The are so many FREE and frugal things to do this weekend before Thanksgiving and the official start of the Holiday Season. The NYCOTC free and cheap weekend guide is $20 or less, not like other lists with expensive ideas. Because we’re here to help you enjoy NYC on the cheap with no apologies.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE.
The street fair season is winding down, replaced by holiday markets. Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10AM to 6PM.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for the outdoor events, including street fairs and parades.
Best FREE things to do in NYC any time of year
Already Underway in NYC
Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink – This legendary rink is open for the season, the first real sign of winter. This is the rink’s 40th Anniversary, so expect special events throughout the ice skating season. Get there now, before Thanksgiving, when the Holiday tourist crowds take over Rockefeller Center. Also open is the Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink.
Holiday crafts markets – Some are already open, others are opening soon. See the entire holiday craft market schedule here.
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Today in NYC
Macy’s Herald Square Holiday Windows – Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. This year’s windows celebrate the spirit of the season, while saluting nine years of Macy’s “Believe” campaign, a letter writing effort that raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In that spirit, each of the six Broadway windows brings one of six key themes to life: Believe, Celebrate, Together, Giving, Love, and Magic. That last window features Santa Claus himself, enjoying his North Pole wonderland along with his reindeer. Macy’s was the first NYC department store to feature holiday window displays, going all the way back to the 1870’s, and the annual unveiling has become one of the city’s signature holiday events. At 5:30pm. Fireworks, too.
- Lord & Taylor’s holiday windows already are open for the season, at the flagship Fifth Avenue store.
Saturday in NYC
Holiday Season Shopping Spectacular – A “crafty” street fair. Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 55th St.
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
Hack the Stacks – More than 150 programmers, developers, data scientists and others with a passion for computing are spending the weekend developing solutions for 21st century library challenges. It’s the third annual hackathon at the American Museum of Natural History, aka AMNH. Among the projects, the “hackers” will be developing modules to virtually re-create the Museum at various points in history and digitally reassemble fragments from Charles Darwin’s scientific notebooks.
The self-formed teams will demo their projects—each one a new tool for mining, visualizing, and increasing access to the Library’s extensive collections—on Sunday, November 20, beginning at 2 pm. Public talks on the history of the Museum’s hackathon—including demonstrations of advanced projects that were first conceived at previous challenges— take place on Sunday afternoon in the Wallach Orientation Center, where the hackers will have worked overnight.
“Hack the Stacks” is part of BridgeUp: STEM, an initiative educating youth and the public about cutting-edge computing in scientific research and science communication. BridgeUp: STEM is generously supported by a grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Trust.
Goddard Riverside Community Center Book Fair – Brand new bestsellers at half-off, with a focus on books by NYC authors. Sale supports Goodard Riverside community programs so this is a two-fer – book bargains that help the community. 593 Columbus Avenue between 88th and 89th St
Smorgasburg and Winter Flea – The popular food and crafts market in Brooklyn moves 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.