Free in NYC


by Erin O'Hara, 11/21/2012

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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.

November 21–27

Wednesday, November 21
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation 
Bring the kids to this annual happening where they can see their favorite cartoon characters come to life. The massive balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are inflated the day before the main event outside the American Museum of Natural History. That's where they'll stay overnight before their big march downtown. Over the years, watching the balloons take shape has become as much of an NYC tradition as the parade itself. The inflation starts at 3pm, but the balloons won't begin to be recognizable for at least an hour, and entrances to the area get closed off at 9:15pm. 

Thursday, November 22
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The largest Thanksgiving Day celebration in the country takes place in NYC. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, now in its 86th year, is attended by more than 3 million spectators in the City and broadcast to 50 million–plus viewers across the United States. Starting at 9am, giant balloons, ornate floats, marching bands, dancers and more make their way down from Central Park West and West 77th Street to Macy's Herald Square. Bundle up, grab some coffee and get there early (before 7am) if you want to snag the prime parade-viewing real estate. Parking will be nigh impossible, so be sure to take public transportation. When you see the traffic, you'll be grateful you did. 

Friday, November 23
Yoga at the Library
Holidays can be stressful, and after spending Thursday with the family, you may be in need of a little (or a lot of) relaxation. Rejuvenate and work off some of that turkey at Yoga at the Library. Yoga calms the mind, decreases stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, helps build strength and improves flexibility and balance. An expert yogi will lead you through the asanas (otherwise known as poses). No previous yoga experience is necessary to participate, but yoga mats are not provided—so bring your own if you have one and wear comfortable clothing. The session starts at 1pm at the Harlem Library.

Saturday, November 24
Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park 
It's hard to believe that all of Manhattan was once a natural wonderland like Central Park. The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands is an interactive exhibition about the history and habitat of the green space. After touring the show, explore nature right in the middle of Manhattan. Just pick up a North Woods Discovery Kit from the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center and set out on your own adventure. The kit comes with binoculars, a hand lens and guides to identifying the different flora and fauna you may encounter. The activity is recommended for kids ages 8 to 12, but an adult with a valid ID is needed to sign out the kits. Special discovery journals are also available for $2. 

Sunday, November 25
Celebrate México Now: Toys/Juguetes
The Queens Museum of Art in Flushing is located in the nation's most diverse county, so it's fitting that the institution hosts educational programs on a variety of cultures and traditions. On November 25, from 3 to 4:30pm, the focus is on Mexican toys, as part of the Celebrate México Now festival. First, Cornisa 20, a renowned Mexican repertory company, performs a family-friendly puppet show using some traditional Mexican toys. Afterward, a hands-on workshop encourages kids to use recycled materials to make their own toy that they can take home and treasure.

Monday, November 26
Nite Jewel
Los Angeles' Ramona Gonzalez, better known as Nite Jewel, is yet another example of a self-made musician. Praised by Pitchfork for its bold surrealism, her music sounds a bit like poppy '80s electronica, only tweaked. She'll be performing at Williamsburg's Brooklyn Bowl as part of a series sponsored by Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren. The free 21-and-older show requires an RSVP. Doors open at 6pm, but the live music doesn't start until 9pm.

Tuesday, November 27
Joyce Carol Oates at Hunter College
Renowned wordsmith Joyce Carol Oates—famous for books such as them, Blonde and We Were the Mulvaneys—will be giving a lecture, followed by a Q&A and book signing, at Hunter College. Recently, Oates edited the second edition of the Oxford Book of American Short Stories. In addition to her extensive body of work, she's also a professor of writing at Princeton. One of the most prolific writers of her time, Oates provides a role model for students, having published more than 50 novels to date, plus dozens of collections of short stories, essays and poetry. RSVP to secure your spot for the event, which starts at 7pm.

related venues/(6)

  1. 1
    American Museum of Natural History
    Central Park West at 79th St.
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    Macy's Herald Square
    151 W. 34th St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10001
  3. 3
    New York Public Library
    Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10018
  1. 4
    Queens Museum
    New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
    Queens – Flushing
    NY 11368
  2. 5
    Brooklyn Bowl
    61 Wythe Ave.
    Brooklyn – Williamsburg
    NY 11249
  3. 6
    Hunter College, West Building
    southwest corner of Lexington Ave and 68th St
    Manhattan – Upper East Side

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