Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this three-day MLK holiday weekend, including your last chance to experience shows and museum exhibits closing soon.
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.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates with outdoor events,
And if it doesn’t, here are some rainy and snowy day activities in NYC, besides re-arranging your sock drawer.
New York State and private donors are paying to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open during the US Government shutdown, while other National Park Service locations around NYC and the USA are closed.
So this weekend is a good time to visit these popular and important monuments to the American dream.
The historic Museum on Eldridge Street is offering FREE admission for all furloughed federal employees (and employees currently working without a paycheck) for the duration of the partial government shutdown.
Just show your federal employee ID or latest paystub at the admission desk upon arrival. The offer is valid for employees and up to three guests.
- The historic restored Lower East Side synagogue is at 12 Eldridge Street and currently has an amazing exhibit of historic menorahs in the Sanctuary, as well as its regular museum exhibits.
Hamilton Grange National Memorial in Hamilton Heights, home of Alexander Hamilton, is closed
Federal Hall National Monument on Wall St. is closed.
The General Grant National Memorial on the Upper West Side, better known as Grant’s Tomb, is closed.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site on the East Side, birthplace of the only US President born in New York City, also closed.
See the National Park Service website for additional information.
Also closed are the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan and the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum on the Upper East side, both branches of the Smithsonian.
NYC Broadway Week 2-for-1 tickets to Broadway shows, including The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Frozen, Kinky Boots and The Lion King. .
NYC Broadway Week 2-for-1 tickets are for matinee and evening performances Jan. 21 to Feb 5.
NYC Restaurant Week reservations are now open, for three-course prix-fixe meals for lunch and dinner at nearly 400 participating NYC restaurants., This is your chance to splurge on a gourmet meal in such top-rated locally owned restaurants as the 21 Club, Smith & Wolensky, Boulud Sud, and David Burke Kitchen.
NYC Restaurant Week overlaps with NYC Broadway Week.
Ending This Weekend
The 28th New York Jewish Film Festival features documentaries, dramas and romcoms about the Jewish experience around the world, including about civil disobedience, food, immigration, war, hope and resilience.
As always, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this annual festival of international films with universal themes.
The New York Jewish Film Festival features nearly 40 films include from Israel, Germany, Poland, France, Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands and Argentina, including several world, U.S. and New York premieres, and several screenings include Q&A sessions with the director.
Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and students.
Last chance for these museum exhibits
Through Jan. 26
A British Library exhibition at the New-York Historical Society has put together a packed line-up of exciting events for Harry Potter fans of all ages, including trivia nights, art workshops, creative writing classes, social meet-ups, open mics, book clubs, and engaging courses that explore the Hogwarts curriculum.
The exhibit includes a selection of objects not featured in the London presentation that are on view to the public for the very first time.
Visit harrypotter.nyhistory.org to book your timed-tickets in advance.
For the final weeks, the New York Historical Society is open late to accommodate the crowds.
- Monday – Wednesday, January 21 – 23: 10 am – 7 pm
- Thursday, January 24: 10 am – 6 pm
- Friday, January 25: 10 am – midnight
- Saturday, January 26: 10 am – midnight
- Sunday, January 27: 10 am – 7 pm
Holiday Train Show at GCT
The 17th Annual Holiday Train Show is now open at Grand Central Terminal, and it’s FREE again this year.
These are classic, vintage Lionel Trains which run on eight separate loops of track through a 34-foot long miniature New York City scene, at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store in GCT.
Who doesn’t love trains!
- Exhibit is through the end of January.
Friday and Saturday
This annual event celebrates the rich tradition of Black comix with FREE panel discussions, film screenings, exhibit tables with top comic creators, comic book giveaways for kids and more.
This year’s topics include diversity and social justice in comics, black comics in digital spaces, black masculinity in comic books, and more, including the festival memorabilia.
- Registration is recommended to manage space.
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.
Saturday in NYC
This is the third annual march in support of advancing the fundamental civil rights of women, regardless of faith, race, religion, sexual identity or political affiliation.
As last year, the march gathers around Columbus Circle and heads east on 59th St. to Sixth Ave, to 43rd St. Last year, more than 100,000 people participated..
- 11am to 4pm
- FREE, but groups are urged to register
- NOTE – This is the official Women’s March on NYC hosted by Women’s March Alliance; the organizers of both the 2017 & 2018 Women’s March on NYC.
- This official Women’s March is not associated with the one in Washington, DC or with another women’s march in Lower Manhattan, both of which are aligned with the anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT racist views of Louis Farrakhan, which NYCOTC considers abhorrent and dangerous.
Things to do in NYC every Saturday
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Events honoring MLK Day on Monday, and more in NYC, on next page
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.
Every Sunday at 11am, rain or shine. No advance registration is required. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Monday, MLK Day in NYC
New York City’s largest public celebration in honor of iconic civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to BAM for the 33rd year. This event brings world-renowned activists, public figures, and civic leaders together with musicians and other performers to pay tribute to King’s legacy and keep his message alive. Join us for this full day of events, including a movie screening and an art exhibition.
Keynote speaker: Tarana Burke
Musical performers: Oddisee, The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir
- FREE, 10:30am at Peter Jay Sharpe Building at BAM. Tickets are distributed first come first served starting at 8am.
- FREE with museum admission, 11am to 2pm
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.
Alternate-side parking: in effect till New Year’s Day.
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.
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Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.
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