Don’t scoff, jaded New Yorker—there are a lot of free things to do in NYC today. We understand: When you live in one of the most expensive cities in America, it’s hard to imagine how anything in this town could be gratis. But guess what? Every event on this list is free, and actually awesome! That’s right, we found the best concerts, free art exhibitions, comedy shows, cultural celebrations and events happening in NYC parks, so you can have the time of your life without paying a dime. Whether you’re looking for free date ideas or something to do with visiting relatives, we got you.
Do you want more great stories about things to do, where to eat, what to watch, and where to party? Obviously you do, follow Time Out New York on Facebook for the good stuff.
RECOMMENDED: See all free things to do in NYC
Best free things to do in NYC today
Launched more than 30 years ago by nonprofit community–arts organization BRIC to revitalize Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s premier outdoor performance series returns with free music, dance, and film events. Highlights this year include Pharoah Sanders on June 23, Talib Kweli on June 24, Amadou & Mariam on July 21, Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding on July 28, a screening of Creed with live scoring from Wordless Music Orchestra on Aug 4 and Whitney on Aug 11. While you’re there, be sure to check out NY Handmade Collective’s market, which features wares from local artisans like Jes Switaj, Suniq, Topolski Jewelry, Wallcojr Designs and Titiluli.
New York Classical Theatre begins its summer season of free alfresco theater with Richard Brinsley Sheridan's bawdy 1775 comedy, whose gifts to the world include the word malaprop (named after a deliciously error-prone character). The production, directed by NYCT founder Stephen Burdman, plays for a month in Central Park (enter at 103rd St and Central Park West), then spends a week apiece at two other locations.
Every Thursday during the summer, Union Square Park hosts a full day of free activities, including yoga, cardio and bootcamp classes, lunchtime jazz, screenings of classic flicks like Back to the Future and The Karate Kid and a series of dueling performances, wherein pianists, beatboxers, dancers and guitarists square off to see who can put on the best show. Visit summerinthesquare.nyc to see the full lineup of events and drop in for some gratis outdoor fun.
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's wide-flung free celebration has many exciting offerings in 2017. Participating artists include En Garde Arts, Netta Yerushalmy, Jodi Melnick, John Monti, Beth Gill, Faye Driscoll, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Maria Hassabi, Kamau Ware, Kameelah Janan Rasheed and the Dance Cartel. Also on the lineup is A Marvelous Order (June 15, 17–18), an original opera about the clash between city planner Robert Moses and activist Jane Jacobs.
In its eighth season of summer Shakespeare, Smith Street Stage sets up camp at Carroll Park with Shakespeare’s history play, in which a malicious hunchback clambers to power on the corpses of his family and friends. Jonathan Hopkins directs a gender- and race-neutral production.
Need a sugar high to balance out your booze buzz? Head to the Tuck Room every Thursday for bites of glazed, sea-salt and old-fashioned doughnuts at this joyous happy hour. Look for heavily spiked whipped cream, jams and ice cream—and make sure not to get so full that you can’t dance to beats from DJ J-Zone.
More than 50 years since its inception, the Black Power movement’s influence is still felt around the world, reverberating in modern activism as well as hip-hop, fashion, visual art and spoken-word performance. This exhibition gives you the chance to learn more about the movement’s roots, achievements and failures, as well as its enduring legacy.
This exhibition displays sculpture, vase paintings, ritual items, coins and artifacts from the Ancient Greece of the Iliad through the beginning of Pagan Antiquity to question how the society of Heraclitus and Homer viewed and expressed feelings. View pieces from the Acropolis, the Louvre and beyond to see how people reconciled reason, wrath and revenge in one of civilization’s great epochs.