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

Feast of San Gennaro

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Celebrate the martyred 3rd-century bishop and patron saint of Naples at this 11-day festival that fills the streets of Little Italy every year. Watch the professionals in action at the cannoli-eating competition, and you won't feel so bad about indulging in calorific treats from the food vendors; return daily for live musical performances. Mulberry St between Canal and Houston Sts; Grand St between Baxter and Mott Sts; Hester St between Baxter and Mott Sts.

  1. Little Italy Mulberry St, between Broome and Canal Sts
  2. Thu Sep 11 - Sun Sep 21
More info
2

"That Obscure Object of Desire"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Titled after Luis Buñuel’s 1977 film about sexual obsession, this group show includes pieces from the 1940s to the present, and teases out formal and thematic connections among a nicely considered selection of Surrealist, Pop and contemporary artworks. The leitmotif here is the body reduced to parts: Tummies, breasts, lips, knees, buttocks and vulvas are reassembled into new and unsettling combinations or isolated as fetishized objects. Dorothea Tanning’s 1970 stuffed pink-fabrics stomach, complete with navel, is joined by Alina Szapocznikow’s 1966 resin lamp made from a cast of her own lips, and Anthea Hamilton’s 2010 clear Plexiglas chair in the form of a woman’s spread legs. Elsewhere, foam cubes covered in’60s-inspired fabrics overprinted with images of nude models—a collaboration between Hamilton and designer Julie Verhoeven—converse with photographer Robert Heinecken’s Figure Horizon #4 (1972), in which a woman’s naked body has been rearranged to resemble a panorama of mountains. Rounding out the exhibition are Surrealist Hans Bellmer’s photographs of doll parts recombined into bulging monstrosities, and an assemblage by Alisa Baremboym featuring an enormous screw cast in gel. The exhibition’s big attractions are Tanning and Szapocznikow, both women who brought a more nuanced view to Surrealism and Pop, respectively. A cynic might wonder whether the show is an attempt to recontextualize the frequently unsavory output of Heinecken and Bellmer by exhibiting their work wit

  1. Luxembourg & Dayan 64 E 77th St, between Madison and Park Aves, 10075
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sat Oct 4
More info
3

Roxy Paine, "Denuded Lens"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

There’s something uncanny about a familiar object replicated in a foreign material, which is why the technique has been a familiar staple of sculptural production over the past 40-odd years. Paine is a relatively recent practitioner of the form, having exhibited since 1990. His subjects have included trees, boulders, fungi, paint drips, machinery and the human circulatory system, often mounted as installations or combined into surreal juxtapositions. His mediums have been equally diverse, ranging from resin to stainless steel. For his latest show, he turns to carved wood. The centerpiece is a full-scale replica in blond maple of a TSA airport security checkpoint, exact to the smallest detail: X-ray machine, conveyor belt, metal detector, bins for your belongings, even waste baskets. The whole shebang is situated in a diorama-style space separated from the viewer, with the floor of the work vertiginously tilting upward front to back. Open doors on either side of the rear lead to unseen rooms—presumably holding cells for those unlucky enough not to pass muster. The entire scene is lit by a bank of recessed florescent lights, giving it a washed-out, ghostly pallor. There are other, smaller works here—a chain saw mounted by a bullhorn, a half-finished pinball game—but mired in gee-whiz craftsmanship, they seem more wooden, pardon the pun, than the main event. The TSA piece manages to transcend its trompe l’oeil legerdemain to summon the image of a world haunted by its own paranoi

  1. Marianne Boesky Gallery 509 W 24th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10001
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sat Oct 4
More info
4

Photoville

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Kings County exhibition producer United Photo Industries takes over Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 to create a pop-up village honoring the art of picture taking. Dozens of shipping containers, which double as venues for curated gallery installations—from photojournalism of "Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985–2000" to the global nature of social media. And get excited, because the Photoville Beer Garden is returning this year; you'll find more than 100 vendors selling all sorts of food. Wander past "The Fence," a 1,000-foot-long display of 200 large-form prints made out of photographic mesh that correspond to the theme "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby."

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 28
More info
5

International Hip-Hop Night

  • Critics choice
  • Free

International Hip-Hop Night at BAMcafé will bring the musical form back home to show us just where it’s been. MCs from Mali, Gambia, France, Haiti and Mexico will perform live on BAMcafé’s stage, showcasing hip-hop’s vast reach over the past 30 years. Host Toni Blackman, who boasts the awesome distinction of being the Department of State’s first-ever "hip-hop cultural envoy," will introduce the likes of Gokh-Bi System, Rebel Diaz, Shokanti and AYoinmotion, plus Bocafloja, who has a massive following in his native Mexico and has released six albums documenting the Latino struggle.

  1. BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St
  2. Sat Sep 20
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.