Your weekend plans begin here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do this holiday weekend including music and dance, street fairs, Oktoberfest celebrations, and three parades celebrating Christopher Columbus. The NYCOTC weekend guide is always $20 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, and we usually remind you anyway, to be sure you know. Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10am to 6pm.
Oktoberfest events – Enjoy German beer, food and oompah bands this weekend at German restaurants, bierhaus and beer garden locations around town. See our list of what’s happening where.
- Best NYC outdoor beer gardens for an autumn afternoon or evening
- Best NYC rooftop bars for an autumn afternoon or evening
Chihuly at the NY Botanical Garden – This spectacular exhibit of nearly two dozen monumental glass sculptures is through Oct. 29, and crisp fall weather is an ideal time to enjoy the artworks. Saturday night is the final Chihuly Nights, when the sculptures are lit, and there’s live music and cocktails.
- Get a taste of Dale Chihuly’s art in Union Square Park, where his Rose Crystal Tower goes on display this weekend for a year. It’s a 31-foot-tall tower of sparkling crystals and steel, at the Southeast Triangle, Union Square East at 14th St.
New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center -The 55th annual New York Film Festival features more than two dozen films from around the globe, including award-winners at the recent Cannes Film Festival, through Oct. 15.
Know before you go
FREE apps on subway track work and schedulng delays – know what trains are bypassing what stations so you aren’t late for one of these free and cheap weekend events.
NYC official street closures website – know what streets are closed when for street fairs, parades, political protests and more.
NYC parking calendar – know when you have to move your car, or not.
Subscribe to our email newsletter and get NYC on the Cheap in your inbox at 8am each morning. That’s FREE, too, and you’ll start the day with what you need to know to be a NYC cheapskate.
Everybody loves a parade
It’s a holiday weekend, so strike up the bands and let the parades begin.
Korean Parade – Sat., Oct 7, Noon to 3pm, on Sixth Ave. between 27th and 38th Streets
Nigeria Independence Day Parade – Sat, Oct. 7, 10am-5pm, Second Avenue from 44th to 54th St.
36h Annual Brooklyn Columbus Parade – Sat. Oct. 7, Noon to 2pm, on 18th Ave., from 60th to 84th St.
Columbus Hispanic Day Parade – Sun. Oct. 8, Fifth Avenue from 44th to 70th St,
Columbus Day Parade – Mon., Oct. 9, Fifth Ave from 44th to 72nd St. starting at 11am.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for all the outdoor events. If not –
Friday in NYC
Freebie Friday – FREE admission to NYC museums including MOMA. No passes or coupons needed. Just go.
Get FREE admission to more than a dozen NYC museums with the IDNYC card. Enrollment is also FREE.
Freebie Friday: Family Fridays at MoMath – Solve puzzles, family-style, and learn how math affects everything, from music to space flight. 6:30pm, FREE The National Museum of Mathematics is at 11 E. 26th St.
Freebie Friday – Grand Central Neighborhood Tour. FREE every Friday at 12:30, docents from the Grand Central Partnership guide you through the history of the fabled Grand Central Terminal and some equally-fabled nearby landmarks including the Chrysler Building. There are no tickets, no reservations. Just meet at Sculpture court at 120 Park Avenue (southwest corner of East 42nd Street). Tour is 90 minutes.
Friday to Sunday
Fly Me to the Moon – Audible is celebrating the upcoming release of the audiobook Artemis, a heist story set on the moon byThe Martian author Andy Weir, with a FREE exhibit of “Museum of Artemis: Life on the Moon, Presented by Audible”. The exhibit features a 23-foot lunar installation from British artist Luke Jerram and interactive exhibition that transports visitors to the exhilarating world of Artemis, with the moon suspended in air above visitors. The multisensory art piece fuses NASA surface imagery, projected moonlight and surround-sound lunar-inspired musical accompaniment composed by Dan Jones. The exhibit is at Classic Car Club of Manhattan; 1 PIER 76 (408 12th Ave.), in conjunction with Comiccon NYC at the Javits this weekend. . Hours are Friday/Saturday, Oct. 6/7, Noon to 8pm and Sunday to 4pm.
Saturday in NYC
Little Red Lighthouse Festival – Celebrate Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse, under the George Washington Bridge, with Urban Park Ranger educational presentations, visits to the lighthouse interior, readings of eponymous children’s book, fishing clinics, live music, food vendors, and fun family activities. Entertainment line up includes performances of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge musical and Cinderella Samba by the Swedish Cottage Marrionette Theatre PuppetMobile (2-3pm). Between those performances there will be educational talks from the Urban Park Rangers and readings of a giant copy of the book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge written by Hildegarde Swift, illustrated by Lynd Ward. FREE, of course, Noon to 4pm.
Diwali Times Square – Celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights in Times Square with Bollywood stars, music and dancing, a special Diwali bazaar, and lots of Indian cuisine. The celebration lights up Times Square with interactive, traditional Diya (lamp) lighting ceremonies, best digital fireworks, and the chance to meet Bollywood stars. Noon to 9pm.
The Rink at Rockefeller Center re-opens for the season today.
Jefferson Market Garden Children’s Harvest Festival – Greenwich Avenue between Sixth Ave. and W. 10th St. 11am to 2pm
- FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Sunday in NYC
Autumn Moon Cultural Festival and Lantern Parade – Festival is in: Leif Ericson Park, 8th Ave from 65th to 67th St Lantern. Parade is on 8th Ave from 49th St to 66th St, Brooklyn.
Sukkahwood – This art installation and food festival celebrates the Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of the Harvest, when it is traditional for families to eat in temporary wooden or straw shelters (the Sukkah, as it’s called commemorates the shelters where farmers took meals during the busy harvest, when there was no time to leave the fields to return home to eat). Noon to 4pm, in Inwood Hill Park, 215th St. and Indian Road.
- Warning – The Sukkahwood website opens with a thunderous clap from the advertising clip that precedes the YouTube video that opens automatically when the website uploads. So be sure to turn your sound down or mute it.
Global Math Week and The Global Math Project – Celebrate both with FREE admission to MoMath on Sunday, including the chance to chat with Princeton mathemetician John Conway. 10am to 1pm at the National Museum of Mathematics, 11 E. 26th St. .
Fourth Avenue Festival – Street fair on Fourth Avenue, 9th Street to 14th Street
Third Avenue Autumn Fair – Street fair on Third Ave. between 42nd and 51st St
FREE Sunday admission at top NYC museums including Morgan Library and Museum.
FREE Flatiron Walking Tour – Join professional guides on a 90-minute journey through this vibrant neighborhood, viewing some of the City’s most notable landmarks, including the New York Life Insurance Building, the MetLife Clock Tower, the Appellate Courthouse and the famous Flatiron Building. Every Sunday at 11am, rain or shine. No advance registration is required. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Every weekend in NYC
Hallett Nature Sanctuary – This almost-secret hideaway spot in Central Park is now open for the season. The gates to this locked-off sanctuary will be open daily this year, 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.
Smorgasburg in Manhattan – Smorg Square, at 76 Varick St. (at Canal St.) on the border of Soho, Tribeca, and Hudson Square, is back every Friday-Sunday through Christmas, with a rotating lineup of food vendors curated from the Brooklyn markets, with 20+ vendors every Friday-Sunday and seating for 120. Plus, 60 world-class vintage, furniture, and handmade vendors at Brooklyn Flea’s new year-round indoor location directly across the street, at 100 Avenue of the Americas (at Watts St.).
Long Island Flea, Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg are open for the season. Details here.
Pier 2 Roller Rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Rates are $3 to skate, $6 to rent; check the website for hours and special events, including lessons. This is a covered rink, so you get fresh air, but not raindrops.
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s bouncy Squibb Park Bridge has reopened after more than two years and $2.5 million to reduce bounce. The walkway is a handy shortcut between Brooklyn Heights and the park.
Luna Park at Coney Island – Celebrate the 90th anniversary of the iconic Cyclone roller coaster all season.
Brooklyn Bazaar Night Market offers an Asian-style night market, with international food, vendors, and entertainment.
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.
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