There’s a couple of dozen FREE and frugal things to do in NYC this weekend. Everything on the NYCOTC cheap weekend list is $20 or less. That makes us different from all the other “what to do” lists with expensive ideas, because we’re here to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap with no apologies.
Unless a price is noted, our NYC cheap weekend list is FREE.
Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10AM to 6PM. Outdoor movies generally start at 8PM or 8:30PM, so its best to click the links provided for exact times.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for the outdoor events.
any time of year
Today in NYC
Summer of Hamilton Family Fridays – Special family-friendly events connected with Alexander Hamilton. FREE with museum admission, which is pay-as-you-wish on Fridays. Today is a screening of 1776, the film based on the hit Broadway show that shows the Founding Fathers like you’ve never seen them. This musical helped inspire Lin-Manuel Miranda to write his own hit musical about the Founding Fathers. Morris Jumel Mansion.
- See the NYCOTC list of free days at top NYC museums.
- See the NYCOTC list of where to see Hamilton in NYC, including the Morris Jumel Mansion
Central Park Film Festival – FREE outdoor films with NYC in a starring role. Tonight, the romantic comedy Desparately Seeking Susan.
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten days of FREE performances on a giant outdoor screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight’s premier is the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus, about composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival – FREE live jazz performances, honoring the legendary musician. Tonight, Jason Lindner.
Free Fridays at South Street Seaport Museum – The last weekend to visit the sailing ship Peking before she prepares for a transatlantic voyage to Germany, plus other family-friendly events.
Friday Freebies: FREE museum admission at top NYC museums.
Friday Freebies: FREE outdoor movie screenings, including family favorites
- House Party (Movies Under the Stars): Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center, Herbert Von King Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant
- Brooklyn (Movies Under the Stars): John Paul Jones Park, Bay Ridge
- 12 Angry Men (Movies Under the Stars): The great courtroom drama starring Henry Fonda, John Jay Park, Yorkville
- Ratatouille (Movies Under the Stars): Astoria Heights Playground (JHS 10), Astoria Heights Park, Astoria
- Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (Movies Under the Stars): Sand Lane and Capadanno Boulevard, Ball field #2 at Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach, Arrochar
- I Am Legend (Movies Under the Stars): Sci-fi thriller starring Will Smith, set in NYC, St. Mary’s Park, Mott Haven
Coney Island Friday Night Fireworks – On the Boardwalk at 10th St., at 9:30, every Friday night of the summer.
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Saturday in NYC
Central Park Film Festival – FREE outdoor screening of another film with NYC in a starring role. Tonight it’s Stuart Little, the classic children’s story, with a combination of live actors and computer generated animated ones.
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten nights of FREE opera on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.
12th Annual Dominican Culture Festival – Street fair on 108th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival – A week of FREE concerts honoring the music great. Today, Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet
Film Forum Double Feature Festival – See two of the best Hollywood musicals ever made for just $14. Singing’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, and that famous scene of Kelly dancing in the rain with an umbrella (never gets boring, no matter how often you’ve seen it), and Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon.
Rite of Summer Music Festival – More than 70 percussionists come together to perform John Luther Adams’s “Inuksuit,” an epic outdoor piece that has helped to redefine what live musical experience can be in the 21st-century. At the new and spectacular The Hills on Governors Island.
Astor Place Festival – Street fair on Astor Place, between Broadway and Lafayette Street.
Eighth Avenue Festival – Street fair on Eighth Avenue, between 42nd and 57th Streets
Silent Disco Dance Party – Don headphones and dance to music only you can hear. This FREE Quiet Clubbing event is family-friendly, for all ages, with DJs playing different genres. Part of the Summer on the Hudson series of events, 5PM to 10 PM at Pier i, Riverside Blvd and 70th St. The headphones are FREE, but you’ll need a form of identification, such as a driver’s license or credit card, to leave as a “deposit” to ensure you return the headphones, which are expensive.
Indonesian Street Festival – 68th St between Fifth and Madison Avenues
FREE outdoor movie screenings
- Cars (Movies Under the Stars Kiddie Drive-In): Begins at 5:30PM with arts and crafts activities for kids, designing and decorating cardboard cars, film at 7:30PM, Betsy Head Playground, Brownsville
- Inside Out (Movies Under the Stars): The Lawn at Myrtle Avenue and North Poland Avenue, Fort Greene Park
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Movie Nights in the Rockaways): Scotty, beam me up. Beach 59th Street, Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
- King Kong (1933) (Movies Under the Stars): The original, classic one. Not the silly remake. St. Vartan Park, E. 35th St. between First and Second avenues, Murray Hill
- The Game Plan (Movies Under the Stars): Father Macris Park, Lambert Lane and Arlene Street, Staten Island
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Movies Under the Stars): Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go. Schmul Park, Wild Avenue and Pearson Street, Staten Island
- The Lorax (Movies Under the Stars): Van Cortlandt House Museum, 6036 Broadway at West 246th Street, Van Cortlandt Park
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
LIC Flea & Food – The popular outdoor weekend market is open for the season, open 11AM-6PM both days with favorite vendors returning and new vendors added. Grab a beer from the only All Queens Beer Garden and enjoy the Manhattan skyline. Located at 5-25 46th Avenue in Long Island City at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street. LIC Flea & Foods website.
Smorgasburg – The popular food and crafts market in Brooklyn is back for the season, open 11am to 6pm both days. Note that Smogasburg has two locations:
- Saturdays: Williamsburg, East River State Park, 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7th)
- Sundays: Prospect Park, Breeze Hill (at Lincoln Rd.)
Sunday in NYC
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten nights of FREE opera on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight, Il Trovatore.
Go Topless Day NYC – The annual parade in support of Women’s Equality Day. Be sure to use sunscreen on body parts not normally exposed.
- Family Performance Festival in Central Park – Enjoy Sunday in the park with the entire family with great eco-education and multicultural performances.Formerly known as A Clearing in the Forest, it’s FREE fun and learning through music, storytelling, Park adventures, puppetry, and more. A different group performs each Sunday through Labor Day Weekend. Noon to 1:30PM at the Great Hill, West Side of Central Park at 103rd St.
Visit Hallett Sanctuary in Central Park – This rustic spot near 59th and Fifth is open to the public occasionally. Lucky for us, there are extended summer hours through August 31 which include Sundays, 2PM to 5PM.
FREE outdoor movie screenings
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Movies Under the Stars): Grady Playground, Brighton Beach
- Inside Out (Outdoor Movie Night): Touchdown of the 103rd Street Footbridge, Randall’s Island Park
- House Party (Habana Outpost Events): Habana Outpost 757 Fulton St., Fort Greene
- Bolt (Movies Under the Stars): No, not a documentary about the Olympic runner. Tornsey Playground, Sunnyside Gardens
Grand Army Market – The team behind Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg is launching a new weekly market at Grand Army Plaza starting Sunday, May 1. Situated at the northern tip of Prospect Park (at the landmark arch/rotary), Grand Army Plaza has long been home to the weekly Saturday Greenmarket and is within walking distance to Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Every Sunday, 10am to 5pm, though October, with some of the most popular maker vendors from Brooklyn Flea, plus many new additions, and prepared- and packaged-food vendors.
Fulton Stall Outdoor Market – This popular outdoor food market is back for the season with live music and tastings of local craft food and drinks. This family-friendly seasonal market has become a community institution throughout the spring and summer, connecting New Yorkers with fresh and healthy produce from within a 250-mile radius of New York City. Experience the Seaport District’s art installation, featuring portraits of over 100 farmers and chefs living and working in the Hudson Valley. South Street Seaport district at the corner of Fulton and Water Streets and inside Fulton Stall Market at 207A Front St., 11 AM – 5 PM
Vendy Plaza – The best food trucks in NYC are parked under the MetroNorth train tracks, at Park Ave. and 116th St., every Sunday through Labor Day weekend. There’s also a beer garden and crafts vendors.
If you know about a free or cheap NYC 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.