Free in NYC


by Christina Parrella, 05/23/2012

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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 23–29
Wednesday, May 23
Fleet Week: Parade of Ships
Watch the US Navy kick off Fleet Week at Pier 88 with a parade of more than 20 seagoing crafts, carrying Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard members. From 8am to 1pm, audiences can marvel at tall ships, jet flyovers and US and coalition vessels cruising up the Hudson River toward the George Washington Bridge. Here, they will turn around and head back to Pier 86 for the rest of the week's events. This year, the Parade of Ships commemorates not only its 25th anniversary but also the bicentennial of the War of 1812. (That's 200 years of celebrations packed into one day!)

Thursday, May 24 
Celebrate Brooklyn! Zydeco/Cajun Dance Party
This dance party promises to bring the best of Louisiana's carnival season to NYC. Performers Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience are renowned for their take on Cajun R&B. Revelers will also be able to enjoy the more traditional Louisianan sounds of Jesse Lége & Bayou Brew, as well as a gratis dance lesson from the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music. The event, which starts at 7pm, is the final free Brooklyn Bridge Park show of the season.

Friday, May 25
Movies in the Park: Hugo
Pack a blanket and some snacks and enjoy a free outdoor screening of Hugo, the Academy Award–winning film directed by Martin Scorsese. The family-friendly blockbuster follows the adventures of a mechanically inclined orphan boy living in the walls of a 1930s Paris train station. Children can take part in gratis face painting and craft projects before the film and—better yet—complimentary popcorn during it. The evening begins at 7pm at the Frederick B. Judge Playground in Queens.

Saturday, May 26
Governors Island Alliance Family Festival
Governors Island is set to kick off another packed season of family offerings. Opening weekend brings the eighth-annual Family Festival, held in the island's Nolan Park from noon to 4pm. Young festivalgoers will be treated to live music from Astrograss and The Maybelles, theater performances from Arm of the Sea Theater, dancing, arts and crafts and face painting. Best of all, the entire day—including the ferry ride over—is completely free.

Sunday, May 27
Public Beaches Open
Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of beach season in the City, and there are plenty of sunbathing and swimming spots open for public recreation. Head to Brighton Beach and Coney Island to people-watch; Rockaway Beach to surf; and Orchard Beach to observe its range of wildlife. Starting on May 26, lifeguards are on duty daily from 10am to 6pm. 

Monday, May 28
Memorial Day Parade
Memorial Day isn't just an excuse for springtime sales and a three-day weekend—it is, first and foremost, a time to honor those citizens who've served the United States in times of war. NYC commemorates our fallen heroes with parades all over the City. The Little Neck–Douglaston parade in Queens, reputedly the largest of its kind, starts at 2pm at Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard. You can also attend Brooklyn's Memorial Day Parade (145 years old!), which begins at 11am at Third Avenue and 87th Street. In Manhattan, head uptown for a smaller parade in Inwood that begins at noon at Broadway and Dyckman Street. 

Tuesday, May 29 
Garden Walk
Wave Hill, the Bronx's very own public garden and cultural center, is a horticultural haven. Check out seasonal flowers and discover species that will inspire your own green space during the hour-long Garden Walk, beginning at 11am. Then take a gallery tour, at 2pm, before mapping your own route through the 28 acres of gardens, grounds and woodland. Admission to Wave Hill is free until noon.

related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    Pier 88
    Twelfth Ave
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10011
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    334 Furman St.
    Brooklyn – DUMBO
    NY 11201
  3. 3
    Governors Island
    New York Harbor
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  1. 4
    Wave Hill
    675 W. 252nd St.
    Bronx – Riverdale
    NY 10471

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