The best things to do in NYC now through October include FREE museum admission, FREE Broadway show performances, the fall street fair season begins, including the Feast of San Gennaro, and so much more.
Pick one, some or all, and enjoy the best of New York City FREE and cheap.
This best things to do in NYC guide is updated at the beginning and middle of each month, with at least six weeks of events to help you plan how to enjoy the greatest city on the planet.
Who is a real New Yorker? It depends on who you ask.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter was interviewed recently by
Subway and Bus Fare Increase
Effective August 20, NYC subway and bus fares increased by 15 cents to $2.90.
It is the first increase in the base price in nearly a decade and also applies to Access-a-Ride.
- Weekly unlimited fares go up $1, from $33 to $34. Monthly unlimited passes will go up $5, from $127 to $132.
- A single-ride ticket increase from $3 to $3.25, while half-price base fares will go from $1.35 to $1.45.
- Fares also go up on express buses, from $6.75 to $7, while weekly express bus passes will swell from $62 to $64.
- The fare for a single ride has stood at $2.75 since 2015, while weekly and monthly unlimited prices were last raised in 2019.
- Tolls also are going up on NYC bridges and tunnels. Find the new tolls here.
E-bikes in NYC Parks
NYC Parks has launched a pilot program that allows e-bikes and e-scooters to use park drives and greenways – but NOT on pedestrian paths.
The test program will allow the same bicycles, e-bikes, and e-scooters that are legal to operate on NYC streets to also operate on park drives, such as the Central Park and Prospect Park loops, and greenways such as the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway.
Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes, as well as lighter-weight e-scooters, are already allowed on NYC streets and in bike lanes, and will be allowed in park drives—but not pedestrian paths. Faster, heavier mopeds and motorcycles are NOT allowed anywhere in NYC parks or on greenways.
Read my article on e-bike battery safety in AAA Northeast
German-American Steuben Day Parade and Oktoberfest
Saturday, Sept. 16th is the 66th annual German-American Steuben Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of Germany joining the UN, and the parade will feature a float from the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN.
Immediately following the parade, head to the Summerstage at Rumsey Fielld in Central Park to celebrate Oktoberfest with attendees and participants of the parade.
The parade is FREE. Oktoberfest requires tickets.
Unfortunately, tickets are $37 per adult and $5 for kids for admission only. The Ommpah bands are free – the same ones at the parade – but food and beer is extra.
- As the NYC-born daughter of two German immigrants, I support the parade unconditionally.
- But I do not support the over-priced money-grabbing Oktoberfest in Central Park. I’ll have my fav Heveweizen and weisswurst elsewhere.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a close friend and ally of George Washington, who credited the German for his help in winning the Revolutionary War.
Chile Independence Day at The South Street Seaport
Sunday, Sept. 17 – It’s not a parade, but it is a celebration, and it’s FREE.
South Street Seaport Museum, in partnership with the Consul General of Chile in New York, holds the second annual Fiestas Patrias celebration in honor of Chilean Independence Day aboard the 1885 tall ship Wavertree at Pier 16.
Festivities kick off with an opening ceremony and flag raising at noon with Mario Ignacio Artaza, the Consul General of Chile to New York, then continue with lively traditional Chilean dancing and music as well as finger foods on Wavertree. Traditional Chilean food will be available for purchase on Pier 16 as part of the program.
Advance registration is encouraged but walk ups are welcome any time between noon and 2pm. seaportmuseum.org/fiestas-patrias
9/11 Annual Tribute in Light
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s annual “Tribute in Light”is set once again to honor those who lost their lives on that day which changed each one of us – and the entire world – and celebrate the unbreakable spirit of New York.
The lights will be visible from a 60-mile radius around Lower Manhattan.
This September 11 marks the 22nd anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, a reminder of how such tragic events can alter the fabric of our city and everyday lives.
Over the past two decades Lower Manhattan has witnessed both physical and symbolic transformations as tens of thousands of new residents have chosen to make this place their home and millions have come to visit the memorial.
The annual “Tribute in Light” is an ongoing signal for New Yorkers to persevere together.
Thanks to First Responders throughout the world.
- Ms. Lauren Hill
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Jung Kook
Megan Thee Stallion
- Conan Gray
- Stray Kids
It’s too late now to get FREE tickets, but VIP tickets are available for purchase.
Or, you could hang out near the Great Lawn and at least hear the music, if not see the performers. Or, you can watch on TV or an
How to watch Global Citizen Festival
Global Citizen Festival will also be broadcast and streamed to the world on ABC News Live, Apple Music and the Apple TV app, Prime Video, and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch, Facebook, HBO Max, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Instagram, Mediacorp, SABC, TikTok, TimesLIVE, TNT, TV3, Veeps, YouTube, and globalcitizen.org.
A primetime special, Global Citizen Festival 2023, will air on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 24, at 7 PM EST.
Streaming of the event will start at 4:00 PM EST. Keep an eye on globalcitizenfestival.com, download the Global Citizen app or follow Global Citizen on social media for all the latest information on how you can join in and take action as part of Global Citizen Festival.
Also Sat. Sept 23 – Taste of the Seaport
Loosen that belt loop a notch, for the annual mouthwatering Taste of the Seaport outdoor food festival held.
Several of Lower Manhattan’s finest kitchens will gather under their respective tents and serve up bite-size portions of their most popular dishes.
Save room for an impressive array of samples from the dining rooms of Osteria del Porto, Malibu Farm, the Fulton, Cafe Patoro (we still are taking the long bet that their pao de queijo will become the next bagel), Suteshi, Tagmo, Havana Social, Keste, Industry Kitchen, Il Brigante, Fulton Stall Market, the Watermark, Stout NYC, Taim — the list goes on.
There’s no cost for entry. All you have to do is buy “taste” tickets online or upon arrival. All funds support programs at two local public schools, PS 397 Spruce Street School and PS 343 Peck Slip School.
- Noon to 4pm at Piers 16 and 17 at the South Street Seaport, rain or shine.
Brooklyn Book Festival, Sept. 24-Oct. 2
New York City’s largest FREE book festival includes workshops with famous authors, book signings, special programming just for kids, and literary-themed events throughout Brooklyn.
A virtual festival kicks off the celebration on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Children’s Day is Sat. Sept. 30, with events for young readers at the Brooklyn Commons, and the main event is on Oct. 1, in the outdoor spaces at Brooklyn Borough Hall and surrounding venues.
Readers can also get the chance to splurge and bring home new books on Festival Day (Oct. 1), at the outdoor Literary Marketplace which will offer thousands of books to purchase.
- See the full festival schedule here including location of events throughout Brooklyn
Endurance – The Search for the Shackleton Expedition
It was one of the greatest and ill-fated adventures of all time. And the search for the remains of the ill-fated ship lost in Antarctica is another great adventure story.
On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the South Street Seaport Museum and The National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS) are co-hosting a FREE lecture by British marine archaeologist Mensun Bound, the “Indiana Jones of the Deep.”
Appropriately, the lecture is aboard the 1885 tall ship Wavertree. Get your free ticket to hear about his most recent expedition that discovered Sir Ernest Shackleton’s (1874–1922) lost ship Endurance in an excellent state of preservation. Bound will offer a firsthand account of this historic rediscovery of the vessel beneath the ice of the Weddell Sea, near the Antarctic Peninsula.
Beyond the tale of the Endurance, Bound will address how the shifting climate and escalating global heating pose an imminent threat to the safeguarding of historic shipwreck sites. This presentation promises to be an enlightening exploration of the past and a timely reflection on our planet’s future.
Mensun Bound’s book, The Ship Beneath the Ice: The Discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
A reception with Mensun Bound will precede the lecture, for an additional ticket at $150, which supports NMHS.
About Endurance – The three-masted barquentine, was last seen in 1915 when Irish-British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27 men watched in dismay as the ship, crushed by ice, sank into the icy depths. Miraculously, the entire crew survived and Mensun Bound sums up Shackleton’s management of the 1916 rescue as “arguably, the greatest story of human survival in recorded history.” The crew’s mission, as members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, was a daring plan to reach the South Pole by traveling over the then-unmapped terrain of the East Antarctic.
National Geographic is working with Oscar winners Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and BAFTA-nominated director Natalie Hewit to produce a documentary that will share the tale of discovering the Endurance.
- 7pm, FREE, but registration is required to manage space aboard the Wavetree.
Curtain Up! Broadway Festival is a three-day outdoor celebration of FREE performances by Broadway stars on stages in Times Square, a block party, a dance party and singalongs.
There are more than a dozen free, live events on stages in Duffy Square (Seventh Avenue and 46th Street) and Broadway between 45th and 48th Streets.
The kickoff event is 2pm Friday, Sept. 29 with Broadway stars like Norm Lewis—the first African-American actor to perform the title role in Phantom of the Opera—set to appear on stage.
At 5pm, , the Broadway block party invites New Yorkers to dance and sing along to iconic theater tunes as a live DJ and guest performances entertain all.
The final event is a live Broadway concert, between 11am and 1pm on October 2pm rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Curtain Up! is sponsored by The Broadway League, Playbill, the Times Square Alliance and Prudential Financial.
- Check out the full schedule of events here.
Free Fridays at the Intrepid
Celebrate the ship’s 80th commissioning anniversary and enjoy special programs, including a free summer movie series featuring classic “ship” themed films, including a screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Free Fridays are the last Friday of the month, June through Sept. 29.
Also enjoy the popular Astro Live with special guest speakers, demonstrations, stargazing on the flight deck and more.
- Visit the Intrepid Museum’s Free Fridays page for more information.
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage returns for its 37th season, with nearly 80 free and benefit performances in 13 parks across all five boroughs through mid-October.
If you like salsa, jazz, indie-rock, country, bhangra, afrobeats or opera, you’ll find something to enjoy, including special performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop, which was born in New York City.
Performers range from locals to world-famous superstars. Here are some of the stand-out remaining performances for the 2023 season –
The final free show in Central Park is September 14
- A legend worthy of the spot– Tanya Tucker. The GRAMMY-award winner, 2023 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee – and recent Brandi Carlile collaborator – has been topping the charts since she was 13 years old with “Delta Dawn”. Alex Hall will open the evening.
The season closes October 2 on the boardwalk at the Coney Island Amphitheater
- With The Chol Hamoed Spectacular featuring The Yeshiva Boys Choir. The Choir has been delighting audiences for almost 20 years, dazzling fans with their energetic performances and creative choreography.
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.
SummerStage 2023 is sponsored by Capital One and the Parks Foundation.
FREE Wednesday Jazz Concerts – Hudson River Park
Every Wednesday evening through September, 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 Outdoor Movies in Brooklyn Parks
Through September, there’s a rotating schedule of FREE fan fav films in three Brooklyn Parks – Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park and McCarren Park.
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.
All Movies With A View events are FREE and first-come, first served.
No chairs are allowed on the lawn, please bring a picnic blanket, as well as no pets, no glass, and no outside alcohol.
Feast of San Gennaro, Sept. 14-24
This annual celebration of the patron saint of Naples takes over the streets of Little Italy with food, entertainment, food, games of chance, food, a parade celebrating Italians in baseball, and eating contests including cannolis from Ferrara Bakery.
There is nightly entertainment at the festival stage, on the corner of Grand and Mott Streets and features live entertainment starting at 6:30pm each night.
The Feast of San Gennaro is located along Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets as well as along Hester Street between Baxter and Centre Streets, and on Grand between Baxter Street and Centre Market Place.
- Check the website for the full schedule of entertainment and other events.
New York Film Festival, Sept. 29-Oct. 15
It may be convenient to stream new releases from the comfort of couch, but nothing beats the experience of watching a movie on a big screen in a theater, especially when you are watching exciting racing sequences such as in the new biopix “Ferrari”, starring Adam Driver as the legendary Enzo Ferrari.
The annual New York film festival returns with a line-up of 32 films from household names, like Sofia Coppola, as well as from exciting newcomers.
There are multiple venues and multiple VIP package experiences available and even all-access passes, like the Currents express pass. This allows movie-goers priority access to standby tickets and free access to Rush screenings.
- Explore all pass options here.
CraftNewYork, Sept 30-Oct 1
- Damrosch Park, 62nd St. between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, Lincoln Center
Photo: Dragon Fest
Dragon Fest Chinese Food Festival
New York City’s first-ever outdoor Chinese food and culture festival kicked off in June with the first of four events in different locations around town in August and September.
Dragon Fest will offer a selection of cuisine, art, and cultural traditions from China. Festival attendees can sample more than 100 varieties of Chinese food from such top NYC restaurants as MáLà Project, Pecking House, and Nom Wah, along with handicrafts including clothing and jewelry.
- August 26 – Broadway between 12th and 13th Streets
- August 27 – Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets
- September 17 – Sixth Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets.
The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on each day. It is organized by Biubiu Xu, founder of the egg-themed multi-sensory pop-up experience The Egg House, who plans to expand the festival to Boston, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
The annual open-air cuisine and culture fest returns for a third season with 60+ local vendors.
Second Thursdays thru October, 9/14, and 10/12, 4–10 pm, under the arches at 12th Ave at W. 133th St:
Photo: Japan Fes
Japan Fes Food Festival
This is a traveling event, in various locations in September and October.
Nibble, munch, graze and gorge yourself from as many as 750 vendors inspired by Japanese and East Asian street food like takoyaki (octopus balls), sushi, gyoza, Korean-style rice hot dogs, Taiwanese popcorn chicken and much more. There also are Japanese crafts and gifts featured at the event.
Dates are –
- September 9 in the Upper East Side
- September 16/17 in Chelsea
- October 7 in the East Village
- October 8 on the Upper West Side
- October 28 in the East Village
Find exact locations and times at www.japanfes.com
Saturday, Sept. 30
In honor of their 75th Anniversary, world-famous NYCB will offer a FREE onstage Company class (12 pm); a FREE hour-long program featuring NYCB dancers and musicians discussing and performing excerpts of selected works (5 pm); plus workshops for people of all ages including children with disabilities throughout the day.
At 8 pm, there will be a special performance of Balanchine for which they’re rolling back ticket prices to $19.48; access the exclusive pre-sale at this link using code FGF24.
- Registration required.
October Events to Put on Your Calendar
Sunday, Oct. 1 – If you love theater – and don’t we all – this annual event returns to the heart of the Theatre District with unique collectables, unparalleled experiences and appearances by top Broadway stars.
The event will run from 10 am – 7 pm with tables on West 44th and West 45th Streets, the silent auction in Shubert Alley and the live grand auction wrapping up the day in the Times Square pedestrian plaza between 45th and 46th Streets.
The annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction supports the charitable work of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and is sponsored by The Broadway League.
Learn more about the event featuring treasure-filled tables from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, theatre owners and producing organizations, unions, guilds, marketing groups, ticket agencies, concessionaires and fan clubs.
- Sunday, Oct. 1, 10am to 7pm
Street Fairs in Manhattan, 10am to 6pm
- 10/8, Broadway btw W 72nd St and W 82nd St: West Side Broadway Street Fair sponsored by the Broadway Mall Association.)
- 10/15, Broadway btw W 86th St and W 96th St: Broadway Fall Fair sponsored by Symphony Space.
- 10/22, Broadway b/w W 96th St and W 106th St: Upper Broadway Harvest Festival sponsored by Bloomingdale Area Coalition.
Free Admission to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Friday, Oct. 6
UNIQLO NYC Nights are the first Friday of each month, 4–8 pm.
New York City residents get free admission courtesy of UNIQLO, but everyone can enjoy an evening out in our galleries with paid admission.
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.
Free Admission to Cooper Hewitt Museum
The Cooper Hewitt Museum will offer free admission to museum visitors during National Design Week, October 2-8.
There also will be a variety of tours, panels, and a design career fair for high schoolers.
- More at the link.
Village Halloween Parade, Oct. 31
Enjoy creative costumes and music and dancing in the streets of the West Village when this annual events turns my hometown into Boo York City.
Every year, the parade has a different theme. This year, it’s “Upside/Down : Inside/OUT.”
The parade is in full swing – rain or shine – between 7pm and 11pm (but it’s recommended to get there around 6:30), and VIP tickets are available. Otherwise, it’s completely free to watch from the sidelines.
- If you want to participate in the parade itself, you must be in full costume.
Tickets for the 2023 Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall are on sale now at http://rockett.es/44XKVDT
Tickets for the annual Lightscape show at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are on sale now. See it Nov. 17 through Jan. 1.
Tickets start at $34/adults and $17/kids (3–12). Reserve your tickets at bbg.org/lightscape.
Photo: Prospect Park Conservancy
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 daily through October.
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.
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 – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter also is the author or editor of numerous NYC guidebooks and apps.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA), a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and a current member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA).
Contact me at email@example.com.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter