Free in NYC
by Erin O'Hara, 02/08/2012
4 Tavern on the Green Visitor Center & Gift Shop (now closed)
67th St and Central Park West
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Wednesday, February 8
Super Free Wednesdays
Every Wednesday starting at 6pm, The PIT hosts free improv shows. It's a pretty attractive proposition for broke comedy fans. Featured groups on February 8 sport colorful names like The Whiskey Rebellion, Or Just Like Dying, Our Specials Are Steak and Someday the Cake; there's a good chance their spontaneous bits will reflect a similar kitchen-sink sensibility.
Thursday, February 9
Pop-Up Art Event
Hosted by Darian Darling, makeup artists D'angelo Thompson and Juliet Silva Yee celebrate the vibrant arts culture of downtown Manhattan. This hybrid art-beauty-fashion showcase, at Lazzoni from 7 to 10pm, features seven fabulous fashion photographers and illustrators you should know about, both up-and-coming and renowned in the industry. After, hit up the official after-party at Oficina Latina, which is offering $7 drink specials.
Friday, February 10
Free Music Fridays
Escape to the American Folk Art Museum for a night of live music that's sure to help you wind down in time for the weekend. Every Friday, the institution hosts musical performances from 5:30 to 7:30pm. This week, enjoy the sounds of singer/songwriter Alec Gross, who describes himself as "Indie Alt. Country." Later, John Schmitt entertains with his thoughtful "folk-meets-soul" tunes. While you're there, peruse the museum's current exhibitions, Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined, composed of American folk art depicting dreamlike scenes and imagery, and the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt.
Saturday, February 11
Ice Festival at Tavern on the Green
We haven't seen much ice yet this season. If you need a frozen fix, head to the Ice Festival at Tavern on the Green. Master carvers from Queens' own Okamoto Studio will be chiseling blocks of ice into famous Central Park landmarks. Look on as the skilled artisans work, learn how the Central Park Conservancy cares for the green space's permanent sculptures and take part in a variety of other family-friendly activities. If the weather feels as cold as the ice itself, warm up with a hot beverage, which will be sold during the event. The festivities begin at 11am.
Sunday, February 12
Target Free Sundays at The Studio Museum in Harlem
Every Sunday, The Studio Museum in Harlem is open to the public for free, thanks to a generous sponsorship from Target. On February 12, check out the institution's current exhibitions. The Bearden Project—in honor of Romare Bearden, the renowned artist who was involved in the museum's founding—features an assortment of contemporary artists whose work he has influenced. The Block, Bearden's 18-foot-long mural of a Harlem cityscape, is reinvented in an homage as The Block | Bellona by Kira Lynn Harris, while VideoStudio showcases two works: Parabolic Bike by Robin Rhode and Untitled (futon) by Rodney McMillian.
Monday, February 13
Experience Shochu NYC Consumer Tasting
You may not have heard of shochu (yet), but you're in luck: become acquainted with the delicious hard liquor on Monday at a gratis tasting event. Shochu, the national spirit of Japan, first surpassed sake in domestic sales in 2003, so it's poised to take over stateside next. Sixteen of the most popular shochu producers are offering up their artisanal liquor totally free for two-and-a-half hours, starting at 6pm at Astor Center. For more information, visit eventbrite.com. If you can't make it to the tasting but would still like to try shochu at no cost to you, check out New York Shochu Night Out, from 6 to 9pm on February 12. The same shochu makers will be providing samples to dinner guests at Inakaya, Robataya and Sakagura.
Tuesday, February 14
Free Love in Times Square
Whether you're in a relationship or single or "it's complicated," there's plenty of love to go around in NYC on Valentine's Day. From noon to 5:30pm at Times Square's annual Valentine's Day celebration, share your own love story and lessons in the Brides magazine Declare Your Love Truck and enjoy some hot chocolate and the chance to win jewelry from JCPenney. Afterward, check out the 10-foot-tall BIG ❤ NYC sculpture, with a red heart whose glowing and pulsing increases with touch and the flow of people and air. (The public art installation will be up through February 29.) At 6pm, renew your vows on the red steps or watch as others say "I do" again. (Walk-ups are welcome, but couples are encouraged to preregister, as the steps will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.) Participating couples have the chance to win a second honeymoon, to Antigua. Don't worry if you don't have a date—the City will gladly be your valentine.