19 Fun Ideas to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in NYC

As a local New Yorker, I’m here to give you the inside scoop on enjoying New York City, New Year’s Eve style! NYE in NYC is an adventure filled with endless possibilities. From dazzling shows to dancing atop the city’s best rooftop bars, and witnessing spectacular fireworks lighting up the skyline, the options for New Year’s Eve in NYC are plentiful. To make your choice easier, here is my list of the absolute best things to do on NYE in NYC.

I. New York City New Year’s Eve Tips 

While New Years in NYC can be a lot of fun, there are some practical tips to consider to ensure that you have a great night.

  • Deciding what to wear in New York City on New Year’s Eve can be tricky. NYC in January is freezing, so pack lots of layers and wear a warm coat on top of your cute outfit!
  • On NYE, NYC Uber prices skyrocket and subways aren’t as frequent late at night. Try to keep your NYE plans near your hotel or apartment, so that getting home at the end of the night won’t be a huge hassle.
  • New Year’s Eve events in NYC can be a lot of fun, but the truth is many are overcrowded, overpriced, and often overwhelming. If this isn’t your thing, NYE could be a great time to consider one of the amazing weekend winter getaways from NYC.
  • In NYC, NYE events sell out incredibly fast, and prices will often increase in the days leading up to the holiday. Book your tickets far in advance, and be prepared for long wait times and very large crowds inside these venues.

II. Best Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in NYC + Special Events

1. NYC New Year’s Eve Cruise

Celebrate NYE in NYC with a festive cruise and ring in the New Year with dinner, dancing, and some of the best views in the city!

2. NYRR Midnight Run

If the New York Marathon is one of your favorite things to do in NYC in November, then you’ll love celebrating the New Year with this Midnight Run! The race starts when the clock strikes midnight, just as the fireworks display begins. Runners follow a 4-mile route through Central Park, and all participants receive a New Balance t-shirt as a souvenir.

3. Watch a Company XVI Show ★

Head to Brooklyn for one of the most risque New Year’s Eve shows in NYC! Company XIV produces incredibly lavish burlesque performances, and on December 31st there are two unforgettable shows to choose from. Sip on petite cocktails during Cocktail Magique’s extravagant variety show, or catch a 10 pm production of Nutcracker Rouge, a seductive retelling of the classic Nutcracker ballet!

4. House of Yes ★

In NYC, NYE parties at House of Yes are known for being outlandish and always guarantee a memorable night. Located in Bushwick, this former Brooklyn warehouse serves as both a nightclub and performing arts space, with genres including theater, dance, cabaret, and circus performances.

On New Year’s Eve, they’ll host the special New Year’s Eve party GALA GALACTICA.

On December 30th, come enjoy their famous Dirty Circus Show’s.

Tickets for both events can be purchased on their website, and often sell out quickly!

5. Comedy Cellar

For one of the funniest New Year’s Eve shows in NYC, head to the legendary Comedy Cellar! This historic West Village comedy club is known for hosting both celebrity comedians and hysterical newcomers. New Year’s Eve is no exception, and chances are high that you’ll close off the year with a few exciting surprise guests. Book your tickets in advance, as they do tend to sell out quickly.

6. Coney Island + Polar Bear Plunge ★

For one of the most unique New Year’s Eve celebrations in NYC, head to Coney Island. Ride the famous ferris wheel, enjoy live entertainment, admire a spectacular fireworks display from the pier, and dance the night away at a Disco Dance Party!

If you’re feeling brave, join hundreds of others on January 1st for the Polar Bear Plunge and jump into the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean from Coney Island!

7. The Last New Year’s Eve at The McKittrick Hotel

In NYC, New Year’s Eve parties at this swanky hotel are legendary. Their annual celebration includes an open bar, amazing live performances, and endless hours of dancing into the New Year. The trendy hotel is located in Chelsea and ticket prices usually begin around $300. 

8. NYC’s Best Jazz Spots

If you want to guarantee a night of great music on NYE, NYC has tons of fantastic jazz bars to check out!

  • Lunatico: This cozy Bed Stuy, Brooklyn bar features nightly live music performances, spanning a variety of genres. Spend the last night of the year listening to talented musicians while enjoying a delicious dinner and intricate cocktails.
  • BrownstoneJAZZ: This restored, 19th century Victorian brownstone in Bed Stuy promises an intimate night of unforgettable jazz performances and a delicious fish fry dinner.
  • Ornithology Jazz Club: This Bushwick, Brooklyn jazz club is the perfect place to celebrate NYE in NYC. Sip on inventive cocktails and dine on a delicious pop up menu while talented musicians show off their skills around a stunning grand piano.
  • Village Vanguard: This iconic West Village jazz club is one of the most popular in the city. They do not serve or allow any food inside, so plan to have dinner before beginning your New Year’s Eve celebrations.
  • Birdland Jazz Club: Originally opened in 1949, this historic club has been a long time haven for jazz lovers! Dinner and drinks are served before and during performances, and their NYE tickets range from $50-$150.

9. Best NYC Bars & Rooftops

In New York City, New Year’s Eve events can be found at pretty much any bar. While the city’s club scene may be lacking, we have some of the world’s best bars- along with incredible cocktails to help ring in the New Year!

  • The Rockaway Hotel: Celebrate the New Year with views of the Atlantic Ocean from this chic rooftop bar in Rockaway Beach, Brooklyn. Their NYE celebration includes cocktails and a premium open bar, plus live music and dancing. 
  • Boom Boom Room: Located on the 18th floor of the trendy Standard Hotel, this extravagant club in the Meatpacking District is the place to be if you want to go all out for New Years. Expect impeccable views, decadent cocktails, and incredible live music.
  • St. Cloud Rooftop: This is the perfect answer to those who want to see the ball drop in NYC, but in a much more comfortable setting. Located on the rooftop of The Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square, their party guarantees amazing views of the fireworks, and you can choose from a range of package options.
  • Penthouse on Rivington: Situated at the top of Hotel Rivington, this massive Lower East Side Penthouse features a spacious roof deck, unrivaled views of the city, and an incredibly chic ambiance.
  • Cafe Balearica: This inviting Williamsburg, Brooklyn venue is perfect for a low-key night of drinks and dancing. The space features an upstairs bar, plus a downstairs club with a DJ.
  • Canary Club: This Lower East Side bar serves NOLA-inspired cuisine and drinks, and is known for its fun basement lounge with live music. For New Year’s Eve, they offer a prix-fixe menu along with a live show.
  • The Wilson: Delicious seafood and an extensive drinks menu are served at this gorgeous NoMad restaurant. Tickets for their NYE party often sell out quickly (and get more expensive closer to the event), so try to book ahead of time!
  • Arlo Williamsburg Hotel: This posh Brooklyn bar is known for its rooftop pool and unique water tower bar. Their NYE parties usually include multiple stages with live performances and dj’s.  
  • Good Room: This popular Greenpoint nightclub rings in the New Year with an open bar, champagne toast, and extremely talented DJ’s!
  • Stitch Bar: This popular blue’s bar in the Garment District hosts New York City’s Annual New Year’s Eve Party. The festive night includes an open bar, free appetizers, a champagne toast, games, and a DJ, all spread over two floors. 
  • LeGrande Lounge: The Time Hotel NYC New Year’s Eve party is hosted at this lavish Midtown lounge, complete with hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and a midnight toast. 
  • Capitale: In lower Manhattan, the New Year’s Eve at Capitale party promises to be a luxurious affair, with plenty of dancing, a champagne toast, and a 6 hour premium open bar.

10. Watch the Midnight Fireworks

One of the best things to do in NYC on New Year’s Eve is to watch a fireworks show at midnight. These magical displays can be seen at various locations throughout the city, and are entirely free!

  • Prospect Park: Head to Grand Army Plaza for live music, warm drinks, and a spectacular fireworks extravaganza right at midnight.
  • Bow Bridge Central Park: Grab a picnic blanket and head to the park early to pick a spot (the fireworks can be viewed from most areas of Central Park).
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: This classic landmark is one of the most popular spots to watch the fireworks, and guarantees an amazing view- plus a pretty huge crowd.
  • Near the Statue of Liberty: Head to the waterfront (ideally in Battery Park or Brooklyn Heights) to view the incredible fireworks display over the Statue of Liberty.
  • Times Square: While I don’t recommend spending NYE here, it is one of the prime locations for midnight fireworks each year. 

11. High Quality Clubs in NYC for NYE

  • Brooklyn Mirage: This Bushwick massive music venue in the Avant Gardner complex will overwhelm you with its immersive space. Enjoy the drinks, lights, and impressive sound system on its Cityfox New Year’s Eve show. If you like house, come here.
  • Brooklyn Steel: Also in Bushwick and just 5 minutes from Brooklyn Mirage, this live music venue will also host Kream Presents: In the Lab, a New Year’s Eve show with the famous house music producer Max Styler.
  • Ascent Lounge: With its amazing drinks and entertaining performances, this luxurious lounge offers an unforgettable cocktail lounge experience. Located at Columbus Circle, this flaunts a beautiful view of Central Park, too. 
  • 48 Lounge: This sophisticated cocktail lounge in Midtown Manhattan has an impeccable atmosphere and service, which sets the bar high. You might see some famous stars here, too
  • House of Yes: So great we gave it it’s own section at #4.  But in addition to the regular fun stuff they do, they’ll host a special New Year’s Eve party GALA GALACTICA.
  • The Box: This place is a bit of an elite enigma. Everyone who goes doesn’t know how to explain the visceral experience. It’s erotic. It’s shocking. It’s fancy. They haven’t publicly published a NYE event, but text them on Whatsapp to book a table ahead of time.

12. Midnight Yoga or Meditation

On New Year’s, NYC events are rarely peaceful- though this annual guided meditation is a definite exception. For 28 years, New Yorkers have been blissfully celebrating the New Year at the Kadampa Meditation Center in Chelsea. The mindful evening begins at 9 pm until midnight, and costs $50 to join.

13. Private House Parties

On New Year’s Eve, NYC events and parties aren’t hard to find. But the truth is, you’re almost always better off going to a house party. Between insane traffic, endlessly long lines (plus annoyed bouncers), and overpriced tickets, private house parties are the best places to be on NYE in NYC.

14. NOT the Ball Drop at Times Square, Unless…

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve in NYC, you should probably avoid the touristy Times Square ball drop from One Times Square. The event requires spending the entire day outside in a massive crowd, often without the ability to even leave for a bathroom break (some people actually wear diapers)! By the time the clock strikes midnight, many in the crowd are freezing, starving, and agitated- making for a truly anticlimactic way to start the year.

OK but if you’re still dead set on this, I have an elite hack for you! Stay at the Tempo Hilton Hotel which has views of the ball dropping from the comfort of your high-rise hotel room! And they’ll have a party in their bar as well.

Another Time Square option is to join this private New Year’s Eve party at 48 Lounge. You still get the Times Square vibes minus freezing yourself outside in a massive crowd!

III. Day Time New Year’s Eve Activities in NYC

15. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the best winter activities in NYC, and a perfect way to spend the last day of the year! Many of these rinks open in October, so keep them in mind if you’re also looking for activities for the fall in NYC.

  • Lafrak Center at Lakeside: Located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, enjoy 90 minutes of skate time between two different rinks.
  • Wollman Rink: Skate amongst the trees in this picturesque rink in Central Park, where timed tickets must be reserved in advance.
  • Rockefeller Center: Perhaps the most iconic rink in NYC, skaters are allowed 40-60 minutes on the ice, and reserving tickets in advance is encouraged.
  • Byrant Park: Entry to this lively ice rink is free, although you will need to pay for skate rentals if you don’t have your own.

16. The Christmas Markets

If you’re not ready to let go of the holiday spirit, these Christmas markets in NYC will remain open through the New Year: 

  • Holiday Market at the Oculus: Westfield’s annual indoor holiday market contains dozens of festive stalls selling gifts, artisanal souvenirs, and yummy treats!
  • Bryant Park Winter Village: This open-air market features numerous artisan goods, along with delicious food and hot chocolate vendors. 
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market: This charming market outside of Central Park is lined by vendors selling original crafts, delicious food, and tons of festive decor!

17. NYC Observation Decks

Spend the last day of the year admiring the best view of the city from one of these impressive observatory decks! 

  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck: Take in breathtaking views of NYC from three different floors of indoor and outdoor viewing areas. Your admission tickets allow for about 1 hour of time to explore. 
  • Empire State Building: Spend up to 1.5 hours admiring iconic views from this 86th-floor deck. Tickets also include entry to the Interactive Museum, which details the famous tower’s rich history. 
  • The Edge: Located in Hudson Yards, NYC’s highest outdoor sky deck is renowned for its entirely glass bottom. Guests are free to stay as long as they’d like, and can also enjoy a drink at the Edge bar.

18. Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour

While the ferry ride over may be a little cold, you don’t have to wait until spring in New York to tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Many people don’t realize that NYC’s coveted landmark is open on NYE, so you’ll enjoy far fewer crowds than you normally would!

  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour: Beginning at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, this tour includes roundtrip ferries and museum admission tickets, along with your choice of a live expert or audio guide.
  • New York City Statue of Liberty Super Express Cruise: This 50 minute cruise sails past the Statue of Liberty, while a knowledgeable guide details its rich history. It’s perfect if you want to sneak in a quick bit of sightseeing before getting ready for the evening!

19. See The Nutcracker Matinee

This iconic ballet is a classic show to see in NYC in December, and one of the best Christmas things to do in NYC. The last performance of the year is on December 31st at 1 pm, making it a perfect way to spend the final day of the year. The New York City Ballet’s stunning production takes place at Lincoln Center, and tickets can be purchased on their website. 

IV. My Related Blog Posts

V. About the Author: Shea Glaser

Shea was born in NYC and has called the city home for most of her life. Her work as a travel-focused content creator has taken her around the globe, but her heart always brings her back home to New York City. You can usually find her drinking coffee in Brooklyn, hiking somewhere Upstate, or running up to pet a stranger’s dog. Follow her on Instagram @sheaglaser.

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