When you live in the most expensive city in America, it can be hard to stick to a budget. Luckily, we've got you covered. Whether you're looking for a concert, art exhibit, comedy show or even a date idea, there are plenty of places to have a good time without paying a dime. Here are the best free parties, cultural events and things to do between now and next Wednesday.
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Films on the Green: Girlhood by Céline Sciamma
For the final screening in its outdoor film festival, the French embassy invites you to grab a blanket and head to the grassy knolls of Columbia University. This 2015 gem tells the story of a bold teenager in the Paris projects who joins a girl gang to escape the harsh conditions of her family and neighborhood, beginning a quest for independence that involves older men, leaving school and breaking the law. Low Memorial Library (at Columbia University), 116th St and Broadway (212-439-1425, nycgovparks.org). Thu 8 7:30–9:30pm.
29Rooms “Powered by People”
No tickets to the NYFW shows? No problem. After hosting an extremely successful interactive funhouse called 29Rooms last year, Refinery29 is throwing another all-inclusive party/exhibition/wonderland to kick off Fashion Week. This year’s concept "Powered by People" allows guests to experience the stylish affair first-hand, while exploring 29 rooms filled with art and immersive installations that push the envelope on global issues such as body positivity, mental health and self-expression. You’re guaranteed to leave feeling inspired. 8 Ingraham St, Brooklyn (refinery29.com/29rooms). Fri–Sun noon–8pm; free.
NYC Labor Day Parade
It should take you about a week to recover from your three-day party weekend, by which time you can actually honor the national holiday at this joyous parade. This year’s theme, “Union Made,” celebrates NYC’s storied history of laborers and workers who have organized and marched to change laws concerning wages, overtime and workdays. Whether you’re marching with actors, nurses, engineers and organizers or are just there for support, you’re certain to leave feeling proud of the city. Fifth Ave from 44th to 67th St (212-604-9552, nycclc.org). Sat 10 at 10am.
Brooklyn Book Festival Kick-off Party
Any chance to drink free at the Bell House should be met with much rejoicing, especially when it’s in celebration of books. To kick-start a week of special literary events with a bang, Book End is throwing this spirited hootenanny. DJ Shiftee spins hip-hop, rap and dance jammers, and cosponsors like Electric Literature and Literary Hub hook you up with prizes to stack on your nightstand. Show up early, or the free booze may be gone. The Bell House, 149 7th St, Brooklyn (718-643-6510, thebellhouseny.com). Mon 12 at 7pm.
Dark Water Tuesdays
Synth-heads, postpunks and ’80s addicts are welcome to grab a drink and move to the sounds of New Order, Severed Heads, the Human League and more at this weekly chill-out session. Drink specials and choice horror, sci-fi and anime flicks on the big screen will keep you hanging around way later than you expect. Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 E 14th St (212-228-2240, ottosshrunkenhead.com). Tue 8pm–4am; free.