There are few New Year’s Eve celebrations, if any, as iconic and recognizable as New York City’s – specifically the Times Square Ball Drop. The image and tradition is so widely known that over a billion people world-wide tune in and join the one million honorary New Yorkers in the streets of Time Square in counting down the world-famous 11,875 pound crystal ball.
Dropped from a 77-foot flagpole every year except 2 (due to World War II lighting restrictions) since 1907, people come from all over the world to be a part of this 108-year tradition. The main area is packed by 3pm and is full by 11pm so make sure to get there early and pack some food since leaving your spot will be nearly impossible. The 12-foot ball begins its descent, and, thus, the countdown, just before the stroke of midnight, just before a million people scream Happy New Year and 200 pounds of confetti are exploded into the New York City sky. It is holiday cheer and total insanity at its best.
According to HuffPost Travel, TimeOut, and Travel Channel New York City is one of the world’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world and there’s really no questioning why. The ball drop, while the most famous of NY’s celebrations, is only one of many to do on December 31 – so if celebrity acts, unbelievably large crowds and holiday madness aren’t for you – it’s New York City – there’s always something else to do.
Here are a few fun ways to ring in the New Year, New York Style :
Party Ride (FREE)
Leaving the Washington Square Park Arch at 10pm, everyone is invited to bike or skate to Belvedere Castle in Central Park for a dance party and fireworks to follow. Bring food and drinks to share and find more info at Time’s Up. My suggestion: dress warm.
Check out several locations for free fireworks.Brooklyn’s traditional Grand Army Plaza kicks off with live entertainment and hot refreshments at 11:00. For the fit bodies who’d rather leave the champagne hangovers in 2014, the New York Road Runner’s Midnight Run festivities will start at the Central Park Bandshell near 72nd Street. Start your celebration at 10:00 with dancing and begin the countdown at 11:59 before the fireworks show and 4-mile run begins at the stroke of midnight. I’m not much of a runner but a run under a sky lit up by fireworks might convince me to start. Visit NYRR Midnight Run for more info.
Open Bar It $-$$
Whether you are looking to be right in the heart of Times Square or just somewhere in New York City, there is a ridiculous number of open bar options spinning great music and passing out hors d’oeuvres. Prices vary but you can find many deals starting from $59. Though I’ve never been, Webster Hall’s NYE Party is legendary and boasts the largest balloon drop in most of the free world… and who doesn’t love a balloon drop? My suggestion: if you don’t like crowds and tight spaces this might not be for you. The older I got, the more the novelty of squeezing between people to get to the bar wore off.
Book a table at a restaurant $-$$$$
Like the open bar option, most restaurants in NYC have a New Year’s deal with a prix fixed menu including cocktails or champagne. Waiter service means no squeezing between people to get to the bar since the waiters will be bringing the bubbly to your table. Again, prices will vary depending on how fancy you want to get. There is a wide range of price, cuisine, and location so the city is your oyster. My suggestion: If you’re looking for an even quieter option find a restaurant away from Times Square. You’ll have enough time to finish your meal and drop into a more secluded bar for drinks to watch the ball drop on TV.
Take a Cruise $$-$$$$
A full dinner buffet, 3 hours of open bar, dancing and fireworks. It sounded fun to me too which is why I took a Harbor Cruise with friends some years back. Starting at around $100 for general admission, this is a great option for people who want to be in New York without haggling at the bar for drinks or carving out some space to dance. Check out OnCruises for NYE cruises.
There isn’t one NYE I could remember where I didn’t ring in the year with either physically in NYC or watching that famed the ball drop on TV. I take serious pride in that but also serious comfort that no matter where I am on this globe, New York City is always with me on New Year’s Eve.
Check out the links below for open bar and/or restaurant suggestions with NYE deals:Ball Drop New Year’s Eve Central OpenTable Photo Credits: Simon Pix – NYE Ball Anthony Quintano – NYE in NYC