1. New Year's Eve at Times Square
Everyone should make the pilgrimage to Times Square to celebrate New Year's at least once in their lives. If you’re looking for an outdoor venue, want to see big-name talent and want to be surrounded by an energetic and exciting scene, then this is the place! To stake your spot, arrive no later than 3 p.m. and get ready to hunker down. Not many public restrooms or food options are nearby, and moving from your spot pretty much guarantees you will lose it. Your patience and endurance will be rewarded, however, with top-name performances, pyrotechnics and the infamous ball and confetti drop. This event takes place on Broadway and is free.
2. Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza Firework Party
Directly outside of Brooklyn's Prospect Park main entrance is where the New Year's Eve party starts, right around 11 p.m. While it may not be quite as famous as Times Square, this is a great spot to enjoy the outdoors with your friends and take in an incredible fireworks show at midnight. To top off the event, free music, entertainment and hot cocoa are available.
3. New Year's Watchnight Worship Service
Spend New Year's at the majestic Riverside Church in Manhattan, which will celebrate its free, annual New Years' service from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. Riverside's New Year's Watchnight event includes music by the Riverside Choir, hymns and a service of worship followed by the famous pealing of the bells on the world's largest carillon (tower bells) at 12:00 a.m.
4. Karaoke Killed the Cat NYE Spectacular
For just $5, you can get in on the fun of what is known as one of the U.S.'s hottest karaoke dance parties. For those who normally shy away from karaoke, Karaoke Killed the Cat is part sing-along entertainment, part hip-shaking dance party and choreography. The focus of this party at Union Hall isn't about sounding the best, but rather "going hard and having the time of your life." Champagne toast and drink specials will be available.
5. The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run/Central Park Party
DJs will be going all out during this New Year's Eve party/race, beginning at 10 p.m. at the Naumberg Bandshell. At 11 p.m., get ready for the holiday costume contest and parade. When midnight strikes, the fun truly begins with a firework show and race, packed with over 5,000 brave partakers completing a 4-mile run. Race participants will have to pay a fee, but being a spectator and just enjoying the party is free. This is an ideal option for those who want to literally start the New Year on a healthier note! A hot tip for those who are just enjoying the party: the best place to see the fireworks show is directly south of 72nd street.
6. New Year's Eve Concert for Peace
Held annually since 1984, at the Cathedral Church of St. John Divine, this concert combines the perfect place to gather with friends and loved ones and enjoy beautiful music and the lighting of over 1,000 candles. A specific number of free, general admission seats are open to the public on a first-come first-served basis; otherwise there are paid seating options beginning at $30.
Special tips for enjoying New Year's in New York City
While spending New Year's in New York City can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, there are some must-have tips you need to be aware of to ensure you have a memorable night:
- If Times Square is on your agenda, commit 100 percent or stay as far away from the area as possible. Remember, temperatures can reach bitter cold, so layer, wear thermals and don’t forget essential items such as gloves, earmuffs and scarves. Also, get yourself prepared mentally for the fact that you will be jam-packed with a million other partygoers (yes, that is a factual number!), and there are literally no restrooms nearby. In addition, drinking alcohol on the streets of New York or possessing an open alcohol container is illegal.
- Transportation will be a nightmare. Many subway stations will be closed, multiple streets will be blocked off, and getting a cab will be…well, impossible. If you are unsure of your venue and how long you will want to stay there, make sure you have transportation plans or stay close to home (or your hotel).
- Stay safe and be mindful. We are all aware of what can happen when large crowds of people (literally in the hundreds of thousands) gather and alcohol is a factor. Fights can break out for no apparent reason, and while extra security precautions are taken on New Year's Eve in New York City, this is no guarantee that help will be immediately available to you if you need it. Keep your wits about you; do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables, and drink responsibly in order to be alert to any potentially dangerous situations.