Things to do in New York today

The day's best things to do in New York—including free and cheap activities, concerts, screenings, shows, parties and more. It's your social emergency savior.

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Free things to do today

Brooklyn Book Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Brooklyn Book Festival is one of those events that makes you thankful to live in New York: The free, massive collection of readings, panels and high-concept events overtakes Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn and spills into neighboring venues over the course of a very full day. Among those in the massive crew of participating artists: Lev Grossman, Jonathan Lethem, Zadie Smith, Roxane Gay, Salman Rushdie and so many more. Visit brooklynbookfestival.org for details.

Lantern Floating for Peace

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Take part in a modern Shinnyo-en Buddhist lantern ceremony by building, decorating and floating your own lamp on a pond inside Trump Rink. While similar ceremonies are held annually in places like Japan and Hawaii, this is the first for NYC, where the theme “Be a Light for Peace” honors peacemakers one day after the United Nations’ International Day of Peace (Sat 21). All afternoon long, enjoy live performances by taiko drummers and local musicians.

  1. Hearst Plaza (at Lincoln Center) W 65th St, at Columbus Ave
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info

The Big Lebowski

  • Free

Get a dose of the Dude at this outdoor screening ofthe Coen brothers' 1998 stoner comedy, The Big Lebowski. Arrive early for nice spot outdoors 'cause Habana Outpost gets crowded fast, especially with its tasty traditional Mexican and Cuban cuisine drawing even more people to the door.

  1. Habana Outpost 757 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info
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Today's best food and drink events

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

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 through November. The 2014 lineup features beloved vendors such as seafood-shack maestro Handsome Hank’s Fish Hut, offering fried-to-order whiting fillets smothered in coleslaw and tartar sauce between two slices of Texas toast ($8). Stake out a spot in front of Milk Truck Grilled Cheese for the three-cheese sandwich—a gooey blend of gruyere, New York cheddar and Wisconsin blue oozing over sweet-and-tart caramelized Granny Smith apple slices ($7.25). Head out to the open-air fair before it gets too cold: The season's final iterations will be November 22 at the Williamsburg waterfront and November 23 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Visit smorgasburg.com for more information.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sun Sep 21 - Sun Nov 23
More info

Today's free and cheap concerts

Nico: Underground

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The fascinating Tammy Faye Starlite revisits her witty and insightful tribute to the glacial German singer Nico, whose bored baritone vocals added eerie Continental glamour to the first Velvet Underground album.

  1. 155 First Ave, between 9th and 10th Sts
  2. $15
  3. Sun Sep 21 - Sun Sep 28
More info

Ben Monder

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Ben Monder, a jazz-guitar virtuoso who balances brainy eccentricity with ethereal textural command, plays an intimate solo gig.

  1. Barbès 376 9th St, at Sixth Ave, 11215
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info
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Today's best arts and culture

"NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Finally, an ultimate tribute to not just the artistic minds that make New York a creative hub, but also the behind-the-scenes guys we never hear about. NYC will pay homage to 100 awesome artists and their production teams who have shown outstanding levels of talent in their fields, from stonemasons and set designers to instrument makers and media-art collectives. The exhibit dedicated reveals how connected these seemingly very different art forms are. And maybe after this, you’ll spot how all of these creative styles exist in our everyday New York City lives.

  1. Museum of Arts & Design 2 Columbus Circle, at Broadway, 10019
  2. Sun Sep 21 - Sun Oct 12
More info

Circus Amok

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The fantastically queer, unapologetically political and surprisingly kid-friendly Circus Amok invades NYC's parks throughout September with acrobats, stilt walkers, clowns and other delights. Circus founder Jennifer Miller serves as ringleader.

  1. Tompkins Square Park Ave A, between 7th and 10th Sts
  2. Sun Sep 21 - Sun Sep 28
More info

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Halloween junkies can get their spooky fix in this scary patch of the Children’s Adventure Garden filled with frightening spirits lurking in between the gourds. Weekend programming includes parades, where kids can get some extra mileage out of their costumes. Older visitors can enjoy sessions such as a pumpkin-carving demo with Ray Villafane (Oct 19, 20).

  1. New York Botanical Garden Bronx River Pkwy, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Sun Sep 21 - Fri Oct 31
More info
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Tonight's best comedy show

ASSSSCAT 3000

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

NYC’s long-form improv royalty (including UCBT and SNL folk) play pickup-game style in this famous long-running show.

  1. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre 307 W 26th St, between Eighth and Ninth Aves
  2. Sun Sep 21 - Sun Dec 28
More info
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Tonight's best nightlife

Scissor Sundays

  • Critics choice
  • Free

JD Samson's beloved weekly tea dance features a friendly, mixed crowd grooving to tunes by a rotating cast of local and visiting DJs, plus deliciously strong drinks and gorgeous sunsets over the Hudson.

  1. Rusty Knot 425 West St, at 11th St
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info

Simian Mobile Disco + JDH & Dave P

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The U.K.’s Simian Mobile Disco, the duo of James Ford and James Anthony Shaw, has run the gamut from hook-stuffed, full-throttle indie-electro to streamlined, throbbing techno. At this gig, it will be perform its latest stripped-back effort, Whorl.

  1. Music Hall of Williamsburg 66 North 6th St, between Kent and Wythe Aves
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info

Nouveau York x Kaviar Disco Club: Homework + Travmatic + Beto Cravioto + Marosyalan Blancato

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Nouveau York keeps the fun coming at the Standard Hotel's penthouse boîte. This installment sees the party teaming with the Kaviar Disco Club clan to welcome back Amsterdam's Homework, a duo with some very slick releases on the 2020 Vision, Exploited and Made to Play labels.

  1. Le Bain 444 W 13th St, at Washington St, 10014
  2. Sun Sep 21
More info
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Users say

3 comments
Kerry A
Kerry A

I have a complaint: I'm an avid reader of the "Undateable" section in Time Out, where Time Out sets up two strangers on a date. Well, last week's article featured a boy who wrote extremely cruel things about his date. I understand you want people to be honest, but I can hardly support someone ripping their date to shreds publicly.

Melodie D
Melodie D

Calle 13 is doing a signing today at 6pm at El Barrio Music Center in Harlem!

Arlene
Arlene

So many different kinds of events. Not your usual touristy stuff , and free. Love this site.

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Marea

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 240 Central Park South, between Seventh Ave and Broadway
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Rubirosa

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 235 Mulberry St, between Prince and Spring Sts
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Gotham Bar and Grill

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  1. 12 E 12th St, between Fifth Ave and University Pl, 10003
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Peasant

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 194 Elizabeth St, between Prince and Spring Sts, 10012
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