There’s always plenty to do free and cheap in NYC on weekends, and with an extra day for the Memorial Day holiday, there are more than usual. Everything on the NYCOTC cheap weekend list is $20 or less. That makes us different from all the other “what to do” lists with expensive ideas, because we’re here to help you enjoy being a NYC cheapskate with no apologies.
Unless a price is noted, our NYC cheap weekend list is FREE. Let’s hope the weather cooperates for the outdoor events. Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10AM to 6PM.
any time of year
Fleet Week NY 2016
Say a welcome, and a thank you, to the 4,500 US Navy, US Marine and US Coast Guard members enjoying New York City during Fleet Week, and enjoy touring their ships and listening to their military band concerts.
Anchors Away – locations and hours for ship tours
Strike up the Band – locations and times for military band concerts.
Friday in NYC
Top Gun – The summer movie season on the flight deck of the Intrepid opens with this always popular film about the need for speed.
Grand Central Food Fair – 10am-6pm, 41st Street between Third Ave. and Lexington Ave.
Freebie Friday: FREE museum admission at top NYC museums. See the NYCOTC list.
Friday through Sunday in NYC
Lower East Side Festival for the Arts – Four days of music and dance performances, poetry readings, activities for the kids and more, at this 21st annual celebration. Outdoors along First Avenue at 11th St., and indoors at the Theater for the New City. Hours vary for the outdoor and indoor events.
Smorgasburg Kick-Off Celebration at the South Street Seaport – Brooklyn’s popular Smorgasburg is back in Manhattan at a new location at the South Street Seaport, at the newly renovated Fulton Market Building. The Memorial Day weekend kickoff features Brooklyn-based indie rock bands performing outside the Fulton Stall Market from 3PM to 5PM daily. Smorgasburg at South Street Seaport will be open daily for lunch and dinner through the fall, with restaurants including Cemitas El Tigre, Lumpia Shack Snack Bar Filipino spring rolls, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Home Frite Belgian fries, Landhaus sandwiches and Wowfulls, the egg waffles inspired by Hong Kong street food.
World Stamp Show – Get FREE admission all weekend to this family-friendly show at the Javits Center, with stamp giveaways and more.
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit – The streets of the Village around Washington Square are filled with colorful paintings, sculpture, mixed-media, photography, jewelry and more in this annual and popular art festival. Artists are local, and since this is a juried event, the quality is well above the usual street fair schlock. Noon to 6PM daily.
BAM’s Dance Africa Bazaar – See the streets transformed into a global marketplace. This Brooklyn tradition celebrates and showcases the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Africa and its diaspora. Featuring more than 150 vendors from around the world, the event offers African, Caribbean, and African-American food, crafts, and fashion.
Saturday in NYC
– This old-fashioned amusement park in Central Park opens for the season, with $4 rides and games. Or, buy a $15 wristband for all-day fun, including an old-fashioned carousel.
- See the NYC on the Cheap list of best carousels in New York City
Midtown West Spring Fair – 10AM to 6PM on Eighth Avenue, between 42nd and 50th Streets.
Jewish Museum – FREE admission on Saturdays. On exhibit now are more than 250 items of clothing and costume designs, sketches, photographs and video that tell the story of popular fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, from his first collection in 1987 to today, from his “semi-couture” lines to his work for Target. Through Aug. 7. The Jewish Museum is at 1109 Fifth Ave.
- See the NYCOTC list of free days at top NYC museums.
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
LIC Flea & Food – The popular outdoor weekend market is back for the season, open 11AM-6PM both days with favorite vendors returning and new vendors added. Grab a beer from the only All Queens Beer Garden and enjoy the Manhattan skyline. Located at 5-25 46th Avenue in Long Island City at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street. LIC Flea & Foods website.
Smorgasburg – The popular food and crafts market in Brooklyn is back for the season, open 11am to 6pm both days. Note that Smogasburg has two locations:
- Saturdays: Williamsburg, East River State Park, 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7th)
- Sundays: Prospect Park, Breeze Hill (at Lincoln Rd.)
Sunday in NYC
Governors Island Family Fun Day – Governors Island opens for the 2016 season with this annual festival of music, dance, crafts for kids and more. Details here , including a link to the FREE ferry schedule from Manhattan and from Brooklyn to Governors Island.
29th Annual Livable West Side Festival – On Broadway between 72nd and 86th Streets
Sixth Avenue Festival – On 6th Avenue, between 14th and 23rd Streets
Lexington Avenue Spring Festival – On Lexington Avenue, between 42nd and 57th Streets
Grand Army Market – The team behind Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg has launched this new weekly market at Grand Army Plaza, at the northern tip of Prospect Park (at the landmark arch/rotary). Grand Army Plaza has long been home to the weekly Saturday Greenmarket and is within walking distance to Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Every Sunday, 10am to 5pm, though October, with some of the most popular maker vendors from Brooklyn Flea, plus many new additions, and prepared- and packaged-food vendors.
Fulton Stall Outdoor Market – This popular outdoor food market is back for the season with live music and tastings of local craft food and drinks, all from within a 250-mile radius of New York City. So you are getting fresh items and supporting local, family farms and producers. Experience the Seaport District’s art installation, featuring portraits of over 100 farmers and chefs living and working in the Hudson Valley. South Street Seaport district at the corner of Fulton and Water Streets and inside Fulton Stall Market at 207A Front St., 11 AM – 5 PM
Vendy Plaza – Enjoy the city’s best, award-winning food carts, crafts, music and a beer garden at this outdoor market in Spanish Harlem, every Sunday through mid-October. Vendy Plaza is at 1616 Park, at 115th St., one block from the #6 train. Noon to 6PM, rain or shine, and since this is under the elevated MetroNorth/Amtrak train tracks, it doesn’t matter.
If you know about a free or cheap NYC weekend event you’d like to share with NYC on the Cheap, email us at email@example.com.
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.