Due to coronavirus, all our holidays this year have been more than unusual and you may find yourself one of the many staying in New York City this Labor Day weekend. If so, we’ve curated some events for you! There are certainly some big annual events happening, like the return of the U.S. Open where you can catch 3rd round and Round of 16 action this weekend, or reduced festivities in Crown Heights from the usual West Indies Parade which has been cancelled for the second year in a row. But for more unique things to do this Labor Day weekend in New York City, keep reading below!

1. Take in a Bryant Park Picnic Performance

2019 NYC Opera Performance in Bryant Park
A 2019 pre-covid NYC Opera Performance in Bryant Park

Tomorrow at 7 PM, head to Bryant Park for a newly created, 90-minute version of Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto from New York City Opera, conducted by Constantine Orbelian and starring Michael Chioldi in the title role, Brandie Sutton as his daughter Gilda and Won Whi Choi as the lecherous Duke of Mantua. The production will be staged by NYCO General Director Michael Capasso and feature narration written and performed by acclaimed Shakespearean actor and noted playwright Bill Van Horn. Even if you’re not an opera enthusiast yet, the experience of taking in a screening event at Bryant Park, amidst the Midtown skyscrapers is always a treat.

2. Catch the New Midnight Moment in Times Square

Still image from Possible World by Ezra Wube. Courtesy of the artist, Little Sun, and Times Square Arts.
Still image from Possible World by Ezra Wube. Courtesy of the artist, Little Sun, and Times Square Arts.

Since Labor Day is falling at the beginning of the month this year, it’ll be the first weekend to catch the new Midnight Moment display in Times Square. It’s a digital show across 75 screens that only plays for 3 minutes each day, from 11:57 to midnight. During the month of September, Times Square Arts will present Possible World by Ezra Wube. Possible World was created as part of Fast Forward — Little Sun’s series of short films exploring five artists’ dreams for a regenerative world. Inspired by interviews conducted with over 100 individuals across Ethiopia, Possible World works to bring these subjects’ dreams for a more sustainable world to life.

3. Go on a Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

JR piece on ellis island

If you want to feel like you went on an adventure while staycationing in New York City, this tour is it. The hard hat tour of the abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island starts first with a ferry ride in New York Harbor (either from the Battery or from Jersey City), which makes stops at both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Then you go off-the-beaten path to the abandoned side of Ellis Island, which contains the contagious disease wards of the now-abandoned hospital. From here, begin your guided tour from the experts at Save Ellis Island. Our tour in partnership with this non-profit working hard to stabilize and save the buildings provides special access, including a visit to the laundry building, contagious disease wards, autopsy rooms, staff house and more. Your tickets also include access to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum so you can really make a day trip of it all.

Ellis Island abandoned hospital

Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour

4. The Reopening of Broadway

Broadway has reopened after a long hiatus due to COVID-19. We’ll be publishing a more in-depth guide to what’s back next week but new shows this week include Hadestown and Waitress, along with the last weekend of Springsteen on Broadway.

5. Catch the new Obama Portraits at the Brooklyn Museum

Obama portraits

The groundbreaking Michelle and Barack Obama portraits are now on display at the Brooklyn Museum as part of a visiting exhibition. Kehinde Wiley — whose hand-painted glass triptych named Go was created for the ceiling at the West 33rd Street entrance of Moynihan Train Hall and has a painting which uses Jacques-Louis David’s portrait of Napoleon as a starting point in the Brooklyn Museum— painted the oil-on-canvas portrait of President Obama, which depicts him in front of a backdrop of leaves and flowers. Amy Sherald painted the oil-on-linen portrait of the former First Lady. Michelle Obama gazes directly at the viewer, with her hand under her chin. Access to the Obama Portraits is not included with a general admission ticket and requires a separate exhibition ticket reserved online.

6. Take a Tour of the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Protest March taking the Brooklyn Bridge

Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge

For another adventure within your own city, take our tour of the Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across the iconic bridge while learning about its fascinating creation and hidden spots. Locate where the old Cold War fallout shelter was, the hidden champagne vaults, an abandoned park hidden in plain sight, the site of the nation’s first White House and a hidden statue of the family of engineers who built the bridge.

7. Last Week to see the Fascinating Sculpture, Planeta AbuelaX

Planeta Abuelx, Disease Throwers, Guadalupe Maravilla, Socrates Sculpture Park Image by Sara Morgan.
Planeta Abuelx, Disease Throwers, Guadalupe Maravilla, Socrates Sculpture Park and PPOW Gallery. Image by Sara Morgan.

Through September 5th, catch the last week of Planeta Abuelx at Socrates Sculpture Park, an impressive, large-scale sculpture by artist Guadalupe Maravilla. The piece expands on their interest in Indigenous holistic healing practices through sculpture and was created in response to a curatorial invitation to use the park’s five-acre landscape as a sanctuary for recuperation. Made on-site, Maravilla’s work focuses on physical and emotional health through mutual and holistic care works in harmony with the park’s sheltered green space.

8. Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

Chambers Street subway station
Photo by Sven Giese for Untapped New York

Subway and history buffs love our underground tour of the NYC subway which begins at the birthplace of the NYC subway system where you will learn about the comically short route of the mythical “Subway before the Subway,” Alfred Ely Beach’s Pneumatic Transit System, which sits across the famed decommissioned City Hall Station. You will also see architectural ghosts of the now nearly forgotten, and partially abandoned, Chambers Street station then nicknamed the “Grand Central of Downtown” and be guided past the abandoned subway stations of the 6 train. Finally, discover the remnants of Union Station as you learn about a hidden art installation thousands of riders walk by everyday.

Inside the abandoned Worth Street subway station

Underground Subway Tour

9. Check out all the new public art in September!

Photoville in Dumbo

In New York City, the installation of new public art is still in full force in September. Use our guide to sixteen new installations taking place this month, which also includes past exhibitions that will close just after this weekend.

10. Secrets of Grand Central tour

Grand Central terminal main atrium

On our Secrets of Grand Central Tour, discover the many secrets of this New York City icon! Close to a million people pass through Grand Central Terminal every day, yet very few know the many stories and secrets which you will learn on this tour. On this unique walking tour you will discover the origins and history of the Beaux Arts train station, from its glittering glory days to disrepair and modern quests to save it. Our top rated tour guides will make you experience what most miss: its hidden features, design quirks, and much more. Whether you pass through it every day on your morning commute or stroll through the Grand Central for the first time, you are sure to leave having learned, seen, and experienced something new and extraordinary. This tour of Grand Central Terminal is great for history or architecture buffs alike.

Grand Central terminal main atrium

Secrets of Grand Central

Bonus: Take in a Waterfront Movie

At the National Lighthouse Museum, catch one of their last On the Waterfront Free Friday Night Films tomorrow, where Life of Pi will be showing along with a pre-show performance by the Morrisania Band. Tickets are free and can be reserved here