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

Laurie Simmons, "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Widely known for her photographs of dolls, ventriloquist dummies and objects on legs, Laurie Simmons has been a fixture on the New York art scene since the mid-1970s, when she first emerged as part of the Pictures Generation. On the heels of a highly acclaimed series titled “Love Doll,” which captured extremely lifelike sex dolls in otherwise bland, domestic settings, Simmons returns to Salon 94 with two new bodies of work, as well as a lively animation for the gallery’s outdoor video wall. The most extensive group of photos was inspired by kigurumi, a Japanese subculture in which participants known as dollers don costumes and masks to bring female anime characters to three-dimensional life. Simmons convinced a few of her friends, both male and female, to transform themselves in like manner and model for her. The results can be seen in five large color photos taken inside and around a beat-up, abandoned house in Connecticut. Through careful positioning and tight framing, Simmons manages to make her Keane-eyed characters—some of whom stand still in corners, while others vamp coquettishly—appear like they’re in a dollhouse. Another oversize photo features a pair of dollers wearing mermaid tails, stretched out on a deep-blue bedspread like fish out of water. Some smaller prints picture individual dollers indoors and out, intently shooting selfies, suggesting levels of self-dramatization layered one within the next like a matryoshka of narcissism. Tossed into the mix are two larg

  1. Salon 94 Bowery 243 Bowery, at Stanton St, 10002
  2. Sun Apr 20 - Sun Apr 27
More info
2

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Sunday best gets new meaning during this annual procession, wherein participants show off elaborately constructed hats—we’re talking noggin-toppers shaped like the NYC skyline or the Coney Island Cyclone, not just a boring old fedora. The tradition started in the mid-1800s, when high-society ladies would promenade in their Easter finery after church, and has since evolved into a showcase for chapeau artistry. Fifth Ave from 49th to 57th Sts.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sun Apr 20
More info
3

Michelangelo Pistoletto, "The Minus Objects 1965-1966"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Radical for their time, the sculptural pieces making up “The Minus Objects” were created by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto in December 1965 and January 1966, and then displayed in his Turin studio. They were the ironic result of his success with the “Mirror Paintings,” in which full-scale photorealistic images were affixed to large reflective stainless-steel sheets. Determined to challenge the requirement of having a recognizable style, Pistoletto made these 28 works in a variety of materials. Together they represent the infinite possibilities of creation, minus themselves—hence the series’s title. This sense of sublime absurdity extends to the pieces themselves. A deep wooden frame with built-in table and chairs becomes a 3-D painting one can enter. A figure-shaped bathtub steps down in size like a nesting doll. An enlarged photo of Jasper Johns’s head is divided into two versions: one with his ears cropped, the other of just his ears and the white void in between. But the guiding spirit of the show is best conveyed by a cube made of mirrors. Lashed together with crisscrossing ropes, each side faces inward, away from the viewer—evoking an immeasurable realm where artistic options are as myriad as they are unseen. —Paul Laster

  1. Luhring Augustine Bushwick 25 Knickerbocker Ave, between Ingraham St and Johnson Ave, 11237
  2. Sun Apr 20 - Sat May 3
More info
4

Brooklyn Flea

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

It’s that time of year (starting May 4, to be exact) when the Brooklyn Flea comes back outside on Saturdays in Fort Green and Sundays at a new, yet to be announced Williamsburg location. 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 Apr 20 - Sun Nov 23
More info
5

"Grand Central Centennial Quilts"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Last spring, American Patchwork & Quilting magazine teamed up with local store the City Quilter to host a national contest for blankets inspired by the 100-year-old terminal. The grand prize, first- and second- place winners, and 27 finalists in this display draw from the building’s design elements—clocks, chandeliers and the iconic celestial ceiling—as well as each artist's connection to the historic New York landmark.

  1. New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex Grand Central Terminal, E 42nd St, between Lexington and Vanderbilt Aves
  2. Sun Apr 20 - Sun Jul 6
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.