Guide to Labor Day Weekend in New York City: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

American Flag in New York City


New York City knows how to celebrate Labor Day. There is something for everybody: art, music, parades, opera, boating, Broadway shows, beer! It's the unofficial end of summer, so everyone is outside enjoying the sunshine before it's time for school and work to heat up. You are sure to have a good time if you're in New York City for labor day. Just make sure to plan ahead as it can get extremely busy with tourists taking advantage of the extra day off work.

01 of 12

Float Your Boat

Statue of Liberty

Classic Harbor Line/Pim Van Hemmen

62 Chelsea Piers, Pier 62, New York, NY 10011, USA
+1 212-627-1825

Let go of your landlubbing ways while the summer sun's still on your side and hit the water. Nothing beats floating a sailboat into the New York Harbor, so head out on one of the sail-powered schooners of Classic Harbor Line at Chelsea Piers.

After you've learned the ropes and built up a sailor's appetite, tuck into some oysters at Tribeca's Grand Banks, a docked schooner boat. If lobster's more your speed, hit up a free mini-cruise with the North River Lobster Company at Pier 81 on 41st Street.

Another great option is to buy tickets to spend the day on the Honorable William Wall, the Manhattan Yacht Club's floating clubhouse in the middle of the Hudson River. You can buy drinks on board, but bring your own food to enjoy. You might see sailboats racing around you.

02 of 12

Nab 2-for-1 Broadway Tickets

Times Square, New York City

Kevin Poh/ Flickr  

The popular biannual Broadway Week ticket promotion runs for two weeks in September, kicking off September 3, the day after Labor Day. While most Broadway theaters are dark on Mondays, you can still nab two-for-one ticket deals for Labor Day performances of some of the most popular shows. Tickets go on sale on August 14.

03 of 12

Listen to Opera Under the Stars

the Met Opera

Metropolitan Opera/Richard Termine

Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023, USA

Pull up a chair in Lincoln Center Plaza for the Metropolitan Opera's free ​Summer HD Festival for screenings of opera productions every night from August 23 through Labor Day. The plaza comes outfitted with more than 3,000 seats, but you'll need to show up early to secure one. Summer HD Festival screenings will go on as scheduled in the case of rain but will be canceled in the event of thunder, lightning, or high wind. Most screenings start at 8 p.m.

04 of 12

Work on Your Tan at Jacob Riis Beach

Jacob Riis Park beach
Padraic / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Jacob Riis Beach is a hotspot all summer long, but the hip scene truly heats up over Labor Day weekend when there are live musicians and cool crowds. The boardwalk is loaded with vendors selling everything from food to vintage clothing, and there are plenty of picnic tables for hanging out and enjoying the sun and surf. Music kicks off at noon at the Riis Boathouse Pavilion. There are also special events including a lobster sunset bash.

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05 of 12

Get Your Art Fix in Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park
Christopher Postlewaite / NYC & Company
One Stuyvesant Oval, New York, NY 10009, USA
+1 212-982-6255

The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit happens twice every year, and the fan show is during Labor Day Weekend. NYC-area artists and artisans set up shop around the Washington Square Park area to show off their goods and chat with people walking by. Swing by to browse or buy contemporary paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and more.

06 of 12

Attend Carnival in Brooklyn

West Indian American Day Parade In Brooklyn Celebrates Caribbean Carnival

Getty Images/Yana Paskova 

Celebrate Caribbean culture and history at the lively New York Caribbean Carnival Parade. This huge event attracts millions of people from all over the world. You'll see dancers in colorful costumes, hear reggae and calypso music, and get to try authentic snacks. The parade takes place on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn on Labor Day. Festivities begin at 11 am and end around 6 pm.

07 of 12

Dance at the Electric Zoo

Electric Zoo nyc music festival

Electric Zoo

20 Randalls Island Park, New York, NY 10035, USA
+1 212-830-7722

Electric Zoo is an electronic dance music festival that brings top acts and 150,000 fans to Randall’s Island Park Friday through Sunday of Labor Day weekend. This festival first started bringing the island to life with trance, bass, techno, and classic house in 2009 and has hopped around the world to Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and China. For the full lineup check the schedule.

08 of 12

Watch Champions Hit the Tennis Court

National Tennis Center

Maxian/Getty Images

The U.S. Open is one Labor Day weekend mainstay that draws in both locals and visitors from around the world. If you're at all interested in tennis, head to the National Tennis Center in Queens' Flushing Meadows­–Corona Park neighborhood, where you can watch the world's best serve up their "A" game. The 2019 tournament runs from August 26 – September 8, 2019. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or on-site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. If you don't want to get a ticket for the tennis get a grounds pass to enjoy the excitement at the tennis center.

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09 of 12

Hang Out in a Brooklyn Backyard

Bushwick Street Art

E. Freudenheim

Bushwick hotspot Nowadays hosts an annual Labor Day barbecue. This year it will take place on Saturday, August 31. The event is free to enter, with food and drinks for purchase. Nowadays usually partners with local breweries, making this a great way to try new beers. You can also play bocce or listen to live music. The outdoor venue is packed with fun locals also making it a great place to people watch.

10 of 12

Go For a Swim

Astoria Park pool

Barry Winiker/Getty Images

The city's public pools close for the season on September 8 making Labor Day weekend a great last opportunity to take a dip. The city has more 50 outdoor pools, all of which are free and open to the public. The Astoria Park pool in Queens is among the best, offering fantastic views of the Manhattan's skyline from the pool deck. Make sure to bring a lock which is required for lockers and entry. Outdoor pool hours are 11 am to 7 pm daily. Between 3 pm and 4 pm the pools are closed for cleaning.

11 of 12

Go Kayaking on the Hudson River

New York Telescope Over Hudson River

James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Late summer is a perfect time to take out a kayak on the Hudson River. The free program usually runs through early October, but with many locals away, Labor Day is a quieter time to try it out. There is free kayaking available in multiple locations across the city include three spots in Hudson River Park (Pier 96, Pier 84, and Pier 26.) Get details on times and exact locations here.

12 of 12

Check out a Quirky Festival

Governors Island

Jerry Trudell the Skys the Limit/Getty Images

Entering its 10th year in 2019, New York City hosts one particularly unique festival over Labor Day weekend: a unicycle festival. The event will take place from August 29 — September 1, 2019 and features performers, lessons, unicycle hockey and basketball, and various workshops. Many events take place on Governors Island, a short ferry ride from lower Manhattan. Others take place from Battery Park to Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island. The festival's tagline says it all: 4 days of one wheel madness.

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12 Fun Things to Do for Labor Day Weekend in New York City