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Things to Do

Free NYC events, festivals and activities

Living in New York City is beyond expensive. From rent to MetroCards to a cup of coffee, everything adds up quickly.

Luckily, there are tons of free events to check out in the city that never sleeps.

Here's our freebie guide to NYC.

Live At the Archway

DUMBO's Live at the Archway is back for
Photo Credit: 2018 Philip Greenberg

DUMBO's Live at the Archway is back for the summer with free concerts and interactive arts every Thursday beneath the Manhattan Bridge Archway. This month, swing by for a performance by all-female Brazilian drumline FogulAzul NYC, Congolese popular music group Nkumu Katalay, and the Life Long Project Band, with an art exhibit "Plenty of Pockets" by Rose Nestler (June 13); performances from world roots band Brown Rice Family, folk and alt-country group The Maybelles, Young Soon WHITE WAVE Dance Company, and hula hoop troupe Big Sky Works (June 20); and a performance by salsa dura band Avenida B with an art exhibit "The Invisible Hand" by Casey Opstad and Vadim Gershman (June 27). Events are free and begin at 5:30 p.m. with headlining acts taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Free SVA Lunchtime Lectures (Tuesdays)

Take a break mid-day to hear from prominent
Photo Credit: Kalup Linzy

Take a break mid-day to hear from prominent artists like Gary Simmons and Kalup Linzy (pictured) at SVA's free lunchtime series happening on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. through July. The programming will include topics from performance to visual technology, covering racial and gender identity, global politics and pop culture. (335 W. 16th St., Room 501; sva.edu)

Join a bubble-blowing bonanza (June 22)

An event that has recurred over the past
Photo Credit: Flickr/Charlie Reece

An event that has recurred over the past few years, the Billion Bubble Party is open to all and participation is a snap: bring bubbles, head to the fountain in Washington Square Park and join in. Before you know it, the place becomes a field of floating soapy spheres that also happen to make for dynamite hash-taggable photos and videos (#billionbubbleparty). (Free; 1 to 4 p.m.; 59 Washington Square South, Manhattan;  meetup.com)

Intro to climbing (June 17-23)

Take a 60-minute class with expert climbers who
Photo Credit: Arc'teryx SoHo

Take a 60-minute class with expert climbers who will teach you the basics of climbing and introduce you to other beginners. You'll be instructed on both ropes and boulders with provided rental gear, free swag and a day pass to the climbing gym. (Free but RSVP; Brooklyn Boulders Gowanus and Queensbridge and Central Rock Gym; community-events.arcteryx.com)

Cheer on the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (June 22)

Best-known for participants wearing costumes that range from
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

Best-known for participants wearing costumes that range from "out there" to "barely there," this year's edition of the annual Coney Island procession is to be marshaled by folk music legend Arlo Guthrie and his sister, author Nora Guthrie. Here's what you should know before you go. (Free; 1 p.m.; parade starts on Surf Avenue at West 21st Street turns south at West 10th Street and enters the boardwalk and wraps at Steeplechase Plaza, Brooklyn;  coneyisland.com)

Celebrate gay pride on Roosevelt Island (June 15)

Ascend with Pride is a World Pride celebration
Photo Credit: Four Freedoms Park Conservancy/Paul Warchol

Ascend with Pride is a World Pride celebration which will feature New York City's largest LGBTQ Pride Flag. The flag will be draped over the steps at FDR Four Freedoms State Park. (Free admission; 2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org)

Watch a movie outdoors

The city's parks (and some restaurant rooftops) are
Photo Credit: Etienne Frossard

The city's parks (and some restaurant rooftops) are holding movie screenings throughout the summer, so grab a blanket and some snacks and head to any one of these coming shows:

June 17 -- "Big Daddy" at sunset at Bryant Park

June 19 -- "Big Trouble in Little China" at 8 p.m. at Parklife (636 Degraw St., Brooklyn)

June 20 -- "The Warriors" at 8:30 p.m. at Rooftop Reds

June 21 -- "Peppermint Soda (Diablo menthe)" at 8:30 p.m. at WNYC Transmitter Park in Brooklyn; "Coco" at 6:30 p.m. on Pier 45 Hudson River Park

Unplugged at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Fridays)

Catch intimate acoustic acts curated by the Brooklyn
Photo Credit: Alexa Hoyer

Catch intimate acoustic acts curated by the Brooklyn Americana Music Series and DeGraw Sound each Friday. The concerts are at Pier 3 Greenway Terrace at Brooklyn Bridge Park at 6 p.m.

  • June 21: Queen Esther, opening set by Jan Bell
  • June 28: Greg Schätz / Will Scott & Charlie Burnham
  • July 12: Common Jack / Kevin Daniel
  • July 19: Pearla / Yella Belly
  • July 26: Ben Rice / Queue
  • August 2: Sophie Colette / Eighty Ninety 8090

TMNT celebration (May 18 - July 14)

Celebrating 35 years of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,"
Photo Credit: iStock

Celebrating 35 years of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," the Paley Center is putting on an exhibition about the four half-shell heroes this summer. Visitors can enjoy an art piece showcasing the comic book's origins, take a "shellfie" with a Turtles standee, and go through a visual timeline of the evolution of the Turtles. (Free; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday; 25 W. 52nd St., Manhattan;  paleycenter.org)

'Antigone in Ferguson' (May 8-July 13)

Theater of War Productions will present
Photo Credit: Sean McCoy

Theater of War Productions will present "Antigone in Ferguson," a Greek tragedy set to heady audiovisual effects, African-inspired choreography and a gospel chorus. Antigone and her sister Ismene have just lost their brothers in their struggles for power over Thebes, which ends tragically as they kill each other. Creon, the new king, decrees that anyone who buries the rebel brother Polynices will be sentenced to death. Antigone makes the choice to honor her brother and chooses love over obeying the edict. She buries her brother and must face Creon for her resistance. Pictured is Creon (Ty Jones) and Antigone (Alexandria King) during The Classical Theatre of Harlem's performance in 2018. This is a new version by Bryan Doerries. (Free; St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St., Brooklyn; eventbrite.com)

Shop, dine and enjoy a taste of Queens (Saturdays)

In celebration of the cultural diversity found in
Photo Credit: Queens Night Market/Sharon Medina-Chavez

In celebration of the cultural diversity found in the borough, the Queens Night Market features dozens of vendors selling food and wares plus art, with live performances and entertainment, to boot. ($5 only required for this Saturday; 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays, April 20 to Aug. 17, also Sept. 28 to Oct. 26; New York Hall of Science: 47-01 111th St., Corona, Queens;  queensnightmarket.com)

Rite of Summer Festival (June - September)

The Rite of Summer Festival returns to Governors
Photo Credit: Adrien H. Tillmann

The Rite of Summer Festival returns to Governors Island with free outdoor concerts starting in June with Ensemble Connect, Sandbox Percussion, Go: Organic Orchestra, Brooklyn Raga Massive (pictured), Sirius Quartet and more. The shows will be presented twice the same day. (Free; 1 and 3 p.m.; Nolan Park, Governors Island; riteofsummer.com)

Explore city parks

Though known for its skyscrapers, New York's green
Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Though known for its skyscrapers, New York's green spaces are pretty spectacular. Even if you've picnicked in Central Park or gone jogging in Prospect Park, there's always a new corner to explore. Check out the High Line or take a tour of Van Cortlandt Park. You really can't go wrong with any of the nature escapes the city has to offer.

Take a free tour of Brooklyn Brewery

On Saturday and Sunday, the Brooklyn Brewery offers
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

On Saturday and Sunday, the Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours every half hour from 1 to 6 p.m. Tickets are released on the day of the tour only, so check its website before you hop over. (79 N. 11th St., Williamsburg,  brooklynbrewery.com)

Meet the neighbors at Queens County Farm Museum

This isn't the countryside but it will feel
Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

This isn't the countryside but it will feel like it. The 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum sits squarely within city limits and is the longest continuously farmed site in New York, which still includes the restored Adriance Farmhouse that was first built as a Dutch farmhouse in 1772. Visitors to the farm can hang out with the many animals on the property, including chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and cows, as well as purchase vegetables from the farm stand. Yarn culled from resident alpacas and Cotswold sheep is also for sale. (Free, 10 a.m. to  5 p.m., 73-50, Little Neck Pkwy.,  queensfarm.org)

Visit the residents at Green-Wood Cemetery

Sprawling across 478 hilly acres in Greenwood Heights,
Photo Credit: James Giovan

Sprawling across 478 hilly acres in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, this cemetery is one of New York's hidden treasures. Established in 1838, its roster of "residents" reads like a "Who's Who" of great New Yorkers -- political machine leader William "Boss" Tweed, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and communications pioneer Samuel F.B. Morse are all buried at this National Historic Landmark. (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to March 31; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 1 to Sept. 30; 500 25th St., green-wood.com)

Search out public art

Now that hibernation is behind you, get out
Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Now that hibernation is behind you, get out and find the city's amazing collection of public art, from "Tilted Head" at Central Park to The Vessel, which is a climbable sculpture at Hudson Yards, and others you can find out about here.

Free Flatiron Tour (every Sunday)

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID)
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) hosts free, 90-minute walking tours of the Flatiron District by professional guides each Sunday. You'll stop by the famous Flatiron building, the New York Life Insurance Building, the MetLife Clock Tower and more. (Free, 11 a.m., meet at the tip of the Flatiron building at 23rd Street, flatirondistrict.nyc)

'Drag Race All Star' viewing party (Sundays)

If you're a
Photo Credit: VH1

If you're a "Drag Race" fan, head to Loverboy Bar NYC in the East Village for a weekly viewing party hosted by Siren Starlite, Jacob Shoemaker and the creative collective Witch House. (8 p.m., 127 Avenue C, facebook.com)

Shape Up NYC fitness classes

The city offers free workouts and fitness classes
Photo Credit: iStock

The city offers free workouts and fitness classes across five boroughs, including yoga, pilates, Zumba, dance, aerobics, sculpting, boot camps and more. Why pay for a class you can get for free? Check on nycgovparks.org to find the nearest courses.

Free day at the Whitney Museum (Fridays)

Pay what you want to get into the
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Pay what you want to get into the Whitney on Friday evenings. The museum has 63,000 square feet of exhibition space and has about 15,000 pieces of work by artists like Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe and others. (7 to 10 p.m., 99 Gansevoort St., facebook.com)

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