New York City has a full calendar of FREE and cheap events in August. Here are couple of dozen of the best FREE & cheap things to in NYC in August 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. Nothing on NYCOTC is over $25, except for important charity fund-raisers to support NYC parks and gardens, or charities that support children with cancer, the homeless, or similar.
Outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Street fairs and block parties
Uptown Bounce – This is the annual FREE street fair of two neighboring museums, Museum of the City of New York and the Museo del Barrio, with a different theme of music and dance on the last two Wednesdays of July and the first two Wednesdays of August. Includes FREE museum admission.
- Icons of the 80s – Celebrate the decade when hair was big, fashion was bold, and pop superstars reigned supreme.
- Latin Disco – Enjoy a sizzling Latin-inspired ’70s dance party featuring unforgettable Latin disco hits and Fania classics.
Space & Science Festival – Meet NASA astronauts, learn how space explorers live and work in space, see films about space exploration and more, at the annual Space & Science Festival at the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum. It’s one of New York City’s largest celebrations of science and space exploration, with both FREE and ticketed events, August 1-6.
SEE ALSO Get tickets now for the annual Maker Faire science festival in Queens in Sept.
Go fly a kite – Celebrate simple fun with live music and kit-making supplies for kids (while supplies last) at this annual FREE summer celebration in Riverside Park South. Noon to 5pm on Saturday, August 19th, at Pier I at 70th St.
Beat the heat at these FREE outdoor pools in Manhattan
Beat the heat at these FREE outdoor pools in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island
Find sprinklers and spray showers in NYC parks to beat the heat
NYC Restaurant Week – What started as a one-week lunch special 25 years ago has now stretched into a three-week, multi-course affair copied in cities around the world, from Albuquerque to Warsaw. This year’s event is through August 18, features more than 350 top NYC eateries dishing out three-course lunches for $29 and dinners for $42, far too many to list here.
- Where to eat in Times Square at local and family owned restaurants and avoid the national chains
- Where to eat in Union Square and Flatiron
- Best traditional Jewish delis for overstuffed sandwiches
- Best NYC lobster restaurants
Lincoln Center Out of Doors – FREE concerts, film screenings, dance, and more, through August 13. The annual festival wraps up with the Roots of American Music Weekend, including a performance by Grammy Award-winning Bonnie Raitt and a celebration of the music of rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry, who passed away recently.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival – FREE concerts, a poetry slam and more, at various locations, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Library locations. One stand-out event is the outdoor screening of the award-winning film SELMA, with a live music score by local musicians.
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival – This year is the 25th anniversary of this FREE celebration of jazz in New York, bringing together storied, veteran players and the next generation of jazz artists. In recognition of the milestone, the festival is adding a fourth night to the festival, featuring a full evening of dance in the lineup for the first time. August 24-27, as part of SummerStage.
Live Under the Archway – FREE family-friendly concerts, dance performance and social dance lessons each Thursday through August on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge
Complete guide to outdoor movies in all five boroughs, by day of the week
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.
Hudson Riverflicks Sing Along – You know the words, and you can sing along to this outdoor screening of Mama Mia. Thursday, August 10, at Clinton Cove at W. 55th St. And there’s FREE popcorn, too. Like all outdoor screenings in NYC, it begins at dusk, generally around 8:30pm.
Movies Under the Stars program in NYC parks in all five boroughs feature movies for kids.
Everybody Salsa – FREE beginner salsa classes and dance parties every Wednesday evening 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.
Salsa Sundays at Orchard Beach – A DJ spins classic salsa, merengue and cha cha tunes every Sunday afternoon through Labor Day Weekend. FREE, of course.
Salsa Sundays at Coney Island – Dance to a live band on Sunday afternoons, through the end of August.
Quiet Clubbing – Don headphones and join the party at this FREE family-friendly event on Sat., August 26th. Two DJs spin different music genres, and you can change the music with a flick of the switch. 5pm to 10pm on the Pier at 125th St. and Marginal St., part of the Summer on the Hudson events at Hudson River Park. Be sure to bring an ID or credit card as a deposit on the headphones; you’ll get it back when you return the headphones.
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 August
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
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?
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.