c. Andrew Gardner

2020 Winter Checklist

December 17, 2019

As we approach 2020, Prospect Park Alliance encourages you to look ahead to the fun that the new year has in store! From fireworks to sledding, winter walks and curling, we’ve put together 7 perfectly-park activities for you to check off your list in the new year. Take a look and we’ll see you in the park. 

Kick of the New Year with Fireworks!
Join Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance for Brooklyn’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza. This free event includes live entertainment followed by fireworks at the stroke of midnight. This family-friendly fireworks display, now in its 40th year, attracts tens of thousands of revelers to Prospect Park, making it one of the city’s most popular celebrations. This event is free and open to the public, and will take place rain or shine. RSVP to let us know that you are coming!


Make the Most of Your Holiday Tree
Join Prospect Park Alliance on January 4 + 11 for Mulchfest! Bring your holiday tree to Prospect Park, where it will go through a chipper and transform into environment-friendly mulch at both 3rd Street and Park Circle Entrances. Plus, you can take some home for your own yard or garden. Learn more about this beloved tradition—including how to volunteer. 

Get Out on the Ice
Enjoy a beloved winter tradition in Prospect Park—head down to the rinks at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for hours of fun. There’s room for all ages and abilities, and make sure to warm up and refuel with hot chocolate at the Bluestone Café. Plus, the rinks aren’t just for ice skating—sign up for a curling lesson, hockey league, and even plan a birthday party at this popular recreational destination. Lakeside is open everyday in-season, including New Years day!

Try a Winter Walk or Run
Looking forward to enjoying Prospect Park’s natural spaces during this beautiful time of year? We can help with that! We’ve put together a suggested Winter Walk in Prospect Park to help you explore Lookout Hill. If running is your preferred speed, don’t miss our Cold Weather Running Tips that will help you make the most of a workout at this time of year. 

Get Ready to Sled!
Both through nature and by design, Prospect Park’s landscape is dotted with rolling hills, which makes it prime territory for winter sledding. When conditions are right, make sure to stop by the top sledding destinations in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Get there early, you’ll be competing with all of Brooklyn for a spot on the slopes!

Game, Set, Match
Planning on making a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? The Prospect Park Tennis Center is the perfect place to meet your goals while enjoying this fun activity. Play under the bubble on the facility’s indoor courts all winter long and improve your tennis—whether you’re a beginner or just hoping to take your game to the next level. 

Martin Seck

Winter Recess Festivities at Prospect Park

November 19, 2019

Prospect Park Alliance interrupts your regular device-filled schedule for some hands-on holiday activities at Prospect Park! Getting outside during short winter days is a great mood booster and a welcome break from the winter grind. And what better time to shake it up than the holiday season? During Winter Recess, December 26-30, Prospect Park has something for everyone, whether you’re hoping to spend quality time with your kids, commune with nature, or spend a day at the tennis courts. Whatever it is, grab a loved one, bundle up and head over to Prospect Park to make lasting memories during the most wonderful time of the year.

Gilded Frame Making
December 26–29, 1–3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation

Looking to get crafty this winter recess? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for “gilded frame” making! Gilding refers to the practice of applying a thin layer of gold leaf over a given object. In days past, wealthy citizens often had a collection of gilded items, from candle holders and mirrors to frames for works of art. The gilded frames made at Lefferts Historic House are perfect for holding holiday photos and pictures of other special memories.

Nature Exploration
December 26–29, 12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

When’s the last time you watched a snake eat dinner? Have you ever held a hissing cockroach? Or spotted an Indian walking stick hiding among leaves and branches? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Prospect Park Audubon Center for Winter Recess, where you can do all that and more during Nature Exploration.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: The Prospect Park Alliance invites you to get inspired by nature with our Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with nature activities for families.
  • Bird Nerd Game Hour, 1–2 pm: Learn about birds and nature in this fun, mildly competitive hour of trivia, bingo, card games, and more! Prizes will be available for all participants. 
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 2 pm.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3–4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of how plants and animals live in the winter months. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Tennis Holiday Adult & Junior Programming
December 26, 27 + 30, 1–4 pm
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80/day, Registration Required

If you’ve been looking forward to a few days off so you can improve your tennis game, we have just the thing for you! On December 26, 27 and 30, Prospect Park Tennis Center will offer intensive, 3-hour group classes for adults and children of all levels of experience. Our accomplished staff of tennis professionals will give players personal attention while they acquire game fundamentals and increase their skill level. Don’t worry about snow, rain or sleet, because all Tennis Holiday Programming will take place inside the Tennis Center’s seasonal bubble.

c. Steve Nanz

Where Do The Animals Go In Winter?

November 13, 2019

Like Holden Caulfield before us, we’re asking, “where do the ducks go in the winter?” In fact, we want to know how all of Prospect Park’s year-round animal residents survive the season when temperatures dip below freezing. Read on below, and make sure to join Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center to learn more about the park’s animal inhabitants.

Prospect Park is home to one of the only populations of chipmunks in Brooklyn. As days get shorter and temperatures begin to fall, chipmunks shore up their underground burrows, cache  enough food to get them through winter, and hibernate. Their body temperature drops as low as 40 degrees, and their heart rate slows as low as 4 beats a minute! Chipmunks don’t spend the whole winter asleep. Every few days they awaken, eat some of their stored food, go to the bathroom and curl back up to wait for spring.

Visitors to Prospect Park’s Lake are used to seeing turtles—often red-eared sliders—basking on sunny rocks and logs in summertime. When winter comes these creatures do not hibernate,  but “brumate” at the bottom of the Lake: remaining active while adjusting their bodies to the freezing conditions. As the temperature drops their blood thins, and they require less energy to move blood around their body. Consequently, they only need to eat, drink and breathe enough to barely keep the body going. It is not an uncommon sight to see a red-eared slider ambling around a pond floor under inches of ice!

Birds can be seen enjoying Prospect Park’s 585 acres year round, but not all birds enjoy the winter weather. Many species of birds make themselves scarce when the colder weather arrives, heading for southern latitudes. However, plenty of birds  have adapted to make the most of the cooler temperatures. During these months, they spend their days searching for food and staying warm. Their uninsulated feet are largely freeze-resistant, and by fluffing out their feathers—often appearing to double in size—the birds stay warm. Keeping their body temperature consistent requires lots of fuel, and they  are usually on the hunt for their next meal.

Many ducks stay in the park all winter long, enjoying the Lake’s freezing waters. These ducks are extremely hardy, due to a thick layer of fat and down under their waterproof feathers.


A Northern Shoveler on Prospect Park Lake, c. Joseph O. Holmes

Prospect Park’s Lake is filled with fish, and as cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive. In this resting state, fishes’ hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxygen decrease, and they move about very little. As ice forms on top of a lake, warm water sinks, and fish gather in groups near the bottom to stay warm. Some species burrow into the mud and go dormant, while other fish school together in “wintering holes” in deep pockets of the Lake.

Used to seeing squirrels in the park year round? That’s because squirrels are “homeotherms,” their body temperature does not fluctuate so they do not hibernate. Before winter arrives, squirrels can be seen hiding stashes of food in shallow holes and covering it up. When food becomes scarce, they will return to these locations and dig up  a meal. To minimize exposure, squirrels spend less time outside their dens during the colder months, and it’s common for several squirrels to share a den, allowing them to take shelter and keep each other warm.

Frogs live in a variety of environments in the park, and likewise have a variety of ways of coping with the cold temperatures. Some aquatic frogs spend the winter at the bottom of the Lake, with a slowed-down pace and metabolism like  fish and turtles. Others burrow into the ground and hibernate the winter away. And some frogs, like spring peepers—loud tree frogs—can freeze solid! They stop breathing and their hearts stop beating, but high concentrations of glucose in their blood acts as a natural antifreeze, allowing their bodies to stay safe until they thaw in warmer weather.

Learn much more about park nature and meet turtles, fish and other park critters with Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center.

c. Martin Seck

Fall Things to Do in Prospect Park

October 17, 2018

Prospect Park’s most colorful season has arrived, and  Prospect Park Alliance has plenty of ideas of how visitors of all ages can enjoy this time of year in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Here is our checklist for autumnal fun in Prospect Park, get out and experience it all!

  1. Take a fall foliage walk! Check out some of our favorite routes through the park to see  the stunning colors of autumn, from the Peninsula to Lookout Hill, the Nethermead, the Lullwater and beyond.
  2. Bid adieu to the birds. Fall is migration season in Prospect Park, with hundreds of species of birds stopping through these 585 acres on their way to their winter homes. Read our tips for birdwatching in Prospect Park, and check out upcoming bird walks you can join!
  3. Strap on your skates because starting October 26, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside is open for ice skating, hockey, broomball and curling. Enjoy these wintertime activities surrounded by the picturesque autumn colors, and before the arctic weather sets in!
  4. Learn more about nature at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Prospect Park Alliance presented free nature activities Thursday through Sunday in October, and Saturday and Sunday in November and December. Take a birdwatching walk, introduce your  child to the creatures that creep, crawl and fly in the park. Plus, pick up ready-to-go Discovery Packs filled with nature activities for families!
  5. Go for a run. Ready to break a sweat? Fall is the perfect time to go for a run in Prospect Park and admire the colorful foliage from the park’s 3.36-mile loop, not to mention the paths that run through the natural areas of the park. Prefer an indoor activity? The indoor tennis season kicks off October 22 at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. Sign up for a seasonal court or lessons today.
Upsilon Ventures

Summer Fun Checklist: Kids Edition

May 14, 2018

Warm weather has arrived, and with so many fun activities for kids and families to enjoy in Prospect Park, you can spend all summer enjoying Brooklyn’s Backyard. Here is our checklist for must-do activities this summer:

  1. Visit the LeFrak Center at Lakeside: You’ll need to plan more than one visit to enjoy all the fun activities that Lakeside has to offer. Try roller skating, biking and boating for all ages, or it it’s too hot, run around in the jets on the Splash Pad, the park’s largest water play area, opening Memorial Day weekend.  
  2. Explore Nature with Pop-Up Audubon: From May through September, enjoy nature programs while exploring the Park with the Alliance’s Pop-Up Audubon program, made possible through the generous support of ConEdison and the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City, which takes place in different natural areas throughout the Park. Featured topics this summer include Radical Raptors, Climate Clues, Incredible Invertebrates and the Macy’s Fishing Clinic.
  3. Attend a Concert: The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is back in Prospect Park. In 2018, the festival celebrates its 40th season with 31 performances, running from June 5–August 11, including a free family concert featuring Los Lobos on June 10.
  4. Visit All the Playgrounds: Believe it or not, Prospect Park is home to seven playgrounds! Located throughout the Park, they offer children engaging opportunities for safe and imaginative play. Don’t miss the Zucker Natural Exploration Area, named the Best of New York by New York Magazine.
  5. Ride the Carousel: Located in the Park’s Children’s Corner, the Carousel is one of the Park’s most popular attractions for visitors of all ages. Its 53 magnificent horses ride alongside a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two dragon-pulled chariots. And you can book a birthday party at the Carousel to boot!
  6. See a Summer Movie: Pack a picnic and head to Prospect Park, because summer movies are returning to Prospect Park’s Long Meadow for four Wednesdays in July and August! A Summer Movie Under the Stars series, presented by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance in partnership with Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema, brings free family-friendly movies to Brooklyn’s Backyard. Enjoy screenings of Alice and Wonderland, Space Jam and more.
  7. Travel Back in Time: See how Brooklynites lived way back when! Built by a Dutch family in the 18th-century, the Lefferts Historic House features a working garden, historic artifacts, period rooms and exhibits. Kids can play with traditional tools, toys and games and engage in historic activities.
  8. Bite into a Breakfast Taco: Everybody loves a taco, and you can pick up an authentic, Austin-style breakfast taco seven days a week at King David Tacos, located at Grand Army Plaza.

Enjoy Fall Migration in Prospect Park

September 19, 2016

With more than 250 species of birds spotted in Prospect Park each year, bird watching is one of the more tranquil ways to enjoy the Park, and this month is the start of the peak season for fall migration. The Park’s location along the Atlantic Flyway led to its destination as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, and the creation of the Prospect Park Audubon Center, where the Prospect Park Alliance offers bird watching activities throughout the year, including walks led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

With a pair of binoculars, a bird guide and an adventurous spirit, take a stroll through Prospect Park and try to spot the wide variety of southbound birds, such as the aptly named Yellow-Rumped Warbler (pictured above), which begins to migrate through Prospect Park in mid-September. Download the new Prospect Park App to take our bird watching challenge and see how many birds you can spot throughout the Park.

Alliance Supervising Educator Steven Wong, who organizes activities at the Audubon Center, recommends some of the top spots in the Park for bird watching, including Lookout Hill, the Peninsula, the Ravine and the Lake, and the Alliance visits many of these areas during its free bird watching walks.

“We offer nature walks on Thursdays and Fridays at the Audubon Center until the end of December,” said Wong. “We also offer an introduction to bird watching through out Pop-Up Audubon program, which runs on the weekends until the end of October, and one of themes this month is Radical Raptors. All of our programs are free and we provide binoculars and bird guides.”

Visit the Prospect Park Alliance bird watching page for the latest events, and also a map with top birding locations.

c. Virginia Freire

Experience Brooklyn’s Wild Side

May 13, 2016

On May 22, join the Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York for the last program in the series Living Water Explorations at Prospect Park. Open to adults 18 and over, this is a hands-on workshop by the Lullwater, dipping for snails, leeches and dragon fly nymphs! Water testing kits and pond dip nets will be provided. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register today!

This special series of environmental education programs for Brooklyn residents, which took place this spring, builds off the Alliance’s long relationship with Audubon New York—in 2000 the Alliance and Audubon partnered to establish the first urban-area Audubon Center in the nation. Funded through the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, the program series explores the community of Greenpoint and Prospect Park (all of Brooklyn’s backyard!) to discover the variety of wildlife that flourishes in the borough.

Register Today!

c. Tom Stephenson

The Painted Bunting: Flocking to the Park

December 15, 2015

This month, you may have noticed the influx of binocular-wielding, camera-toting bird lovers in the vicinity of the LeFrak Center at Lakeside searching for a rare and magnificent bird called the painted bunting, otherwise known as the bird that broke the Internet. This migratory member of the cardinal family is the first of his kind to be seen in Brooklyn in years, and has generated a significant amount of buzz thanks to his polychromatic plumage.

But the beloved painted bunting is hardly the first exciting species to temporarily call Prospect Park’s abundant lush woodlands, home. John Jordan, Director of Landscape Management for the Prospect Park Alliance, rattles off a list of impressive avian visitors, most recently some nesting great horned owls. “We regularly have red-tailed hawks and each year we get a great number of migrating – and sometimes nesting – songbirds coming through the Park,” he adds.

The Park’s woodland habitats do not exist by happenstance, but are the result of years of hard work by the Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management and Design and Construction teams. In the late 1980s, when the Alliance was first founded, the Park’s natural areas were in a dire state. Decades of erosion and neglect had left the Park’s woodlands and waterways a poor habitat for wildlife. Over the past two decades, the Alliance has invested millions of dollars to revitalize the Park, planting hundreds of thousands of trees, plants and shrubs.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is an ideal example of this work. The project reclaimed three acres of wildlife habitat, including the site where the painted bunting was spotted – formerly a 300-space parking lot. Much of this restoration work is led by the Alliance’s Natural Resources Crew, which gives careful consideration to habitat value when deciding on plants to introduce to the landscape. “In addition to the aesthetic benefit, we think about how it adds to the health of the landscape and what creatures might utilize a plant for food, shelter or nesting,” said Jordan.

Prospect Park is designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Thanks in part to its prime location along the Atlantic flyway, Prospect Park’s acres of forest attract migrating birds every year, drawn in by an abundance of food, and a variety of habitats. “Each of these bird species is drawn to different things,” explains Jordan. “The owls come for winter roosts in the tall evergreens; the woodland songbirds each occupy a different niche.” The woodlands provide especially varied and rich habitats for birds. “Some species hunt in the tree tops for insects, some scour the understory for berries, fruit, and seeds, and others forage along the forest floor.”

Love the painted bunting? Join Alliance naturalists at the Prospect Park Audubon Center for bird watching and other nature programs on weekends and during the Winter Recess. The Brooklyn Bird Club also leads early morning bird walks and monthly explorations of the Park. Learn about upcoming bird watching events, and check out our Visit the Park section for more information about birding in Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.


c. Martin Seck

2016 Summer Checklist

August 11, 2015

There’s no shortage of fun to be had in Brooklyn during summer. In fact, the sheer number of options can be daunting! But worry not, Prospect Park fans, because we’ve got you covered, with our guide to some of the Park’s top events and attractions this summer.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival – It wouldn’t be summertime in Brooklyn without this mainstay of music and arts taking over the Bandshell. In addition to the highly touted benefit shows (with acts this year like Herbie Hancock and case/lang/veirs), the lineup features a wide array of acts and performers, ranging from the Violent Femmes, to Femi Kuti, to a live-score-accompaniment to David Bowie’s Labyrinth.

The Carousel – Bring the family to a Brooklyn classic, the Prospect Park Carousel! The tried-and-true children’s ride isn’t only fun for a sping, but the ornate woodwork and painting of the structure itself provides a perfect old-timey photo-op.

New York Philharmonic – Celebrate the 51th summer of free outdoor programming from the NY Philharmonic. Alan Gilbert leads the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, Symphony No. 3, Eroica; and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, featuring Anthony McGill on clarinet. As always, fireworks to follow!

Smorgasburg – Beautiful surroundings and eclectic offerings from 100 of the city’s most innovative purveyors of tasty treats? What more could you ask for? Smorgasburg provides both on the Park’s Breeze Hill, and convenes every Sunday through October.

Yoga in the Park – Looking to balance your summer indulgences with a little outdoor exercise and mindfulness? Head to the Long Meadow every Thursday evening for free community yoga classes brought to you by the Prospect Park Alliance, Bend and Bloom Yoga and lululemon Brooklyn.

Boating and Biking at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside – Celebrate the return of boating to the Lake with a spin on a pedal boat, or cruise around the Park in one of the bike rentals, including surreys, coupes, choppers and quad sport bikes.

Water Play – Perhaps you’ve been to the new Splash Pad Water Play Area at the LeFrak Center, named Best of New York by New York Magazine, but did you know there are five playgrounds with water features? Take your kids to each location to cool off this summer.

Of course this is just the tip of the summer activity iceberg here in the Park, check out our events calendar for more great summer pastimes.