Since 1884, the first Monday in September has been a holiday in the US, as a tribute to workers.
Canada has the same, while many other countries have International Workers Day – May Day – instead, commemorating struggles for workers’ rights.
This year’s Labor Day falls on Monday, September 3rd.
To most people in North America, however, Labor Day is above all the last-blast of summer fun, and -for many kids – the last day of freedom before Back to School.
For a weekend getaway, head to a city that has big celebrations, or to one of the many family resorts that offer special packages – scroll down for sample packages.
• New York: Labor Day Parade
The first Labor Day Parade was held in New York City, on September 5 1882, and there’s still one in NYC today, with trade union members, high school bands, politicians, police and fire departments, and more. Location is usually in Manhattan, on 5th Ave. In 2012, NY Labor Day Parade will be held on Saturday, September 8th.
• West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn Carnival)
This extravaganza has Caribbean costumes, music, and food, spectators in the millions; it’s a multi-day event with a parade on Labor Day.
• Labor Day Weekend Events in Boston
It’s moving day for students (aka as the “Student Invasion”), so allow plenty of time to get to events such as a Schooner Festival or a free concert on Spectacle Island.
• Washington DC
An annual concert by the National Symphony Orchestra is performed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, and is free.
• Other Labor Day Events in DC
Kensington Labor Day Parade has a day of family entertainment, as does Greenbelt Labor Day Festival; Renaissance Festival, free Blues Festival, Kids Day at Nationals Park, and lots more.
• Detroit Labor Day Parade
Detroit, aka “Motor City” – where the automobile unions were born – has a major Labor Day Parade that’s one of the biggest in Michigan. The free three-day Detroit Jazz Fest is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, too.
The annual Chicago Jazz Festival is a big event. Also on the agenda for Labor Day Weekend: daytime events in Millennium Park including an interactive play that will please young kids; African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park, including an African village, entertainment, and family fun; and more. See Explore Chicago. Many events are free.
Ten top ways to celebrate summer’s last weekend: a Japanese Festival at the Botanical Gardens, a Downtown Labor Day Parade, a Greek Festival, the Big Muddy Blues Festival, and more.
• Irvington, VA: Irvington Stomp
An event with a small-town feel, this “grape stomp” harvest festival celebrates wine-making in Irvington, VA, 1-½ hours east of Richmond; those close to Chesapeake Bay can arrive by boat. Grape Stomping Competitions, music, hayrides, corn maze, and more.
• Events in the Southeastern US
Many weekend events and festivals in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, NC, SC, and Virginia. Also: ten fun resort hotels for Labor Day Weekend.
• Orlando: Tom Joyner Family Reunion at Disney World
This big bash at Walt Disney World adds special entertainment to the usual theme park fun. To find out more, try this Orlando Local Guide, or Blackamericaweb.com, or search for “Joyner” at the Disney World website.
About’s Guide for Texas highlights Westfest, Batfest, and other events.
• Events in Greater LA
Street Fairs, Long Beach Greek Festival, “Fiesta Hermosa” arts and crafts festival with kiddie carnival, and more.
• Copper Country Festival, CO
Copper Mountain (a popular ski resort during winter months) has a big bash on Labor Day Weekend, with big-name bands, street party, and “Copper Corral” for kids with free pony rides, face painting, etc.
• Myrtle Beach, SC
This major tourist destination – with a 60-mile stretch of beaches, and several amusement parks — has an annual family-friendly Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival at Grand Park at The Market Common. To sample all the barbecue from competing teams, guests only need to purchase a reasonably-priced wristband; kids under 10 can sample free. See Festival details.
Labor Day Weekend Packages at Family Resorts
Many family resorts in the U.S. have end-of-summer bashes, often with a BBQ. For instance, in southern Maine the Pointe Sebago family resort on Lake Sebago has 775 acres and a package that includes buffet meals (with lobster on the menu), a boat cruise, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, activities for all ages, and entertainment.
The AAA four-diamond Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe in California typically includes lots of activities during its Labor Day Weekend package, such as bocce ball, croquet, tie-dying a t-shirt, s’mores at outdoor fire pits, live music, poolside BBQ, and a dive-in movie, plus the usual biking, guided hikes, golf, and fly-fishing.
In Texas, the Texas: Barton Creek Resort & Spahas 4000 acres in the Hill Country near Austin, a kids club for ages 6 months and up, and an annual Labor Day Weekend package.
In New York state, the Villa Roma Resort Hotel in the Catskills – two hours from NYC – has seasonal packages all year long, including Labor Day Weekend, and programs for all ages, from tots to teens; packages typically include meals, theme night dinner, kids programs, and nightly entertainment. Be sure to check recent visitors’ comments for any resort.
Check your favorite family resorts and no doubt many will have a special weekend package to end the summer with a blast.