Free in NYC


by Mallory Passuite, 05/25/2011

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

May 25–31

Wednesday, May 25
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
This classic work of French cinema tells the bittersweet love story, beginning in a colorful umbrella shop in Normandy, between characters played by Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The 1964 film was a sort of experiment for director Jacques Demy—every piece of dialogue is sung (over an award-winning score by Michel Legrand), pushing the boundaries of the musical to the level of pop-opera. The Mid-Manhattan Library hosts a free screening at 7pm.

Thursday, May 26
Celebrate Brooklyn! Bhangra Dance Party
Traditional Punjabi dance music has gained international popularity in recent years thanks in part to DJ Rekha, who headlines this free dance party for Celebrate Brooklyn!. Rekha, who hosts the popular monthly Basement Bhangra party at S.O.B.'s, recently released her own album, also called Basement Bhangra, and has lectured on the genre at New York University. Brass-funk Brooklynites Red Baraat open the show. The evening begins at 7pm at Pier 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park; come early for the free bhangra dance lesson.

Friday, May 27
Rene Ricard: Sonnets From the Portuguese
At this point, Rene Ricard is practically a New York City institution. The 64-year-old poet-artist moved to the City as a teen, and, by 20, had appeared in two films by Andy Warhol, who once called Ricard "the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world." Besides his own work, Ricard is credited with helping bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to public attention (in a 1981 article in Artforum) and for launching the career of Julian Schnabel, the painter, director and father of Vito Schnabel, the 24-year-old art dealer who now presents Sonnets From the Portuguese, a new show of Ricard's latest poem paintings. Special note: this is Ricard's first solo painting show in New York in more than 20 years. It remains on view through July 25 in Chelsea.

Saturday, May 28
Public Beaches Open
Public-beach season begins Memorial Day weekend and New York City's nearly 600 miles of coastline offers a sunny array, from the quirky shores of Coney Island to the super surfing at Rockaway Beach and family-friendly fun at Midland Beach on Staten Island. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation maintains more than 14 miles of urban beachfront in every borough except Manhattan, and lifeguards are on duty during posted swimming hours (10am–6pm daily) through Labor Day each year. For more information, visit

Sunday, May 29
The Fort Totten Battery Tour
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Commemorate the occasion by discovering some of the historical New York City sites that date back to the era. Queens' Fort Totten Park, for instance, houses one of the final masonry forts constructed before the war's end. Oddly enough, two major Confederate generals are credited in the early stages of Fort Totten's construction: in 1857, Robert E. Lee, then an officer in the Army of Engineers, drew up preliminary plans, and Jefferson Davis, then secretary of war, presented the plans to Congress, requesting approval to begin building. Construction began in 1862, but was never finished. Find out why (and more) with a free tour, beginning at 1pm on May 29.

Monday, May 30
Memorial Day Parades
The City remembers its soldiers with parades all over the five boroughs. The Little Neck–Douglaston parade in Queens is reputedly the largest. You can also follow Brooklyn's Memorial Day Parade (144 years old!), which begins at Third Avenue and 87th Street. In Manhattan, head uptown for a smaller parade in Inwood, which begins at Broadway and Dyckman Street. Visit for a full list of events and start times.

Tuesday, May 31
Keith Haring
This exhibition presents never-before-displayed examples of the legendary Keith Haring's earliest works on paper and three vibrant, large-scale paintings he made in a collaboration with dancer Bill T. Jones. (The sight of the artist at work and the sound of his brushstrokes were the backdrop and sole soundtrack of Jones' 1982 performance series.) Also on view are selections from the artist's sketchbooks, including pen drawings and personal reflections. In one he writes, "There are always infinitely more things you can do to the composition, the trouble is knowing when to stop. The beauty is knowing when to stop. I choose when to stop, but my work is never 'finished' and always 'finished.'" The show remains on view at Gladstone Gallery through July 1.

related venues/(3)

  1. 1
    Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1
    Furman and Old Fulton Sts
    Multiple Locations
    NY 11201
  2. 2
    Fort Totten Park
    Weaver Rd and Totten Ave
    Queens – Bayside
    NY 11359
  3. 3
    Gladstone Gallery
    515 W 24th St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10011

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