Free This Week


by staff, 12/22/2014

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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.

December 24–January 6

Wednesday, December 24
Christmas Eve Caroling
Where: Washington Square Park, Washington Square Arch
When: 5–6pm
On the night before Christmas, bundle up and take your spot under the magnificent Washington Square Park Arch for an hour-long caroling session led by members of the Rob Susman Brass Quartet. Those who gather to participate in the 90-year-plus tradition will sing along to a selection of holiday classics. Songbooks will be provided for folks who need help remembering lyrics.

Thursday, December 25
Central Park Tour: Heart of the Park
Where: Central Park (East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue)
When: 2–3:30pm
One of New York City's most celebrated attractions, Central Park is an 843-acre urban oasis, featuring gardens, rolling meadows, arches, sculptures, statues, vistas and more. There's a wide range of activities on offer at the park, but a guide can help you make the most of your visit. On this Christmas Day tour, see some of the famed green space's highlights, including Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Lake and Strawberry Fields. This jaunt takes place in all weather conditions, so dress accordingly.

December 26
The Friday Night Dancestravaganza
Where: Beauty Bar
When: 11pm–4am  
The East Side Social Club brings the party to the East Village for one final 2014 event. DJ Omri S. Quire and guests will spin a mix of soul, funk, R&B, new wave and just about everything else, free of charge for those looking to work off their Christmas dinner. In addition to dance functions, the kitschy salon-themed bar is known for its $10 martini-and-manicure specials—though nail stylists are usually gone by midnight.

Saturday, December 27
Midnight in Paris
Where: Sony Wonder Technology Lab
When: 3pm
Sony Wonder Technology Lab presents this free screening of Woody Allen's tribute to modernism (and at least a little of the belle epoque). In case you missed it in wide release, the film is about a befuddled time-traveling author (Owen Wilson, standing in for Woody) who gets to hang out with expat heroes like Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and then listen to their writing tips. In other words, it's just like 10th grade English. But funnier. Make sure to RSVP to secure a spot.

Sunday, December 28
Seal Exploration
Where: Orchard Beach
When: 10am
NYC is home to all kinds of wildlife, including harbor seals that swim in the City's cold coastal waters. Novice explorers, with the help of expert guides, can tour the best spots in Pelham Bay Park to see these marine mammals. Seals can be spotted lounging on rocks, sand bars and remote beaches during low tide. As always with these sorts of outdoor expeditions, make sure to dress appropriately.

Monday, December 29
Wreath Interpretations
Where: Central Park Arsenal
When: 9am–5pm
The decorative Christmas garland gets a makeover each holiday season at the Central Park Arsenal's Wreath Interpretations exhibition. This year artists, horticulturalists and designers have created more than 50 eclectic versions, working with materials like sponges, forged steel and even insect specimens to make statements topical or just plain whimsical. The Arsenal Gallery will be open to the public weekdays through January 7, with the exception of holidays.

Tuesday, December 30
Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: 10am–5pm
This exhibition focuses on the decorative creations of indigenous peoples from the American Southwest during the last 50 years, with specific attention paid to the jewelry-crafting Yazzie family of Gallup, New Mexico. The showcase features nearly 300 pieces of jewelry fashioned from gold, silver and turquoise, as well as some stone inlay and fine beaded works. 

Wednesday, December 31
New Year's Eve 
Where: Times Square
When: 3pm–12:15am
What would New Year's Eve in New York City be without the party in Times Square? Watch as the nearly 6-ton, Waterford-crystal-covered ball is lowered from the flagpole to mark 2015. Revelers are officially allowed in the space starting at 3pm; be sure to arrive early, since police offers close the streets as they fill up. The Times Square Alliance recommends watching the ball drop on Broadway between West 43rd and 50th Streets, or on Seventh Avenue up to West 59th Streets. This year NYC's Global Welcome Ambassador (and occasional pop star), Taylor Swift, headlines the concert.

Thursday, January 1
Coney Island Polar Dip
Where: Coney Island Boardwalk, at Stillwell Avenue
When: 1pm
Begin 2015 with an icy swim in the Atlantic Ocean, courtesy of the Polar Bear Club. Members of the Coney Island group, which traces its tradition back more than a century, dive into the Atlantic every Sunday (from November to April) and on New Year's Day for differing reasons—health benefits, love of water, pure craziness. (They note on their website that some might consider their swimming habits to be "nuts.") Interested in joining? Bring a change of clothes, old sneakers and plenty of towels. If you're not in the mood to submerge yourself in the freezing ocean, feel free to watch the participants from the shore in your warm winter jacket.

Friday, January 2
Tony Cragg: Walks of Life
Where: Madison Square Park
When: 6am–midnight
British sculptor Tony Cragg's Walks of Life Madison Square Park exhibition consists of three abstract bronze sculptures titled Caldera, Mixed Feelings and Points of View; visitors can wander under Caldera and observe the piece from the inside out. Cragg, who lives in Germany, has had previous solo exhibitions in such renowned places as the Louvre in Paris and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. His sculptures will be on display in NYC until February 8. 

Saturday, January 3
Arts & Crafts and Game Day
Where: Poe Park Visitor Center
When: 10am–noon
On the first Saturday of every month, kids can participate in an arts-and-crafts session at Poe Park's visitor center, working on projects with a variety of materials—sand and paper among them—as well as enjoying games and other activities. Opened in 1902, the park was named after the author of "The Raven," who lived across the road in a white farmhouse from 1846 to 1849. Now known as Poe Cottage, the small building has since been moved to the park's northern corner.

Sunday, January 4
Art in the Garden: Evolution of an Artist 
Where: Queens Botanical Garden
When: 8am–4:30pm
At this solo show on view at the Queens Botanical Garden, artist Elaine Hajian displays landscapes, portraits and abstract paintings from her long career. Numerous works are done in pastels, no doubt a product of her years studying with Flora Giffuni, founder of the Pastel Society of America. But her influences come from all over, including, according to her artist's statement, "Impressionism, Realism, Cubism and modern abstraction." Spend some time taking in Hajian's point of view, and then create your own by strolling through the garden's grounds—a 40-acre natural oasis.

Monday, January 5
Mobile Mondays 
Where: Bowery Electric
When: 10pm
Head to downtown bar Bowery Electric for this free party, where DJs spin a variety of tunes—all on old 45 records. Expect funk, rock, punk and reggae, courtesy of DJs like Operator EMZ, Just Blaze, Misbehavior and Natasha Diggs. The party says its mission is to "keep real music alive, celebrate the artistry of the DJ & bring back the true vibe & soul of New York City!" Yes, that's a tall order, but we have faith in the Mobile Mondays crew.

Tuesday, January 6
Three Kings Day Parade
Where: East 106th Street and Lexington Avenue (start of route)
When: 11am–12:30pm
Head to East Harlem to take part in the festive parade celebrating Three Kings Day. For nearly 40 years, El Museo del Barrio has sponsored the event, which features live camels, puppets and floats. This year's parade begins at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue and travels north along Third Avenue, ending at 115th Street and Park Avenue. It's an annual highlight for the neighborhood, showcasing school groups, local businesses and members of the community.

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    Washington Square Park
    W 4th St to Waverly Pl
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
    NY 10003
  2. 2
    Central Park
    Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  3. 3
    Sony Wonder Technology Lab
    550 Madison Ave.
    Manhattan – Midtown East
    NY 10022
  1. 4
    Orchard Beach
    Park Dr
    NY 10464
  2. 5
    Queens Botanical Garden
    43-50 Main St.
    Queens – Flushing
    NY 11355
  3. 6
    National Museum of the American Indian—NY
    1 Bowling Green
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  1. 7
    Coney Island
    Surf Avenue
    Brooklyn – Coney Island
    NY 11224
  2. 8
    Madison Square Park
    23rd to 26th Sts. (bet. Fifth and Madison Aves.)
    Manhattan – Flatiron District
    NY 10010
  3. 9
    Times Square Alliance
    1560 Broadway, ste. 800
    New York – Times Square
    NY 10036

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