It’s Spring, and everything is blooming, including FREE events in New York City. Here are the best FREE things to do in May, to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap.
We feature only events and activities for grown-ups and those who behave like grown-ups, along with family-friendly things to do. If you want “dope” things like bar crawls and hookup parties, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Today and tomorrow
Jane’s Walk – More than 100 FREE guided walks in all five boroughs celebrating the legacy of preservationist Jane Jacobs, who changed the way we think about cities.
Bike Expo New York – Everything you ever wanted to know about cycling. More than 100 national brands and local start-ups display their goods at this FREE annual event preceding the annual Five Boro Bike Tour. You can also register to participate at the event
Monday, May 8th
Purple Rain – Attend a FREE screening of the iconic Prince film, at Brooklyn Bazaar. If you don’t already know the story: A victim of his own anger, the Kid (Prince) is a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, the Revolution, escaping a tumultuous home life through music. While trying to avoid making the same mistakes as his truculent father (Clarence Williams III), the Kid navigates the club scene and a rocky relationship with a captivating singer, Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). But another musician, Morris (Morris Day), looks to steal the Kid’s spotlight — and his girl. Restaurant and bar open before, during and after the movie, which is at 8pm.
- Registration is required to ensure space. Brooklyn Bazaar is a 150 Greenpoint Ave.
Every Wednesday in May
Outdoor Dancing to Live Bands in Bryant Park – There’s a different band and style of dance each week, including swing and salsa, at the Fountain Terrace, starting at 6pm.
NYC Bike Expo – Everything you ever wanted to know about cycling, in the city and outside the city. Meet with bike and accessory manufacturers, and, more, at Penn Pavillion, across Seventh Avenue from MadisonSquare Garden.
Every Day in May
Hallett Nature Sanctuary – This almost-secret hideaway spot in Central Park is now open for the 2017 season. Unlike past years with extremely limited days and hours, the gates to this locked-off sanctuary will be open daily this year for the first time, from 10AM to 30 minutes before sunset, with the caveat that it is closed occasionally due to inclement conditions. Wear sturdy closed shoes for the uneven walkways, and bring a camera. No dogs, bikes or strollers permitted. FREE, of course.
Every Night in May
I Live Here – The midnight moment for May in Times Square is a video send-up of the battle between preservationist Jane Jacobs and builder Robert Moses over the fate of New York City. Midnight Moment is an animation feature simulcast on 20+ video billboards in Times Square, every evening at 11:59pm.
Twice a Week in May
Birding Walks in Bryant Park – Some birds live here year-round. Others just visit on their way north for the summer. How many of the 100+ bird species found in Bryant Park can you find and identify?
Every Weekend in May
Hester Street Fair – On the site of what was New York City’s largest pushcart market in the early 1900s, this street fair pays homage to it’s strong neighborhood roots by re-creating a bustling outdoor marketplace. There’s a different “theme” practically every weekend. Corner of Hester and Essex, take the F J M Z to Delancey or the F to East Broadway.
LIC Flea & Food opens for the 2017 season, with favorite vendors returning and some new ones, too. LIC Flea & Food is at 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue, just one block behind the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign. It opens directly into the waterfront park with amazing Manhattan skyline views Easily accessible from the 7, G, E, and M trains, or via the East River Ferry. FREE admission.
Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg is in different locations each weekend day. This year, Saturday Smorgasburg remains at East River State Park in Williamsburg; Sunday Smorgsaburg remains at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill.
Brooklyn’s Saturday Flea has been canceled until further notice. The Sunday Flea is at the DUMBO Archway under the Manhattan Bridge.