Free This Week


by Christina Parrella, 12/05/2012

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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.

December 5–11 

Wednesday, December 5 
Poetry Reading and Coquito Tasting
Caridad De La Cruz (aka La Bruja) brings her spoken-word act to The Bronx Museum of the Arts for a reading of her recently released collection of poetry, The Poetician. The Bronx native, known for her hip-hop–infused performances, will also discuss the book, which she describes as "a very personal collection that took many lifetimes to write." Attendees can also enjoy some "coquito"—a rum-infused, coconut-flavored version of eggnog—as part of a tasting for the Coquito Masters Qualifier, which coincides with the reading. The event starts at 5:30pm. 

Thursday, December 6
Natural History
Bundle up and spend the day outdoors at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Be sure to check out the Natural History sculpture, conceived in recognition of the Garden's centennial. Natural History is a towering design made from sticks collected from the removal of an invasive, nonnative willow species' saplings in Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island. The intricately crafted work, by artist Patrick Dougherty, represents the processes of life and is meant to deteriorate naturally over time. See the curious creation and the rest of the grounds between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm. 

Friday, December 7
Americana Jamboree: A Country Christmas
Nothing says Christmas quite like a country-music shindig in SoHo (yes, really). Head to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe for stringed-instrument enthusiast Odetta Hartman and Her Heroes, and jazz band The Rad Trads, as well as a handful of other entertainers. Two Boots will be on hand providing specials—such as a slice and a Pabst Blue Ribbon for $4—for all hungry do-si-doers. The event and happy-hour deals begin at 6pm; the music starts at 6:30. Cowboy hats not provided. 

Saturday, December 8
Lighting of the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Gather around the 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon at Grand Army Plaza (Fifth Avenue and West 59th Street, across the street from The Plaza hotel) to kick off the annual Jewish Festival of Lights. Saturday's lighting starts at 8:30pm, when the Sabbath ends. 

Sunday, December 9
Free Fashion Center Neighborhood Walking Tour
The Garment District is the center of New York City's apparel industry, with a slew of stores hawking fabrics, supplies and all the necessary odds and ends for clothes making. Explore the area during this free one-and-a-half- to two-hour tour, which provides background history on the neighborhood and its impact on the industry. During the excursion, attendees may visit a private showroom, a sample sale and Mood Designer Fabrics (where Project Runway contenders shop for their materials). The tour begins at 2pm at the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and West 39th Street. Email for reservations.

Monday, December 10
Human Rights Day Special! Seneca Village
On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes freedom of expression, opinion and religion—among other rights—as progressive goals for all nations. The annual anniversary of that event is observed as Human Rights Day. In honor of that occasion, the Central Park Conservancy hosts this hour-long tour and educational program about Seneca Village, a 19th-century Irish, German and African-American settlement that existed in an area that would later become part of Central Park. (The community was razed to make way for the park's construction in 1857; residents were evicted against their wishes.) Learn about life in New York City during that period and Seneca Village's property owners, most of which were African-American, at this event, which starts at 12:30pm. Enter Central Park at West 85th Street.

Tuesday, December 11
Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
Ina Garten, star of the Food Network's popular Barefoot Contessa program, is famous for her French-style cooking and the inclusion of fresh ingredients in her dishes. The Brooklyn-born celebrity chef, who worked on nuclear energy policy in Washington, DC, in the '70s, has released a number of cookbooks. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust features simple recipes as well as guidelines and tips for creating a managed mealtime, helping cooks at home coordinate dishes so that everything can get to the table all at once. Meet Garten at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square at 7pm. 

related venues/(5)

  1. 1
    The Bronx Museum of the Arts
    1040 Grand Concourse
    Bronx – South Bronx
    NY 10456
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    1000 Washington Ave.
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11225
  3. 3
    Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
    126 Crosby St.
    Manhattan – SoHo
    NY 10012
  1. 4
    Grand Army Plaza
    Fifth Avenue and W 59th Street
    Manhattan – multiple locations
  2. 5
    Central Park
    Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024

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