Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Movies, can be a very expensive addition to your vacation but, luckily, there are many opportunities to see free ones--in in some of the most well-known New York City locations. 

Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York
Photo: Socrates Sculpture Park, adapted by Wandering Educators

“Whether you are looking to spend an evening with the family, planning a romantic date under the stars, or wanting an excuse to spoil yourself with an indie flick or current release, you can expand your NYC experience without even opening your wallet," said Blair Nicole, spokesperson for TopView, the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus, adding “that’s the great thing about our city--there’s good free stuff all over!”

Here’s our list of some of the best free movie offerings:

Bryant Park set a precedent in the early 90s by hosting free movie nights throughout the summer and the idea has swept across the city. 

Natives and tourists alike can have an excuse to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and a free flick. 

Bryant Park. From Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York
Photo: Bryant Park

Movies Under the Stars is the name of the NYC Parks and Recreation’s offering. They screen a variety of films from Oscar nominees, family favorites, and recent releases for free steadily through the summer months and throughout various parks in all five boroughs. 

Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Just over the East River, this is the place to go if you are eager to immerse yourself in foreign language and culture, hosts a variety of international films throughout the summer. 

Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Meanwhile, the teams up with NYC Parks to show French films in various locations around the city including Central Park and Washington Square Park. 

Movies with a View. Although you may have already experienced the beauty of the TopView Brooklyn Tour, the this movie series gives you the chance to continue to appreciate stunning views from Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park. From Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York
Photo: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Rooftop Films. If you’d like to branch out beyond New York’s beautiful park settings, offers a change of pace with a spattering of free features and short films to be enjoyed, as the name promises, from a rooftop. 

Rooftop Films. From Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York
Photo: Rooftop Films

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: That said, if you are looking for a viewing experience to share with your friends back home that is uniquely New York City, watch these free movies from the deck of a historic aircraft carrier from World War II. 

Central Park Film Festival. Manhattan is also known for its film festivals and will not disappoint. Every year, the offers a week of free screenings from a selected list that is announced at the beginning of summer. 

The Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place in the spring, boasts a full Friday of free screenings, featuring a curated list of independent films from the festival. If you’ve always wanted to experience the glamor of a film festival without the restrictions of your bank account, this is your chance. 

Azul on the Rooftop. Get a little taste of Havana on top of the Hugo Hotel in SOHO where you can see such films as West Side Story, Mean Girls, and Halloween.

Governors Island, Escape In New York. Governors island teamed up with the to host this series on the island’s newly restored Parade Ground, an eight-acre lawn with expansive open views of Lower Manhattan. “Thanks to expanded late summer Fridays and some of the best skyline views, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our city than bringing New Yorkers together under the stars for a New York City-themed film series,” said Michael Samuelian on the Governors island website. Samuelian is president and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island.

A historically rich and artistic city, it might sometimes feel like experiencing what New York has to offer could break the bank. 

However, thanks to the NYC Parks and Recreation office and various generous organizations, you can leave your wallet in your hotel room and still have the chance to enjoy a movie in a beautiful, distinctly New York City setting.

Where to Find Free Summer Movies in New York
Photo: Rooftop Films