Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do this first weekend of August, including Summer Streets car-free Saturdays, Harlem Week events, and the EcoFest of eco-friendly products and services in Times Square.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for all the outdoor events.
Where to Cool Off in NYC
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do. And we love to share.
NYC Free Summer Events Now Underway
Lincoln Center Out of Doors – FREE music and dance performances, concerts, film and more through August 12th.
This weekend includes La Casita, a festival of Latin music, and the Dance Theater of Harlem on Saturday. Sunday is Heritage Sunday, with traditional American music, and a family-friendly outdoor dance party to live music at 5pm.
Harlem Week – It’s expanded to a month of FREE and ticketed concerts, dance performances and more.
This weekend includes SweatFest, an all-day fitness and music festival.
SummerStage – The annual festival of FREE concerts in parks in all five NYC boroughs with performances just about every day through Labor Day 2018. Top performers include R&B, Latin, hip hop and jazz, folk, and dance performances.
- Subaru, a primary SummerStage 2018 sponsor, is partnering with TerraCycle to help make performance venues “zero-waste”. Any non-recyclables collected in the green boxes throughout the events are upcycled into other products, helping to preserve the environment.
The NYCOTC Free & Cheap Weekend Guide is $25 or less, with an occasional splurge because we deserve to treat ourselves once in a while.
- 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.
Must See Museum Exhibits
Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms – You’ve seen these Norman Rockwell images all your life and know them well. But nothing compares with seeing them in person. This timely exhibit about freedom is at the New York Historical Society.
The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of publication of the illustrations in 1943, to support the WWII war effort, and remain a timely explanation of why Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear are universal and important to every one of us, every day.
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.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – The Crawleys will see you now, through Labor Day Weekend only, when this fabulous exhibit has to close.
Actual Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings sprawl over three floors. Drool over three floors of luscious costumes, sumptuous family rooms, the kitchen and servants quarters below stairs, plus see unseen footage from the popular series.
- In Midtown.
South Street eaport Museum – Enjoy FREE Friday afternoon admissions through the summer. Visit the historic museum with its exhibitions of how NYC became a world port, and tour the historic ships docket at the between 3pm and 7pm.
Friday Night Fireworks – And you thought fireworks are just for the Fourth of July. Hah! Once again, light up your Friday nights all summer with a FREE fireworks show at Coney Island, every Friday (weather permitting) until August 31.
- 9pm at Between West 10th Street and West 15th Street.
Saturday Free & Cheap
Summer Streets – The first of three car-free Saturdays in August closes a chunk of downtown and midtown to vehicles, turning Park Avenue and Park Ave. South into a pedestrian and bicycle-only playground, with multiple stops for family fun.
- Click here to see what’s available at each rest stop.
Jazz on the Hill – Bring a blanket, picnic food, and dancing shoes for this annual event that features live swing dance music and swing dancing, FREE. It’s co-sponsored by Central Park and Jazzmobile, and features legendary Jimmy Heath and his 16-piece orchestra, and other performers.
NYCOTC editor Evelyn Kanter is a swing dancer. I’ll be there. Will you?
- 4pm to 7pm on the Great Hill. Enter Central Park at 106th St. and CPW.
Coney Island Music Festival – FREE family-friendly performances by local musicians, including singalongs, and more, including Jenga and checkers games and competitions.
- 1pm to dusk, at Surf and Stillwell Aves.
Times Square West Spectacular Street Fair – Eighth Ave. between 42nd and 54th Streets.
Saturday and Sunday Free & Cheap
Hot Dog Bus – Get FREE hot dogs every weekend through August 25th from this vintage VW Microbus. You can’t miss it. It’s bright yellow and looks like a food truck bulging at the seams. It’s part food truck and part art project, from the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and the Public Art Project, designed, literally to “encourage audiences to reconsider the relationship between capitalism and consumption” in today’s culture, according to the project’s press release. Not to mention the relationship between over-consumption and obesity, by feeding us free hot dogs.
- Noon to 6pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Saturdays at Pier 5, Sundays at Pier 1.
- Limit one per person, while supplies last
- NOTE – The Squibb Bridge is closed until further notice for safety checks
SEE ALSO: NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter’s trip across North Africa in a VW Microbus
Sunday Free & Cheap
30th Annual EcoFest – Learn how to be more green and more friendly to your planet at this FREE festival focusing on conservation of our natural resources and innovative alternative-energy technologies. You’ll see a variety of eco-friendly alternative fuel new vehicles, including solar powered, fuel cell and natural gas, some of which are already in use by private businesses and NYC and NYState agencies.
EcoFest also features a fashion show on the World Solar Stage presenting collections made of 100% organic and recycled material and exhibits focusing in eco products and services, handicrafts, agencies and healthy food, along with children’s eco-activities, health and fitness, pet adoptions and an art exhibition.
- 10am to 6pm in Times Square.
Summergarden at MOMA – FREE outdoor classical music and jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden featuring the talented musicians of NYC’s The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Titled New Music for New York, each Sunday evening in July. Seating is first-come first-served, and museum admission is not required. The Sculpture Garden may close if attendance reaches maximum capacity. Entrance to Summergarden is through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
- The Sculpture Garden opens at 7pm. Concerts begin at 8pm and are 60-90 minutes long, and you may stay in the Sculpture Garden until it closes at 10pm. In the event of rain, concerts will be held in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby, and the Museum’s 54 Street entrance will open at 7:30 p.m.
- The exhibition galleries are closed during Summergarden. The Garden Bar, on the northeast end of the Sculpture Garden, features a selection of homemade snacks, draft beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. In the event of rain, the Garden Bar is closed.
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.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for outdoor events. If not –
Every Friday in NYC
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.
Every Saturday in NYC
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
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.
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.