Free in NYC


by Joanna Weinstein, 11/23/2011

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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.

November 23–29

Wednesday, November 23
Simen Johan: Until the Kingdom Comes
Photographer and sculptor Simen Johan plays in a world of opposing forces: reality and fantasy, natural and unnatural, peaceful and conflicted. In Until the Kingdom Comes, some of the Norway native's works feature plants and animals that were originally photographed in natural preserves, zoos, museums and farms and are seamlessly placed in surroundings from other photos, creating scenarios that subvert expectation. For example, in a photograph of a rhino lying in sand, the creature pictured is from a zoo in Louisville, Kentucky, the foreground is Johan's studio and California's Death Valley serves as the backdrop, forming an unsettling piece. Other images include two flamingos linked in an embrace that resonates both affection and restriction, as well as two frozen caribou in a brutal yet composed environment. The show will be on display through December 23 and will be the last exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery's current space at 525 W. 25th St. In January 2012, the gallery will move to another spot in Chelsea.

Thursday, November 24
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A Thanksgiving institution for 85 years, this parade is one of the most famous holiday events in the world. This amazing and iconic spectacle of celebrities, Broadway performers, enormous balloon creatures and the first Santa appearance of the season can be witnessed in person along the route. The parade begins at 9am at Central Park West and West 77th Street and proceeds south on Central Park West. It then turns east onto Central Park South. At Seventh Avenue, the parade turns south and marches to West 42nd Street, on which it travels east to Sixth Avenue. It turns south onto Sixth Avenue and proceeds to West 34th Street. Here, the parade turns west, ending at the Macy's flagship store at Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street.

Friday, November 25
Free Winter Weekday Admission at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Skip the Black Friday bank-breaking madness and enjoy gratis admission to Brooklyn Botanic Garden—no long lines, no bulky shopping bags and no fights for a parking spot; just you and nature in abundance. The garden is granting free admission Wednesday through Friday through March 11, which should put an end to any cold-weather woes. (Admission to Brooklyn Botanic Garden is always free on Tuesday and before noon on Saturday.) After admiring the fall foliage and individual gardens, visitors can explore special exhibitions such as Natural History, an installation by artist Patrick Dougherty, who weaved tree saplings together to create oversize structures that look like they're plucked from the film version of Where the Wild Things Are. This is also one of the last days to see artist Anders Knutsson's life-size portraits of trees in Finding Yggdrassil, at the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery through November 27. 

Saturday, November 26
Vigorous Fitness Hike
If you're looking for a chance to work off the pumpkin pie pounds this weekend, give thanks for the hale and hardy Urban Park Rangers. As part of their mission for New Yorkers to connect with nature, Urban Park Ranger hiking guides lead weekend hikes through NYC's public parks, and at 10am on November 26, you can participate in one of their most rigorous excursions: a two-hour tour of Van Cortlandt Park. Enjoy the autumn leaves and crisp, fresh air while learning tidbits about nature, NYC history and culture and the hidden treasures of this Bronx park, which also happens to be home to the United States' first public golf course.

Sunday, November 27
Comedy Night with Hannibal Buress
A recent New York Times article called Hannibal Buress "one of the fastest rising comics working today," and his audience continues to grow. On November 27 (and every Sunday), see the current 30 Rock writer and former Saturday Night Live scribe perform his stand-up comedy at the Knitting Factory. Buress, with his black-frame glasses and cool-nerd persona, has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and various Comedy Central specials, but no Hollywood VIP access is required for this show (an extra pair of lungs might be necessary, though). The 21-and-over show starts at 9pm.

Monday, November 28
Organized in collaboration with Institut Ramon Llull as part of the Catalan Days Festival, Concepts, at Carriage House Center for the Arts, features eight artists from the Balearic Islands who explore very different techniques in conceptual art (in which core values take priority over or are just as important as material concern and traditional aesthetics). The show features a mixture of drawing, sculpture, photography and audio and video works by Rafa Forteza, Teresa Matas, Guillem Nadal, Fernando Megías, Amparo Sard, Antoni Socias, Rafel Timoner and Horacio Sapere. These artists focus on a variety of themes, including women’s inequality in the third world, symbolic language, death, sex, loneliness and visual poetry. One highlight is the work of Mallorca native Sard, known for “piercing” space via a technique that's been described as "pixilated embroidery,” in which thousands of pinholes form a complex image. November 28 is the second-to-last day of the exhibition, so be sure to catch the Spanish artwork while you can.

Tuesday, November 29
Ask Roulette
Ask Roulette is a live unscripted conversation in which participants ask and answer questions of each other in front of an audience. But they must follow three rules: 1) Anyone can submit a question to ask, or just watch; 2) You can only ask a question once you've answered a question; and 3) You can ask anything, big or small. Questions are posed on a stage where participants are separated from view of each other by a divider (à la The Dating Game); this anonymity, say the game's creators, is what makes the experience even more unpredictable and intense. And the media-savvy special guests at the November 29 iteration of this game at Housing Works Bookstore Café will be sure to up the ante. Players include Baratunde Thurston, comedian and digital director for The Onion; The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe; AJ Jacobs, editor at large of Esquire; and Brooke Gladstone of WNYC's "On The Media." Each must answer a few randomly selected questions (which you may submit prior to the event). Ask Roulette starts at 7pm; for more information and to RSVP, visit

related venues/(3)

  1. 1
    Yossi Milo Gallery
    525 W 25th St
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10001
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    1000 Washington Ave.
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11225
  3. 3
    Van Cortlandt Park
    Broadway and Jerome Ave.
    Bronx – Woodlawn/Little Ireland
    NY 10467

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