Nine Free Things to Do This Weekend in NYC (Aug. 17-18)

By Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times. He covers Chinese politics, culture, and current affairs.
August 16, 2013 Updated: August 19, 2013

Looking for something free to do this weekend? Check out one of these events and more. Be it a tour of Grand Central, weed-based paints, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or fashion— you’re sure to find something that meets your fancy.

1. Play Reading: Hamlet by Shakespeare
Saturday, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Come hear a reading of The Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, courtesy of the Instant Shakespeare Company.

Location: Riverside Library, 127 Amsterdam Ave.

2. Chinese Chess Clinic
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Bryant Park

Practice Xiang Qi (Chinese Chess) outdoors in the park, where it is traditionally played. Improve your skill in the Bryant Park Games Area, or challenge an international Xiang Qi champion visiting from the United East Athletics Association.
Registration is required for this event.

Location: 40th Street Plaza

3. Back to the Beach
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Staten Island

Come celebrate and head Back to the Beach. Exciting and fun activities such as volleyball, tug of war, potato sack races, and balloon toss, or arts and crafts will be there for the whole family. There will be fireworks at 9:00 p.m.

Location: Midland Playground on Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

4. Art Exhibit: Invasive Pigments
Saturday, 8:00 a.m. –6:00 p.m.

Invasive Pigments is a series of paintings exploring the spread and migration of weeds and other “unintentional” plants in tandem with human movement. Artist Ellie Irons created watercolor-like extracts from the pigments of invasive plants, and then uses them to construct map-like portraits illustrating the species’ movement into local ecosystems.

Location: Queens Botanical Garden, 43–50 Main St.
Free with Garden Admission

5. Free Fashion Center Neighborhood Walking Tours
Sunday, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Explore the Garment District that has been the center of NYC’s fashion business since the early 20th century. See one-of-a-kind fabrics, supplies, and all the odds and ends of clothes making it a two-hour tour led by Mike Kaback to learn all about the neighborhood’s historic background and importance.

Location: northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and West 39th Street
Reservations are required. Email:

Free Fashion Center Neighborhood Walking Tours 

6. Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest
Saturday, 12:00 p.m.–5 p.m.
Coney Island

In this annual competition at Coney Island, amateurs and pros alike will fashion giant mounds of sand into works of art, often with spectacular results. Spectators who haven’t quite mastered the art of sand sculpting can sit back and quietly judge the competition. Past sculptures have included a replica of the New York Aquarium and a giant octopus. Judges award prizes to winners in five categories, including one for children. The event has no age or experience limitations.

Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest 

7. NYC EcoHouse
Saturday, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

Community Environmental Center EcoHouse is a unique experience. It’s a mobile, cutting-edge and interactive exhibit that lets you see behind the walls and underneath the floor of a home. You will learn how your house or apartment really works. A 21st-century classroom for students of all ages, the Community Environmental Center EcoHouse helps you understand how to save energy, save money, and protect the natural world around you.

Location: Queens Botanical Garden 43–50 Main St.
Free with Garden Admission

8. The Dark Lords of Comedy
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

Come get a laugh with famous stand-up comedians Mike Lawrence, Jared Logan, and Dan St. Germain.

Location: East River Park

9. Grand Central Terminal Tour
Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 pm

For nearly a century, Grand Central Terminal has been a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of a great city, impressing both travelers and visitors with wonderful architecture and atmosphere. Its history is one of immense wealth, ingenious engineering, a few accidents, and a planned sabotage, but above all a story of rebirth and resilience. The tour is free but tips are encouraged and reservations are required.

Location: Grand Central Terminal Information Booth and Clock on the main concourse.


Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times. He covers Chinese politics, culture, and current affairs.