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What to Do on New Year's Eve in NYC

Updated: March 8, 2024

Watching the ball drop in Times Square might seem like the best place to be on New Year's Eve.

But as local tour guides, we know first-hand that there are many other awesome ways to ring in the new year in the city!

We've called on these experiences to create this guide of eight options to celebrate.

We also gathered some ideas from the roughly 200,000 members of our popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook Group.

The members of this group are New Yorkers, like our tour guides, repeat visitors, and newbies to NYC.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So take a look at our group after you've finished reading this post for more insights.

1. See The Ball Drop In Times Square

Let's start with what is perhaps the most sought-after New Year's Eve experience.

For many, watching the Times Square ball drop is the ultimate way to spend New Year’s Eve, though it takes patience and stamina. It's not for the claustrophobic!

As part of the annual Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, there are musical performances. It airs on ABC, should you decide to stay in.

Our post, How To Watch The Ball Drop In Times Square, goes over everything you need to know to be part of this occasion.

Some of our guides feel that everyone in New York City should be part of this New Year's Eve celebration at least once in a lifetime.

Others steer clear of the area and opt for other activities like those mentioned in this post.

It's worth exploring other options should the Times Square celebration prove more than you can handle.

2. Gather On The Brooklyn Bridge At Midnight

If you are planning to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge during your trip, why not do it on New Year’s Eve?

This is an informal tradition and quite a popular one.

Brooklyn Bridge on New Year's Eve

Revelers walk over the bridge and count down the clock to midnight among strangers, both locals and tourists.

The vibe is festive and friendly. The views of the city skyline and the harbor are fantastic. 

3. Take A Fireworks Cruise

Here are some of the best New Year's Eve cruises and boat rides. Most serve food, drinks, and a view of fireworks.

A few include an open bar with unlimited cocktails, beer, wine, and soft drinks, live entertainment, a live DJ, and more.

What you get depends on how much you are willing to spend.

You will be pleasantly surprised by the prices of some of these cruises and what you get for your money. Check them out!

Find out about Boat Tours and Cruises in New York City available all year.

4. Celebrate In Central Park

Central Park is a wonderful place to visit year-round. Each December 31st, there are two events to choose from.


Fireworks are launched in Central Park each New Year’s from the Bow Bridge, in the of the park. You can see them from just about anywhere in the park.

Several of our local guides go every year for the somewhat mellow and festive environment.

New Years Eve Central Park

Note that around 8 p.m., some entrances to the park are closed for safety reasons.

As our past experience has shown, it's a good idea to arrive early, bundle up, and bring some hot chocolate to drink while you wait for the midnight pyrotechnics show.

Midnight Run

Start the New Year off with a brisk 4-mile run at midnight! 

This annual event is sponsored by the New York Road Runners Club. See the NYRR website for information and to register for the run.

5. Watch The Ball Drop From Your Hotel

Of the many hotels in Times Square, a few have rooms that offer great views of Times Square.

Others have rooftops and common areas with views like this!

view from St Cloud Bar

Hotels with rooftops and common viewing areas:

Hotels that have rooms with views:

Room rates will be sky-high, but we can assure you that you’ll have an incredible time!

If you are considering staying in Times Square, see our post Where to Stay in Times Square.

6. Attend An Exclusive New Year's Party

There are many restaurants and clubs in Times Square that throw New Year’s Eve parties, which typically include dinner and a champagne toast. Some have open bars as well.

However, just because the restaurant is in Times Square does not mean that they have views of the ball.

New Years Eve Party

See the official Times Square Alliance website for a list of New Year's Eve Parties in Times Square.

NOTE: Beware of people selling “All-Access” passes for New Year’s Eve, promising access to multiple venues. These passes are not valid for access to locations promised and worse, many of the passes sold were counterfeit.

You should also consider spending your evening at a no-cover-charge restaurant in Times Square.

One of our guide's cousins visited from Germany and they went to the Long Room Irish Pub, had a great meal, and enjoyed live music.

Once the ball dropped, they stepped into Times Square to celebrate and were able to keep their spot at the bar.

7. Head To Brooklyn For Free Fireworks

For free fun and fireworks, head to Brooklyn! 

While you are out in New York City’s most populated borough, check out some of these other things to do in Brooklyn.

Coney Island Fireworks

This annual event takes place on the boardwalk and features live music and a pyrotechnic show at midnight.

See the official Coney Island website.

Read more about things to do in Coney Island all year.

Prospect Park Fireworks

This annual - and popular - celebration occurs at Grand Army Plaza just north of Prospect Park located in Park Slope.

Starting at 11 p.m., surrounding the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, built in 1892, there will be live music and free hot chocolate. 

At midnight, fireworks are launched and look magnificent in the sky above this gorgeous historic arch.

Find out more here.

8. New Year’s Eve At Madame Tussauds

Celebrate with your favorite celebrities - in wax form- at this all-ages party! 

There will be food, an open bar (ages over 21), and a special 4-D cinema experience (with wind, snow, mist, and scent). 

This activity is especially family-friendly! Read more about Madame Tussauds.

Even on New Year’s Eve, most of NYC is open for business.

You can go out to eat, grab drinks, hear live music, see a movie, or just walk around and take in the celebratory mood. 

Also, plenty of other fun things are happening that night besides those above. See what else is on that night from our post, What to Do in December in NYC.

No matter what you do, New York City is THE place to be for New Year’s Eve!

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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”. READ MORE...
Updated: March 8th, 2024
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