11 Ways NYC Families Can Do More on MLK Day

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Find Martin Luther King Day events in NYC for everyone in the family, including those with little hands and big hearts!

The kids just got back in school, but another day off is on the horizon. The city (and the country) observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday in January, which in 2023 falls on January 16. The day celebrates the life and legacy of the civil rights movement leader, who was dedicated to ending segregation in the US and promoting racial equality. Today, his words of wisdom are as relevant as ever. Celebrate, remember and relax with the kids, both on that Monday and the weekend that precedes it. Join a commemorative celebration, learn about the man and his achievements, make themed crafts and edible treats, volunteer your time, and do more around NYC in honor of American hero Dr. King. There’s plenty to do for the holiday this year, which means there’s something for everyone here—and options in every borough!


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Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day throughout NYC

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at NYC Parks

Volunteer to help make your parks more beautiful for everyone in the community with NYC Parks' Day of Service events. Learn about and care for the city's trees and plants with various family volunteering opportunities. Activities include cleaning up, adding and aerating mulch, providing off-season care to plants, and more ways that big and small hands alike can help. This event is held across a number of different parks, so you can look for ways to help out close to home.

Price: Free

Various times and locations
Online: nycgovparks.org

Volunteer with Repair the World

What better way is there to honor the civil rights movements than to give your time to volunteer as a family? Repair the World is a Jewish organization that serves communities in pursuit of equality and justice for everyone. There are a number of opportunities to volunteer as a family during this year's MLK weekend and Monday (and beyond!), which kicks off with a "We <3 NYC MLK Shabbat" event in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Help repair gardening beds, put together hygiene packs, or even help build a free food database from home. There are many ways to help and get the kids involved!

Price: Free

Various dates, times, and locations
Online: werepair.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Events at the NY Historical Society

The NY Historical Society has several events planned in honor of MLK Day. Join the museum on Sunday, January 15 for a special Sunday Story Time, featuring "Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem" by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman. Following the readalong, kids will make their own guitar crafts. Make Monday a day in and join the museum on Zoom for "Living History @ Home: Cooking for the Civil Rights Movement," which celebrates the contributions and shines a light on the roles of black women in the civil rights movement. Plus, bake a sweet potato pie! Finally, join the museum on Zoom again as you read along to "Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song," written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, followed by a microphone-making craft.

Price: Virtual events are free and in-person events are free with museum admission

Various dates and times
NY Historical Society
170 Central Park West
Upper West Side
Online: nyhistory.org

Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Manhattan

MLK Day: All You Knead is Love Camp at Taste Buds Kitchen

While not specifically related to MLK Day, this camp for aspiring chefs will make sure the day off doesn't pass them by without some learning. Kids will learn to bake delicious bready treats at this school holiday mini-camp. Focusing on bread kneading techniques, children in attendance will learn to make chocolate babkas, savory flatbreads, and flavorful garlic knots. The class will teach kids what their kneading does to the dough, and give them skills they can use in the future. This mini-camp will be held in two sessions for different age groups (see below for details) and all recipes are vegetarian.

Price: $115 per child

Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (ages 4-8) and 1-4 p.m. (ages 9-13)
Taste Buds Kitchen
109 West 27th St.
Chelsea
Online: tastebudskitchen.com, ages 4-8 and ages 9-13

Harlem Gospel Choir at Sony Hall

The world-renowned Harlem Gospel Choir at their Martin Luther King Jr. Day Matinee. The event is a tribute both to the legacy of the man, and to the founding of the Choir in 1986 by Allen Bailey, who got the idea for the Choir while attending a celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Things come full-circle! Note that when you buy tickets, you're only guaranteeing that you'll get seats, not reserving specific seats. Show up early to get better seats—they fill up fast!

Price: $36 and up

Mon., Jan. 16, 1:30 p.m.
Sony Hall
235 West 46th St.
Midtown
Online: ticketmaster.com

Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Brooklyn

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. at the Brooklyn Children's Museum

Join the Brooklyn Children's Museum for a special long weekend celebration of Dr. King, featuring interactive performances, protest matches, community art programs, and volunteering opportunities. Throughout each day, you'll be able to make puppets with Nehpii Ameni and watch shadow puppet performances, design posters and hold mock protest marches with musician Fyütch, and contribute to the museum's "community dream cloud" in the ColorLab art studio.

Price: Free with museum admission

Sat., Jan. 14-Mon., Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Brooklyn Children's Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
Online: brooklynkids.org

37th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at BAM 

The annual celebration at BAM kicks off with music, performances, and a keynote speech by civil rights lawyer and former President and Director-Counsel of LDF (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Sherrilyn Ifill. This year's theme is an especially pressing one: Defending Democracy. Following the speech, watch performances by Allison Russell and Sing Harlem, whether you attend in person, or catch the livestream.

Price: Free

Mon., Jan. 16, 10:30 a.m.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave.
Fort Greene
Online: bam.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Day School Holiday in Prospect Park

The Prospect Park Alliance invites kids to take advantage of their day off from school by exploring nature in the park. The event will consist of three sections. Families can grab a discovery pack from 12-3 p.m., which is filled with activities and tools to make exploration educational and fun. From 2 to 3 p.m., the Audubon Center's Naturalists will be sharing information about the animals in the Center's collection at an Animal Encounter event. Finally, the Winter Wilderness Walk from 3 to 4 p.m. will introduce kids to discovering animal tracks in the snow, answer questions about how nature survives the cold of winter, and more.

Price: Free

Mon., Jan. 16, 12-4 p.m.
Prospect Park Audubon Center
101 East Dr.,
Prospect Park
Online: prospectpark.org

Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Bronx

Freedom Quilters of Gee’s Bend at Wave Hill

Families can get together and create their own quilt from fabric scraps at this Wave Hill Family Art Project. The craft was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Gee's Bed in Alabama in 1966. On this visit, he contributed to the founding of the Freedom Quilting Bee, which would go on to help fund the community's freedom. Learn more about the history and culture behind these quilts as you make your own with bright fabric squares and shapes, guided by Wave Hill staff.

Price: Free with admission

Sat., Jan. 14 and Sun., Jan. 15, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Wave Hill
4900 Independence Ave.
Riverdale
Online: wavehill.org

 

Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Queens

Annual MLK Day Celebration at Kupferberg Center for the Arts

Join award-winning singer and performer Samara Joy for the KCA's annual MLK Jr. Day celebration. The concert will feature Samara's jazzy renditions of well-known songs from the Great American Songbook. You'll also be treated to a keynote address, a recognition ceremony, and a reception following the show.

Price: $25 and up

Sun., Jan. 15, 3 p.m.
Kupferberg Center for the Arts
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing
Online: ticketmaster.com

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Queens Botanical Garden

Take part in this community celebration with the Queens Botanical Garden. Visit to enjoy craft making, storytime, and a guided walk through the wintery grounds of the garden. This event focuses on promoting love, hope, and unity, and is recommended for ages 5 and up.

Price: Free, $5 suggested donation

Mon., Jan. 16
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main St.
Flushing
Online: eventbrite.com

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