Free This Week


by Sara Steinfeld, 08/20/2014

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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 Save the Date section for more free events.

August 20–26

Wednesday, August 20
Sunset Family Festival
Where: Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach 
When: 4–11pm
Head to Staten Island for this family-friendly festival that boasts sunset views and carnival fare. Occurring every Wednesday and Sunday through the end of August, Sunset Family Night provides an opportune time to stroll the picturesque 2.5-mile stretch of boardwalk connecting South and Midland Beaches and take in the seaside sights and sounds, all while being treated to a twilight sunset. The event features an array of flea market and food vendors, carnival games and a fireworks display to cap off the evening.

Thursday, August 21
Infinity of Nations Tour
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: 3pm
The National Museum of the American Indian documents the history and culture of the Native American people through photography, artifacts, film and exhibitions. During this one-hour tour, a museum official will guide guests through the permanent exhibition Infinity of Nations, which features more than 700 examples of art and artifacts from tribes in North, Central and South America, including an Apsáalooke warrior's exploit robe worn to show off achievements in war. While at the museum, you can also check out Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse, a display of works by this leading contributor to the Northwest Coast Native art renaissance, who draws inspiration from Haida art traditions.

Friday, August 22
Tai Chi
Where: Poe Park
When: 11:30am–12:30pm
Slow down your Friday morning with tai chi in the Bronx's Poe Park. The Chinese martial art, which involves five different methods of movement and is frequently associated with improving balance and overall well-being, was originally used by Taoist and Buddhist monks during the rule of the Sung dynasty. In this session, a trained instructor will teach you how to master the practice's fluid movements, including proper walking and breathing techniques.

Saturday, August 23
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
Where: Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater
When: 3–7pm
In the early 1950s, Charlie Parker made his home in Alphabet City, and though Bird has been gone a long time now, the neighborhood hasn't forgotten him. The block he lived on was renamed Charlie Parker Place in 1992, and the next year the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival made its debut in Tompkins Square Park, right across the street. Pianist Kenny Barron anchors the lineup at this year's festival, which kicks off uptown on Saturday at Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park (just blocks from the nightclub Minton's, where Parker and Dizzy Gillespie started laying the foundations for bebop) and moves downtown to Tompkins Square Park on Sunday.

Sunday, August 24
Afropunk Fest
Where: Commodore Barry Park
When: noon–9pm
The free annual festival returns to Brooklyn with a long roster of musical acts filling its four stages, including Fishbone, Body Count, Meshell Ndegeocello and D'Angelo—to name just a few. As in years past, there will be plenty of food trucks, craft vendors, an art wall and a speakers' corner, where people can speak out on the issues of the day. Though admission is free, attendees can skip the lines (and support the festival) by purchasing daily or weekend-long fast passes. Note that this event runs on both Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24.

Monday, August 25
Peter Snow, When Britain Burned the White House
Where: BookCourt
When: 7pm
Former BBC Newsnight presenter Peter Snow will read from, discuss and sign his new book, When Britain Burned the White House. The book recounts the War of 1812, fought between the US and the UK, focusing on the August 1814 British invasion of Washington, DC, and subsequent burning of the White House. Using a multitude of sources including eyewitness accounts from both sides, Snow delves into the incendiary act as well as its lead-up and aftermath. He also describes the personalities involved, from President James Madison, First Lady Dolley Madison and Army Chief William Winder on the American side to British army leaders Admiral George Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross. The book's release coincides with the 200th anniversary of the event.

Tuesday, August 26
Where: Tony Dapolito Recreation Center
When: 7:30–10pm
Screened as part of the Arts, Culture & Fun Film Series at Sunset, which takes place throughout NYC, Hugo tells the story of an orphan boy, Hugo Cabret, who lives in a railway station in 1930s Paris. Hugo, who is responsible for manually maintaining the clocks in the station, goes on an adventure to discover the missing key to unlock an automaton his father was working on before he died, and which Hugo believes contains an important secret about his family. Doors open one hour prior to start time, and only the first 50 guests will be admitted—so be sure to arrive early (and bring your own blanket).

related venues/(6)

  1. 1
    Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach
    Father Capodanno Boulevard (bet. Fort Wadsworth and Miller Field)
    Staten Island
    NY 10305
  2. 2
    National Museum of the American Indian—NY
    1 Bowling Green
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  3. 3
    Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater
    Enter the park at Madison Ave at 124th St
    Manhattan – East Harlem/El Barrio
  1. 4
    Commodore Barry Park
    Nassau Street (bet. Navy St. and N. Elliot Place)
    Brooklyn – Fort Greene
    NY 11201
  2. 5
    163 Court St
    Brooklyn – Cobble Hill
    NY 11201
  3. 6
    Tony Dapolito Recreation Center
    1 Clarkson St
    Manhattan – West Village

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