Your weekend plans begin here, with a dozen or so FREE and cheap things to do this final full weekend of January, including several events celebrating the Lunar New Year, and so much more.
Get more NYC for less money with NYC on the Cheap. That’s our motto and we’re sticking to it.
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.
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.
- The New York Jewish Film Festival is through Tuesday, January 28.
- Click here for the full schedule, including brief descriptions of each film
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers
These Native American dancers, musicians and storytellers return to the Lower East Side for their annual concert, with two weekends of performances.
The group is made up of members of various tribes who live right here in New York City, who share their dance and song traditions.
The performances include traditional music, dance and storytelling of the Iroquois, Pueblo, Alaskan and Great Plains Native American peoples, by the Thunderbirds, who are dressed in the authentic clothing styles of their peoples.
The performances are Friday-Sunday, Jan. 24-26 and again Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays are specially tailored for children, and everybody is invited onstage after the performance to join the dancing.
I’ve enjoyed the Thunderbirds several times. My personal favorite is the Hoop Dance by one of the Thunderbird members, pictured here.
Tickets are just $15, and children are just $1 with a paying adult.
- Theater for a New City is 155 First Ave., between 9th and 10th Streets
- Additional information and purchase tickets online here.
- Photo of Hoop Dance by Jonathan Slaff.
This is your last chance to experience the world’s largest display of LEGO® art, closing this weekend.
Artist Nathan Sawaya created more than 100 pieces for this exhibition using only LEGO bricks. The collection features original pieces, as well as re-imagined versions of some of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, including the famous painting known as Scream.
More than one million LEGO bricks were used to create Sawaya’s sculptures.
In addition to the LEGO artworks on display, there are activity stations where kids of all ages can create and design their own.
- Art & Architecture – Recreate famous building, bridges and structures using LEGO bricks.
- Hidden Hands – Build a mystery object inside a covered box using only your sense of touch.
- Assistive Devices – Design a tool that will allow you to pick up an object on a post through a series of various sized windows.
- Describe It – Build a simple object out of view and describes the object to your friend. Then, see if your friend can build the same object based only on the description.
- Six Bricks – Find out how many different things you can build using only six LEGO Duplo bricks.
- LEGO Drag Race – Build a LEGO brick car and test it out on ramps of different inclines.
- Tilt Maze – Rearrange straight LEGO “bar” bricks to create a maze for a wooden ball to navigate through on a tilt-table.
- LEGO Music Box – Create your own unique song using a special LEGO baseplate. On the baseplate, horizontal lines represent different “tracks,” and vertical columns represent the eight “beats.” Use different colored LEGO bricks as instruments or notes/pitches to create your song. Then put the visual representation of your song under a camera, where simple image processing algorithms will turn it into music.
Art of the Brick is at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadow Park
- $7 per person, plus NYSCI admission.
- Take the 7 train to the 111th St. station.
Last Chance for this Holiday Show
Every holiday season, the New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Gallery plays host to a city within a city with the display of a miniature electric railroad running over, through, and beneath some of New York’s most magnificent landmarks.
This beloved FREE annual holiday exhibit features model trains traveling along a 34’ long, two-level, “O” gauge model train layout.
The model trains depart from a miniature replica of Grand Central Terminal, and feature the Transit Museum’s collection of Lionel trains including Metro-North, Polar Express and vintage subway train sets.
The model trains make their way past multiple New York landmarks and on to the North Pole.
Who doesn’t love trains?
- FREE, through Feb. 23, 2020
- New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Gallery
Things to do Friday
Return to the past at this acclaimed series of iconic silent films accompanied by live music, FREE in Lower Manhattan.
Themes including immigration, and income and gender inequality are timeless, and so is the popularity of such early movie stars as Charlie Chaplin.
Silent Films/Live Music series is curated by WNYC’s John Schaefer.
Tonight is the final of three nights shorts and full-length feature films.
- FREE, at the Winter Garden Atrium in Brookfield Place
- 7pm, seating is first come first served
Things to do Saturday
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with parades, firecrackers and more at events in Manhattan and Queens.
Check our full Lunar New Year article
for the full schedule for this weekend and next weekend.
Meet Jeremy Red Eagle (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) and enjoy a day of family-friendly games that are fun and educational.
Learn to play Hawaiian board games, Inuit yo-yos, ring and pin, Arctic high kick, hoop-throwing and more.
- FREE, 11am to 5pm
- At the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) adjoining Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.
Team up with the favorite kid in your life for this special multi-generation FREE yoga class at the South Street Seaport.
Karma Kids Yoga is offering some fun and fit bonding time with group poses, yoga games, profactice partner acrobatics, and flying partner yoga, while building confidence and self-esteem along with strong and healthy bodies. Self-expression through yoga is encouraged. This class promises fun for the whole family.
Do child’s pose together with your child.
- FREE, 10am to 11am, 4th Floor Event Space at Pier 17
- Registration is recommended to manage space
Board Game Pop-Up
If you are a fan of old-fashioned and classic board games, head to Showfields for a FREE board-game pop-up filled with your favorite childhood classics. Including everything from Candyland and Battleship to Jenga, Scrabble to Trivial Pursuit. And Monopoly, of course, perhaps the most famous board game of all.
Play more than 20 games for kids, adults and multi-generation, and spend some quality time with your inner child.
- FREE, no ticket needed, just show up and let the games begin.
- Showfields is at 11 Bond Street. The games pop-up is on the third floor.
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