By Alli Hill
Looking for a day outdoors to celebrate wildlife, mountain biking, and other outdoor recreation? You’ve come to the right place. New York’s mild summer and fall weather make it one of the best places to enjoy a day outside, and there’s always something worth celebrating. From festivals and fundraisers to boat shows and races, you’ll want to get off the couch and into the sunshine at these 10 best outdoor festivals in New York!
This epic 10-day event in the busiest city in the country is the best way to reconnect with nature without leaving the concrete jungle. Outdoor enthusiasts can unite to share their passion for the great outdoors and transform the city into a harmonious blend of natural and urban surroundings. Part of the event includes an optional campout that features 24 hours of yoga, slacklining, tent living, hammocks, outdoor games, trail running classes, and workshops teaching outdoor skills like starting a fire. It’s the best combination of city and outdoor living you’ll find in the state. The event is sponsored by some of the best names in outdoor lifestyles, including Clif, Columbia, Salomon, Filson, and Sierra Nevada. Event organizers include Sailors NYC, New York City Wild, Best Made Company, Rooftop Reds, Red Hook Boaters, and Gotham Bicycle Tours, among others.
Home to over one million acres of the Adirondack State Park, Hamilton County’s annual Birding Festival is THE time and place to discover the amazing birds of the Adirondacks. The festival includes lodging for three nights at the Sagamore birdwatching excursions, a dinner cruise on the W.W. Durant, barbecue night, live music, and much more.
Celebrating 28 years and counting, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is isn’t your typical boat race. Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese event dating back over 2,000 years. Included on the festival itinerary are the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, Echo Music jam band, dance troupe, Shaolin masters, storytelling by Jonathan Kruk, an arts and crafts tent, and more. This two-day adventure takes place in Flushing Meadows Park and is open free to the public.
This thrilling bike adventure spans three days and plenty of activities for adults and kids alike. You and your group can camp on-site and enjoy live music, local brews and food, group bike rides, and bike demos. There’s also a kids-only mountain bike race so they can get in on the action. The huge network of trails here takes you to some of the best views of the Adirondacks and forest, including a three-mile downhill run that will leave you breathless.
Celebrating its 56th year, this four-day canoe race is the one of the most highly anticipated spring events in New York. They offer a race for every skill level, from five miles up to 70 miles, as well as 5K for those who’d rather not leave dry land. There’s always a selection of kiddie rides, live music, vendors, and better-than-fair food to make you want to attend every day of the event.
This four-day dirt bike fest is sure to get your motor revvin’! Dedicated to all things dirty and daring, this event is packed with adventure rides through Adirondack Park, bike demos, obstacles, contests, and the on-site Adventure Bike School. Whether you’re interested in learning the ways of the dirt bike or have been riding for years, this event will keep you on the edge of your seat and in high gear from start to finish line. Vendors this year include AJP Motorcycles, MotoVermont, ADV Moto, Suzuki, Beta Motorcycles, Zowa Optics, and Scramblers and Schemers, among other top names.
There’s no better time to explore Wildwood State Park than when fall comes knocking. This family-friendly fall festival features craft vendors, a petting zoo, pony rides, inflatables, and other games to delight kids and their parents. Just $10 per car grants you access to all the fun, plus you can enjoy all the other great features of Wildwood State Park, including camping, hiking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds.
Hosted by the Wildlife Educators Coalition, this animal-loving festival in Letchworth State Park will feature over 100 animals on display, from birds to wild cats to reptiles and more. Highlighting both local wildlife and exotic animals, guests can enjoy live animal shows, kid-friendly activities, a petting zoo, food trucks and more. If you’ve ever wanted to get up close to animals, this is your perfect chance—and it’s free!
This competitive paddling event is just as thrilling for bystanders as it is for the athletes. Enjoy one last boat outing before cold weather sets at this day-long regatta, with registration starting at the Adirondack Hotel. Competitors will push off from Long Lake Town Beach and venturing to the south end of the lake before coming back for a grand finish.
Sweetbriar Nature Center’s annual wildlife and craft fair has a little something for everyone: games, animal shows, craft vendors, live music, and face painting kick off the event. But the real crowning jewel of the festival will be the grand opening of their enclosed Butterfly Garden, where you’ll be guaranteed to see more butterflies during this festival than any other day. At just $10 per carload, you can’t get a better value for entertainment.