Weekends in NYC are packed with festivals, performances, exhibitions and more—many of them free.
Friday, September 20
Coney Island Film Festival
In Coney Island’s fight to retain its crusty, freaky soul amid high-rise development and gentrification, this film fest is on the front lines. Three days of innovative shorts, campy classic features and wild parties await, all at the heart of the boardwalk. Night one brings the film More Than The Rainbow from documentarian Dan Wechsler. After his project’s Brooklyn debut, the festival organizers will throw an opening night party like only Coney Island can.
Album Tracks: Subway Record Covers
To explore the ways in which NYC’s famous transit system has inspired musicians, hop on the subway and head to Brooklyn for the New York Transit Museum’s Album Tracks: Subway Record Covers. The exhibition includes Billy Joel’s 1976 album Turnstiles, shot at the Astor Place station, and features the Fifth Avenue–53rd Street stop, which served as the setting for the cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Wednesday Morning, 3AM, and the Hoyt Street-Schermerhorn Street station in Downtown Brooklyn, where Michael Jackson shot the music video for his song “Bad.”
Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz: Marcus Roberts Trio
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s fourth-annual Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival continues to highlight how the genre touches people of all ages. The festival celebrates legends of the form while also playing host to developing artists who may one day be among its elite. Performing tonight is the Marcus Roberts Trio, three masters of piano jazz who will be playing a mix of their own creations and creative remixes of classics.
Saturday, September 21
Classical crossover soprano Sarah Brightman—whose far-reaching career has included a starring role in The Phantom of the Opera, two performances at the Olympic Games and more than 30 million records sold—sings live.
New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils
The long-awaited first hockey game at Brooklyn’s new arena finally arrives, as John Tavares and the Islanders—future regular season tenants on Flatbush Avenue—host the Devils in an exhibition game. It’s fans’ first chance to see how the venue’s unusual hockey layout works on game days.
63rd Annual Fence Show
The Staten Island Museum presents the longest-running outdoor art show in New York City. The 63rd Annual Fence Show will be held on the front lawn of the beautiful and historic Snug Harbor Cultural Center, adjacent to Building A, the Staten Island Museum’s future home. Come view, shop and canoodle with artists, designers and craftspeople of all stripes, plus enjoy music, art demonstrations and museum activities for all ages at this celebration of creativity and community.
Sunday, September 22
Queens County Fair
You don’t need to travel outside the five boroughs to experience a classic county fair—simply head to the Queens County Farm Museum, the City’s only working farm, to take in pie-eating and corn-husking contests, hayrides, carnival rides and a midway. If your crew is feeling brave, venture into the farm’s seasonal staple, the Amazing Maize Maze, where you’ll need to solve puzzles to find your way out. Music, edibles and kids’ activities round out the weekend’s festivities.
Brooklyn Book Festival
The Brooklyn Book Festival returns for another ambitious, sprawling celebration of the written word. The marketplace includes literary vendors jockeying for the attention of the bookwormy hordes, while readings and panels can be found on both indoor and outdoor stages. In addition to the more formal offerings, festivalgoers can participate in one of the many Bookend Events—literary-themed happenings taking place in a variety of the borough’s outdoor spaces, cafés, bookstores and public libraries through today.
If You Build It
This stand-up show is massively cheap ($5, with no drink minimum), so it’s no wonder it usually sells out. Hosted by local comic Kara Klenk, its lineups have included boldface names like Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn and Sarah Silverman alongside a worthy roster of up-and-coming comedians. The show starts at 8:30pm.