The city that never sleeps also offers events and activities that never end. New York City has a full calendar of FREE and cheap events in September. Here are couple of dozen of the best FREE & cheap things to in NYC to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap.
Nothing on NYCOTC is over $25, except for important charity fund-raisers to support NYC parks and gardens, children with cancer, the homeless, or similar, and other splurge-worthy events.
Outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine. Sadly, most summer events, including the popular SummerStage concerts in parks in all five boroughs have ended for the season, but there’s still lots of outdoor music and dance on the calendar for September.
Metropolitan Opera Summer HD Festival – See ten nights of FREE Metropolitan Opera performances on a giant screen in Lincoln Center Plaza, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4th. Operas include such favorites as Mozart’s The Magic Flute, La Traviata and The Barber of Seville. This is the Met Opera Summer HD Festival’s ninth season, and the third year in a row, the Met is collaborating with the Film Society of Lincoln Center to open the festival with an opera-related Hollywood film. his year it’s Mozart’s The Magic Flute..
Global Citizen Festival 2017 – Get FREE tickets to NYC’s biggest annual outdoor concert, with a blockbuster line-up including Stevie Wonder, Green Day, The Lumineers, The Killers, and The Chainsmokers. Pharrell Williams, Big Sean, Andra Day, and Alessia Cara also perform. As in past years, you have to earn your free tickets by completing easy and educational actions on the Global Citizen Festival 2017 website all designed to make us more aware of global poverty, human trafficikng and other social issues – and, more importantly, start doing something about it. Global Citizen Festival 2017 is Saturday, September 23, on the Great Lawn in Central Park.
Live at the Archway – Family-friendly concerts and dance performances by local Brooklyn artists, and social dance instructors. Every Thursday evening, in the protected archway on the Brooklyn side of the the Brooklyn Bridge.
Street fairs and block parties
91st Annual Feast of San Gennaro – If this is not the biggest and most popular annual NYC street fair, certainly it is one of the biggest and most popular, taking over the streets of Little Italy from September 14-24, with parades, food, entertainment, food, games, food, activities for the kids, and food. It’s held in the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants, who came here to improve their lives beginning in the early part of the last century. The Feast of San Gennaro attracts more than one-million people from around the world to this annual salute to the Patron Saint of Naples.
Photoville – The annual FREE photography festival returns to Brooklyn Bridge Park bigger and better than before, feautuirng work by more than 500 visual artists, plus and workshops, outdoor projection shows and more. The installation is Sept. 13-24, housed in and around a collection of 50+ repurposed shipping containers. One of the participating artists this year is former White House photograhper Pete Souza, and a recorded conversation with President Obama is part of one section of the exhibit focusing on immigration and climate change. Photoville is sponsored by Leica, which is also sponsoring photography workshops and also will have camera for borrowing.
Nanjing Week – Okay, we’re calling it a street fair, although this one is indoors, in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. Coinciding with iconic New York Fashion Week, September 7-11, it features FREE fashion shows, musical performances, design tours, and travel inspirations to introduce us to Nanjing. Through creative cross-promotion, the week long event series will allow an enterprising introduction to Nanjing industries and city culture.
Broadway Week – Get two-for-one tickets to top Broadway productions for performances September 18-30. Shows participating in Broadway Week for the first time include popular musicals Wicked; Priscilla Queen of the Desert; and Sister Act; as well as new productions featuring Frank Langella (Man and Boy) and a comedy by Woody Allen, Ethan Coen and Elaine May (Relatively Speaking). Tickets go on sale September 5, but members of AARP get a jump on the line with a pre-sale August 29-September 4 (code BWF2011). To purchase tickets from the NYC tourism marketing agency, click here. Or, contact the theater and show directly for BOGO tickets. This is the second Broadway Week promotion of the year. The first is in January/Febrauary. The program was launched in 2011 to boost ticket sales in normally quiet periods after the end of the peak summer and holiday tourist seasons.
20at20 – Get $20 tickets for more than 20 participating Off-Broadway shows for 20 days, for performances September 5-24. Popular long-running hits include Stomp, Gazillion Bubble Show and Newsical the Musical. Unlike Broadway Week, you can’t order tickets online. Just show up at the box office 20 minutes before cutain time to get a $20 ticket.
- Get discount theater tickets year-round from NYC ticket partner Goldstar
Maker Faire – If you or the kids are interested in science, technology or making things like your own robot, this is the place to be to tinker and learn. The 8th annual Maker Faire NYC is the weekend of Sept 23/24 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, and it’s one of the biggest and best annual family events in NYC,sponsored by Disney, NASA, Google, Microsoft and other tech companies.
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There are still FREE outdoor movie screenings in NYC parks through mid-September.
See our Complete guide to outdoor movies in all five boroughs, by day of the week
Movies Under the Stars program in NYC parks in all five boroughs feature movies for kids.
Outdoor screenings in Oculus Plaza – The firrst-weekend-of-the-month features screenings of films set in NYC at what’s being called the Tribeca Drive-In. This weekend, see the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with Audrey Hepburn in those amazing Givenchy dresses, on Friday, Sept. 1 and Enchanted, with Amy Adams, on Saturday. The season wraps up the first weekend in October with Annie Hall and Spider-Man.
2nd Annual Festival of Summer Double Features – See two movies for the price of one at this special series, through Sept. 5. See a double bill of gangster movies, Hollywood song and dance movies, etc. Not free, but at $14 for a double bill, it’s certainly on the cheap. At Film Forum, in Chelsea.
New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center -The 55th annual New York Film Festival features more than two dozen films from around the globe, including award-winners at the recent Cannes Film Festival. Opening Night is Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel closes the festival, which is Sept. 28 to October 15. Multi-film packages starting at $300 for ten are on sale now. Tickets for individual screenings go on sale September 10.
Every Day or Weekends
Hallett Nature Sanctuary – This almost-secret hideaway spot in Central Park is now open for the 2017 season. Unlike past years with extremely limited days and hours, the gates to this locked-off sanctuary will be open daily this year for the first time, from 10AM to 30 minutes before sunset, with the caveat that it is closed occasionally due to inclement conditions. Wear sturdy closed shoes for the uneven walkways, and bring a camera. No dogs, bikes or strollers permitted.
- SEE ALSO Description of Hallett Nature Sanctuary
- SEE ALSO 8 secrets of Central Park
- SEE ALSO Best spots in Central Park to have a picnic
DeKalb Market – The city’s newest food hall is open in downtown Brooklyn with local food vendors, including an outpost of famed Katz’s Deli from the Lower East Side, across the East River. See what else is to eat here
Hester Street Fair – On the site of what was New York City’s largest pushcart market in the early 1900s, this street fair pays homage to it’s strong neighborhood roots by re-creating a bustling outdoor marketplace. There’s a different “theme” practically every weekend. Corner of Hester and Essex, take the F J M Z to Delancey or the F to East Broadway.
LIC Flea & Food continues to grow, with favorite vendors returning and some new ones, too. LIC Flea & Food is at 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue, just one block behind the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign. It opens directly into the waterfront park with amazing Manhattan skyline views Easily accessible from the 7, G, E, and M trains, or via the East River Ferry. FREE admission.
Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg is in different locations each weekend day. This year, Saturday Smorgasburg remains at East River State Park in Williamsburg; Sunday Smorgsaburg remains at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill.
Smorgasburg returns to Manhattan – Smorg Square has returned to 76 Varick St. (at Canal St.) on the border of Soho, Tribeca, and Hudson Square. The new location will be open every Friday-Sunday ) through Christmas, with a rotating lineup of food vendors curated from the Brooklyn markets, with 20+ vendors every weekend, and seating for 120. Plus, 60 world-class vintage, furniture, and handmade vendors at Brooklyn Flea’s new year-round indoor location directly across the street, at 100 Avenue of the Americas (at Watts St.).