There’s a couple of dozen FREE and frugal things to do in NYC this three-day Labor Day weekend. That makes the NYCOTC free and cheap weekend list 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.
Best FREE things to do in NYC any time of year
Ending this Weekend
Labor Day is the end of the NYC outdoor pool season. All FREE outdoor pools operated by the NYC Parks Dept. close on Monday for the year.
Today in NYC
Friday freebies –NYCOTC list of free days at top NYC museums.
UNIQLO Soho – The Japanese retailer re-opens its remodeled downtown store today with three days of FREE events and giveaways, alone with special sale prices on items like merino sweaters and their excellent Ultra-Light down jackets and vests. UNIQLO Soho is at 546 Broadway, between Spring and Prince Streets.
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten days of FREE performances on a giant outdoor screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight, opera’s most popular double bill, Cavalleria Rusticatana and Pagiliacci.
FREE outdoor movie screenings
- Iron Man 3 (Movies Under the Stars): Springfield Park, Springfield Gardens
Coney Island Friday Night Fireworks – On the Boardwalk at 10th St., at 9:30,
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Today through Sunday in NYC
Shakespeare in Bryant Park – No need to wait on lines for this Shakespeare in the Park. See performances of Measure for Measure.
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit – This annual event is a sidewalk show, similar to what you would find in Paris, not a street fair, with no street fair schlock. These are artworks by professional artists filling the streets of University Place, starting at East 13th Street and continuing south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street. The southern end of the show encompasses Schwartz Plaza, (aka Bobkin Lane), between NYU’s Shimkin Hall and Bobst Library. Noon to 6PM each day this weekend and again next weekend.
Saturday in NYC
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten nights of FREE opera on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight, Franz Lehar’s merry operatta, The Merry Widow.
Hester Street Fair – Every Saturday through the end of October, at the corner of Hester and Essex. This Labor Day weekend is a special food and wellness fair, with cooking demonstrations and more.
FREE outdoor movie screenings
- Jurassic World (Movies Under the Stars): Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park, Richmond Hill
Broadway Village Fair – Broadway between Waverly Place and 14th Street
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
AMC Theaters Tribute to Gene Wilder – See Willi Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Blazing Saddles for $5 each, in this special weekend tribute to the beloved comedy genius who passed away this week.
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
24th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition – This annual family-friendly event features a water version of a tug of war, a Popeye spinach-eating contest and more. 9am-2pm at Pier 83, at West 43rd St and Hudson River
- NYC weather update: because of the approaching storm, the tugboat race has been postponed to Oct. 9.
Met Opera HD Festival – Ten nights of FREE opera on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight, Pucinni’s Turnadot.
- Family Performance Festival in Central Park – This is the final weekend of the summer season for these Sunday in the park multicultural events. It’s FREE fun and learning through music, storytelling, Park adventures, puppetry, and more. Noon to 1:30PM at the Great Hill, West Side of Central Park at 103rd St.
FREE outdoor movie screenings
- The Karate Kid (Habana Outpost Events): Habana Outpost 757 Fulton St., Fort Greene
Fourth Avenue Festival – On Fourth Ave between 9th St and 14th St
The 32nd Annual Brazilian Day Festival – Didn’t get to Rio for the Olympics? Enjoy the food, music, dancing and energy of Brazil at this popular annual event. On Sixth Avenue between 46th and 56th Streets and on 46th Street, between Madison and Seventh Avenues.
West Side County Fair – Great American folk music, crafts and more. Pier i, Hudson River Park, at 70th Street.
- 1:10 – 1:35pm: Annie DiRusso – a Hudson Valley singer-songwriter, accompanying herself on the guitar and ukelele.
- 2:00 – 3:30pm: City Stompers – move to Southern Appalachian fiddle music with New York City’s only clogging school.
4:00 – 5:00pm: Ol’ Savannah – plumbing depths of old time Americana roots music.
5:00 – 6:00pm: Big Dog Run – a six-piece folk rock band with a comfortable, laid-back sound straight from the Mile-High City.
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 – This is the final weekend of the season. 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.
Labor Day Monday in NYC
Met Opera HD Festival – The final night of ten nights of FREE opera on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza wraps up with Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles
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.