Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this mid-October weekend, some family-friendly, others for adults only. The list includes FREE concerts of David Bowie music, Halloween events, plus fall food festivals, and more
The NYC on the Cheap weekend list is $25 or less, and most things are FREE, so you can enjoy NYC more for less money.
Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10am to 6pm, rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
So much to see and do and so little time.
Starting Today, Thursday, Oct. 18
Enjoy three nights of FREE concerts of the music of David Bowie, performed by an all-star line-up of indie rockers including Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu, Shearwater, Dirty Projectors, Battle Trance, the Wordless Music Orchestra. They perform one full album each night from Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. Carlos Alomar, Bowie’s guitarist, arranger, and musical director will also take to the stage to conduct on Friday night. This is a rare chance to experience this rare retrospective into one of Bowie’s most electric creative periods, and it’s FREE.
- Performances are 7:30pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. There are no tickets, no reservations, and seating is first come first served.
- Click here for performer bios
2018 is the 42nd anniversary of this festival, with another blockbuster four-day schedule of global films, filmmakers, artists and anthropologists, all focused on our cultural similarities.
This year’s theme is “Resilience in Motion,” documenting stories of people who refuse to be cast as victims. Subjects include refugee justice, indigenous rights, voter suppression and transgender activism.
Programs include films about Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram struggling to regain normalcy after their release from captivity, transgender women in Tonga creating safe spaces for self-expression, to battling voter supression in North Carolina.
The festival honors the legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead. All events are at the American Museum of Natural History.
And if it doesn’t, here are some rainy day activities in NYC, besides re-arranging your sock drawer.
Halloween Events Already Underway
Halloween Harvest – Luna Park
Ahoy, me Hearties! It’s time to get aboard for the thrills, chills and Halloween frills during Luna Park’s fifth-annual pirate-themed Halloween Harvest in Coney Island. The park is humming with festive seasonal activities to celebrate autumn on weekends through October 28th. In addition to nonstop rides and candy, this year’s Halloween Harvest also features spooktacular entertainment including its newest addition, Tillie’s Tractor— riders can hop on a tractor and race throughout the park to find their treasure. Other entertainment includes: face painting, pumpkin picking and decorating, caricatures, storytelling, pirate entertainment, Argghs & Crafts, pirate puppet show, magic shows and more.
- All activities are included in a Luna Park day pass.
New York City’s favorite haunted house is back with a host of fright-filled environments, including attractions The Crypt, Thunderdome, The Wake, Maggot Invasion, Hannibal’s Hell, Killer Clown Room and Mayhem!, in which beasts and demons will vie for your body — and your soul.
- Discount tickets start at $19, for dates through early November.
Museum Exhibits Worth Noting
This sobering and thought-provoking 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 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.
Also at New York Historical Society is the Harry Potter History of Magic exhibit, which includes handwritten manuscripts of author J. K. Rowling, all kinds of interactive Harry Potter displays, and displays about why creatures including owls, unicorns and dragons became associated with magic.
See both exhibits for the price on a single ticket.
- The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), Seventh Ave. at 27th St., through early January 2019.
Things to do 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 Saturday
9th Annual Taste of the Seaport, an annual fall festival celebrates the amazing food & beverage scene nestled in Lower Manhattan, which includes the Financial District and the Historic South Street Seaport. With FREE musical entertainment, children’s activities and more than 40 local food & beverage purveyors. You’ll be eating and drinking for a good cause, since proceeds from the event benefit arts and enrichment programs at two local elementary schools, PS 343 Peck Slip School and PS 397 Spruce Street School.
- Purchase Taste Tickets for food, starting at $10, which provides 5 “tastes, which the organizers tell us is usually enough for one person, or get a family pack for 20 dishes, enough to share between 2 adults and 2 children.
- 11:30am to 3pm, Pier 16 and Pier 17, South Street Seaport
Pumpkin decorating, magic tricks, and spooky snacks. Plus, a market-wide scavenger hunt with a very sweet surprise prize. All FREE
- Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes.
- Noon to 3pm at Essex St. Market, Essex at Delancey.
Native American Dance Workshop & Storytelling
Join the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers for a FREE evening of family-friendly storytelling of traditional stories, plus music and dancing, including the opportunity to learn Native American Dancing. There’s also the opportunity to buy jewelry and other handmade crafts. The group is made up of Native Americans of various tribes who live and work in NYC and the Tri-State area, who perform regularly at local Pow Wows and also at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan.
- The workshop is 7pm to 10pm at The Carriage House, 225 East 67th St., between Second and Third Aves.
Two FREE hours of entertainment for kids, at Brookfield Place. Starting at 10am with interactive songs, and performers from magicians to puppeteers at 11am.
- Every Saturday through Dec. 15 at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan.
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Street Fairs and Harvest Festivals on Saturday
Summer Solstice Celebration and North Flatbush BID Fall Fest – Noon to 4pm, October 20 and October 27, 2018 12pm-4pm 6th Ave and St Marks Ave (the triangle), Brooklyn
USO Avenue of the Americas Autumn Street Fest – Sixth Ave between 42nd St and 56th St
Bookfest @ Bank Street – 9am-4pm, Bank Street College of Education, 610 West 112th St between Broadway and Riverside Dr
Harvest Festival – 11am-2pm, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6 Lawns
Harvest Festival at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve – 11am-4pm, 2351 Veterans Rd West, Staten Island
Fall Crafts in Chelsea – 11am-4pm, 21st St between 8th and 9th Ave
Red Hook Community Harvest Fest – 11am-4pm, Columbia and Sigourney St, Brooklyn
Things to do Saturday and Sunday
Visit the Pumpkin Patch in Nolan Park, FREE to visit, with live music, pumpkin painting for kids and a beer garden for grownups.
- This weekend and next weekend, 11am to 5pm.
Things to do Sunday
Street Fairs and Harvest Festivals
Washington Square Arch Fair – Washington Square North from 5th Ave to University Pl
36th Ave “Astoria” Festival – 36th Avenue from 29th Street to 35th St
27th Annual Fall Festival – West Side of Broadway between 86th and 96th St
Astoria Family Halloween Parade – Ditmars and 31st St, Astoria, Queens
Halloween Party at Cypress Hills Cemetery – 833 Jamaica Ave, Brooklyn
Old Home Day at Historic Richmond Town – 10am-5pm, 441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island
NYC Artisanal Sweet Treats Bazaar – 10am-5:30pm, Grand Bazaar NYC, 100 West 77th St and Columbus Ave
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.
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.
Some More Things to See and Do
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.
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.
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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.