Here are more than 20 FREE and cheap things to do this first weekend of December. Our NYCOTC free and cheap weekend guide is always $20 or less, not like other lists with expensive ideas, so you can enjoy NYC on the cheap with no apologies.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for outdoor events, including outdoor holiday markets and weekend tree lighting ceremonies.
Best FREE things to do in NYC any time of year
Already Underway in NYC
Holiday crafts markets – See the entire holiday craft market schedule here.
Holiday tree lighting ceremonies – Missed the big Rockefeller Center tree lighting earlier this week? No worries. There are more tree lightings around town this weekend. See the daily schedule below, or the entire schedule of holiday tree lighting ceremonies here.
Holiday train show at Grand Central Terminal – See a mini version of NYC and vintage model trains, FREE.
Visit Santa at Macy’s Santaland – Get a FREE pass for a appointment to avoid the longest lines.
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Friday in NYC
Bryant Park Tree Lighting and Skate-tacular – Starts at 6pm. Note that the ice skating rink is closed starting at 1pm to prepare for the festivities.
East Harlem Holiday Tree Lighting – Franklin Plaza, Third Avenue and 106th Street, at 6:30pm
Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony – Blackwell Plaza, 500 Main St., at 7pm
Visit Santa at Brookfield Place – Santa is back from today through Christmas Eve, holding court in a new, beautifully designed winter chalet. Kids create holiday crafts and ornaments while they wait to share their wish lists. Photo packages begin at $27. Book ahead and skip the wait for ice skating or to see Santa, or both.
Native Art Market Preview Event – The annual market of top quality crafts by nearly 40 master Native American artists from North and South America opens tonight with a ticketed preview event. Browse jewelry, basketry, pottery, hand-woven clothing and more, in a cocktail party atmosphere that includes wine and cheese. The preview starts at 4pm and includes an artist talk, “Unique Art Forms in Native Design,” moderated by Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota), beadwork artist and curator of the exhibition “Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains,” which closes Sunday, Dec. 4. Purchase tickets online, by calling (212) 514-3750 or by emailing email@example.com. (Note that this is an exception to the $20-or-less rule, because of the exceptional quality of these items, which support Native American arts and artists).
Saturday in NYC
30th Annual Miracle on Madison Ave – Shop smart today, when participating designer shops donate 20% of sales to support The Society of Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. You get great holiday buys, and support programs for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Participating shops include Tory Burch, La Perla, Ralph Lauren, Coach and Kate Spade.
St. Luke’s School Christmas Fair – Handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts.47 Hudson St., between Barrow and Christopher Streets, 10am-3pm.
Christmas Fair at the Church of the Incarnation – 209 Madison Ave between 35th & 36th Streets, 11am-6pm
Harlem Park to Park Holiday Expo – Shop unusual arts, crafts and gifts by local artisans. MIST Harlem, 46 West 116th St., 11am to 6pm.
Christmas Bazaar at Estonian House – Handmade gift items made by artisans in Estonia an Estonian artisans living in the USA and Canada.
Estonian House, 243 East 34th St off Second Ave, 2pm to 6pm
- NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter visited Estonia recently. Read my article for the Orbitz Travel Blog.
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
Native Art Market – Browse and buy top quality contemporary and traditional handmade works of art by Indigenous peoples, including jewelry, basketry, pottery, hand-printed and hand-woven clothing and more. The annual Native Art Market at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian features more than 40 native artisans from across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The market is in the Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Cultures. A complete listing of participants for the Native Art Market in Washington and New York is on the museum’s market website. Works are available for all budgets. NMAI is at One Bowling Green, at the northern edge of Battery Park. Admission is FREE, 10am to 5pm both days.
f.a.d. Weekend Holiday Market – This pop-up maker’s market showcases more than 50 independent artists, designers and makers, mostly fromBrooklyn, plus food stations, craft workshops and activities including a holiday selfie photo booth. 11am to 6pm both days, st St. Paul’s Church on Court Street in the heart of Cobble Hill
Sunday in NYC
Ride vintage subway trains from the 1930s – What used to be called the Nostalgia Train is now called Shopper Special, between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Holiday Tree Lighting at Carl Schurz Park – 86th St and East End Ave., 5pm to 6pm
Holiday Tree Lighting on the Park Avenue Mall – Park Ave between 37th & 38th St., 5pm to 6pm
Park Avenue Tree Lighting – Brick Presbyterian Church, Park Ave. at 92nd St, 6:30pm
Weekend Wiinter Flea Markets in NYC
Smorgasburg and Winter Flea – The popular food and crafts market in Brooklyn is back indoors for the winter, returning to Skylight One Hanson with 75 Brooklyn Flea vendors selling vintage, antiques, clothing, and handmade items, alongside 25 Smorgasburg food vendors. It’s a shopping and eating and drinking experience (there are two bars) and part museum-style field trip to the stunning landmark interior that was once home to the Williamsburg Savings Bank. New vendors include JACK + G jewelry, LaRosh handcrafted hats, children’s clothing from Wovenplay and Quick Brown Fox Letterpress. Food vendors include Bird’s Eye Vietnamese, a new street-food concept by longtime vendor Dennis Ngo of Lonestar Empire (dry pho), and the return of Ramen Shack by Keizo Shimamoto. Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm. $1 entry, kids 16 and under FREE.
If you know about a free or cheap NYC weekend event you’d like to share with NYC on the Cheap, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.