It’s May, it’s May, the lovely month of May, blooming with dozens of FREE and cheap things to do in NYC,
It’s a long list or concerts, talks, film screenings, art and design shows, the Lincoln Center 60th Anniversary Block Party with a full day of FREE music and dance performances and film screenings, and Memorial Day week festivities including Fleet Week, when thousands of US Navy, US Marnes and US Coast Guard members and their ships, celebrate NYC and we celebrate them.
We’re exhausted already, and May has barely begun.
Everything on the NYCOTC list is family-friendly, and with one worthy exception, everything on the NYCOTC list is $25 or less, so you can get more NYC for less money. That’s the NYCOTC motto:
Get more NYC for less money with NYC on the Cheap.
Best NYC Event of the Month
Fleet Week NYC 2019
Anchors aweigh! The 31st annual NYC Fleet Week returns with more than 4,500 US Navy sailors, Marines and Coast Guard men and women, nearly one dozen ships to tour, and dozens of band concerts and other events, all FREE.
NYC Fleet Week, which celebrates all the Sea Services, begins on Wednesday, May 22nd with the traditional Parade of Ships on the Hudson River – with all hands on deck saluting the site of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers – and continues through the following with daily concerts, drill demonstrations, and the chance to visit ships and talk with the soldiers and sailors about their jobs and the high-tech equipment they use.
The full schedule has not been announced yet, but you can get the idea from this 2018 schedule of Fleet Week events.
Best NYC Art and Design Events in May
Frieze NY is the big annual art show on Randall’s Island, with over-the-top daily ticket prices starting at $57. Fuggedaboudit. Instead, see some of the best art from Frieze NY artists FREE in Rockefeller Center.
Frieze Sculpture is a major new public art initiative with significant sculptures across the Rockefeller Center campus by 14 international artists including Goshka Macuga, Ibrahim Mahama, Joan Miró, Paulo Nazareth, Sarah Sze and Hank Willis Thomas.
Frieze Sculpture is curated by Brett Littman of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Queens, and presented in partnership with world-leading galleries.
There also are several FREE docent-led tours of the sculptures, including some designed just for kids.
- Frieze Sculpture is on display through June 28.
- Use this map to locate each sculpture.
It’s called the Other Art Fair so you don’t confuse it with other art fairs, Frieze NY or the recent Architectural Digest Design Show
Get COMP tickets now for this other curated gallery event to discover affordable artworks by artists who have been vetted by one of the world’s top international art dealers, along with entertainment and art seminars.
This year, The Other Art Fair will incorporate its Greener Future program with special initiatives geared toward supporting sustainability and protecting the environment.
And this year, 60% of the curated artists showing their work are women. It is presented by international art dealers Saatchi Art in New York City, as well as in Los Angeles, London, Bristol, Sydney and Melbourne.
- The Other Art Fair is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 3rd, 4th and 5th.
- Get COMP tickets and avoid the $15 admission price.
This is Brooklyn’s premier design event showcasing furniture, lighting, accessories and technology, featuring the highest-caliber furnishings and home accessories from Brooklyn-based artisans, designers and manufacturers, including many companies that have received Brooklyn-Made certification by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Besides browsing, there’s a full schedule of workshops. Want to learn tapestry making? Want to learn new ways to use color? Or how to build a sustainable rooftop farm? There’s a workshop for that. Ditto a meditation workshop, a guided tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yards, where this massive design show is held.
- Friday to Sunday, May 10-12, at Brooklyn Navy Yards, Building 77
- Full schedule, transportation and ticket information here.
Okay, I’m one of those who thinks vintage cars are pieces of art and design that happen to have motors.
See some of the best automotive sculptures on display in Lower Manhattan in this FREE display of a couple of dozen collector cars along the waterfront plaza of Brookfield Place.
It’s rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine, because we don’t want these pretty things to get wet.
- May 17 | 4-7pm
May 18 | 9am-4pm
Best NYC Museum Exhibits NYC in May
It is the largest exhibition on Auschwitz ever presented in the United States features more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs from more than 20 museums and other institutions around the world, many of them on display in the USA for the first time in North Amerrica.
Not long ago. Not far away is a searing reminder of the horrors of war, xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, especially timely today with the sad and frightening rise of terrorist shootings in synagogues, churches and mosques around the world.
Not long ago. Not far away includes hundreds of personal items (e.g., suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes) that belonged to people murdered in Auschwitz and to people who survived.
Other artifacts include concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; an original barrack; a gas mask used by the SS; drawings by Alfred Kantor and David Olère; and an original German-made Model 2 freight car used for the deportation of Jews.
This important exhibit comes to New York City after being shown in Madrid.
The exhibition opens to the public on May 8, the anniversary of VE Day, 1945
- At the The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park.
- MJH is the primary resource in the tri-state area for teaching and learning about the Holocaust and is the third largest Holocaust museum in the world.
- Get tickets now. Tickets are timed entry, but you can stay as long as you like.
- For more information about the exhibition, including tickets, visit www.Auschwitz.nyc.
- NYC on the Cheap Editor Evelyn Kanter is a descendant of Holocaust survivors.
- Members of my father’s family died in Auschwitz and in other Nazi concentration camps.
Best NYC Music and Dance Events in May
Lincoln Center celebrates its 60th birthday with a full day of FREE live music and dance performances, film screenings, family-friendly events and activities and more, including the chance to go behind the scenes at the NY City Ballet.
Although everything is FREE, some events require registration.
The Lincoln Center 60th Anniversary Block Party features something for all ages and interests throughout the iconic Lincoln Center campus.
The all-day block party celebrates the anniversary of the groundbreaking for an arts and culture complex that changed the West Side forever and set the stage (pun intended) for modern arts and culture complexes in other cities, including the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
- FREE on Sat., May 4th
- See the full NYCOTC posting with a full schedule of performances and screenings
St. Lucia Jazz Festival
Take the subway to St. Lucia and its famous Jazz Festival, at Lincoln Center for one week, May 4-12. It’s not just jazz, but Creole, soul and Reggae.
Performers include two-time Grammy nominated The Baylor Project, The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra,
- Produced in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center
- Get more information at www.stlucia.org/jazzfestival
The Orchestra of St. Luke’s has captivated audiences at Temple Emanu-El on 37 occasions with its virtuoso musicians and repertoire that span the best of classical music from the Baroque to the contemporary. Now, the Grammy-winning orchestra returns to the historic sanctuary with a FREE program of Vivaldi concertos.
- Vivaldi Concerto for Flute in G Minor, RV 439, “La Notte”
- Vivaldi Concerto for Violin and Oboe in B-flat Major, RV 548
- Vivaldi Concerto for Bassoon in A Minor, RV 497
- Vivaldi Concerto for Flute, Bassoon, Oboe, Violin and Continuo in G Minor, RV 107
- Vivaldi Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, RV 580
FREE at 6:30pm on Monday, May 13 at Temple Emanu-el, 10 East 66th St.
- Registration is required to manage available seating space. Register here.
Classical music gets a fun twist with the Wascally Wabbit and his friends, as the New York Philharmonic and Warner Bros present Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.
Classic Looney Tunes cartoons are projected on a giant screen, with their original scores performed live by the New York Philharmonic.
Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday at 2pm. All performances are family friendly and open to every age 4 and up.
Tickets are $60, which is well above the $25 threshold for NYC on the Cheap.
But, really, how often do you get to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with music performed by the New York Philharmonic.
- Performances are Fri. and Sat., May 17/8 at 8pm and Saturday at 2pm.
- Purchase on the New York Philharmonic website.
Music Director Jaap van Zweden will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 at this annual FREE Memorial Day Concert at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance; ticket distribution will begin at 5pm.
The program will be presented without intermission.
- Monday, May 27th at 7pm.
- Doors open at 5:30pm.
- There are no reservations.
- Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance.
- Ticket distribution will begin at 5:00 p.m.
- FREE tickets are required for FREE admission
- Cathedral of St. John the Divine is at Amsterdam Ave. and 112th St.
Best NYC Events for Foodies in May
Ninth Ave. International Food Festival
It’s probably the longest food festival in the world, stretching nearly one mile along Ninth Ave. The annual extravaganza between 42nd and 57th Streets is filled with hundreds of food vendors, including many of the family-owned international restaurants and bakeries that have made Ninth Ave. a world-famous destination for foodies.
Feed your face and have some fun, and know that you are eating for a good cause, since proceeds support educational and other programs for local residents.
- Saturday and Sunday, May 18/19
- Find out more at www.9thAve.org
Best NYC Events Just for Kids in May
Enjoy the Museum’s annual Children’s Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian, and explore the Taíno culture of the Caribbean, FREE.
Hands-on activities include hammock making with natural fibers, decorating clay pots and crafting a maraca or magnet to take home. Music and dancing led by Irka Mateo (Taíno). Bobby Gonzalez (Taíno) offers storytelling.
- Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
- NMAI is in Battery Park, and admission is always FREE.
- This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
- 2pm every Wednesday in May, at Broadway Boulevard, the pedestrian triangle at Broadway, between 24th and 35th Streets.
- Find out more here.
- Sat. and Sun., May 4/5 and again May 11/12.
- Performances at 10:30am and 3:30pm
- BAM Fisher (Hillman Studio, 321 Ashland Pl). Brooklyn
- Tickets for Glimpse are $16. www.bam.org/kids/2019/glimpse
Best FREE Theater Events in NYC in May
The Drilling Company returns for another season of outdoor productions of Shakespeare in Bryant Park
First of the season is Hamlet: Princess of Denmark, a gender-reversed adaptation of The Bard’s beloved tragedy.
In this re-envisioning, it’s not just a woman playing the Dane, but the Dane is now a woman, bringing a defining female power to the doomed character. Directed by Karla Hendrick and starring Jane Bradley in the titular role, this is sure to be a smart and relevant view of Shakespeare for the #MeToo era.
- Performances are Thursday, May 16 to Saturday, May 25, with a 7 pm curtain time, in Bryant Park.