New York City has a full calendar of FREE and cheap events the next couple of weeks. Here are couple of dozen of the best FREE & cheap things to through June 30, to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap.
We feature only events and activities for grown-ups and those who behave like grown-ups, and family-friendly things to do with kids, for NYC residents and for visitors to the greatest city on the planet.
Outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Street fairs and block parties
Night at the Museums – This annual event features FREE admission to 15 museums and cultural institutions in Lower Manhattan, including the National September 11 Museum, plus guided walks and discounts at restaurants and bars. Tuesday, June 20th.
- NYC residents can get FREE museum admission for one year with the IDNYC card.
Solstice in Times Square – Grab your mat and join thousands of your closest friends doing warrior pose and downward dog at what used to be called Yogathon and now is called Mind Over Madness. Wed., June 21st.
Cyclone’s 90th Birthday Celebration – Still the greatest roller coaster on the planet, the Coney Island Cyclone turns 90 on June 25th with a block party featuring face painting for the kids, performances by local Brooklyn talent, and by the equally iconic Harlem Globetrotters, also celebrating their 90th anniversary this year. Starting at 2pm at Luna Park.
- On Monday, June 26, the Cyclone, which offer 90-cent Cyclone rides for 90 minutes, Noon to 1:30pm.
Music, music everywhere
River to River Festival – There’s still a few days left, to June 25th, for music and dance performances, and some theater, too, at the annual River to River Festival in Lower Manhattan.
Make Music New York – Celebrate the Solstice with hundreds of musicians, who take over the streets and parks in all five boroughs, and invite you to sing and dance with them. Wed., June 21st.
Sing for Hope – The FREE pianos are back on NYC streets, June 5-25, for you to play yourself or listen to a pro give an impromptu concert. As in previous years, the joyfully painted Music for Hope pianos will be donated at the end of the progrsm to NYC public schools in under-served parts of the city. This year, Sing for Hope will place its 400th unique piano artwork in the five boroughs, making NYC host to more street pianos than any other city in the world. As New York City’s largest recurring public art project, the Sing for Hope pianos impact an estimated two million people each year.
Midsummer Night Swing – Dance to live bands under the stars in Lincoln Center
The Washington Square Music Festival, now in its 59th season, has events throughout the month.
Live at SeaGlass s a weekend festival of swing dance bands at the remarkable water-themed SeaGlass carousel in Battery Park
FREE outdoor movie screenings feature films set in New York City and family-friendly flicks. Sometimes, they are both, as in The Muppets Take Manhattan
HBO Summer Movie Festival in Bryant Park – All the movies on the schedule are set in NYC or, or feature NYC, like King Kong and Dirty Dancing, both the iconic originals, not the recent tacky and terrible remakes.
Movies Under the Stars program in NYC parks feature movies for kids. Here’s the schedule through the end of the month:
Week of June 18
- Finding Dory, Thursday, June 22 at Pelham Bay Park
- Monsters Inc., Friday, June 23 in Colden Playground
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Saturday, June 24 at Bulova Park
Week of June 25
- Rogue One, Wednesday, June 28 at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park
- Gremlins, Thursday, June 29 at Electric Playground
- The LEGO Batman Movie, Friday, June 30 at the St. James Recreation Center
- Hidden Figures, Friday, June 30 at Kissena Corridor Park
Midsummer Night Swing – Three weeks of dancing under the stars at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center to live bands playing swing, Latin and more. These are ticketed events, but plenty of people hang out around the perimeter for free, to listen to the music and watch the dancing.
Everybody Tango – Enjoy Argentine Tango, including a FREE introductory lesson by the instructors of Strictly Tango NYC. Lessons are 6:45pm and 7:45pm, dancing starts at 8:30. Each Thursday in June and July at the Fishing Pier at 125th St. and Marginal St. in Harlem.
Everybody Salsa – Free beginner salsa classes and dance parties every Wednesday evening, June 21 to Aug. 30, on the pedestrian area called Plaza33, at 33rd St. and Broadway. Free lessons at 6:30pm, and free dancing to music spun by a live DJ, 7:15pm to 8:30m.
Taste the World – The weekly weekend flea market Grand Bazaar on the Upper West Side adds a one-night food festival on Sunday, June 25th featuring 40 local restaurants and brands offering everything from European gelato to Caribbean fruit ices. 10am to 5:30pm, at 11W. 77th St.
DeKalb Market – The city’s newest food hall is open in downtown Brooklyn with local food vendors, including an outpost of famed Katz’s Deli from the Lower East Side, across the East River. See what else is to eat here
Every Day in June
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.
- SEE ALSO Description of Hallett Nature Sanctuary
- SEE ALSO 8 secrets of Central Park
- SEE ALSO Best spots in Central Park to have a picnic
Twice a Week in June
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 June
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 continues to grow, 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.