Festival of Ideas for the New City

This weekend in lower Manhattan, experience sensory overload during a celebration of ideas for New York City's future. Use our handy guide to the best events as your navigator.



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  • Photograph: Pepin Gelardi



  • "After Hours: Murals on the Bowery"

    "After Hours: Murals on the Bowery"

  • Photograph: Courtesy Swiss Institute

    Feitag Compost Canteen

    Feitag Compost Canteen

  • Photographer: Tony Cenicola



Photograph: Pepin Gelardi



If you want to see art outdoors

Nuit Blanche New York, which staged an epic festival in Greenpoint last fall, gives more than 20 virtuosos the opportunity to use the city as a canvas with these installations; streets, sidewalks and old buildings serve as the background for light projections and shadow imagery. [node:120555 link=Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral;], 263 Mulberry St between E Houston and Prince Sts. Sat 7 8pm--midnight; free.

The POEMobile
Bowery Poetry Club brings its craft to the streets via a truck outfitted with a projector. After sunset, the mobile club will light buildings with verses in languages spoken around the Bowery, plus English translations for those who don't speak Yiddish or Ukrainian. Location varies. Sat 7 6--11:30pm; free.

"After Hours: Murals on the Bowery"
When Bowery shopkeepers close up, paintings will appear on the rolling gates of 18 buildings facing the thoroughfare. Internationally renowned artists, including Deborah Kass and Rirkrit Tiravanija, outfitted the rusting facades with vibrant pieces that will liven the dreary storefronts. (Call 646-213-7207 to access an audio tour of the paintings.) Bowery between E Houston and Grand Sts. Sat 7--July 7.

If you want to learn something new

The fest's massive public art projects are complemented by a conference, consisting of lectures, panels and workshops taking place from Thursday 5 to Saturday 7. The offerings include a discussion featuring the mayors of Seattle; Philadelphia; Medelln, Colombia; and Braddock, Pennsylvania, who will share their ideas to reduce crime, promote arts and encourage healthier lifestyles among city residents. Locations, times and prices vary; visit festivalofideasnyc.com for details.

Freitag Compost-Canteen
Markus and Daniel Freitag, the brains behind their eponymous bag company, demonstrate their vegetable soup recipe while using the waste to create a compost pile. Take home some of the eco-friendly garbage in one of the brothers' designs to start your own heap. Swiss Institute at Salon 94 Freemans, Freeman Alley off Rivington St (between Bowery and Chrystie St). Sat 7, Sun 8 noon--6pm; free.

Midnight Maya Skies
The rad folks at the Lower Eastside Girls Club contributed a 14-foot-tall GirlZilla—a colorful, streamer-strewn model of a young woman—for the StreetFest. After you've gawked at the larger-than-life project, visit the club's home, where staff members will talk in the building's domed planetarium about advances in science education. Lower Eastside Girls Club, 56 E 1st St between First and Second Aves. Sat 7 10pm--2am; free.

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