You plan to visit New York City for the holidays and dream of having an unforgettable New Year’s Eve? Well that’s perfect timing! In this article, you’ll discover everything you can do on New Year’s Eve in New York! 😄
In fact, there is no shortage of places to celebrate the New Year in the city, and you’ll have the choice between a wide variety of places and events, each offering different vibes to spend the perfect night!
Here’s a quick overview of the best places to spend New Year’s Eve in New York City 🥳
Where to celebrate New Year's Eve in New York City?
Watch the Times Square Ball Drop
Times Square is undoubtedly the most popular place to spend the evening of December 31 in New York City. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people choose to celebrate the New Year together in this iconic location.
Sadly, even though this event is unique in the world and is part of the city’s must-sees on New Year's Eve, you’ll have to be very patient if you really want to go there – or very well-prepared. Indeed, most of the spectators get there early so as to get the best spots!
The place will be massively crowded, so you’ll have to get there well in advance if you want to be sure to actually see something 😉
Why is it so crowded? Well, because it’s actually there that the United States’ long-awaited New Year event happens. The Times Square Ball is the reason why so many people are willing to spend so much time and effort waiting for midnight. The event? A huge ball that starts rolling down from the top of the One Times Square Building shortly before midnight.
If you want to experience that moment in person, you’ll have to arrive hours before the ceremony (in the early afternoon, or even earlier if you can) and be prepared to spend long hours standing in a crowd just to watch a show that will only last… a few seconds 😅
This activity is really for those who absolutely want to see that famous Times Square Drop Ball event – but I have to admit that the atmosphere is absolutely amazing.
If you want to watch the show from a much more comfortable place and are willing to spend more than $250 per person (£198), you can buy tickets to the Times Square Ball Drop Party. That way, you will have access to a luxury suite with a bar and a buffet, where you’ll comfortably wait for midnight in a festive atmosphere and enjoy an unforgettable night!
Book your activities for New Year’s Eve ✨
You planned a trip to New York City for the New Year but you haven’t thought yet about the activities you will do once you get there? No worries, New York is known for being a city where you can never get bored – and that’s especially true during New Year’s Eve.
Cruises, guided tours, fireworks, the possibilities are endless! Just don’t forget to book your outings and visits in advance, for they are very popular during the end of year celebrations and tickets sell out fast!
Start the New Year in Central Park
Times Square might be an iconic place to celebrate the New Year, but so is Central Park. In fact, the park is the perfect place to spend the last evening of the year – especially if you are planning to visit New York with kids.
Although very lively, Central Park will still be much less crowded than Times Square. You will thus be able to walk around more easily and won’t have to stand in one place for long hours just to celebrate the New Year in New York City. Moreover, different activities for all ages are organised all over Central Park during that evening, and you’ll also enjoy a very friendly atmosphere 😁
It goes without saying that it is also the best place to watch the Central Park fireworks – which I’ll tell you more about later in this article. You can even come back the next morning to go ice skating on one of New York’s best skating rinks! ⛸️
New Years's fireworks in New York City
The Statue of Liberty's fireworks
Near Liberty Island, on New York bay, a huge fireworks display is held every December 31st. The 30-minute show is one of the most impressive New Year's Eve displays you'll ever see ✨ If you opt to see it while on a dinner cruise in New York City, you will enjoy an even better view while avoiding the crowds.
Times Square's fireworks
At midnight, a fireworks show is launched from the roof of the One Times Square. This is probably the country’s most famous fireworks display and the atmosphere is absolutely amazing. To watch it from a good position, you'll have to get there very early and stand for long hours, all while being in the middle of a huge crowd.
As such, you’ll have to leave your hotel early to get to Times Square long before midnight if you want to experience this unique moment.
Central Park's fireworks
The Central Park fireworks start at midnight, and you can watch them from inside the park or in its immediate vicinity. The fireworks are launched from Cherry Hill, Belvedere Castle and the Bow Bridge.
Besides these, concerts, dance performances and family activities are organised in the park throughout the evening, and the first firework marks the start of the Midnight Run – which I’ll tell you more about in a bit.
Prospect Park's fireworks
In Brooklyn, you can attend several fireworks displays, but the most impressive one is in Prospect Park. Starting at 10 pm, the show takes place at the Grand Army Plaza – and from midnight onwards, you can watch a large fireworks display that lasts about 15 minutes.
This is one of the most popular fireworks displays in the city and, if your hotel is not too far away and you wish to get the most out of the show, I recommend going to the park (on West Drive side), or directly to the Grand Army Plaza! 🎆
What to do on New Year's Eve in New York City?
Go to a concert or a show!
Although there are concerts all year round in New York, it is on New Year's Eve that you’ll find the largest choice of shows. Some of the big star concerts are one-offs, while others are held every year. Some of the city’s venues, such as Pier 36, hold New Year’s Eve parties every year. Among the most famous recurring concerts are:
- Jessie’s Girl and their special annual concert “New Year’s Eve Party with Jessie’s Girl”, which pays tribute to the greatest hits of the 1980s.
- The Future Positive New Year’s Eve Party which has been held in the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space since 2013. This party offers live music and crazy performances in a particularly joyous atmosphere! 🥳
In addition to these great concerts, you can also attend different shows with your family:
- Broadway is obviously the most iconic theatre neighbourhood – in this mythical avenue, you can attend all kinds of musicals all year-round. It definitely is something you must experience at least once! However, remember to book your ticket in advance to make sure that you’ll be able to attend Broadway’s best musicals.
- You can also enjoy a fun-filled evening for the whole family at the AMC complex near Times Square. Between 7 pm and 1 am, the AMC Times Square NYE Family Fun Fest features DJ performances and screenings of the latest blockbusters. You will even have the opportunity to sing, dance and also have access to the arcades 🙌
- At the McKittrick Hotel, you can celebrate the New Year by attending the King’s Winter Masquerade. All night long, you will enjoy a dinner-show, live jazz bands performances, art exhibits and a dance floor party. It is surely a way to spend a nice evening in that hotel 😊
Have you considered going to an observatory? 🏙️
Why not spend New Year’s Eve in an observatory, to best admire the fireworks? The Empire State Building is of course a must-see if you plan to visit New York – the building even stays open for the New Year! 😄 Not only will you get to see the fireworks from an exceptional position, you’ll also enjoy a unique view of the city’s main landmarks. This will definitely make for an extraordinary evening!
Don’t forget to book your ticket in advance though, or you may not be able to access the platform 😉
Go on a cruise for New Year's Eve
Some cruise lines offer to take a New Year's Eve trip and spend an evening on board a ship. There are several options available, and you can simply watch the fireworks while sipping a glass of champagne, or choose the dinner and DJ dance party option, all while cruising on the Hudson River 🥂
If you want to eat on board, I would recommend dinner cruises rather than buffet cruises. Firstly, if you are travelling as a couple, dinner cruises make for a very romantic moment, which you will not forget anytime soon 😊 Also, cruises that only offer an open buffet are often more crowded. On board, you won't always be able to find a place from which to comfortably eat and enjoy the view of the skyline of Manhattan.
Whichever option you choose, the highlight of the cruise will be the Statue of Liberty fireworks display, which you will be able to enjoy far better than from most land-based locations. The free 24/7 Staten Island Ferry can also be boarded to enjoy the fireworks in New York Bay 😃
Go out to party!
Spending New Year’s in New York City is your chance to party! 🥳 If you are travelling with your partner or with your friends, why not go to a bar or a night club? Celebrating the New Year surrounded by your loved ones is a great way to mark the occasion – but it is even better if you are partying!
Speaking of, why don’t you check my article on the best rooftop bars in New York City? You’ll find the best places to party, all while enjoying a stunning view of the Big Apple and its fireworks! 🤩
Celebrate the new Year vigorously
If you want to have a sporty New Year's Eve in the city, you can choose between three famous gatherings 🙂
The Bike Ride
The New Year’s Eve Bike Ride will take you on a bike ride from Washington Square Park to Belvedere Castle. The meeting point is in Washington Square Park at 10 pm. There is no charge to participate in this ride, but you will be asked to dress up – you and your bike both! 😄
The Midnight Run in Central Park
This run, organised by the New York Road Runner, takes place every year on 31 December. While the fireworks are in full swing, the 4-mile run (about 6.5 km) is launched from the bandstand in Central Park. To participate, you'll need to pay a $60 entry fee (£45), and register by December 15 on the New York Road Runner website.
During the two hours leading up to the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, there will be live entertainments and even a costume parade 🥳 Some participants will not hesitate to keep their costumes on to run. As soon as the first fireworks sparkle in the night sky, the runners take off and run through a good portion of Central Park. It is an incredible experience to live or even to simply see!
The Brooklyn Bridge Walk
Every year, thousands of people go to New York City to spend New Year’s Eve. If the crowds aren't your cup of tea, why not go to one of the most famous bridges in the world: the Brooklyn Bridge! Every year on New Year’s Eve, a large number of new-yorkers leave from the centre of the city to cross the bridge on foot.
From the bridge, you will see the fireworks of the New York port but also those of Staten Island, a bit further away. Just remember to start walking before midnight so as to be certain to see the fireworks once you get to the middle of the bridge – don’t be late! 😉
And this concludes my article on how to spend New Year's Eve in New York City! As you have just read, there are many things to do on that evening. No matter what you choose, you're sure to have an amazing and magical moment in the city. Happy New Year! 😁
And by the way, if you want to plan your trip even better, you can also check my articles on what to do in New York and where to sleep in New York to find all the good addresses 👍