Now that my hometown is back on top of the must visit destination list, here’s how to enjoy NYC on the cheap.
The NYC Culture Calendar for June/ July features FREE museum admission, including at the Museum Mile Festival, dozens of FREE outdoor movies and concerts in NYC parks, FREE Shakespeare in the Park, a downtown food festival, the return of Summerstage and Manhattanhenge, the incredible Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, and so much more.
Pick one, some or all, and enjoy the best of New York City free and cheap.
Who is a real New Yorker? It depends on who you ask.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter was interviewed recently by
Time Out New York
Ending Soon – Bryant Park Birding Tours
Did you know that New York City is on the Atlantic Flyover route, and that thousands of birds pass through on their way North in Spring and South in Winter. Like many visitors, they stop for a meal and a rest – including in Bryant Park
Through Friday, June 2, join FREE Birding Tours at Bryant Park led by experts from NYC Audubon. Tours are Tuesdays 8am–9 am, and Thursdays and Fridays 5pm–6 pm
Spot the wide range of birds visiting the park during this migratory season with guided tours by NYC Audubon. Sightings have included warblers, tanagers, vireos, thrushes, and—wait for it—a Chuck-will’s-widow.
Meet at Heiskell Plaza, near the corner of Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street. Free, and no pre-registration required.
Free Admission to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Friday, June 2
It’s UNIQLO NYC Nights, the first Friday of each month, 4–8 pm.
See new art in the galleries, enjoy music by DJs from The Lot Radio, grab a drink at the pop-up bar, get creative with drop-in drawing sessions, see a film in the theaters, and enjoy the spring weather in the lovely outdoor sculpture garden.
New York City residents get free admission courtesy of UNIQLO, but everyone can enjoy an evening out in our galleries with paid admission.
Tickets are available starting 5/26 and must be reserved online in advance at mo.ma/nycnights
SummerStage FREE Concerts in NYC Parks
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is back for its 37th season, with nearly 80 free and benefit performances in 13 parks across all five boroughs.
If you like salsa, jazz, indie-rock, country, bhangra, afrobeats or opera, you’ll find something to enjoy. Performers range from locals to world-famous superstars.
There will also be special performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop, which was born in New York City.
SummerStage 2023 is sponsored by Capital One and the Parks Foundation.
This year’s website also gives thanks to the original inhabitants of New York City with this statement:
SummerStage acknowledges that we are currently standing on Native lands that have been stewarded and cared for by generations of Munsee Lenape, Canarsie, Wequaesgeek, Siwanoy, Matinecock, Schaghticoke and Wappinger people in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. In the spirit of honoring our past, the people who inhabited this land before us and their tradition, we offer our recognition and gratitude to all Indigenous people.
Celebrate Israel Parade, Sunday, June 4th
Celebrate the 75th birthday of the State of Israel with music and dancing as the parade marches up Fifth Avenue, from 57th St. to 74th St., 11am to 4pm.
Sign up to march with the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The NYC chapter will be joined by neighboring regions.
Dine Around Downtown Food Festival, Tuesday, June 6,
More than 40 local downtown restaurants will descend upon Fosun Plaza (28 Liberty Street) for one of the first outdoor food festivals of the season.
This year includes a Battle of the Tacos, between two local kitchens.
It’s sponsored by the Downtown Alliance business group. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
FREE Jazz Concerts every Wednesday
Every Wednesday evening starting starting June 7, you can enjoy a spirited tribute to NYC’s storied jazz history with FREE outdoor jazz concerts in overlooking the Hudson River, in Hudson River Park.
Jazz at Pier 84 features local legends in a lineup of free performances on Manhattan’s riverfront, thanks to sponsor the Jazz Foundation of America.
Check out the lineup here – https://hudsonriverpark.org/visit/events/category/music
FREE Shakespeare in the Park – Hamlet, June 8 to August 6
The Public Theater’s beloved free program in Central Park, returns to the outdoor Delacorte Theater with nine full weeks of what is probably Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet, with what is probably the most famous single line ever uttered on a stage – “To be or not to be.”
The question is which of the dozens of performances you will get tickets for.
Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, this year’s production features Ato Blankson-Wood as Hamlet, Solea Pfeiffer as Ophelia, John Douglas Thompson as Claudius, and Nick Rehberger as Laertes.
Scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jessica Jahn, lighting design by Allen Lee Hughes, sound design by Justin Ellington, and projection design by Jeff Sugg.
“Hamlet” has been staged at the Delacorte Theater four times in Shakespeare in the Park’s 61-year history. The last last production was in 2008.
How to get tickets to Shakespeare in the Park
The Public is offering both in-person distribution of free tickets and an online lottery. this summer.
Free tickets to “Hamlet” will be given out through an in-person lottery at the Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street on the day of the performance, or through a daily digital lottery on the TodayTix mobile app.
Find more details on this year’s ticket distribution here.
Shakespeare in the Park does not end on August 6.
The next production of Shakespeare in the Park is “The Tempest”, which begins on Sunday, August 27 through Sunday, September 3, before the Delacorte Theater closes for renovations.
FREE Monday Night at the Movies in Bryant Park
Starting Monday, June 12th, through Monday, August 21, it’s the 30th Anniversary of this popular event, featuring family-friendly films on a gi-normous screen in Bryant Park, and a couple of thousand of your closest friends blanket-to-blanket on the park lawn (no chairs or dogs allowed).
The schedule includes such timeless classics as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, recent favs such as Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Dreamgirls.
Find the full schedule here.
Bring your own picnic, or find food and drink curated by Hester Street Fair for sale on the Fountain Terrace, and beer and wine available for purchase on the eastern end of the lawn.
The lawn opens at 5pm, films start around 8pm, at sunset. No dogs allowed on the lawn.
FREE Outdoor Movies in Brooklyn Parks
Starting June 20, and through September, there’s a rotating schedule of fan fav films in three Brooklyn Parks – Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park and McCarren Park.
Films classics include “House Party,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Big Lebowski” along with hits like “Everything, Everywhere All at Once,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
There will be DJs every evening leading up to the films, acres of grass and bottomless good vibes.
The “Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn,” free summer movies are thanks to Brooklyn Magazine, in partnership with Paramount+ and with an assist from Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Prospect Park Alliance and Fort Greene Park Conservancy.
Check the website for the schedule.
Museum Mile Festival, Tuesday, June 13
This annual street fair celebrates the museums along one mile of Fifth Avenue, including the Met, Jewish Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Guggenheim and more.
There’s FREE museum admission, FREE family activities, FREE entertainment, and more. It’s from 6pm to 9pm, from 84th St. to 105th St.
Check back for the block-by-block schedule and other updates, still being arranged.
Institutions participating this year are:
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art;
- Neue Galerie New York;
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum;
- Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum;
- The Jewish Museum;
- Museum of the City of New York;
- El Museo del Barrio; and
- The Africa Center.
Additional programming will be presented by these museums NOT along Museum Mile –
- The Asia Society;
- Church of the Heavenly Rest;
- AKC Museum of the Dog;
- New York Academy of Medicine; and
- The People’s Bus.
Check each venue’s website to learn more about their programming, which will include musical performances and activities for families and adults. Such as –
At the Jewish Museum – Dingonek Street Band will perform three sets (at 6 pm, 7 pm, and 8 pm) in front of the museum. Presented as part of an ongoing collaboration with Bang on a Can.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, June 13-18
Since 1965, this has been an annual and popular tradition, with a FREE concert in each of New York City’s boroughs, followed by fireworks, with thousands of music fans enjoying the best of classical music under the stars, performed by the best classical orchestra on the planet.
This year, Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts two iconic masterpieces — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — at each concert, plus a rotating mix of other familiar favorites including Strauss waltzes, the William Tell Overture and works by NY Phil Very Young Composers.
All outdoor performances begin at 8:00 PM and are followed by fireworks. The Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island begins at 4:00 PM (no fireworks).
Locations and performance details are –
- Tuesday, June 13 – Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
- Wednesday, June 14 – Central Park (Great Lawn)
- Thursday, June 15 – Cunningham Park, Queens
- Friday, June 16 – Prospect Park, Brooklyn
- Sunday, June 18 – St. George Theater, Staten Island
Schomburg Center Literary Festival, Saturday, June 17
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Schomburg Center Literary Festival, which celebrates authors of African descent and champion literacy and books across genres to amplify Black history and culture. Festival programming features some of the most talented writers and influential figures in culture today.
The festival is built on the foundation created by Arturo Schomburg—encouraging freedom of thought, the relentless pursuit of Black history, and the engagement of our imagination toward our collective freedom.
The Schomburg Center is a branch of the NYPL. The festival is 11:30am to 6pm.
FREE, but registration is encouraged to manage space.
Egg Rolls, Egg Creams & Empanadas, Sunday June 18
Embrace the spirit of New York’s Lower East Side & Chinatown through music, dance, food, crafts demonstrations and more.
Now in its 22nd year, the Museum at Eldridge Street’s annual festival is a celebration of the diverse traditions that give the Lower East Side and Chinatown its identity.
Located on Eldridge Street between Division and Canal Streets, enjoy a day filled with a medley of Jewish, Chinese, and Puerto Rican tastes, sights, sounds, and crafts for folks of all ages to enjoy!
FREE to attend. Rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Sunday, June 18
The popular and zany Coney Island Mermaid Parade returns for its 41st year, with Mermaids and Mermen in full costume, some in drag, most with sequins and all with smiles. The event also features the crowning of King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.
Think of it as the summer version of the annual Village Halloween Parade, also FREE and also equal fun for participants and viewers.
The Mermaid Parade begins at Surf Avenue and W 21st Street, at 1pm, traveling along Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk before ending at Steeplechase Plaza.
For the best chance of getting a good spot, show up by 11am. Or if you’re willing to shell out $200, you become a Coney Island USA member and snag a spot in the covered Judge’s Stands.
Check out 20 years of Mermaid Parade photos here.
Solstice Yoga in Times Square, Tuesday, June 21
Do Downward Dog and Warrior Pose with one thousand or more of your closest friends.
The annual Solstice Yoga returns to Times Square on Tuesday, June 21, with a massive yogathon.
It’s FREE to join, as are the seven FREE yoga classes from top instructors.
More information on the Times Square website.
Best New Museum Exhibits
This is New York – Museum of the City of New York
In honor of the centennial of the founding of the Museum of the City of New York as the city’s storyteller, This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture explores the many ways that the city has inspired storytelling.
The comprehensive exhibit features both famous and lesser-known images of New York in film and television, song and poetry, literature, visual and performing arts, and fashion, painting a collective, moving and even funny version of a city that has captured the imagination of the world.
There’s also an audio soundtrack of NYC music, including the iconic New York, New York by the equally iconic Frank Sinatra.
On view through July 2024.
A special gallery, “You Are Here,” dedicated to New York on film, provides an immersive 16-screen experience drawn from hundreds of movies about the city made over the past century.
If you love NYC – as we all do – this is an important gallery adventure to visit, on view through September.
Young Picasso in Paris – Guggenheim Museum
In conjunction with celebrations across the globe that commemorate the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, the Guggenheim exhibition explores the artist’s introduction to the city that would become his permanent home.
Beginning with an early representation of the famous dance hall from 1900, Le Moulin de la Galette, the exhibition traces the development of the Spaniard’s artistic voice with dozens of paintings and works on paper.
The exhibition focuses on a pivotal year of Picasso’s life and showcases the early experimentation that would come to define his oeuvre.
Housed in the former Barney’s space in Chelsea at 7th Avenue and 17th St., this is a world-class collection of Asian, Indian and Himalayan art and events.
The newest exhibit is “Death Is Not the End,” a cross-cultural exhibition exploring ideas of death and afterlife in the art of Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity with art spanning 12 centuries, which explores moments of change that propel us into the unknown.
Admission is FREE Friday evenings, 6–10 pm with tours, music from a DJ, and drinks and dancing in the K2 lounge.
- Reserve free tickets on the link.
Through Labor Day weekend, enjoy “Berenice Abbott’s New York Album,1929” a photographic exhibit of historic photographs by this award-winning and iconic artist who used a camera instead of a paintbrush.
- The Met is pay-what-you-wish admission for NYS residents and tri-state college students with a valid ID.
Neue Gallerie Closes for Renovations
The home of the famous Klimpt Gallery and the luminous painting Lady in Gold is closed through August 31 for maintenance and enhancements to the historic building. Also closed during this time will be the shops and cafés
Prospect Park Carousel
Get ready to take one of Brooklyn’s favorite attractions for a spin.
The historic and beloved Prospect Park Carousel is open Thursday – Sunday and holidays from 12 pm – 5 pm for the season for kids and the grown-ups who love them.
Roller Skating in Rockefeller Center
The iconic ice skating rink has turned into a roller rink.
The roller disco at Rockefeller Center has returned for its second season of – er – wheelie great fun.
Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace takes over at the famous ice skating rink on April 14 and the party continues daily through October.
FREE Museum Admission for Young People
The Frick Collection is extending free admission to all young people, ages 10 to 17, through the remainder of the museum’s temporary residence at Frick Madison.
Young visitors from the New York City area and beyond will enjoy complimentary access with a valid school ID or other proof of age. Thanks to this new initiative, the Frick is pleased to make the museum more accessible than ever before to middle and high school students.
Visit frick.org/visit to learn more about visiting the museum.
Culture Calendar for July
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
60,000 shells. Five barges in the East River. Viewing points in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
It’s simply the best fireworks displays on the planet, this year featuring a tribute to Tina Turner as part of the synchronized display of music and pyrotechnics. Simply the best, better than all the rest – the rock star and my hometown.
Manhattanhenge, July 12 and 13
Manhattanhenge is when the sun sets directly in between Midtown Manhattan streets, illuminating both sides of the street at once. It happens four times a year – twice in May and twice again in July.
The best place to see Manhattanhenge is on the 42nd St. Transverse at First Avenue, where you’ll have to fight for space with professional photographers – such as the one who took this image – but any wide crosstown street between 14th and 59th will do.
It’s literally a traffic-stopper. There’s a full explanation of Manhattanhenge in this New York Times article, including how it got its name. Spoiler alert – it’s a nod to Stonehenge, the famous ancient British landmark where the sun sets directly between the stones on the Summer and Winter Solstices.
May’s viewings were –
Monday, May 29, a half sun at 8:13 p.m. Eastern time.
Tuesday, May 30, a full sun at 8:12 p.m.
For July, you’ll get two more chances to see a grid-perfect sunset:
Wednesday, July 12, a full sun at 8:20 p.m.
Thursday, July 13, a half sun at 8:21 p.m.
Explore Hudson River Park with the New FREE Digital Guide
Get four miles of discovery in the palm of your hand.
Download the Bloomberg Connects app to get to know the Park’s huge variety of green and blue spaces. Dig deeper into what interests you most.
Hudson River Park’s guide on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app, helps you find dozens of piers, docks, walkways, landscapes and fields, history, vital marine habitat, and also and takes you beneath the surface of the Hudson River to discover HRP’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary.
Available for iOS and Android.
This NYC Culture Calendar is updated at the beginning and middle of each month.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA) and is a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)
Contact me at email@example.com.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter
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