The Best NYC Summer Food Festivals and Book Fairs
From dumpling crawls across Queens to city-wide literary celebrations, there are plenty of free and affordable NYC summer food festivals and book fairs to consider this season.
Community gatherings are one of life’s simple pleasures. Whether it’s a neighborhood cookout, a picnic in the park, a big festival or a weekly market, you can count on a good time whenever food, artists and their patrons all get together. Luckily, NYC’s ever-expanding book and food fair circuits offer ample opportunity to experience precisely that configuration of cultural institutions and access to the talents behind them.
And though the NYPD is actively and inexplicably cracking down on the block parties and sidewalk BBQs that define the city, especially in these summer months, there are still plenty of free and affordable events to get your fix of local libations and literary curations. And for those seeking out a few street fairs to fill out their weekends this season, the city’s got you covered there, too.
Here’s our guide to upcoming food and book fairs across the five boroughs this summer.
W 133rd & 12 Ave.
Every second Thursday from 4pm to 10pm until October 12th.
NYC’s largest food & cultural festival is back for its third season. This night market runs every second Thursday from April to October. The remaining dates this season are 7/13, 8/10, 9/14, 10/12. Don’t miss the live music, food & fun under the arches in West Harlem.
Prospect Park, The Oculus, and Marsha P. Johnson State Park
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.
Once a pretty singular weekly gathering of local food vendors by the water in Wiliamsburg, Smorgasburg has expanded to three days of food and festivities in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Now, every Friday at The Oculus, every Saturday at Marsha P. Johnson Park, and every Sunday on Breeze Hill in Prospect Park, you can find a wide array of tastes sourced from around the city.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York Hall of Science
Every Saturday from 5pm to midnight, starting June 17th.
A large, family-friendly, open-air night market featuring up to 100 independent vendors selling merchandise, art, and of course, food. Come for the food, stay for the cultural performances honoring the diversity of NYC and Queens.
1 Fordham Plaza
Every last Saturday from 5pm to midnight, starting June 24th.
Entering a sixth season, Bronx Night Market is returning to Fordham Plaza with more than 50 vendors from all corners of the brolic borough on the last Saturday of every month from this weekend until the end of October. Expect a wide and personality-packed selection of tacos, burgers, fishcakes, roti, and everything between and well beyond. The remaining dates this season are 7/29, 8/26, 9/30, and 10/28.
Washington Square Park
Saturday, June 24, 10am to 6pm.
Launching in Washington Square Park on June 24th, the first annual Dragon Fest is a traveling showcase of vendors repping heavy-hitters from across the city’s acclaimed Chinese food circuit. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up landmark dishes from otherwise perpetually-slammed institutions, like the lauded and loud hot chili chicken from Pecking House or the expertly-executed dim sum staples from Nom Wah. There will be four Dragon Fest events in total this summer returning on 8/26, 8/27 and 9/17, all of which require a free RSVP.
Every last Monday from 4pm to 10pm, starting June 26th.
Following the success of their inaugural run last summer, Brooklyn Night Market is back for a second season. Though the vendors have yet to be announced, you can count on a dynamic roster of local eateries to be lining the narrow alleys of Industry City. Last year’s festivities averaged more than 4,000 heads and 40 stalls per event. A free RSVP is required to attend. The remaining dates this season are 6/26, 7/31, 8/28, 9/25, and 10/30 in Industry City.
100 W. 77th St.
Every Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
Grand Bazaar’s weekly curated markets and fairs are a great way to experience vendors, crafts, and vintage garbs, from across the city. Catch one of their food events just steps away from The Natural History Museum and its future-proofed and very Instagramable addition or do a little thrifting at one of the craft fairs at their satellite locations in Midtown. Refer to their calendar for the full slate of upcoming events.
Sunday, September 24th.
Since 2012 in Jackson Heights, Queens, dozens of vendors have competed for the title of best dumpling. This year at the 11th annual Momo Crawl, participants can purchase tickets that give them access to a map of participating vendors and a ballot to vote for their favorite momo, offered for just $1! The time of the crawl has yet to be announced, but save the date and a little cash for the day-long, season-closing belly-buster of a hunt. Keep an eye on their Instagram for details in the weeks ahead.
Every Saturday until November 11th.
A literary fair with a mission, the Brooklyn Book Bodega is attempting to flood book deserts with free used books for attendees. Catch them at the launch of East New York’s weekly farmer’s market at 613 New Lots Ave or at the Better Health Better Living Fair in Commodore Barry Park on Saturday, June 24th and consult their events calendar for additional pop-ups across the borough.
The Harvest Room
Saturday, July 15, from 11am to 2pm.
Hosted by Beyond the Abuse, the 5th annual Queens Book Fair brings a fun and diverse range of authors, poets & artists including book winning contests, giveaways and more! Event is Free, though $5 donations are encouraged. RSVP here.
September 24th to October 2nd.
Close out the summer with a week-long, city-spanning celebration of writers, authors, and, more broadly, appreciators of enduring literature, with the latest installment of the Brooklyn Book Festival. This year’s program includes a virtual gathering on September 24th, a Children’s Day at Brooklyn Commons in Downtown Brooklyn, themed “Bookend” events all week across libraries, bookstores, and community centers, throughout the city, and the culminating festival, which is set to be held at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall on October 1st, where attendees can meet and greet their favorite authors, take part in workshops, and hit the marketplace to pick up new and used titles.