9 fun things to do in NYC this April that won’t break the bank

Ah, spring.

After the false spring a few weeks ago, the real thing is almost here to stay. Whether you’re ready to head outside for live performances or still want to hunker down indoors for comedy shows or trivia nights, there’s plenty for you to do in April in New York City.

Here are nine of the best options for free (or nearly free) fun around town.

See cherry blossoms. But not at the usual hotspots.

The botanical gardens in Brooklyn and the Bronx may be hotspots for seeing cherry blossoms, but they tend to get swamped. The good news is there are plenty of other great cherry blossom locations in every borough, including the incredible collection near the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the glorious blossom-lined stretch of the West Side Highway bike path stretching above 100th Street, where the railings drop away. And unlike the botanical gardens, they’re free.

Treat yourself to a crookie.

Move over, BonBon. The latest viral dessert trend is the “crookie,” a croissant-cookie hybrid that’s selling out at bakeries across the boroughs. You can preorder some from Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods or buy one for around $8 at their locations on the Upper West Side and in East Harlem and the West Village. Noa, a café in Kips Bay, sells crookies at the store or via UberEats for around $9. You can also find them at some Chip City locations.

See up-and-coming comedians in Brooklyn.

Catch some laughs as comedians Jay Jurden and Zach Zimmerman host a comedy and variety show called “Pretty Major” at Union Hall in Brooklyn. The lineup varies every show and has included up-and-coming comedians Brittany Carney, Julia Shiplett and Katie Boyle. Shows are April 9 and 23, and tickets are around $12 each. For more information, visit here.

Test your ‘Sex and the City’ savvy at trivia night.

If you need an excuse to rewatch “Sex and the City,” here’s one: trivia night at Poco NYC in the East Village. For about 90 minutes, people will play five rounds of trivia. It’s free to sign up and you can go alone or in a group. The event is April 10 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit here.

See a poetry performance from a Brooklyn native at Carnegie Hall.

Poet Aja Monet, a contemporary of slam poet Saul Williams, won the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam when she was only 19. The writer and activist’s career has taken off since then. Now living in Los Angeles, Monet is back in town for a concert at Carnegie Hall inspired by her jazz and soul collaborations. Her performance at Carnegie Hall is on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. Free reservations are required and can be obtained here.

Take in the New York premiere of a musical piece at Lincoln Center.

Lincoln Center is teaming up with Juilliard to present the New York premiere of John Luther Adams’ new work, “Crossing Open Ground.” It will be performed across the entire Lincoln Center campus by wind, brass and percussion groups made up of Juilliard students and alumni, along with accompanying dancers. There are two performances at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. Tickets are not required. More information is available here.

See world-class musicians for free at Juilliard.

While you’re at it, why not keep an eye on the Juilliard performance calendar? Not enough New Yorkers realize Juilliard hosts dozens of recitals and performances each week from its music, dance and drama divisions, and most of them are completely free. Check the calendar and you can see world-class performers a year or two before they join the Philharmonic and Met Opera.

Enjoy a street festival of Japanese food, art and music (mostly food).

The annual Japan Fest street fair brings roughly 1,000 vendors of Japanese street foods like takoyaki (grilled octopus dumplings), yakisoba (fried noodles), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and more to Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The event is spread across dozens of dates and locations stretching from spring to fall, and you can find the full schedule of dates and locations here.

Explore art across New Jersey.

More than 100 galleries, museums and art spaces are participating in Garden State Art Weekend, and many events are free. More than 65 artists’ studios that are typically closed to the public will open their doors, and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artists for free. It’s also an opportunity to learn about local blacksmiths and sculptors. Garden State Art Weekend is April 19 to 21. To find out more, visit here.

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