New York City is famous for the crowds that fill Times Square every year on December 31, but you won't find many native New Yorkers at this very touristy celebration. Elsewhere in the city, bars will be packed with partiers celebrating the New Year, but if that's not your scene, there are many other ways to celebrate, from a classy night out at one of the city's finest cultural institutions to a midnight bike ride through Washington Square Park. You may need to book tickets way in advance for some events, but some you can attend at the last minute.
In 2020, some New Year's Eve events were canceled or altered in some way. Be sure to check the official organizer's websites for the latest updates.
Get Classy With the Performing Arts
For a high-class night on the town, look to special New Year's Eve programming at esteemed performing arts venues like The Metropolitan Opera. The Met canceled in-person performances in 2020, but made tickets available for those wanting to livestream the New Year's Eve Gala on December 31. Normally, the black-tie Gala Dinner Package usually includes a post-performance dinner and dance on the Mercedes T. Bass Grand Tier, where you can see the midnight fireworks erupt throughout New York City.
Run Into the New Year
In 2020, the midnight run shifted to a virtual event using the NYRR racing app that lets participants sync up from wherever they are in the city or the world.
Get your new year off to a running start—literally—courtesy of the NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park. The casual and fun 4-mile run, sponsored by the New York Road Runners organization, usually starts near Bethesda Terrace at the stroke of midnight, set underneath a scheduled 15-minute fireworks display in the park. Qualifying runners are even eligible for cash prizes.
Cruise the Harbor
Some cruise lines may be closed for the 2020 season or have changed how they operate to maintain social distancing, so be sure to thoroughly read the cruise line's website and protocol before you book.
Head out into New York Harbor for a New Year's Eve to remember, complete with stunning Manhattan skyline views and a midnight fireworks display. Classic Harbor Line, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Hornblower Cruises, and World Yacht are among the local cruise companies that offer evening sailing parties, dinner, open bars, live DJs, and more. The water is a prime viewing spot for a New Year's Eve firework display over the New York skyline, and a spot on the tour saves you from having to stake out a spot.
Pedal and Dance
Bundle up and pedal your way into the new year, courtesy of the annual New Year's Eve bike ride hosted by the environmentally-minded group Time's Up. Participants in the event can join ranks with the rest of the two-wheeled gang (though skaters are welcomed, too) at the archway in Washington Square Park at 10 p.m., and then make their way through Manhattan before winding down at Central Park’s Belvedere Castle at 11:45 p.m. Revelers arrive just in time for an informal dance party with the group (festive dress is requested), as Central Park's midnight fireworks display gets underway.
New Year's Eve at the Comedy Cellar
In 2020, the Comedy Cellar, Fat Black Pussy Cat, and Carolines decided to close during New Year's Eve.
Laugh your way into the new year with New Year's Eve at the Comedy Cellar. New York's most famous comedy club always has a lineup of comedians, a countdown, and ball-drop festivities. Tickets are available online and there is a two-drink minimum.
If the show is sold out at the Comedy Cellar and its sister club the Fat Black Pussy Cat, you can also try the New Year’s Eve Spectacular at Carolines on Broadway for two big shows featuring the country’s very best comedians. Carolines will show the countdown in Times Square live on a 10-foot screen and also has party favors, a live DJ, and dancing after midnight.
Restaurants in New York City will be closed for indoor dining over New Year's Eve 2020, although some may still be open for outdoor dining. Typically, restaurants in New York City put out special menus for New Year's Eve and may even host ticketed parties. A few restaurants planning special takeaway menus for the end of the year celebration include Boqueria and Sushi Noz.