Spending New Year’s Eve in NYC is a unique experience that’s on many people’s bucket lists. It’s one of the largest celebrations in the city and there are many different ways to ring in the new year in New York. If you’ll be in New York this New Year’s Eve, keep reading!
9 Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve in New York
Where are you going to be when the clock strikes midnight? If you don’t know yet, this article will provide a handful of great options for you to ring in the New Year in NYC. You can do anything from joining the big party at Times Square to celebrating New Year’s Eve a little more quietly in Central Park or while cruising the Hudson, for example.
1. New Year’s Eve in New York at Times Square
For many, spending New Year’s Eve at Times Square is the no. 1 place to go. If you want to celebrate your New Year’s Eve at Times Square, you will need stamina and the right clothing. It gets cold in New York in December and the longer you stay outside, the more you will realize what you are wearing will only protect you from the cold for so long. A New Year’s Eve with potentially some very cold feet and a long wait are not for the faint-hearted. Still, the temperature does not keep hundreds of thousands of people yearly from spending New Year’s Eve in New York at Times Square.
The wait in line for the legendary Times Square ball drop begins at 12 pm. You should get to Times Square no later than 3 pm because it will be closed off after that. At that point in time, you can leave, but can’t get back in. If you give up your hard-fought position for any reason, to go to the bathroom, for example, you’re out of luck! It’s also good to know that medium-sized bags are not allowed (including backpacks), small ones will be searched, and alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Nonetheless, the ball drop and other festivities at New York’s Times Square make it THE New Year’s Eve bash. Between megastar performances, people are dancing and singing, and, at midnight, there is a chorus of “New York, New York” where many shed tears of joy.
2. New Year’s Eve Exclusive Ball Drop Party
If you are looking to enjoy the ball drop with a more exclusive experience, be sure to check out some Times Square Ball Drop Parties! They are, without a doubt, a great way to see the spectacular iconic Ball Drop at Times Square without the inconvenience of waiting long hours outside in the cold. You will have unobstructed views of the Times Square Ball Drop.
While these Ball Drop Parties come with a hefty price tag, the experience is something you will never forget. With an open bar, hors-d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet, and dessert you will be well taken care of as the night goes on. You can also take minors (under the age of 21) to the event, though they will not be able to drink.
Typically, you can expect one large room for dancing, one for beverages, and a few others for sitting and relaxing. A professional photographer will also be taking personal photographs (they will be available to download about 2 weeks after the event). Overall, if you want the one-stop package for an amazing New Year’s Eve, watching the ball drop without having to brave the crowds in Times Square, this is the perfect option for you. The available tickets for Ball Drop Parties are very limited, so make sure to grab your tickets as soon as possible!
3. New Year’s Eve in New York on a Cruise
New York offers fun activities on the water year-round and New Year’s Eve is not an exception. Boat tour operators offer a very special program with food, drinks, and fireworks. A seat on board will ensure amazing views of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by fireworks and a grandiose view of the southern tip of Manhattan. Ringing in the new year on-board a cruise is definitely one of the best ways to spend New Year’s Eve in New York.
If you are interested in taking a New Year’s Eve cruise, you may be wondering which one you should choose! The options are countless, which is why we have filtered out the best New Year’s Eve Cruises in NYC for 2020 to help pick the best one for you. Keep in mind that the closer we get to the end of the year, the fewer cruises will be available. Spaces are limited and New Year’s Eve cruises have and will always be extremely popular.
Appetizers & snacks
Hors d'oeuvres & desserts
4. New Year’s Eve in New York in Prospect Park
Brooklyn has been the antidote to overcrowded Manhattan for many years. On New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn puts on a great celebration at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Many tourists have started to opt for this New Year’s Eve alternative. This is largely due to the first-class view of the fireworks. For fifteen minutes, the sky is illuminated above Long Meadow, the large clearing in Prospect Park. Music, drinks and great food are, of course, also part of the fun.
5. New Year’s Eve in New York on the Brooklyn Bridge
The famous Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions all year round. It is used daily by thousands of pedestrians, bikers, joggers, and cars each day. On the last day of the year, the Brooklyn Bridge is even more of a magical place than it usually is. A brisk walk across the bridge just before midnight towards Manhattan is something you won’t forget anytime soon. The advantage of the bridge is that you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the New York skyline for free. On the other hand, the freezing wind blows across the East River in the winter. However, I am sure that the beautiful sight will warm your heart.
6. The annual NYRR Midnight Run
Why not kick off the new year with a run? For many people in New York, the New Year’s Eve run in Central Park is the real deal. Instead of champagne and sequin dresses, you will find a jogger’s paradise at night. At the stroke of midnight, the NYRR Midnight Run begins. During the event, which is sponsored by the New York Road Runners, participants complete a course of approx. 4 miles to start off the new year. At first, this may seem like a strange concept, however, it’s much more fun than you think! You really don’t have to be a serious runner to participate. Did you know that you can even enjoy some delicious sparkling cider at the halfway point?
7. NYE at a dueling piano bar
Dueling piano bars are a lot of fun all year round, but some of them throw special parties for New Year’s Eve. In New York, you can find two great events at piano bars. The minimum age at both of them is 18 years.
A “New Year’s Eve Bash” hosted by Bar 9, my favorite dueling piano bar in the city. You can request ANY song you like. Everyone will be singing along, dancing and laughing – a guarantee for a good time and a special New Year’s Eve. While Bar 9 typically welcomes walk-ins, you will need to purchase tickets for their NYE celebration. Each ticket includes a champagne toast. To make the night a little more special you can go with a gold or platinum package instead of the standard ticket. The platinum package includes dinner. Prices start at $53.
Shake Rattle and Roll:
In addition to fun music performances, Shake Rattle and Roll’s New Year’s Eve party includes an open bar, light appetizers, and a champagne toast. There’s only one type of ticket that includes everything. The doors open at 9:15 pm and the live entertainment kicks off at 10 pm. The performers here are outstanding and know almost every song. So you’re guaranteed to dive into the new year singing along your favorite tunes.
8. NYE celebrations on New York’s Roofs
With so many skyscrapers, New York is the perfect location for rooftop bars. Rooftop bars are not only enjoyable in the summer. You can just as well visit rooftop bars in New York in the winter. Most of them have fireplaces and blankets creating a cozy atmosphere. Just imagine sipping your hot chocolate or mulled wine gazing at New York’s twinkling skyline.
Almost all rooftop bars run specials on New Year’s Eve. Just look up the website of the respective rooftop bar and plan your perfect New Year’s Eve in New York with some of the best views of the city.
9. NYE parties at New York’s hottest venues
If you’re looking for an excuse to party, New Year’s Eve in New York is surely one of the best ones. The city is home to many famous clubs. All of them host large parties on New Year’s Eve. Check out the best clubs in NYC if you want to dance into the New Year!
To end the year on a higher note, you can combine a cruise with a party by getting on a New Year’s party boat. This way you can enjoy spectacular views of the skyline while dancing the night away to the hottest music.
New Year’s Eve in NYC with kids
In the USA, you are not allowed to drink if you are under the age of 21, not even a midnight toast. Therefore, admission to most of the parties is denied to those under the age of 21. If you are spending New Year’s Eve in New York with kids you should know that there are some other fun events that you can attend
1. New Year’s Eve at Dave n Busters
Just a few blocks away from the famous Times Square Ball Drop, the entertainment emporium Dave n Busters hosts a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve event for all ages. Any arcade game you can imagine can be found here, from basketball shoot-out to skeeball.
The ticket price includes a 5-hour premium open bar for adults as well as a buffet including appetizers like pizza bites, burgers, fries, and many others. A champagne toast at midnight will be handed out for all those over 21. Please note that minors are only permitted if accompanied by an adult 25 or older.
- When? 7 pm – 1 am
- Where? 234 West 42nd Street
- How much? From $70
2. AMC Family Fun Fest on NYE
AMC offers a New Year’s Eve event for all ages. The location at Times Square is in close proximity to the ball drop. They will be playing the latest family-friendly movies (PG13) all night long. Naturally, you can buy candy, popcorn and all sorts of drinks. The NYE celebration is not limited to movies. You can even enjoy a dance floor with a DJ and choose to play one of the many games offered that evening inside of the AMC. A no-alcohol policy is strictly enforced, but who needs alcohol with all the excitement offered here?
General admission is $40 for adults and $29 for all kids under 13, making it a quite affordable New Year’s Eve celebration in New York. As midnight approaches, everyone will gather for the countdown.
- When? 7 pm – 3 am
- Where? 234 West 42nd Street
- How much? From $40
3. NYE at Bowlmor Times Square
A fun way to spend New Year’s Eve in New York with kids is to bowl into the new year at Bowlmor Times Square. It’s home to 50 bowling lanes. Should you need a break from bowling at some point during the night, just head upstairs. The upper floor has a variety of games to keep you and the kids entertained. There’s also a DJ on-site in case you’d like to boogie down during the night.
This is a family-friendly New Year’s Eve Event that welcomes all ages.
Besides all the games, you can snack from the mini buffet or have a drink at the premium open bar. It’s open from 9 pm to 2 am. Food and drink are included in the ticket price, so you don’t have to worry about any additional costs. The buffet includes chicken tenders, chicken marsala, salads, and more.
As all other New Year’s Eve events, spaces are limited, which is why it’s best to get your tickets as soon as possible.
- Where? 222 West 44th Street
- When? 8 pm – 3 am
- How much? From $70
4. Special NYE events at Midtown venues
Many restaurants in the area host special New Year’s Eve events with lots of food, music, and festive atmosphere. Be warned though: just because these restaurants are located at Times Square does not mean that you can see the Times Square Ball Drop from here! Most restaurants will have TV screens set up for you to see the nation’s most famous countdown live. No matter where you find yourself as the clock strikes midnight in New York, there is no way you will miss it.
Here are some popular restaurants in the Times Square area with special NYE events:
Dallas BBQ (241 W 42nd St)
The Counter (Times Square Tower)
Bryant Park Grill (25 W 40th St)
TGI Friday’s (147 W 46th S)
Planet Hollywood (1540 Broadway)
Fun things to do in NYC with kids
It's not always easy to keep the little ones entertained while traveling. The good news is that New York is an amazing destination for families. If you're wondering how to spend a great time in...
Can you drink alcohol in Times Square on New Year’s Eve in NYC?
No. In New York City it is illegal to consume alcohol in public spaces, regardless of your age. That restriction also applies to all public spaces like parks and streets. Even on New Year’s Eve, the restriction is not lifted. The alcohol-ban should not keep you from having a memorable New Year’s Eve in NYC, though!
What’s open in New York on New Year’s Eve?
Shops, restaurants, and attractions will operate as usual on December 31st, though local stores may close a little earlier than normal. However, opening hours will be affected by New Year’s Day (January 1st).
What’s open in New York on New Year’s Day?
Most people are given a day off on New Year’s Day. Consequently, all government buildings like banks, libraries, and post offices will stay shut. The subway will run on a weekend schedule.
Is Broadway open on New Year’s Eve?
Though New Year’s Eve 2020 falls on a Thursday, Broadway will be dark. Therefore, you will not be able to see a Broadway show on the 31st of December. You can expect irregular show schedules for the first week of the year.
Can I launch fireworks in New York City on New Year’s Eve?
No. All types of fireworks remain illegal in New York. They are featured by the city on special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, the 4th of July, or the summer fireworks on Coney Island.
What’s the weather like on New Year’s Eve in NYC?
You can expect cold weather in New York on New Year’s Eve. After all, this is winter. Average temperatures in December are 31-44 °F, so be sure to bundle up if you are thinking about spending New Year’s Eve outdoors.