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The Weekend It List: June 29-30

Your time off is precious.

We happen to spend our on-the-clock hours combing through the many options NYC has to offer, so let us help you maximize those days off. Every week, we distill the very best the weekend has to offer.

And, to have the Weekend It List delivered to your inbox, sign up at amny.com/weekend.

celebrate it.

It's finally time to get your Pride on.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images | Michael Nagle

It's finally time to get your Pride on, in a big, big way.

About 4.5 million people are expected to march, dance and spectate at the annual Pride March, while nearly 100 rainbow-colored floats roll down the city streets lead by five grand marshals. This year is different because the city is hosting WorldPride for the first time -- and it's marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It's history in the making and the numbers (including 150,000 expected marchers) are telling.

"It's amazing that the entire city and its cultural institutions, corporations, schools and universities all want to come together to mark this important milestone, not just for the city but for the global LGBTQ community," Stacy Lentz, a Stonewall Inn co-owner, says. "It is incredible that this year we can watch all the world gather to celebrate where Pride began."

As you get ready for the march, which kicks off at noon, you should know where to stand and what to expect. Chris Frederick, the executive director of NYC Pride, suggests heading to blocks between 14th and 23rd streets to avoid the epicenter at Christopher Street.

If you can't get out this weekend or you want to avoid crowds at all costs, don't worry, you can stream the parade via ABC.

Alternatively, the Queer Liberation March, which starts 2½ hours earlier than the main, is flowing up from The Village to Central Park without commercial floats as a "rebellion" of sorts. Anyone can participate.

All month, the city has been buzzing with Pride-themed exhibitions, talks, and celebrations, with a majority taking place this weekend, like the inaugural Pride Ball at the Rainbow Room, the LadyLand Festival at the Brooklyn Mirage, a Pride barbecue at Nowadays and the Pride Island celebration with Madonna at Pier 97.

Not enough? Want more? Super; check out our guide to be fully in-the-know.

watch it.

Fifteen years after the Stonewall riots marked the
Photo Credit: HBO

Fifteen years after the Stonewall riots marked the birth of Pride, a group of drag performers did the unthinkable: They took performances reserved for dark clubs into the Tompkins Square Park daylight. 

The Wigstock festival, organized by local drag icon Lady Bunny 35 years ago, is remembered in a new HBO documentary that takes viewers back to 1984 when drag wasn't "slick or polished." 

Through an hour and a half of footage, mostly from old festivals and drag performances, Bunny's sentiment is made abundantly clear. "Wig" opens inside the Pyramid Club on Avenue A, where a 24-year-old RuPaul sings for a packed club while Lady Bunny dances backup. "We were really ridiculous. Taking LSD. You know, it was a magic time. The Pyramid celebrities were creating their own persona. They weren't doing Cher, Joan Rivers, whatever," Bunny says.

Celebrate drag culture by streaming the film online, or catching a screening of it on HBO. It airs Friday at 11 p.m., and again on Saturday. 

climb it.

In the middle of Central Park, tucked between
Photo Credit: Central Park Conservancy

In the middle of Central Park, tucked between the trees and overlooking a pond, is a fairytale-like castle.

Since the 19th century, Belvedere Castle near 79th Street has acted as a lookout point across the ever-changing landscape of the park, and thanks to a brand new $12 million restoration, it will see another 160 years.

After being closed to the public for 15 months, the three-story structure, with a winding staircase and parapets, is finally reopening on Friday, meaning you can live out your dreams of grandeur while taking in sweeping views of the park. 

"This experience here is like being on the mountain top in the Adirondacks or the North Woods," Chris Nolan, the conservancy's chief landscape architect, tells us. "It affords people a chance, with just a walk away from their apartment, to escape without getting on a train or spending the money to go anywhere else."

sing it.

More than two dozen rising artists will put
Photo Credit: Monique Muse

More than two dozen rising artists will put in 24 hours of work this weekend to create original music -- and perform it for you live. 

The Songathon competition, which comes to SoHo in celebration of New York Music Month, was created to highlight the city's often "overlooked" songwriters' community. They "are the unsung heroes of the music industry," event creator Noah Hyams, 26, says. "They're, unfortunately, not really given their fair due, and we hope to celebrate them."

Entry to the concert, held at Galvanize on Spring Street, is free, and ticket holders will each have the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite new song. Votes will help determine the winner of the entire competition.

eat it.

Chefs are increasingly leaving their industrial-sized kitchens and
Photo Credit: Cecilia Burgos

Chefs are increasingly leaving their industrial-sized kitchens and professional equipment behind for the comforts of home. And you're invited over for dinner.

City cooks who have opened their homes for ticketed dinner parties say it allows for greater culinary creativity and serves their passion for uniting strangers with food. Chef Edouard Massih, who recently opened up his Greenpoint backyard for a ticketed brunch, says he's at his most creative because his home kitchen "transforms into a huge playground with all the utensils and equipment needed to bring an original and inventive meal to life." Chef José DeJesus likes giving people a unique experience and surprising them by preparing a "seven-course meal for six people on four burners and one oven."

The intimate meals also offer the chance for experimentation. Chef David Burke, who converted his home office into a small dining space, says he can prepare dishes that may be a bit "too fancy for everyday American dining," like sweetbread, quail or rabbit. "Or more complex dishes that are too difficult to execute when we are really busy in the restaurant."

But regardless of what's on the evening's menu, the home cooking always allows strangers to commune over food. "I loved the experience," said a guest at Massih's backyard brunch. "The prevailing attitude seemed to be to form a community."

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