of haters.
Fans of NYC street fairs love that these events bring people out into the streets to enjoy the sunshine, and argue that street fairs boost local economies in very positive ways. The smells and sights of NYC street fairs are so dear to many NYC tourists and residents that people have even created YouTube videos like this one that does nothing more than showcase clips of a street fair in NYC in 2008.
Street fairs are great weekend destinations for people of all walks of life and highlight quirky sales, delicious food and unique sights only to be found in such a diverse city as NYC. And perhaps the best part about them, they are almost always free to go to! So even if spending your hard earned cash isn't quite what you're looking for, NYC street fairs can be great places to enjoy a sunny afternoon stroll people watching.
Of course, there are plenty of folks who think that NYC street fairs are - dare we say it? - a complete abomination. Street fairs can clog up the roads, create too much noise for residential neighborhoods, leave behind trash and even cause altered public transportation routes.
Rather than seeing the hustle and bustle as fun seasonal excitement, these critics go as far as to suggest that the wares sold at NYC street fairs are cheap and not worth consumers' time or money. As far as the local economy goes, it has been said that businesses next to street fairs sometimes even shut their doors during fair hours to avoid the large crowds.
If you haven't guessed already, we are of the camp that thinks that street fairs are some of the most awesome things to do in New York City when the weather is good. NYC is a huge city and it never pretended to be devoid of funky finds, interesting smells, lots of noise and massive crowds. If anything, NYC street fairs are just the quintessential representations of all that makes New York City a great place to live and to travel.
Huge numbers of different types of people end up at street fairs and all join to enjoy the summer weather and peruse the offerings of these "NYC garage sales." Street fairs provide free entertainment, great shopping opportunities and fun things to do with the whole family when it's nice out. Whether you are an NYC local ready to spend a New York weekend in time-proven style, or an NYC Tourist excited to experience the city in all of its glory, NYC street fairs are a great place to spend a few hours this summer.
Why not join in the debate yourself? Here are a few of our top choices for NYC street fairs taking place this August. Check one or more of them out while you are in NYC and then let us know what you think on our NYC Tourist Facebook or our Twitter. And don't forget to follow us on Google + too!
- Summer Streets: This awesome NYC street fair encourages everyone to ditch cars and indoor-activities and run, walk, bike, play and adventure all the way from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park on Park Avenue. Not only does this fair include the classic vendor booths and foods, but it aslo has fun activities like rock climbing, zip lining and picnicing. Summer Streets NYC takes place on three Saturdays; August 4th, 11th and 18th, from 7am-1pm.
- FlyNY 2012 Kite Festival: Let's Go Fly a Kite! Oh wait, that's from Mary Poppins...this is something a bit different. Well, not really that different! Grab your own kite whether it's from the store or something you whipped up at home with the kids and fly kites over the Hudson river! Booths here will include kite-making stations as well as other free entertainment and activities. FlyNY 2012 will happen Saturday, August 18th from 11am-3pm on Pier 1 in Riverside Park South, Manhattan.
- Fringe NYC Festival: The Fringe Festival in NYC is all about the arts and has over 200 companies from all over the world that perform for the public. This year will mark its 16th anniversary and it's sure to be a fun one! This festival will take place on the 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th of August on 4th Street between Second Avenue and Bowery from 1pm-8pm.
- Hudson River Parks Blues BBQ: It just might not get better than this for a summertime festival; enjoy NYC's best BBQ restaurants and some of the top blues music around! This free festival is at 2pm on August 25th at Pier 84. Enjoy delicious food and great tunes all with beautiful views of the river.
While the above events are some of the biggest ones NYC sees each year, the city is full of great smaller street fairs all summer long. Check this NYC street fairs calendar to get up-to-date information on all of the upcoming street fairs so that you can make sure to catch one on your next trip to the Big Apple!