Again this hot August week, there are many ways to enjoy NYC including a FREE virtual discussion on voting rights, virtual Shakespeare in the Park and dance performances, the 22nd week of Metropolitan Opera streaming performances, meditation workshops to help us reduce stress in these difficult days. Plus, real visits to some of NYC’s best attractions open again.
Grab your favorite beverage and snacks and settle in for these virtual events, or pack some water to hydrate yourself on outdoor excursions.
Even though these virtual events are FREE, you are encouraged to make a donation to support the group offering the free stay-at-home diversion.
Here are the best FREE and cheap things to do through Sunday, August 9th.
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NYC Outdoor Swimming Pools
Fifteen FREE outdoor swimming pools are open – at least one in each borough.
See the list here, along with pool rules, which include social distancing and wearing face masks except in the water.
Spray showers, also called sprinklers
Spray showers operate on days when the temperature hits 80 degrees or higher, so you can cool down while having a blast.
Spray showers are in park playgrounds, so you’ll be sharing the spray with giggling toddlers and their older siblings. Bring your own towel.
Search for spray showers by borough or zipcode on this NYC Dept of Parks link
Governors Island has reopened with FREE ferry reservations.
The High Line is open again, with FREE timed entry and visitors all walking in the same direction, south to north.
Piano in Bryant Park is back on the Upper Terrace, presenting New York City’s finest ragtime, stride, and jazz pianists performing free lunchtime concerts
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays from 12:30pm-2:30pm. This week’s performer is Kuni Mikami.
Shakespeare in the Park
Much Ado About Nothing
For the first time in over more than four decades, PBS Great Performances presents a Public Theater production recorded live at the free Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park.
After a highly successful, critically acclaimed run at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park, “Much Ado About Nothing” is a bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece featuring Danielle Brooks as Beatrice.
- Streaming now
- Link to watch
FREE on Mondays in August
The Rubin Museum’s weekly program has been held in the museum’s theater for years, paused when NYC shut down in March.
The program returns, virtually, with weekly meditation practice. And we can all a little guidance these days in reducing stress and adding some calmness into our lives.
Like the in-person Mindfulness Meditation, the online version features expert teachers who guide the forty-five-minute session, which includes a talk, meditation, and closing discussion.
Each session is inspired by a different work of art from the Rubin Museum’s collection and features a different meditation teacher. Upcoming meditation teachers include Lama Aria Drolma, Tracy Cochran, Rebecca Li, and Sharon Salzberg
In August the five pilot programs will be free for all. Starting in September, tickets will be $10 and are always free for members.
- Mondays at 1pm
- For more information and to reserve tickets go to RubinMuseum.org/Meditation.
Mondays and Thursdays – Free Dance Performances
The Queensboro Dance Festival continues with some two dozen Queens-based troupes, continues virtually and FREE with events on Mondays and Thursdays through October.
The dance groups represent the most culturally diverse borough of NYC. Along with dance performances, the festival includes classes, Q&A sessions with choreographers, and background information about a particular dance style.
Queensboro Dance Festival 2020 includes Arabic Bellydance, Ballet, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Cumbia, Flamenco, Greek, Hawaiian, Hip-Hop, Indian, Jazz, Latin Ballroom, Mexican, Modern, Tap, and West African.
- Queensboro Dance Festival 2020 videos air on Mondays and Thursdays at 4 pm with an Aug. 7 episode at 8 pm.
Join the NYC Ballet for Wednesday With Wendy, a series of ballet-inspired movement classes taught by New York City Ballet Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan
The FREE virtual classes are suitable for people of all ages and levels of dance training.Classes are on Instagram Live, and each class will also be available after the livestream concludes on NYCB’s IGTV channel.
- Every Wednesday at 5pm.
Can’t get to Central Park these days? No worries. Let park docents and other experts bring the world-famous park to you, with a different walk each Wednesday.
These FREE virtual insights into Central Park showcase some of the flowers and trees currently in bloom, share Park history, and give you the mid-week recharge that we all so desperately need.
- Sign up now to access the FREE live Zoom program and learn the history of this incredibly significant site.
- Wednesday, 12:30p
Free on Thursday – Voting Rights Discussion
Thursday – Free Dance Performance
Jacobs Pillow Virtual Dance Festival
The famous annual dance festival in the Berkshires goes virtual this year, with a different dance performance from the archives streamed every Thursday.
- Every Thursday at 8pm
- Click here for the full performance schedule and watch links
Starting Friday – FREE Virtual NYC Dance Festival
As always, the festival features international dance troupes. This year, the virtual festival brings together 52 performances including 28 premieres from 19 countries, and several dance troupes from New York City.
This year’s featured artists include a curated selection of NYC-based dance companies as well as video dance makers from Belgium, Canada, Curaçao, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Palestinian Territories, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.
Friday – Free Carnegie Hall Concert
Each week for the the forseable future, Carnegie Hall is streaming a concert from its archived recordings.
- Watch it Friday 3am through Monday, June 1st at 3 AM EDT
- Watch here on medici.tv
Instead of more than 100 FREE live performances in city parks all summer, SummerStage is offering FREE virtual performances all summer.
Metropolitan Opera Nightly Opera Streams
Every night of the week, the world-famous Met Opera is streaming a different performance from its repetoire of recorded performances, including operas by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart, and legendary stars including Luciano Pavarotti and Renée Fleming.
Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.
The streams are also available through the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TV.
This is the 22nd week of Met Opera FREE nightly streams.
Monday, August 10
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut
Starring Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, and Dwayne Croft, conducted by James Levine. From February 16, 2008.
Tuesday, August 11
Starring Aleksandra Kurzak, Clémentine Margaine, Roberto Alagna, and Alexander Vinogradov, conducted by Louis Langrée. From February 2, 2019.
Wednesday, August 12
Starring Christiane Eda-Pierre, Isola Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Louis Quilico, and Ara Berberian, conducted by James Levine. From December 15, 1981.
Thursday, August 13
Starring Nina Stemme, Anita Hartig, Marco Berti, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk, conducted by Paolo Carignani. From January 30, 2016.
Friday, August 14
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
Starring Deborah Voigt, Michelle DeYoung, Robert Dean Smith, and Matti Salminen, conducted by James Levine. From March 22, 2008.
Saturday, August 15
Puccini’s La Bohème
Starring Kristine Opolais, Susanna Phillips, Vittorio Grigolo, Massimo Cavalletti, Patrick Carfizzi, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Stefano Ranzani. From April 5, 2014.
Sunday, August 16
Verdi’s Luisa Miller
Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Bonaldo Giaiotti, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. From January 20, 1979.
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Watch New York City Ballet perform landmark works by George Balanchine, including Concerto Barocco (2004 broadcast) and the third act of the comic story ballet Coppélia (1978 broadcast).
Part of the Live from Lincoln Center schedule of virtual performances.
- 8pm, and on demand after
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel
Live From Lincoln Center offers a different play or musical most weeks. Last weekend it was the memorable recent revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, hailed by Time Magazine as “the best musical of the 20th Century,“ now available on demand.
The New York Philharmonic presents a stunning staged production of this iconic American work, featuring a star-studded cast including Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Stephanie Blythe, Shuler Hensley, Jason Danieley, Jessie Mueller, Kate Burton, John Cullum and New York City Ballet dancers Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck.
Carousel is one of my personal favorites, with one of the most beautiful and poignant songs ever written – You’ll Never Walk Alone. It brings me to tears every time I hear it.