Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do this middle of August weekend.
Events include Summer Streets car-free Saturdays, the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, the wrap-up of the three-week Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival with the blockbuster Roots of American Music Weekend, and the start of the Battery Dance Festival.
Whew, we’re exhausted already and the weekend hasn’t even started. yet.
And if it doesn’t, here are some rainy day activities in NYC, besides re-arranging your sock drawer.
Friday to Sunday Free and Cheap
Lincoln Center Out of Doors – Three weeks of FREE music and dance performances, concerts, film and more are ending. This weekend:
Friday – West Side Story Re-Imagined. Music and lyrics being performed by the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band and poetry by La Bruja and Rich Villar
Saturday and Sunday – Roots of American Music Weekend including a performance by Mavis Staples
Friday and Saturday Free and Cheap
Tribeca Drive-in Outdoor Movies – This is the last of the FREE summer screening series of family-friendly flicks, and they’ll both make you laugh out loud. Outdoors, at Lower Manhattan’s Oculus Plaza (at the corner of Church and Dey streets) curated by the Tribeca Film Festival’s programmers.
Friday is Coming To America, with Eddie Murphy, and Saturday is Will Farrell as that mischievous Elf.
Saturday Free & Cheap
Summer Streets – The first of three car-free Saturdays in August closes a chunk of downtown and midtown to vehicles, turning Park Avenue and Park Ave. South into a pedestrian and bicycle-only playground, with multiple stops for family fun.
- Click here to see what’s available at each rest stop.
In the Name of the Earth – Both a FREE concert and the world premiere of this large-scale choral work by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer John Luther Adams. Four choirs totaling nearly 800 experienced and amateur singers transform the names of North American rivers, lakes, mountains, and deserts into a communal meditation on Adams’s holy trinity: the Earth, the Water, and the Holy Wind. Celebrate our planet and community through an enveloping sound world created by 360-degree singing. Part of the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival.
- 3pm at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Seating is first come, first served.
- Note: this was originally scheduled as an outdoor event in Lincoln Center, but moved indoors because of expected inclement weather on Saturday.
Saturday and Sunday Free and Cheap
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival – Watch the crews of dozens of intricately carved vessels race for prices, at this annual event with Asian food, music and dance performances.
- In Flushing Corona Park, FREE.
Battery Dance Festival – One week of FREE dance performances by more than 30 dance troupes from more than a dozen countries, including India and Macedonia.
- In Robert F. Wagner Park at Battery Park
Where to Cool Off in NYC
It’s hot out there. So here are the best places to cool off.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do. And we love to share.
- Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, but we usually remind you anyway.
- Unless otherwise noted, outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
- Street fairs are 11am to 6pm, unless otherwise noted.
Must See Museum Exhibits
Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms – You’ve seen these Norman Rockwell images all your life and know them well. But nothing compares with seeing them in person. This timely exhibit about freedom is at the New York Historical Society.
The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of publication of the illustrations in 1943, to support the WWII war effort, and remain a timely explanation of why Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear are universal and important to every one of us, every day.
You now get FREE admission to more than 30 NYC museums and cultural institutions with the new CulturePass. It’s a new perk to use with your library card from the NYPL, Brooklyn Museum or Queens Museum systems.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – The Crawleys will see you now, through Sept. 3, when they pack up and leave town.
Actual Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings sprawl over three floors. Drool over three floors of luscious costumes, sumptuous family rooms, the kitchen and servants quarters below stairs, plus see unseen footage from the popular series.
- In Midtown.
South Street eaport Museum – Enjoy FREE Friday afternoon admissions through the summer. Visit the historic museum with its exhibitions of how NYC became a world port, and tour the historic ships docket at the between 3pm and 7pm.
Friday Night Fireworks – And you thought fireworks are just for the Fourth of July. Hah! Once again, light up your Friday nights all summer with a FREE fireworks show at Coney Island, every Friday (weather permitting) until August 31.
- 9pm at Between West 10th Street and West 15th Street.
Saturday and Sunday Free & Cheap
Hot Dog Bus – Get FREE hot dogs every weekend through August 25th from this vintage VW Microbus. You can’t miss it. It’s bright yellow and looks like a food truck bulging at the seams. It’s part food truck and part art project, from the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and the Public Art Project, designed, literally to “encourage audiences to reconsider the relationship between capitalism and consumption” in today’s culture, according to the project’s press release. Not to mention the relationship between over-consumption and obesity, by feeding us free hot dogs.
- Noon to 6pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Saturdays at Pier 5, Sundays at Pier 1.
- Limit one per person, while supplies last
- NOTE – The Squibb Bridge is closed until further notice for safety checks
SEE ALSO: NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter’s trip across North Africa in a VW Microbus
Sunday Free & Cheap
Summergarden at MOMA – FREE outdoor classical music and jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden featuring the talented musicians of NYC’s The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Titled New Music for New York, each Sunday evening in July. Seating is first-come first-served, and museum admission is not required. The Sculpture Garden may close if attendance reaches maximum capacity. Entrance to Summergarden is through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
- The Sculpture Garden opens at 7pm. Concerts begin at 8pm and are 60-90 minutes long, and you may stay in the Sculpture Garden until it closes at 10pm. In the event of rain, concerts will be held in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby, and the Museum’s 54 Street entrance will open at 7:30 p.m.
- The exhibition galleries are closed during Summergarden. The Garden Bar, on the northeast end of the Sculpture Garden, features a selection of homemade snacks, draft beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. In the event of rain, the Garden Bar is closed.
Getting Around NYC – 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.
2018 NYC parking calendar – Know when you have to move your car, or not.
Where to eat at LaGuardia Airport – Top NYC restaurants and cafes are replacing fast food joints.
Get NYC on the Cheap in your inbox at 8am each morning.
It’s FREE, too, and you’ll start the day with what you need to know to be a NYC cheapskate.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for outdoor events. If not –
Every 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.
Every Saturday in NYC
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Every Sunday in NYC
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.
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.