Your weekend plans begin here, with a dozen or so FREE and cheap things to do this MLK holiday weekend, including multiple events honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
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Everything on NYC on the Cheap is family friendly, and nearly everything is FREE.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates with outdoor events, but if it doesn’t, here are some rainy day activities in NYC, besides re-arranging your sock drawer.
Know Before You Go
Be sure to check the street closures advisory so you are not stuck in traffic.
Things to do Right Away
Reserve your two-for-one tickets now for top shows, including The Book of Mormon and The Lion King.
Broadway Week is really three weeks, Jan. 21 to Feb. 9. And if you miss it, there’s another Broadway Week at the end of July/beginning of August.
Obviously, the most popular shows sell out first, so don’t delay.
Make your reservations at more than 300 top NYC restaurants, serving specially priced three-course meals $26 at lunch and $42 at dinner, the same price as last year.
This is your chance to splurge on a gourmet meal in such top-rated locally owned restaurants as the Russian Tea Room and Nougatine at Jean-Georges.
Restaurant Week is really three weeks, also Jan. 21 to Feb. 9, coinciding with Broadway Week, so you can have dinner and a show on the cheap.
The 29th New York Jewish Film Festival features documentaries, dramas and romcoms about the Jewish experience around the world, including about sports, fashion, civil disobedience, immigration, war, hope and resilience.
As always, you do not have to be Jewish to enjoy international films with universal themes.
A special event is a 50th anniversary showing of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, the iconic drama by renowned director Vittorio de Sica.
Things to do Friday
The Census helps determine how much money New York State and New York City get from the federal government for programs such as SNAP, better known as Food Stamps, and even how many seats New York City gets in Congress. So it is extremely important for all New Yorkers to be counted, no matter what their immigration status is.
You can apply if you are (or will be) at least 18 years of age at the time of the Census; have work authorization, including a valid Social Security number; are registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption (if you are male and were born after Dec. 31, 1959); and have a valid e-mail address.
Compensation ranges from $20-27.50/hr in NYC.
Find out how to get a job as a census taker at this FREE event at the New York Public Library
- Friday, January 17, 2 p.m., Read More
Things to do Friday and Saturday
The Eighth Black Comic Book Festival celebrates the rich tradition of Black comix with FREE panel discussions, film screenings, exhibit tables with top comic creators, comic book giveaways for kids, a cospay show, and more.
Discussion topics include diversity and social justice in comics, black comics in digital spaces, black masculinity in comic books, and more, including the festival memorabilia.
Black Comic Book Festival participants are encouraged to wear their favorite cosplay costumes and to register on-site for the annual cosplay show.
- FREE, but registration is encouraged to manage space.
- 10 AM–8 PM both days
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the NYPL, is at 515 Malcolm X Blvd at 135th St,
Things to do Saturday
Make your voice heard on all things that matter to women – and to men and children, too – including sexual harassment, climate change, cyber bullying and more.
Continuing the tradition of marching for justice and equality, Women’s March Alliance is proud to host the 4th Annual Women’s March on NYC.
2020 is the Year of the Roar!
I am woman. Hear me roar.
We Roar for Justice. We Roar for Peace. We Roar for Change. We Roar Equality! We invite you to bring your banners, blow horns and voice and ROAR with us!
- The Women’s March on NYC starts at Columbus Circle at 11am, to 4pm.
The Women’s March is a grassroots volunteer-led organization raising money for security, stage, and equipment.
The group has partnered with iFundWomen to support the power of capital, coaching, and connections to drive economic opportunities for women-owned businesses.
- The Women’s Unity March and Rally gathers at Foley Square, at Lafayette/Worth/Center Streets, at 11am.
Things to do Monday
New York City’s largest public celebration in honor of iconic civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., returns to BAM for the 34th year.
The FREE event brings together world-renowned activists, public figures, and civic leaders alongside musicians and other performers paying tribute to King’s legacy.
This year’s event features keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones and musical guests Son Little and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir.
This full day of free events also includes a screening and an art exhibition entitled Picture the Dream (on view through February 27), including a free live music performances at BAMcafé.
- FREE event, but registration is required to ensure space.
- Note that signing up for the event does not guarantee admission, which is on a first come, first served basis.
Give back to your local parks during this Martin Luther king Jr. Day. Those who stop by this event will learn how to identify and safely remove invasive plants from the parks in order to help create a healthier ecosystem.
Events include: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan (at Henshaw Street and Dyckman Street); Forest Park, Queens (at Oak Ridge); Conference House Park, Staten Island (at the Conference House Park Visitor Center)
- 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (9:30 a.m. start for Staten Island)
Head to the “Activist New York” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York to honor the legacy of Dr. King for storytime, followed by an art-making activity and a museum scavenger hunt. Entrance is free with purchase of a Museum ticket.
- FREE with museum admission, 11am to 2pm
- Mueum of the City of New York is at 1220 Fifth Ave.
Black Out for human Rights hosts its fifth annual MLK Now event at the Riverside Church.
The event features live music, spoken word performances, conversations and more.
- Doors open at Noon. The event is 2pm to 6pm.
- There are no reservations or assigned seating, which is first come first served.
- The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Dr.
The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association is hosting its annual FREE storytelling event on Monday.
Hear from author/illustrator Sharee Miller and author/activist Anastasia Higginbotham, who will both do readings, plus there are arts & crafts, drumming workshops and more.
- Doors open at 10:30am, program is 11am to 3pm
- Grace Reformed Church of Flatbush, 1800 Bedford Avenue
Every Voice Choirs is offering this FREE concert.
Their children’s choir will be joined by The Teachers College Community Choir to commemorate the memory of Dr. King.
- 1:30pm to 2:30pm at Broadway Presbyterian Church 601 West 114th St.
Best Museum Exhibits for Kids
This popular display is back at the American Museum of Natural History for its 22nd season with more than 500 butterflies fluttering among colorful tropical flowers and lush green vegetation.
The butterflies are from farms in Florida, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador, and Australia.
Beyond being just beautiful, butterflies are important harbingers of environmental change, and the exhibit includes an educational component about the roles butterflies play in ecosystems and the importance of protecting them.
- At AMNH through May 2020
- FREE with museum admission