Best free things to do today in New York City

Looking for a gratis event going down today? We’ve got you covered! Discover the top free things to do right now.

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So you’re pinching pennies and bored. We’ve been there. But that’s no reason to stay in your apartment!  Get outside and check out these cool free things to do.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in NYC


1

"Living with Pop. A Reproduction of Capitalist Realism"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Despite its name, Capitalist Realism wasn’t a movement so much as it was a collaborative art project, encompassing several exhibition-slash-performances in West Germany during the early- to mid-1960s. Of its principals—Manfred Kuttner, Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter—two became hugely famous, which is why this art-historical epiphenomenon has garnered so much interest. Artists Space recalls this chapter in postmodernism through an unconventional format that presents re-creations of paintings and other artifacts instead of the originals (in the spirit of Capitalist Realism’s critical examination of mass-media reproductions, though the cost of loans undoubtedly played a part). The result, which includes films selected by artist Christopher Williams, is more of a documentary than an exhibition. Inspired by American Pop Art, Capitalist Realism grew out of a desire to formulate an alternative to the self-mythologizing, art-bleeding-into-life tendencies of the Fluxus aesthetic associated with Joseph Beuys. Polke, Richter et al. created a critique of pop culture rooted in Germany’s denial of its Nazi past, a collective amnesia that found expression in the consumption of cars, appliances, TVs and other signifiers of mid-century bourgeoise aspiration. Capitalist Realism remained indebted to Fluxus, though, most noticeably in the way shows were presented: One was mounted in a furniture showroom, another in the front yard of a dealer’s house, still another in a vacant Butc

  1. Artists Space 38 Greene St, between Broome and Grand Sts, 10013
  2. Sun Jul 27 - Sun Aug 17
More info
2

Brooklyn Flea

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Brooklyn Flea is back outside on Saturdays in Fort Greene and Sundays in Williamsburg . Pick up a couple hand-hammered stack rings by Jessica De Carlo, at a special Flea-only price ($20 each, 2 for $35), or take a walk in Nina Z's eco-conscious clogs and sandals ($95-180). Visit Sharon London for easy-fitting tube dresses ($78) and vintage locket earrings ($12), or Hartford Denim Co. for quality-denim goods, like hoodies ($325) and aprons ($110). While perusing crafts and collectibles by local artisans, munch on some local bites, such as People's Pops' shaved ice ($3) and ice pops ($4) made from local, fresh fruit.

  1. East River State Park 90 Kent Ave, at North 8th St
  2. Sun Jul 27 - Sun Nov 23
More info
3

Socrates Sculpture Park Spring Show

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s harder to justify indoor art-peeping once the weather is nice, and you don’t have to. Head to the en plein air sculpture haven—one of the city’s few locales designated specifically for outdoor works. Then, get up close with large-scale creations, the handiwork of three international artists and an architectural firm, while working on your tan. The superlative view of the Manhattan skyline doesn’t hurt either.

  1. Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Blvd, at Broadway
  2. Sun Jul 27 - Sun Aug 3
More info
4

"Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

You could be forgiven for wondering whatever happened to the American Folk Art Museum. In 2011, financial troubles forced the institution to sell its building on West 53rd Street, an injury compounded by MoMA’s announcement that it was tearing down its next-door neighbor to make way for an expansion. In fact, AFAM has remained very much in business since returning to its former home in Lincoln Square; its latest show is a case in point. The exhibition, organized by Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, takes the postmodernist position that works such as a graceful stoneware jug by enslaved African-American potter Dave Drake (c.1800–c.1870) and a lively mid-19th-century quilt (featuring appliqued images of, among other things, nesting blackbirds, racehorses and a famous trained elephant of the time) can, and should be, regarded as art. The pieces cover a spectrum from the utilitarian (an exuberantly wood-grain-patterned blanket chest from around 1825) to the expressive (Thornton Dial’s powerful 2012 assemblage of carpet scraps, wood and cut tin flowers). Genius, as the show makes clear, doesn’t depend on valorizing one mode of art over another: It is apparent wherever it’s found to those with eyes to see it. As Rousseau states in the show’s exemplary catalog, “artistic professionalization does not ‘make’ the artist, but autodidacts are not systematically better artists, either.” The pieces she and Hollander have chosen, all made by people with no formal training, are unque

  1. American Folk Art Museum 2 Lincoln Sq, Columbus Ave, at 66th St
  2. Sun Jul 27 - Sun Aug 17
More info
5

Smorgasburg

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The venerable epicurean extravaganza returns the weekend of April 6, spending Saturdays in Williamsburg's East River State Park (enter at North 7th Street) and Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park at the walled-in, open-air Tobacco Warehouse through the summer. The 2013 iteration features returning vendors such as comfort-food maestro Buttermilk Channel, offering its beloved fried chicken and cheddar waffles. Welcome newbies like Vermont’s Rockville Market Farm, peddling breakfast gorditas ($5) with farm-made sausage, eggs, butternut-squash hot sauce and Shelburne Farms cheddar wrapped in a double tortilla; they’ll also be hawking farm-fresh eggs by the carton ($5 for a dozen). Last year saw the debut of Smorgasbar, an all-weather outdoor bar within the market, and though the beercentric watering hole won’t open until May or June, expect an expansion of offerings from breweries beyond Kings County. Visit smorgasburg.com for more information.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sat Jul 26 - Sun Nov 23
More info
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Users say

12 comments

@me

Must do ..

Annette
Annette

Had a great time. You can walk from gallery to gallery and feel welcome.

Regina
Regina

Sucks that you don't have the West Indian parade listed.

me
me

these seem fun! NOT!

AriellacomA
AriellacomA

Limelight is hosting fashion week- with free shows for the next 6 days... The designers are great and it's a nice crowd. Definitely worth it! RSVP@limelightshops.com

Jane C. Nicholson
Jane C. Nicholson

always like new things and I like your taste i almost everything.