Free in NYC


by Erin O'Hara, 09/21/2011

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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 and programs section for more free events. 

September 21–27

Wednesday, September 21
Bryant Park Fall Festival
The Bryant Park Fall Festival helps kick off New York City's 2011–2012 performing arts season with a free lineup of live rock, opera, jazz, dance and poetry, as well as programming for kids. On Wednesday, Peter Sellars, the spiky-haired theater director known for his innovative stagings of classical and contemporary works, will discuss his newest project: a production of The Vimalakirti Sutra, a humorous 2,000-year-old Buddhist narrative about an ill businessman that includes themes such as spirituality and miracles. The talk, which starts at 12:30pm at the Fountain Terrace, is sponsored by the Rubin Museum of Art, which focuses on the art of the Himalayas. At 6pm, unwind on the Lawn to the jazz and African rhythms of the Winard Harper Septet, presented by Jazzmobile.

Thursday, September 22
New York Portraits and Poetry
Photojournalist Benjamin Fractenberg has documented scores of riveting moments and life-changing events around the City, and some of his photos have appeared in The New York Times and Daily News. The exhibition New York Portraits and Poetry, at the Lower East Side's Mark Miller Gallery, focuses on images of ordinary New Yorkers dealing with extraordinary—sometimes devastating—situations. For example, a photo from the vigil for Tysha Jones, a 16-year-old shooting victim, is particularly evocative. Thursday's exhibition-opening reception will feature poet Lucas Hunt, who will read works from his second book, Light on the Concrete. His poems, which focus on the passion of those who live in an urban environment, serve as an appropriate complement to Fractenberg's images, and copies of the book will be available for purchase. The event starts at 6pm; the reading begins at 7pm.

Friday, September 23
Some Like It Hot
Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer, is behind us, and while you've no doubt stowed away your seersucker pants and white shoes for next year, you can still enjoy summertime pastimes into the fall. On Friday, catch Some Like It Hot, considered the funniest American movie of all time by the American Film Institute. The 1959 comedy follows two musicians, played by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, who disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band while on the run from Chicago mobsters. On a train en route to Florida, they meet Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe, and hilarious hijinks ensue. The flick is the second in a three-movie series being shown on the High Line that pays tribute to the former railway's history. Stick around after Some Like It Hot for All Aboard!, a 28-minute showcase of classic train or rail-related scenes from more than 100 films. The evening starts at 7pm at the High Line's 14th Street Passage.

Saturday, September 24
PAWS 9th Annual My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair
On Saturday, bring your pooch to the park and unite with your fellow dog lovers and their canine companions. From 11am to 3pm at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, enjoy lots of exciting activities, games, contests and giveaways courtesy of the My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair. Microchipping and Canine Good Citizen testing will be offered, and doggy experts will be on hand to provide tips and advice. There will also be a canine agility course and a competition for the title of Best in Park Dog, which goes to the best-behaved dog of the day. 

Sunday, September 25
DUMBO Arts Festival
The Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival, which launched 15 years ago, played a key role in helping the little neighborhood "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass" transition into the thriving artistic and cultural destination it is today. The event was renamed in 2010 as the DUMBO Arts Festival and attracted about 200,000 visitors, offering a vast array of art experiences in practically every form imaginable—from visual and performance to those that simply defy definition or genre. Over three days, beginning on September 23, artists and instrument makers will open their studios to the public for tours and workshops; historians are giving insightful walking tours; and kids can enjoy fun sessions and shows. The festivities conclude on Sunday with outdoor projections continuing until midnight.

Monday, September 26
Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis Discuss Wildwood
Quirky indie rocker Colin Meloy, of The Decemberists, and artist Carson Ellis, the talented lady responsible for most of the band's album images, combine their writing and illustrating skills in the new children's book Wildwood. The novel, already a New York Times Best Seller, follows two kids, Prue and her friend Curtis, as they journey into a mysterious wilderness in search of Prue's baby brother, who has been kidnapped by crows. The married couple's creative chemistry is evident in the work and the result is magical. As Meloy has commented, "There's certainly some elements in the book that I wrote explicitly because I knew that Carson would like to draw them." Join Meloy and Ellis at 6pm at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square.

Tuesday, September 27
The Juilliard String Quartet in Conversation with Nancy Shear
Music For All Seasons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the healing and therapeutic power of music to venues including children's hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. As part of its popular "Conversations" series, Nancy Shear will host a rare public interview with the Juilliard String Quartet. Don't miss this chance to be inspired by some of the most preeminent classical musicians in the country. The event, at Steinway & Sons' Steinway Hall, starts at 6pm.

related venues/(3)

  1. 1
    Bryant Park
    Sixth Ave. between 40th and 42nd Sts.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
  2. 2
    The High Line
    Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street
    Manhattan – Meatpacking District
    NY 10011
  3. 3
    Central Park Naumburg Bandshell
    Midpark, enter at Central Park West and 72nd St
    Manhattan – Central Park

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