There’s no doubt about it: New York is a city with a real knack for celebration. Annual highlights here include the all-out magnificence of the holiday displays and decorations that transform the streets over the festive period, as well as joyous parades on St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day… and more. This isn’t only the city that never sleeps; it’s the city that never does anything by halves.
New Year in New York sees some of the most spectacular celebrations of all. As in most major cities, New Year’s Eve celebrations here involve fireworks, bright lights, popping champagne corks and plenty of kissing. But what sets New York apart is its inimitable atmosphere. This is arguably the world’s most iconic city, and no matter what kind of show others might put on, they simply can’t compare.
Our New York City Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tours are the ideal way to take in the major sights of the city as you prepare for the New Year fun, or to take you directly to the spots – like Times Square – where all the action is happening. 48-hour tickets and 72-hour tickets are among the options available, so you can take as much time as you need.
So how should you actually spend your New Year’s Eve in New York? Here are some suggestions that, in our experience, never fail.
Join the New Year Party in Times Square
This is such a famous New Year’s activity that we really had to put it right at the top of the list. The most high-profile party in the city takes place in Times Square, where live music and fireworks keep the mood feeling appropriately exuberant. The climax of the night is seeing the Times Square Ball drop at midnight – marking the beginning of the new year and resulting in uproarious cheering from the crowd. The event is broadcast all over the world.
Tickets to Times Square itself tend to sell out pretty quickly, but you can get a nice clear view of the ball drop from several streets away as well.
Take a Cruise on the Hudson River
It’s hard to imagine a travel experience more unforgettable than seeing in the new year from the deck of a boat cruising down the Hudson. New Year’s boat trips are understandably very much in demand, but if you can beg, borrow or steal a ticket, we recommend you do. You can expect dinner and dancing, and the champagne will be flowing freely. But the best part, of course, is getting the perfect view of that unmistakable New York skyline lit up by fireworks at the stroke of midnight.
Hit the Clubs
Whether it’s a breathless all-nighter at a mega-club or an upscale experience at an ultra-exclusive cocktail bar that you’re after, New York City offers up seemingly endless options. The city’s bars and clubs offer all kinds of packages at New Year, many of them including special features like dinner or free-flow booze. For a true once-in-a-lifetime New Year, try to track down a ticket to a place with a rooftop bar. The sight of the city bursting into celebration at midnight will stay with you forever.
Celebrate Over Dinner
New York is a foodie’s playground in any season, but over the festive period and especially at New Year, the city’s restaurants really up their game. Many restaurants offer one-off New Year menus and stay open long enough to let you enjoy that all-important midnight high right at your table. You might prefer to incorporate a New Year feast into your plan before going on to a bar, club or party, though. In any case, reserve your table early, as at New Year the most in-demand restaurants are, well, even more in demand.
See a New Year Show
You don’t need to be outside to get the full New York experience at New Year. January 31 is one of the biggest nights of the year for performance in the city. Comedy clubs fill up fast, with some – such as Caroline’s on Broadway – offering a full package that involves dinner and a party alongside your laughs. Live music venues in every neighborhood also save some of their biggest-name bookings for New Year.
Go Running… in Costume
As well as all the much-loved New Year options above, New York serves up plenty of quirkier takes on the New Year party, too. One of our favorites is the New York Road Runners’ Midnight Run, a costumed late-night run through Central Park. There are prizes for the weirdest outfit, so make sure you get as creative as possible.
Get your New Year plan organized now – our full selection of New York City tours is a brilliant place to start.