The best free events and festivals in NYC

Discover a ton of free events and festivals in our handy, chronological guide to freebies in New York City

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Broke? No matter what sort of wallet-friendly happening you’re looking for, we've got it. Click through our easy-to-navigate roundup of the best free art exhibitions, free concerts, free club nights and much more!


RECOMMENDED: See all free things to do in NYC


Make Music Winter

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Make Music New York, which inundates public spaces with live music every June 21, now brings its magic to the winter solstice, as well. Look out for participatory musical parades on Sun 21 everywhere from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to the High Line

“Make Music Winter”

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Today, 13 participatory musical parades commence all over NYC, and you're encouraged to join the fun with your own tunes and melodic creations. You'll be prompted on what instruments you'll use (or bring) depending on the parade you choose. For

Dyke Knitting Circle

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Join the lesbian knit-purl crew for some old-fashioned fun. You bring the yarn and needles; they’ll provide the tea.

  1. Bluestockings 172 Allen St, at Stanton St
  2. Sun Dec 21
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Xi.me.na Borges-Joyful Noise

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This Venezuelan-born experimental musician doesn't use any instruments other than her own voice to create some of the strangest sounds you won't believe are from just one person. Now listen to her make seemingly normal Christmas classics sound like

  1. Pete's Candy Store 709 Lorimer St, between Frost and Richardson Sts, 11211
  2. Sun Dec 21
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Barneys New York holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Walk by Barneys New York for a holiday view of fluffy woodland creatures and fantastical snow owls from the creative mind of writer and director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin.

  1. Barneys New York 660 Madison Ave, at 61st St
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 31
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Saks Fifth Avenue holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This year, Saks debuted a new Snowflake Spectacular, a 3-D light show that plays out across the department store's exterior each evening. The dazzling display is just one element of the shop's holiday celebration: Window displays tell the story of

  1. Saks Fifth Avenue 611 Fifth Ave, at 49th St
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 31
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Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The iconic luxury retailer celebrates this year's holiday window unveiling with a live performance by Broadway songstress Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon, Les Misérables) and 10 percent off all store merchandise (6–8pm). Prior to the reveal

  1. Bergdorf Goodman 754 Fifth Ave, at 58th St
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Jan 7
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Macy's holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Boasting a "Santa's Journey to the Stars" theme, Macy's 2014 holiday windows depict a young boy's magical Christmas experience when he's gifted a paranormal telescope from Santa Claus. He's taken into a mystical world with his dog, Bella, and later

  1. Macy's Herald Square 151 W 34th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 31
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Henri Bendel holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Henri Bendel window displays are inspired by vintage landscaping this year. In one window you'll find Louise the Elephant, a plush green fellow made of shrubbery and covered in oversize silver ornaments. Other windows will feature fountains,

  1. Henri Bendel 712 Fifth Ave, at 56th St
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Thu Jan 1
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Tiffany & Co. holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Behind the windows into which Holly Golightly once gazed so admiringly, Tiffany's conjures an image of a yuppie wintertime fantasia: the Upper East Side on Christmas Eve. The miniature brownstone scenes are replete with tiny chandeliers and

  1. Tiffany & Co. 727 Fifth Ave, 57th St
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 31
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Bloomingdale's holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Join Tony Award–winning actor and singer Idina Menzel in feting the unwrapping of the holiday windows at Bloomingdale's. Menzel will sing selections from her new album, Holiday Wishes, just before the big reveal. This year's high-tech windows

  1. Bloomingdale's 1000 Third Ave, at 59th St, 10022
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 31
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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The trees change, but the annual sense of wonder remains the same. A chance to gawk at this year’s 76-foot-tall behemoth, decorated with 45,000 LED bulbs, is well worth the fighting the crowds.

  1. Rockefeller Plaza Fifth and Sixth Aves, between 48th and 49th Sts
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Jan 7
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Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Rink

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $19 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your time on

  1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Sun Mar 1
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Columbus Circle Holiday Market

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This annual holiday bazaar, run by the people behind the Union Square market, features handmade items from local artisans and snacks from vendors such as Mrs. Dorsey's Kitchen and Sigmund Pretzel Shop. Look for the market concierge to help you

  1. Columbus Circle Holiday Market Central Park South, at Central Park West
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Wed Dec 24
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The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Through Jan 2. Peruse more than 125 kiosks at the ninth annual, open-air holiday market at Bryant Park.

  1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Sun Jan 4
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Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Not only is there free ice-skating on Bryant Park's 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink, but also127 holiday shops, including 27 new kiosks and 26 eateries. New offerings such as eco-friendly clothing and accessories from Angelrox ($10–$250) and

  1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Lord & Taylor holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Children from NYC schools and Women in Need shelters were asked to create drawings based on the theme “What Is Christmas Made Of?” Those works, 125 of which are featured here, inspired the scenes in this year’s display.

  1. Lord & Taylor 424 Fifth Ave, between 38th and 39th Sts
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Thu Jan 1
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Holiday Under the Stars

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Take a break from Christmas shopping and check out Time Warner Center’s state-of-the-art holiday light display. The spectacle features a dozen 14-foot LED stars that do a colorful “dance,” flashing more than 16.7 million color mixes in time to

  1. Time Warner Center 10 Columbus Circle, at Broadway
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Twin Peaks Bingo

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The video store–drinkery revisits the cultish David Lynch TV series with cocktails, doughnuts, games and episode screenings.

  1. Videology 308 Bedford Ave, between South 1st and 2nd Sts, 11211
  2. Wed Dec 24
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Trivia at Phoenix

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Quizmaster Adam hosts this weekly night of brainteasers, where you could win a $40 bar tab (which goes a long way at Phoenix).

  1. Phoenix 447 E 13th St, between First Ave and Ave A
  2. Thu Dec 25
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