As always, there’s plenty to do in NYC free and cheap on weekends, especially during the holiday season. Enjoy holiday train shows, crafts fairs, tree and menorah lighting ceremonies and more without busting your holiday budget.
Unlike other “what to do in NYC on the weekend” lists, only NYC on the Cheap gives you only FREE and cheap $10 or less stuff to do, unless you buy things.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates with the outdoor events.
any time of year
Friday and Saturday
The Nutcracker – NYC’s only FREE performances of this beloved holiday ballet are at the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place this weekend, by the New York Theatre Ballet .There are no tickets and no reservations, so get there early for a seat. reet with dancers. Friday, 7pm. Saturday 1pm and 7pm. Event website.
The Church of Heavenly Rest Christmas Bazaar – 10am to 8pm today, with a Jazz and Wine Bar 5-8 this evening, 10am to 6pm Saturday. Both days feature a Winter Wonderland party for children, with entertainment, Santa, face painting and more. Free, but contributions accepted. More than 20 local food, drink and crafts vendors. Fifth Ave. and 90th St. Event website.
Friday through Sunday
Crafts at the Cathedral – the 20th annual crafts show at Cathedral of St. John the Divine features more than 60 top quality, juried artists and gifts from $25 up. Hours are 5pm to 8pm today, 10am to 6pm Saturday and 11am to 5pm Sunday. $6 admission charge, or $7 weekend pass supports church community events such as this. Crafts at the Cathedral website. At 112th St. and Amsterdam Ave.
Native American Art Market – Handmade jewelry, pottery, clothing and more, made by Native American artisans, at the Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan. This annual show is FREE and includes the chance to meet with the artists, including at a special Friday evening event. Details here.
Saturday in NYC
LC Kids Artists at the Atrium: Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards – It’s Mardi Gras in Manhattan this morning, FREE. Influenced by the music from her mother’s hometown of New Orleans, as well as by her father’s Trinidadian culture, Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards bring children along on a swingin’ musical tour of New Orleans, 11am at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. Event website.
Harlem Holiday Pop Up Fair – Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center, 2204 Frederick Douglass Blvd. Website
3rd Anual Unique Goodness Boutique Bazaar Market – Sponsored by Etsy. 1pm-7pm at Holiday Inn, 440 W. 57th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves. Website
Christmas Fair at the Church of the Incarnation – Locally made crafts, 11am to 6pm. 209 Madison Ave between 35th & 36th Streets. Website
4th Annual Miracle on Madison Ave – Nearly 80 participating retailers and businesses on Madison Avenue between 57th and 86th Streets are donating 20% of the day’s sales between 10am and 5pm to The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (with a maximum contribution of $15,000 per retailer). The money raises is for the pediatric initiatives of The Society of MSK, a volunteer organization that works to ensure the well-being of patients; raise funds for cancer research and treatment; and provide public education on the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. Miracle on Madison Ave. website.
Jewish Museum – FREE admission on Saturdays
- See the NYCOTC list of free days at top NYC museums.
Sunday in NYC
MTA Nostalgia Train – Ride a vintage subway train or bus every Sunday in December. For the price of a regular MetroCard fare, you’ll ride into history. Details here.
Holiday Open House at the NYPL – The main branch on Fifth Avenue, guarded by those two famous stone lions, is transformed into a Winter Wonderland from 10am to 5pm. FREE for members of the Friends of the Library program. Join here if you are not already a member of the best public library system on the planet.
- See Charles Dickens’ personal copy of A Christmas Carol.
- Enjoy seasonal music of all kinds, with carols, dancing, jazz and more.
- Join the geography trivia challenge in the Maps division.
- Get 10% off at the Library Shop.
- Activities like face painting, crafts, magic shows, storytellers, and even stilt walkers will delight children of all ages
Holiday Tree Lighting at Carl Schurz Park – 5pm, , 86th St and East End Ave Event website
Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central – FREE – daily through February. Full details here
Luminaries at Winter Garden – Interactive light show, daily through January. Full details here.
If you have a NYC cheap weekend event you’d like to share with NYC on the Cheap, email us at [email protected]
Also, check the list of best free things to do in NYC any day of the week, including weekends.
Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.