Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this three-day Presidents Weekend, including FREE celebrations of Black History Month and the Lunar New Year.
As always, everything NYC on the Cheap suggests is $25 or less, and most things are FREE, so you can enjoy more NYC for less money.
So much to see and do and so little time.
Saturday, Feb. 16
Losar Family Day
Celebrate Losar, the Himalayan New Year, with an afternoon of art. Learn about traditional Losar celebrations, explore the galleries, listen to Himalayan music, and let your creativity go wild with thematic activities and art projects.
- Combine art and science to make a sparkling stone geode that represents the Earth element’s characteristics of stability and strength.
- Embody this year’s astrological sign, the Earth Pig, using the natural materials of soil and rice.
- Take inspiration from traditional winter bouquets, or metok, and create your own paintings using ears of barley.
- Create prayer flags with your personal intentions and prayers for the New Year.
Noon to 4pm at the Rubin Museum in Chelsea. FREE with museum admission.
Celebrate Chinese and Chinese American traditions and folk arts at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) with zodiac themed arts & crafts, festive music and dance performances, teaching artist demonstrations, storytelling, and more. There are two three-hour sessions, 10am – 1pm, or 2 – 5pm. Both offer the same lineup of special guests and fun activities.
Admission: $12 per person; $8 for children 2 & up; Free for MOCA Family Level Members and above, children under 2, and Cool Culture families. Advance ticket purchase highly recommended.
Sunday, Feb. 17
Celebrate the Year of the Pig with Manhattan Chinatown’s annual and popular Lunar New Year parade.
Expect performances, including the traditonal Lion Dance, and traditional costumes at the parade, followed by a street festival featuring food vendors.
- FREE, 1pm, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand and Chrystie Streets, betterchinatown.com
Enjoy free admission to the Eldridge Street Museum from noon to 5pm and make your own New Year decorations!
The Chinatown Lunar New Year parade is just two days before the Lantern Festival, which marks the first full moon of the (Lunar) New Year and finale of the Lunar New Year festivities. Traditionally on this day, children make their own lanterns and parade them along the streets.
Join Museum at Eldridge Street and Think!Chinatown to celebrate! Museum admission will be free beginning at 12pm the day of the parade. And at 2pm, in the historic sanctuary at 12 Eldridge Street, the T!C team will guide participants, young and old, through decorating lanterns with paint and ink using stencils, stamps or free hand brushwork. Lanterns will then be hung for display in the bamboo garden at 5 Essex.
Visitors can also make their own red door decoration, a must-have to bring luck into your home for the new year. Learn calligraphy of a few key Chinese characters, and use stencils and stamps to customize your creation. Then make a wish and bring your decoration home.
February is Black History Month, and several NYC museums have special events, including film screenings.
Enjoy FREE weekend screenings of films and TV shows featuring African-American performers, including a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, classic comedy programs, a Scandal marathon, and previews of two new documentaries.
All the screenings are at the Paley Center for the Media, in Midtown, a museum of broadcasting, founded by William S. Paley, who founded CBS. There is also a branch in Los Angeles, with a similar schedule.
- Jackie Robinson photo courtesy of MCNY
Saturday, Feb. 16
- 5pm at the Brooklyn Music School Playhouse Theater, 126 Saint Felix Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door.
Events on Friday, Feb. 15
Celebrate the opening of the Library’s newest (and FREE) exhibition Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50 with a night of curator talks, trivia, special guests, and more as we explore the history of LGBTQ civil rights following the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
Love & Resistance will include:
- After hours access to the Library’s new exhibition Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, featuring photographs, documents, ephemera and more that illustrate the themes of nightlife, love, activism, and the queer press.
- Copies of the exhibition’s accompanying book Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet Into the Stonewall Era, which includes photographs taken by Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies, with a foreword by Roxane Gay, will be on sale before its March 2019 publication date.
- Curator talks featuring exhibition curator Jason Baumann, the Library’s Susan and Douglas Dillon Assistant Director for Collection Development and Coordinator of Humanities and LGBT Collections
- Trivia with Making Gay History podcast host Eric Marcus
- Drag Queen Story Hour’s very first story time for adults
- Listening stations from the NYC Trans Oral History Project listening stations, a community archive devoted to the collection, preservation and sharing of trans histories, organized in collaboration with The New York Public Library
- Games, puzzles, and crafting highlighting the library’s vast LGBTQ archive
- DJ music and beats, fFood & drinks available for purchase
- After hours access to beautiful NYPL spaces including the Rose Main Reading Room
Admission is for 21+ only, with ID.
Unlike past Library After Hours events, this one is NOT FREE. Admission to this event is $15.
Things to do in NYC every Friday
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.
Things to do in NYC every Saturday
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum
Things to do in NYC every Sunday
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.
This exhibit examines the meaning of citizenship for African Americans following the abolition of slavery, through Reconstruction and the rise of the Jim Crow era. By 1868, all persons born in the United States were citizens and equal before the law, but efforts to create an interracial democracy were contested from the start. A harsh backlash ensued, ushering in the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow.
Marking the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment – back in the news today with all the headlines about immigration and birthright citizenship – and featuring art, artifacts, photographs and media, the exhibition highlights the central role played by African Americans in advocating for their rights and also examines the depth and breadth of opposition to black advancement. Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow is part of New-York Historical’s new initiative to dedicate rotating gallery space to covering topics of freedom, equality, and civil rights in America.
- New York Historical Society, Central Park West at 76th St., through early 2019.
Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York
Enjoy the exuberance and brilliance of dancer, choreographer, artist and poet – and native New Yorker – Jerome Robbins in this FREE exhibit celebrating the 100th year of his birth, and his hometown, where the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, and the people ride in a hole in the ground, as we learned in On the Town.
Jerome Robbins was an inveterate observer, seeker, and creator. In diaries, drawings, watercolors, paintings, story scenarios, poems—and, especially, in dance—he reimagined the world around him. And New York dominated that world, where he was born one-hundred years ago and where he lived his entire adult life.
Ideas of New York have long inspired artists but often the city serves as a backdrop in an artwork rather than the basis for plot, theme, and meaning. Robbins put the city at the center of his artistic imaginings. From Fancy Free—his breakout hit ballet in 1944—to the musical West Side Story on stage (1957) and screen (1961) and the ballets N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz (1958) and Glass Pieces (1983), Robbins explored the joys, struggles, grooves, routines, and aspirations of New York. And in recreating the city around him on stage, Robbins found a place for himself.
Voice of My City traces Robbins’ life and dances alongside the history of New York, inspiring viewers to see the city as both a muse and a home.
- Open through March 30th, 2019. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
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.
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.
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.
Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.