MLK Jr. Weekend in New York: The Best Activities to Do With Kids

girl wearing green jacket playing with bubbles

What better way to spend a long weekend off of school than by celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. While some families like to take this time to relax after the first couple weeks back at school, others like to go out and spend time with their family while getting involved in some fun activities. The next question comes across many parents’ minds, How should we spend the break? If you’ve been having trouble making plans, we’ve whipped up a list of what events are going on throughout the four boroughs for MLK weekend in New York!

Looking for more adventures to embark on in NYC? Read about: Trampoline Parks and Activities in New York for Kids


MLK Day Recess Fashion Camp – Bryant Park
1220 5th Ave.
January 20, Full-Day: 9 am- 5 pm, Half Day: 10 am-3 pm
Prices vary per class

Is your kid a future designer? Then this Fashion Class is the place they would want to be! The MLK Day Recess Fashion Camp is for kids ages 6-12 and allows for little fashionistas to get hands-on experience while having fun. Kids learn how to sew and sketch apparel, and projects can be completed and taken home. Once the hard work of sewing is done, campers have an opportunity to have some fun with fab lessons that teach kids how to illustrate a fashion design, conceptualizing and creating a fictional clothing line, and many more amazing skills fashion designers use every day! The camp provides all fabrics and supplies. Registration is required.

Annual Black Comic Book Festival – Harlem
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
January 17- 18, 10 am- 8 pm
Free Admission

Comic book fans will enjoy participating in the Eighth Annual Black Comic Book Festival at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Creators, illustrators, writers, and independent publishers come from all over to participate with fellow comic book enthusiasts. The festival has a wide range of activities for all ages such as interactive panel discussions, a vendor marketplace featuring exclusive titles by Black creators, a cosplay show, and more. The Schomburg Center encourages participants to bring a comic book from home to add to the collection of Black independent comic books. Get into your best cosplay costume and head down to the center to brighten up your long weekend!

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Museum of The City of New York – East Harlem
1220 5th Ave.
January 20, 11 am- 2 pm
Free with Museum Admission

If you or your child is a history junkie, then this event is just the thing for your family. MCNY has many activities to participate in to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through storytime, art-making, and scavenger hunts, kids are able to learn about MLK’s work. 

MLK Day of Service in NYC – Multiple Locations
January 20
Free Admission

Celebrate this holiday by giving back to the community! MLK Day is a national day of service in honor of Dr. King and his legacy. Families can volunteer at many different facilities across the city in order to better the community. From feeding the needy to being a volunteer tutor, there are many volunteer opportunities that you can get involved in to start off the new year right! MLK devoted his life to service and what better way to celebrate his life than to give back!

32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March – Harlem
West 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard
January 20, 10 am- 2pm
Free Admission

Eighth graders of Manhattan Country School honor the life of MLK by walking the streets of Manhattan speaking about the most prevalent civil rights issues today. The eighth-graders are in charge of coming up with a theme for the walk while also writing speeches to share. Participants start their walk in Harlem and end at the Manhattan Country School on the Upper West Side. Families of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to be part of this uplifting and educational event!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Matinee Show – Midtown
235 W 46th St.
January 20, Doors open at 11 am, Show starts at 12:30 pm
$25 in advance, $30 at the door 

The world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir will be performing gospels and other inspirational songs to celebrate MLK Day. The choir is made up of singers from Harlem’s Black Churches and the Tri-State area. The choir sings in order to lift people’s spirits the same way MLK did and welcomes people of all backgrounds to join them. All ages can join in on the event that will teach you a little more about Harlem culture!



Annual Brooklyn Tribute to MLK at BAM – Fort Greene
30 Lafayette Ave.
January 20, 10:30 am
Free Admission

If you want another way to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., The Brooklyn Academy of Music put together New York City’s largest public celebration in honor of the beloved civil rights activist. Activists, civil rights leaders, and public figures come together to celebrate alongside musical guests. BAM’s message to its participants is to keep equality, peace, and hope alive. Families can enjoy the music and be open to inspiration by coming to this extraordinary event.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations at Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Crown Heights
145 Brooklyn Ave.
January 18-20, 11 am-5 pm
$13 per person

Participate in hands-on activities while also bringing about change at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum! Throughout the long weekend, the museum will be putting on programs for kids of all different ages to have fun on their days off. Each day, kids will have the opportunity to create a Peace Box in ColorLab, be part of a volunteer project with Repair The World, as well as enjoy storytelling in the Sensory Room. On MLK Day, there is a special program called Let Freedom Ring Shadow Puppetry Workshop.

10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Storytelling and Music Celebration – Prospect Leffert Gardens
1800 Bedford Ave.
January 20, 11 am- 3 pm
Free Admission

Beginning in 2011, The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association has put on this annual event to foster literacy and awareness of the Civil Rights Movement. This volunteer-run event combines storytelling and music to create a wonderful celebration. This year’s event has presentations by author and illustrator Sharee Miller who will read her books Princess Hair and Don’t Touch My Hair. You will also be hearing from author and activist Anastasia Higginbotham who will also be reading from her book, Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness. The event continues with arts and crafts, an interactive drumming workshop, performances from local musicians, and a complimentary lunch. With all of these activities to choose from, this event is hard to pass up!

Celebrate Africa at Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture – Park Slope
53 Prospect Park West
January 20, 3 pm-5:30 pm
$20 children 3 to 12 years old ( $25 at the door), Free for children 2 or younger, $10 for adults and teens accompanying a child. ( $15 at the door) 

Come on out and get ready to dance! The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture brings Families Celebrate Africa, which allows participants to celebrate MLK through the art of dance. Experienced dancers will guide both kids and parents through the steps of African Dance while musical guests perform songs about MLK’s life. Besides dancing, the event will have drumming, face painting, African drawings and crafts, and activities. While your family has a ball, you can also raise money! All proceeds from this event will help provide scholarships for BSEC’s Ethics for Children Classes as well as help with their campaign for an accessibility ramp.



MLK Day of Service 2020: Inwood Hill Park Forest Restoration – Forest Park
83-1 Woodhaven Blvd.
January 20, 9 am-12 pm
Free admission

One of the many ways you can lend a helping hand on MLK’s Day of Service is by stopping by the Inwood Hill Park. Families and people of all ages come out to help their community grow and flourish. Volunteers are able to identify and safely remove invasive plants to help create a better ecosystem, as well as help clean up any trash or empty bottles lying around.

Queens Library – Jamaica
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
January 18, 1 pm-3 pm
Free admission

Does your child know who Martin Luther King Jr. was? Would you like them to learn why he was such an important man? The Queens Public Library is here to help you accomplish that! With a variety of events, kids of all different ages can come and learn who MLK was just in time for his special day.



Create a Freedom Quilt at Wave Hill – Riverdale
649 W. 249th St.
January 18-19, 10 am-1 pm
Free admission

In 1966 Martin Luther King Kr. visited the Gee’s Bend community in Alabama and found the Freedom Quilting Bee. These quilts that were made up of scraps later went on to fund aspects of the community’s freedom. Kids of all ages are asked to take part in creating their own quilt from scratch in memory of MLK and the quilters of Gee’s bend.

Family Art Projects at Will Hill: Make Freedom Pillows – Riverdale
649 W. 249th St.
January 19, 10 am-1 pm
Free admission

Will Hill is the place to be this MLK weekend! In the spirit of Dr. King, kids are asked to create a Freedom Pillow that showcases their own dream of freedom. Using traditional African American quilting techniques, kids can choose from an array of cloth, yarn, and felt to create the pillow that, as MLK said, is their dream. This event is not only for kids but for parents as well in order to learn more about this national holiday as a family!   

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