Again this week, there are many ways to enjoy NYC this first week of August, including FREE virtual guided walks in NYC parks, virtual Shakespeare in the Park and meditation workshops to help us reduce stress in these difficult days, plus real visits to some of NYC’s best attractions open again.
Grab your favorite beverage and snacks and settle in for these virtual events, or pack some water to hydrate yourself on outdoor excursions.
Even though these virtual events are FREE, you are encouraged to make a donation to support the group offering the free stay-at-home diversion.
Here are the best FREE and cheap things to do through Sunday, August 9th.
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on our new
NYC Outdoor Swimming Pools
Fifteen FREE outdoor swimming pools are open – at least one in each borough.
See the list here, along with pool rules, which include social distancing and wearing face masks except in the water.
Spray showers, also called sprinklers
Spray showers operate on days when the temperature hits 80 degrees or higher, so you can cool down while having a blast.
Spray showers are in park playgrounds, so you’ll be sharing the spray with giggling toddlers and their older siblings. Bring your own towel.
Search for spray showers by borough or zipcode on this NYC Dept of Parks link
Governors Island has reopened with FREE ferry reservations.
The High Line is open again, with FREE timed entry and visitors all walking in the same direction, south to north.
Piano in Bryant Park is back on the Upper Terrace, presenting New York City’s finest ragtime, stride, and jazz pianists performing free lunchtime concerts
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays from 12:30pm-2:30pm. This week’s performer is Kuni Mikami.
Shakespeare in the Park
Much Ado About Nothing
For the first time in over more than four decades, PBS Great Performances presents a Public Theater production recorded live at the free Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park.
After a highly successful, critically acclaimed run at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park, “Much Ado About Nothing” is a bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece featuring Danielle Brooks as Beatrice.
- Streaming now
- Link to watch
Free Lecture on Monday
Natan Sharansky was convicted of treason by the Soviet Union for advocating that Jews be permitted to emigrate to Israel. After nine years of confinement in prisons and forced labor camps, he was released, and praying at the Western Wall. The sudden freedom left the man who’d spent his life under the heel of Soviet tyranny reeling. “The main principle then was: No compromise,” he once said. “In the morning, you said no to the K.G.B., and in the evening you said no. You could feel yourself a tzaddik…In the free world, it is a lot more complicated.”
After his arrival in Israel, Natan Sharansky went into politics and served as Minister of Industry and Trade; Deputy Prime Minister; and Minister of Diaspora and Jerusalem before being elected chair of the Jewish Agency. The author of five books, he was awarded the 2020 Genesis Prize Foundation award for his “lifelong struggle for human rights.”
This FREE discussion is connected with the release of his new book, Never Alone, reflections on the journey he’s traveled from Soviet gulags to the rough-and-tumble of Israeli politics and then to the leadership of the Jewish Agency
Join Natan Sharansky in a conversation moderated by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism.
The program is presented by the Temple Emanu-el Streicker Center.
- FREE, 5pm
- Register Here for the Zoom link
FREE on Mondays in August
The Rubin Museum’s weekly program has been held in the museum’s theater for years, paused when NYC shut down in March.
The program returns, virtually, with weekly meditation practice. And we can all a little guidance these days in reducing stress and adding some calmness into our lives.
Like the in-person Mindfulness Meditation, the online version features expert teachers who guide the forty-five-minute session, which includes a talk, meditation, and closing discussion.
Each session is inspired by a different work of art from the Rubin Museum’s collection and features a different meditation teacher. Upcoming meditation teachers include Lama Aria Drolma, Tracy Cochran, Rebecca Li, and Sharon Salzberg
In August the five pilot programs will be free for all. Starting in September, tickets will be $10 and are always free for members.
- Mondays at 1pm
- For more information and to reserve tickets go to RubinMuseum.org/Meditation.
Free Financial Advice on Tuesday
Money Matters – These days perhaps more than ever, you must be an educated, cyber-savvy consumer.
ID theft remains one of the most common crimes to strike consumers – even conscientious consumers. It’s continually taking on new forms that may be more difficult to detect and correct.
Brian Rauer explains the key steps to take to minimize the damage if you become a victim.
Presented by the NYPL and the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York.
- FREE at Noon.
- Registration required
Mondays and Thursdays – Free Dance Performances
The Queensboro Dance Festival continues with some two dozen Queens-based troupes, continues virtually and FREE with events on Mondays and Thursdays through October.
The dance groups represent the most culturally diverse borough of NYC. Along with dance performances, the festival includes classes, Q&A sessions with choreographers, and background information about a particular dance style.
Queensboro Dance Festival 2020 includes Arabic Bellydance, Ballet, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Cumbia, Flamenco, Greek, Hawaiian, Hip-Hop, Indian, Jazz, Latin Ballroom, Mexican, Modern, Tap, and West African.
- Queensboro Dance Festival 2020 videos air on Mondays and Thursdays at 4 pm with an Aug. 7 episode at 8 pm.
Join the NYC Ballet for Wednesday With Wendy, a series of ballet-inspired movement classes taught by New York City Ballet Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan
The FREE virtual classes are suitable for people of all ages and levels of dance training.Classes are on Instagram Live, and each class will also be available after the livestream concludes on NYCB’s IGTV channel.
- Every Wednesday at 5pm.
Can’t get to Central Park these days? No worries. Let park docents and other experts bring the world-famous park to you, with a different walk each Wednesday.
These FREE virtual insights into Central Park showcase some of the flowers and trees currently in bloom, share Park history, and give you the mid-week recharge that we all so desperately need.
- Sign up now to access the FREE live Zoom program and learn the history of this incredibly significant site.
- Wednesday, 12:30p
Thursday – Free Dance Performance
Jacobs Pillow Virtual Dance Festival
The famous annual dance festival in the Berkshires goes virtual this year, with a different dance performance from the archives streamed every Thursday.
This Thursday it is NYC’s own Dance Theater of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 to create a new vision of ballet. Their Virtual Festival program highlights their recent 2019 Pillow performance and includes Darrel Grand Moultrie’s Harlem on My Mind; Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux This Bitter Earth; George Balanchine’s classic Valse Fantaisie; and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Balamouk.
- Every Thursday at 8pm
- Click here for the full performance schedule and watch links
Friday – Free Carnegie Hall Concert
Each week for the the forseable future, Carnegie Hall is streaming a concert from its archived recordings.
- Watch it Friday 3am through Monday, June 1st at 3 AM EDT
- Watch here on medici.tv
Free on Saturday
Jazz Concert Celebrating 85th Anniversary of Fort Tryon Park
Join the Fort Tryon Tryon Park Trust, NYC Parks, and the Michels family and celebrate the Fort Tryon Park’s 85th Anniversary Year by honoring the late Council Member Stan Michels at the 12th Annual Memorial Jazz Concert. Instead of a live concert, this year it is virtual.
Enjoy streamed jazz by local impresarios Rudel Drears, Marjorie Eliot, and their ensemble.
Michels represented Northern Manhattan in the City Council for 24 yearsm from 1978 through 2001. He was a steadfast advocate for NYC parks, allocating over $50 million for park improvements in Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem, including virtually every playground in his district.
The promenade where this concert is usually held was named in his honor shortly before he passed away on August 1, 2008. The concert is always around the anniversary of his passing.
Note – NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter grew up in Inwood. Fort Tryon Park was my front yard and my backyard.
- FREE, 3pm to 4pm
- RSVP for the Zoom link
Jazz on the Hill
Each August, top NYC musicians get together in Central Park for a jam session that includes swing dancing.
This year, Jazz on the Hill goes virtual, but you can still move the furniture at home, put on your dancing shoes, and tap those toes to some great music.
Performers include –
Alyson Williams takes the music world by storm! Starting in R&B as a featured artist with Def Jam Records, she is now a prominent jazz and blues vocalist performing in clubs and stages across the country. Her newest project is Summer Nights in Harlem, and her tribute concert to Phyllis Hyman is in collaboration with Nat Adderley, Jr.
Preeminent trumpeter Jeremy Pelt made his debut in the jazz world as a member of the Mingus Big Band and the Jimmy Heath Orchestra. Now a bandleader, he has recorded 10 albums and tours nationally and internationally. He has been featured in DownBeat magazine and the Wall Street Journal.
The George Gee Swing Band attracts both millennials and long-time fans of jazz and swing. Gee and his band are leaders in the re-emergence of swing dance as a popular cultural experience, in NYC and around the world.
- Sponsored by Central Park and Jazzmobile
- Streaming begins at 7pm
Instead of more than 100 FREE live performances in city parks all summer, SummerStage is offering FREE virtual performances all summer.
Metropolitan Opera Nightly Opera Streams
Every night of the week, the world-famous Met Opera is streaming a different performance from its repetoire of recorded performances, including operas by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart, and legendary stars including Luciano Pavarotti and Renée Fleming.
Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.
The streams are also available through the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TV.
This is the 21st week of Met Opera FREE nightly streams.
Monday, August 3
Mozart’s The Magic Flute
Starring Ying Huang, Erika Miklósa, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. From December 30, 2006.
Tuesday, August 4
Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Starring Erin Morley, Hibla Gerzmava, Kate Lindsey, Christine Rice, Vittorio Grigolo, and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Yves Abel. From January 31, 2015.
Thursday, August 6
Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
Starring Kristine Opolais, Maria Zifchak, Roberto Alagna, and Dwayne Croft, conducted by Karel Mark Chichon. From April 2, 2016.
Friday, August 7
Starring Waltraud Meier, Siegfried Jerusalem, Bernd Weikl, and Kurt Moll, conducted by James Levine. From March 28, 1992.
Saturday, August 8
Starring Brenda Rae, Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, Iestyn Davies, Duncan Rock, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Harry Bicket. From February 29, 2020.
Sunday, August 9
Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Starring Hibla Gerzmava, Malin Byström, Serena Malfi, Paul Appleby, Simon Keenlyside, and Adam Plachetka, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 22, 2016.
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Watch New York City Ballet perform landmark works by George Balanchine, including Concerto Barocco (2004 broadcast) and the third act of the comic story ballet Coppélia (1978 broadcast).
Part of the Live from Lincoln Center schedule of virtual performances.
- 8pm, and on demand after
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel
Live From Lincoln Center offers a different play or musical most weeks. Last weekend it was the memorable recent revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, hailed by Time Magazine as “the best musical of the 20th Century,“ now available on demand.
The New York Philharmonic presents a stunning staged production of this iconic American work, featuring a star-studded cast including Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Stephanie Blythe, Shuler Hensley, Jason Danieley, Jessie Mueller, Kate Burton, John Cullum and New York City Ballet dancers Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck.
Carousel is one of my personal favorites, with one of the most beautiful and poignant songs ever written – You’ll Never Walk Alone. It brings me to tears every time I hear it.