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Who's ready for a glorious three-day weekend? If you're trying to save money, but still want to have a downright awesome Labor Day, we got you. Here are the best free things to do in NYC this week.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Labor Day in NYC
NYC Unicycle Festival
Forgive the analogy, but unicycles are the Nickelback of the cycling world: misunderstood by many but cherished by a select few who love them more than anything else. Enjoy four days of one-wheel madness, with rides going from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island and Battery Park to Central Park, plus a bunch of events that take place on Governors Island. There you can find races, freestyle competitions and even unicycle sports like basketball, hockey and—not making this up—unicycle sumo wrestling. Various locations (nycunifest.com). Thu 1 at 10am; Fri 2 at 2pm; Sat 3, Sun 4 noon–5pm. Free.
The Public continues its civically ambitious Public Works program, devoted to collaborating with multiple New York communities to create large-scale theater, in a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's ever-popular comedy of cross purposes, cross-dressing and cross-gartered socks. Director Kwame Kwei-Armah coordinates a huge pageant that includes seasoned performers—Nikki M. James, Jose Llana, Jacob Ming-Trent, Andrew Kober and composer Shaina Taub—alongside more than 200 other actors and residents of all five boroughs. Delacorte Theater (shakespeareinthepark.org). Fri 2–Mon 5 at 8pm; free.
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
Instead of just bumming at the beach this weekend, why not grab some culture and support up-and-coming artistic folks? Browse fine art, photography, artisanal crafts and sculptures from artists and crafters near and far at this biannual sidewalk show in the West Village. University Place and E 13th St (wsoae.org). Sat 3–Mon 5 and Sept 10–11 noon-6pm; free.
Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition
See tugboats parade from Pier 84 to West 79th Street Boat Basin before they race back at the 24th annual iteration of this maritime fest. Participate in an amateur line-toss contest, and witness the Popeye-inspired spinach-eating contest. Those interested in a closer view can board a Circle Line spectator boat at Pier 83. Hudson River Park, Pier 84 at W 44th St (212-757-1600, workingharbor.com). Sun 4 9am–2pm; free.
West Side County Fair
You don’t have to move out to the boonies to enjoy a good ol’ county fair. Jead head west toward the Hudson River for carnival rides, games, live bands and sideshow performers (including aerialists). Don’t forget the cotton candy! Riverside Park at W 7th St (nycgovparks.org). Sun 4 1–6pm; free.
BR Day New York
With the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil has been on our minds all summer. Continue the festivities as NYC's Little Brazil celebrates the country's Dia da Independência with it annual Labor Day weekend fest. Brazilian TV personality Otaviano Costa serves as MC, with live performances by singer Preta Gil, pop rock band Jota Quest and duo Cesar Menotti & Fabiano. Sixth Ave and 42nd St (brazilianday.com). Sun 4 1–6pm; free.
New York Caribbean Carnival Parade
After a year of frantic hot-gluing and float-building preparation, NYC’s West Indian–American community gathers for another epic parade down Eastern Parkway. Join nearly 2 million sequin- and feather-clad revelers as they rejoice to booming sounds of calypso, soca, salsa and more. If you need to refuel, indulge in Caribbean street food like roti wraps and jerk chicken while you dance. (And believe us, you’ll be dancing). Schenectady Ave and Eastern Pkwy to Brooklyn Museum (718-467-1797, wiadcacarnival.com). Mon 5 11am–6pm; free.