The Best FREE Things to Do in New York City During the Holidays

New York City doesn’t do low-key or subdued or understated. Those words aren’t even in its vocabulary. It’s a “Go Big or Go Home” kinda town. So it’s not difficult to imagine just how festive the Big Apple is during the holidays. From incredible light and holiday-themed displays to one-of-a-kind events and activities, New York City makes it nearly impossible to get your Grinch on. Now, there are plenty of things worth parting with your hard-earned cash for. Big-ticket events like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker are huge draws every year. But we’re here to let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the holiday season in The City That Never Sleeps.

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In Living Color: The 2018 Kobra Street Art Occupation of New York City

If you’re wandering around New York City you might come across these stickers that read “Are you addicted to street art? You’re not alone. There is help! 24/7 Street Art Addiction Hotline,” followed by a phone number. I’m sure it’s just a clever street art campaign, but if your Instagram feed is anything like mine, you might wonder if this is a real thing. Because right now, there’s a LOT of street art, thanks to world-famous street artist Eduardo Kobra.

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Puppy Love: Photos from the 2018 Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

There’s always something new going on in New York City, so it takes a special event to keep the locals coming back again and again. The Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade is just such an event. Attending the parade has become one of our favorite Halloween rituals, so we were pretty brokenhearted to hear it had been canceled. Long story short, the event had become so popular that the park was requiring insurance to cover its many attendees, and the financial burden was just too great to bear.

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The Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

The annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade is a canine-focused Halloween celebration, costume parade and competition. Until recently, it was held at Tompkins Square Park. Due to insurance-related issues (allegedly), the event was first canceled and then recently relocated. This year, the dog parade will be held at East River Park Amphitheater. Contestants will have to opportunity to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.

History

Twenty-eight years ago, the inaugural Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade began as a small, casual, low-key event held by neighborhood locals. It wasn’t just a Halloween celebration, though, it was also the after-party for a hard-fought community victory: the successful launch of the city’s first dog run. From there, word spread and the event grew in popularity every year thereafter. The number of participants (now in the hundreds), along with spectators (now in the thousands), have markedly increased year after year.

You can find more information about the parade and competition here.

You can also take a look at our posts on the 2016 and 2017 parades here and here, respectively.

Open House New York Weekend

Open House New York Weekend is an annual event in which doors are unlocked to some of New York’s most important buildings. The event provides extraordinary access to iconic sites, allowing participants to meet the people who design, build, and preserve New York. The focus is simple: to deepen the understanding and appreciation of architecture and urban design, while opening dialogue about planning, preservation, infrastructure, and contemporary design and how these issues will impact the future of New York.

Open House New York Weekend offers open access at certain sites (available to all, though some may have access restricted to specific timeframes), and limited access at others (by advance reservation only). Sites range from historical to contemporary and residential to industrial and count in the hundreds across all five boroughs.

Open House New York Weekend visits may include tours, talks, performances, and other special events throughout the weekend. Don’t miss your chance to explore the city in a whole new way.

The 2018 OHNY Weekend lineup will be released on September 18. Check dates, times, and participating locations, as well as make reservations for limited access sites (beginning September 25th), if necessary, here.

For a preview of the event, check out our posts from last year at Fulton Center, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Jefferson Market Library.

5Pointz Resurrected: The Museum of Street Art (MoSA) in New York City

When we showed up at the new CitizenM Bowery Hotel for our tour of the Museum of Street Art, the chipper front desk clerk showing us the way asked, “Do you know about 5Pointz?” We excitedly proclaimed that we’d actually visited the original (which returned such a big WOW that we felt like we’d just confessed to being present when electricity was discovered). It shouldn’t be surprising. The walls of 5Pointz were whitewashed less than five years ago, but its loss was felt amongst street art lovers worldwide. It’s a local legend, and treated as such.

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Museum Day Presented by Smithsonian Magazine

Museum Day is an annual one-day event hosted by Smithsonian Magazine, celebrating museums and cultural institutions across the entire country. This year’s Museum Day will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

Through their partnership with Microsoft, Smithsonian Magazine generously offers free admission to a participating museum or cultural institution for any ticket holder plus one guest. Museum Day is the perfect answer to that relentlessly repetitive question: What are we doing this weekend? Well, you now have the answer for at least one Saturday in September.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Museum Day tickets were made available on August 15, 2018. Tickets go fast, so make sure you get yours now. Only one ticket for one museum or cultural institution is provided per registered email address, so choose wisely! To review the list of participating locations in each state and to reserve your tickets, click here.

If you’re looking for some New York City-based recommendations, we have included some posts we wrote below offering some insights into our favorite institutions, all of which are participating locations for this year’s Museum Day.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators

The Rubin Museum of Art

Museum of Chinese in America

Fraunces Tavern Museum

Photoville Presented by United Photo Industries

Now in its 7th year, Photoville is the largest annual photographic event in New York City. Free and open to the public (all ages and pet-friendly), this immersive photography festival presented by United Photo Industries showcases the work of over 600 visual artists, in conjunction with over 100 curatorial partners, and offers photographers of all stripes the opportunity to come together and interact with a large, diverse audience.

Some of the Photoville’s highlights include nighttime projection programs, hands-on workshops, an eduction day for New York City middle and high school students, panel discussions and talks, tents with vendors, family-friendly photo activities, publishers and gear demonstrations, a community photo book store, tintype portraits, and a beer garden with a range of food vendors supported by Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Brewery.

As in previous years, Photoville will be located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, transforming Brooklyn Bridge Plaza into an incredible modular galleries consisting of a network of more than 65 re-purposed shipping containers.

If you’re looking for the inside scoop, check out our post on last year’s Photoville here.

You can find general information about Photoville here, including directions, FAQ, and hours of operation.

Photoville Presented by United Photo Industries

Now in its 7th year, Photoville is the largest annual photographic event in New York City. Free and open to the public (all ages and pet-friendly), this immersive photography festival presented by United Photo Industries showcases the work of over 600 visual artists, in conjunction with over 100 curatorial partners, and offers photographers of all stripes the opportunity to come together and interact with a large, diverse audience.

Some of the Photoville’s highlights include nighttime projection programs, hands-on workshops, an eduction day for New York City middle and high school students, panel discussions and talks, tents with vendors, family-friendly photo activities, publishers and gear demonstrations, a community photo book store, tintype portraits, and a beer garden with a range of food vendors supported by Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Brewery.

As in previous years, Photoville will be located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, transforming Brooklyn Bridge Plaza into an incredible modular galleries consisting of a network of more than 65 re-purposed shipping containers.

If you’re looking for the inside scoop, check out our post on last year’s Photoville here.

You can find general information about Photoville here, including directions, FAQ, and hours of operation.

 

Through the Lens: Inside Brooklyn’s Photoville (Or How to Win at Date Night)

Lynn and I have been married for a number of years. When we started this blog, we really had no idea what kind of journey we were embarking on. The path has been one with many surprises, but one of the unexpected happy side effects is that we get to go on a lot of dates. Coffee dates, museum dates, let’s-try-something-new dates. Dates where we jump in a car or hop on a plane. Some dates still end up being duds, but when an event is going to check off a lot of boxes, we know the odds we’ll have a good time improve significantly. And Photoville checks off a lot of boxes.

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