Your weekend plans begin here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do this first full weekend of April, including your last chance to visit the New York Auto Show and the Macy’s Flower Show, and Tartan Week events celebrating all things Scottish.
The NYCOTC weekend guide is $25 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget, plus a few occasional splurges worth the money. And everything is family-friendly.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, but we usually remind you anyway, to be sure you know.
Last Chance – Closing Sunday
New York Auto Show – Check out nearly 1,000 vehicles, including a first look at 2019 models of cars, SUVs and trucks, try your driving skills on the Jeep off-road test track, see concepts that show the road to the future, vintage vehicles from the Saratoga Auto Museum that inspired today’s models, and more.
See our additional coverage
- New York Auto Show Preview: Hybrids and Electrics
- New York Auto Show Preview: BMW
- New York Auto Show Preview: Supercars
- New York Auto Show: What Else to See
Macy’s Flower Show – The annual extravaganza of flowers and plants takes over Macy’s flagship Herald Square store through Sunday, April 8. The flowers are FREE, as are seminars on flower arranging, gardening, spring entertaining, and more, including events for kids, celebrity appearances, and the chance to win tickets to shows.
This year’s theme is Once Upon a Springtime, transforming the store into enchanted gardens of beauty and renewal and the whimsy of a fairytale journey, with princesses, evil queens, fairy godmothers, and noble knights that lead to a wondrous journey.
Tartan Week, Friday Through Sunday
Saturday, April 7 – The 20th Annual Tartan Day Parade marches up Sixth Avenue, from 44th Street to 55th Street, led by the parade’s first female Grand Marshal, Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, starting at 2pm. The pipes and drums gather and perform first at Bryant Park’s Fountain Terrace to perform, 11:15am to 1pm.
- Bands and performers include Shot of Scotch & Guest dancers, Accrington Pipe Band,Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band, Atlantic Watch Pipes & Drums, Shamrock & Thistle
Sunday, April 8 – Tartan Week festivities return to Bryant Park, 12:30pm–1:30pm, for Scotland on the Fountain Terrace, presenting more music from the Highlands.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – Note that this fabulous exhibit of Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings has been extended through Labor Day Weekend. Get $25 discount tickets for your chance to 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.
The Virtue in Vice – The Seven Deadly Sins – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth – are on display in these objects chosen from Cooper Hewitt’s collection. Through mid-April. Save $2 on tickets purchased online.
The perennially popular Orchid Show is back for its 16th season at The New York Botanical Garden with thousands of colorful orchid blooms, plus large-scale installations floral artist Daniel Ost. The specially commissioned works pay homage to his training in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. In ikebana, artists value the ideas of wabi-sabi, a philosophy that finds beauty in imperfection, asymmetry, and impermanence.
- There also are special Orchid Evenings on weekends, with music and performances that make the orchids even more magical. At the New York Botanical Garden, through April 22.
The Butterfly Conservatory – Warm yourself in the beauty and color of thousands of butterflies, flittering around you in this annual winter treat at the American Museum of Natural History. FREE with museum admission, through mid-May.
Target FREE Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum – Today’s freebie focuses on the fabulous David Bowie exhibit. Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy at the New School, discusses his book Bowie (2014), which melds personal narratives and philosophical musings on the iconic musician, create your own colorful Bowie-inspired painting using watercolors, and get creative in a David Bowie photo booth. Starting at 5pm.
- Museum admission is FREE, but you’ll have to purchase tickets to see the actual exhibit. Buy tickets in advance, since space is limited.
The Negro Motorist Green Book – Published from 1936 to 1967, Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide listing hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and more, that helped black road-trippers avoid the danger s, injustices, and racial violence of segregation during the Jim Crow era in America.Join journalist Alvin Hall and photographer Jonathan Calm for a special presentation of their 2016 BBC Radio 4 documentary The Green Book, expanded and amended to include additional research, audio, and photographs.
In their presentation of the documentary and other works at MAD, Hall and Calm will share additional audio and images collected during their road trip, as well as subsequent work and research exploring related subject matter. A slide-show presentation of Calm’s recent body of photographs, African-American Automobility: The Dangerous Freedom of the Open Road, will accompany the audio, and both Hall and Calm will participate in a post-presentation Q&A.
- This program is presented in conjunction with Unpacking the Green Book: Travel and Segregation in Jim Crow America, which closes this weekend. Tickets are $10. 4pm to 5:30pm
International Pillow Fight Day – It’s BYOP (bring your own pillow) to this annual festival in Washington Square Park, and in cities around the world from. The rules include that pick on somebody your own size, and no bopping heads, only bodies. Also, no bopping people with cameras, and there will be many of those. Participate or or watch. This year’s NYC event is sponsored by Mattress Firm, and you can pick up an event pillow at the kiosk in the park. If it’s not destroyed during the pillow fight, you can donate it to the homeless afterward, also at the kiosk. The fun starts at 3pm.
National Beer Day – Get $3 beers all day at Grand Central Terminal, and other food and beer discounts.
SEE ALSO Best outdoor beer gardens in NYC
Never forget. The Annual Gathering of Remembrance, New York’s largest Holocaust commemoration event, is Sunday, April 8, at Temple Emanu-El, in observance of Yom HaShoah, honoring the six million souls lost in Europe’s WWII concentration camps and Jewish ghettos. The memorial service is FREE to attend, but tickets are required for admission. The Annual Gathering of Remembrance is 2pm to 4pm and also will be livestreamed.
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.
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.
FREE guided tour of the High Line. Hear the story behind NYC’s trend-setting park in the sky on a special winter walking tour! Join us for a free 45-minute long tour led by High Line Docents, knowledgeable volunteer guides who offer you an insider’s perspective on the park’s history, design, and landscape. Saturdays through April 7. Meet at the Gansevort Steps at Noon.
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.
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