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How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York City

After the massive Christmas guide, it’s time to talk about New Year’s in New York City. If you’re coming and you’re going to be around and you are looking for some special things to do, come with me, because this day requires organization, ok? In this post, I’m going to list suggestions for things to do in New York for New Year’s Eve and also give some tips.

To keep in mind: this post contains affiliate links – it costs you nothing more to buy for them and you support my work!

First things first: lower your expectations

I have to confess: I love Christmas in New York and how magic it is this season in the city, but when it comes to New Year… you can’t say the same thing. I just don’t get frustrated because I don’t really care about New Year’s Eve, to begin with. For me, any simple celebration is worth it – or even doing nothing. Yes, I’ve already spent a few New Years’ Eve here, and while some included a little get-together with friends at home, others included sleeping early, before midnight.

With that being said, I don’t know from where you, my reader, are from, but as a Brazilian, I can tell you that Brazil has amazing New Year’s Eve celebrations. Well, in December is summer in Brazil, so let’s start there. So different. Everyone wears white – Brazilians really believe in the power of the color you wear, people go to the beach, the fireworks are just spectacular. New York City is so different: it’s really cold, there aren’t super parties on the street (because it’s cold!) and everything is very expensive. Again, I don’t know what are your expectations regarding New Year’s Eve in the city and my goal here is not to discourage you, but just to align what to expect, ok? It’s much better for you to know what you’re going to find so you don’t get frustrated than romanticizing something that doesn’t exist. With that being said, let’s proceed!

Forget about Times Square

Yeah, I know I may be messing up with your plans, but I need to warn you, because if you decide to go ahead, at least you won’t say it was for lack of warning. Yes, the most iconic New Year’s event in New York is New Year’s Eve at Times Square, but to this day, I haven’t heard from anyone who went and said they didn’t regret it or that they would do it again.

New Year’s Eve at Times involves a lot of security – and you need to arrive early. We’re talking about 3pm-4pm. You’re going to stand up all the time, you can’t go to the bathroom, you can’t drink. It’s really cold. And after the ball’s drop, it’s all over. I really like sharing the video below, from the Amigo Gringo channel. He is an American that created videos in Portuguese (he loves Brazil). Don’t worry, the video has captions in English! In 2017, he did the favor of spending New Year’s Eve at Times and documenting the real experience in the video below. Well, I guess I don’t need to say any more…

But wait! You can still be part of it!

Your wishes can be added to the confetti that flutters down in the heart of Times Square on New Year’s Eve! Each year, people from around the planet include their wishes for the new year on pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti, either digitally or in person. Click here or stop by Times Square by December 25th. 

Free options

Central Park

NYRR Midnight Run is a traditional run that happens on New Year’s Eve at Central Park and it is organized by New York Road Runners (NYRR). With a countdown to midnight beginning at 11:59 p.m., the four-mile run will begin at the stroke of midnight and the start of 2022. There are some fireworks too – in case you don’t wanna run, lol. People gather around Rumsey Playfield – entrance through 72, check Google Maps. Check more details and register here.

Time’s UP! Annual Future Positive New Year’s Eve Bike Ride

Start the year off right- on your bike or skates. This Bike Ride has 4 meet-up locations:

  • 9:00pm at grand Army Plaza Brooklyn
  • 9:45pm at the Brooklyn-side entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge
  • 10:00pm at Washington Square Park Arch, Manhattan
  • 10:20pm at Madison Square Park, 23rd & Broadway, Flatiron side

The group will be riding up to Belvedere Castle in the middle of Central Park for the New Year’s Eve celebration, with fireworks. Check more details.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Prospect Park (to be confirmed)

For more than 40 years, Prospect Park has been promoting this free event with live music and a massive display of fireworks. The event takes place at the Grand Army Plaza, attracting many people. It usually starts at 10 pm and the best viewpoints are at the Grand Army Plaza or along Prospect Park West.

New Year’s Eve Cruises

City Experiences offers some cruises for the New Year’s Eve. Check some options:

  • New York New Year’s Eve Signature Dinner Cruise – Click here:
  • Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Three-hour dinner cruise on the East and Hudson Rivers
  • Delicious buffet with freshly prepared entrees, salads and desserts
  • Unlimited coffee, hot tea, iced tea and water
  • Onboard DJ entertainment
  • Props for photos: beads, hats, noisemakers and mascarade themed handouts
  • Departing from Chelsea Piers, Pier 61, West 23rd and 12th Ave, New York
  • Boards 9:30pm and cruises 10pm-1am
  • Starts at $379
  • New Jersey New Year’s Eve Signature Dinner Cruise Click here
  • Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Three-hour dinner cruise on the East and Hudson Rivers
  • Delicious buffet with freshly prepared entrees, salads and desserts
  • Unlimited coffee, hot tea, iced tea and water
  • Onboard DJ entertainment
  • Props for photos: beads, hats, noisemakers and mascarade themed handouts
  • Departing from Lincoln Harbor Marina, 1500 Harbor Blvd, Weehawken, NJ
  • Boards 9:30pm and cruises 10pm-1am
  • Starts at $299
  • Bateaux New York New Year’s Eve Premier Plus Dinner Cruise Click here
  • Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Three-hour dinner cruise on the East and Hudson Rivers
  • A four-course plated dinner with attentive tableside service
  • Count down to 2022 with a spectacular fireworks display (weather permitting)
  • Spectacular views of the NYC skyline from our fully glass-enclosed deck
  • Top shelf open bar
  • Live band performance with female vocalist
  • Props for photos: beads, hats, noisemakers and mascarade themed handouts
  • Departing from Chelsea Piers, Pier 61, West 23rd and 12th Ave, New York
  • Boards 9:30pm and cruises 10pm-1am
  • Starts at $599

Classic Harbor Line also offers a New Year’s Eve Cruise:

  • New Year’s Eve Champagne Tasting Cruise – Click here!
  • Friday, December 31, 2021
  • 2.5 hrs long and you will enjoy a five-glass flight pairing with the fireworks
  • Tickets are $238 to $298
  • These cruises will be hosted aboard a grand 1920s inspired yacht: either the Yacht Manhattan or Manhattan II
  • Especially intimate, a low-capacity cruise with cozy cushioned seating at large private tables, separated by clear partitions in our MERV 13-filtered grand salon.
  • There’s no dinner included.

Some parties suggestions

New Year’s Eve – The Grand Hotel

The famous The McKittrick Hotel – from Sleep no More – promotes its traditional New Year’s Eve party with live performances and open bar. All guests should come dressed to dazzle in their finest attire.

NYE At Cipriani 42ND ST

Cipriani is one of NYC’s most acclaimed private event venues, renowned worldwide for its architectural magnificence. A 6 hour premium open bar kicks off the night and a live DJ will be performing the most magnificent mix of Top 40, Hip Hop, House, and Dance beats. The party will pamper guests with deluxe complimentary amenities like delicious passed hors d’oeuvres, served in the early evening. When midnight rolls around, raise a complimentary Prosecco toast as you join the heart-racing live countdown under Cipriani’s magnificent roof.

NYE at Lavo Nightclub

Lavo is one of the most famous nightclubs in the city and its New Year’s party has 4 hours of open bar, DJ, the countdown to midnight, appetizers/mini buffet, midnight toast.

NYE at Williamsburg Rooftop

O 74Wythe is one of the most famous spots in Williamsburg.  Featuring a hip nightclub and breathtaking views from the fully enclosed rooftop, the party will offer a 5h open bar and DJ.

Bleecker Street Block Party

For a dynamic  – and on a budget – celebration, there is the Bleecker Street Block Party. You’ll tour some of the best bars and pubs on the famed Bleecker Street. As you hop between bars, pick your destination for the ball drop countdown. After the ball drops, party hard, mix and mingle until 4am. The bars will offer special prices for drinks and even some open bar tickets.

AMC Times Square NYE Mega-Plex

AMC is a premier movie and entertainment complex located in the heart of Times Square on 42nd Street, just steps away from the iconic ball drop.  This popular destination for Manhattanites and tourists alike will open its doors for an exclusive ticketed event with a buffet and open bar.

New Year’s Eve 2022 @230 FIFTH ROOFTOP

DJs, performances and dance floor, Open bar, champagne toast, and views to the iconic Empire State Building.

New Year’s Eve at the Comedy Cellar

Comedy Cellar is the most famous comedy club in the city, with 3 locations. The New Year’s Eve celebration brings great comedians as well as a uniquely friendly atmosphere plus  festive decorations and a complimentary Champagne Toast.

New Year’s at Summit

The new observatory will host a celebration featuring a special performance by cast members of Hamilton! Every ticket also includes unlimited access all 3 floors of SUMMIT until 2AM, a Midnight Champagne Toast,  2 SUMMIT Signature Cocktails and more!

  • You can check more New Year’s Eve parties here and also here.

Things you should keep in mind:

  • The legal drinking age in the US is 21. Don’t forget your ID for parties and bars. And don’t forget your proof of vaccination.
  • Click on booking links to check availability and other details such as location photos.
  • Closed parties usually have a place to check you coat (for a small fee);
  • Make your reservation as soon as possible.
  • Check photos and reviews on Google.
  • It may be impossible to get a taxi after midnight due to demand. Apps like Uber will be very expensive. Consider the subway (check the NYC Subway app to check your line status.

Restaurants for New Year’s Eve or Day – dinner or lunch 

OpenTable always has a special page with restaurants open for dinner and lunch – but they haven’t published that page yet. I’ll keep an eye, and I can update this post later with some options. But at the end of the day, all I do is open these websites, search, and then copy and paste. That said, I think the best person to pick a restaurant for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day lunch is yourself. You know your budget and your preferences, so my suggestion is to check OpenTable and Resy and browse the options there – I don’t even need to reiterate that reservations are essential, right? And then you can check the websites of the restaurants you like. Keep in mind that prices per person for this date start at a minimum of $100.

Christmas Mass – st. Patrick

St Patrick Cathedral will have some celebrations for New Year. See below and check details here.

December 31st

  • 7 am
  • Noon
  • 5h30 pm

January 1st

  • 7 am
  • Noon

New Year’s Eve on a budget

Let’s say you’re cool and don’t mind having a celebration in your hotel room. My suggestion is to do something simple like buying a sparkling wine, making a charcuterie board and buying some party favors.

  • Trader Joe’s is my favorite grocery store and you’ll find cheeses and snacks at great prices. There are a lot of locations in the city. Whole Foods is a great choice as well. If you live in the US, you probably know other grocery stores.
  • To find wines, sparkling wines, and other beverages, just search for the nearest Liquor Store. If you’re near Union Square, it’s worth checking out Trader Joe’s Wine Store.
  • To buy party favors and props, stop by a Party City store.

Also, check what it is open on December 31 and January 1st:

Some ticketed attractions open on December 31:

Some ticketed attractions open on January 1st:

I hope you enjoyed this post! I dedicated many hours of work to this content – please support my work! Whether using affiliate links or sharing this post! 🙂

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