Updated with list of nightclubs, cruises, etc.
If there is anything more intimidating to some people than spending New Year’s Eve in New York City, it’s spending it there to ring in a new decade. I heard of one group that celebrates New Year’s Eve in July so that they can stay home on December 31st feeling guilt-free.
But with a little planning, millions take the plunge and actually wind up having a good time, however loudly — or quietly — each individual defines a good time. So let’s take a look at what there is to do.
SPENDING NEW YEAR’S EVE IN TIMES SQUARE
From the organizers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square comes this overview, so you know what is in store for you if you join the millions who ring in the new year at the Crossroads of the World (as I myself have done three times in my lifetime)
“For 105 years, Times Square has been the center of worldwide attention on New Year’s Eve, ever since the owners of One Times Square began in 1904 to conduct rooftop celebrations to greet the New Year. The first Ball Lowering celebration occurred in 1907, and this tradition is now a universal symbol of welcoming the New Year.
Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. By approximately 4:00 p.m., the Bow Tie of Times Square (42nd to 47th Sts. between Broadway & 7th Ave.) is fully closed to traffic. Revelers are directed by the NYPD to gather in separate viewing sections. As one section fills up, the revelers are directed by police to the next viewing section. As the evening progresses, revelers continue to fill the Times Square neighborhood along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to as far as Central Park.
6:00 p.m. to 6:05 p.m.
Opening Ceremonies – Lighting and Raising the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball
The celebration begins with the raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square. With the flip of a giant switch, the New Year’s Eve Ball illuminates and begins its ascent accompanied by special pyrotechnic effects atop One Times Square.
7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Times Square 2010 Handouts
The Times Square Alliance sanitation crews clad in bright red uniforms begin to distribute tens of thousands of fun handouts to the Times Square revelers for cheering in the New Year.
The Sixty-Second Countdown
The Times Square 2010 Special Guest and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg push the Waterford crystal button that signals the descent of the New Year’s Eve Ball, and lead the final sixty-second countdown to the New Year.
The New Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball
The lighted Ball descends 70 feet in sixty seconds. The Ball is a geodesic sphere, twelve feet in diameter, weighing 11,875 pounds. The Ball is covered with 2668 Waterford crystal triangles and lit by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs.
12:00 a.m. — New Year’s Day
At the stroke of Midnight, the lights on the New Year’s Eve Ball are turned off as the numerals of the New Year â€œ2010â€ burst to life shining high above Times Square.
Times Square Confetti Release and Pyrotechnic Effects
The world-famous New Year’s Eve confetti is released from the rooftops of buildings throughout Times Square creating a celebratory blizzard of colorful confetti as revelers welcome the New Year accompanied by colorful pyrotechnic effects.
12:15 a.m. – End of Show.”
Implicit in this account is a simple fact of physics: If you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square, you should expect to get there in the early evening and be unable to leave until after midnight. Plan to do some walking when you leave; it is extremely unlikely you will be able to get a taxicab or even take public transportation.
DINING OUT ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
Open Table, the restaurant reservation Web site, lists some 270 New York City restaurants in Manhattan alone, from 1 Nocella to Zucchero e Pomodori, that are featuring special New Year’s Eve celebrations. Most of them offer a choice of seatings â€“ either earlier in the evening, so that you can make it in time elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or party-hat-equipped
seatings that allow you to witness the turn of the new decade, often (but not always) on a television turned on to watch the ball drop in Times Square.
SEEING LIVE THEATER
Most Broadway shows are “dark” (not having a performance) on New Year’s Eve; they probably consider it impractical if not an abuse of the audience to draw them to the theater district (of which, after all, Times Square is a part) when the streets are packed with millions of revelers.
However, Playbill’s New Year’s holiday schedule shows the following Broadway shows are offering performances on Thursday, December 31, 2009: “Chicago” at 3 p.m.; “Jersey Boys” at 2 p.m.; “The Lion King” at 2 p.m.; “South Pacific” at 7 p.m. (it’s at Lincoln Center, relatively far from Times Square); “Wishful Drinking” at 8 p.m. (Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show is at Studio 54 on 54th Street, which for my money is uncomfortably close to the 42nd Street ball-dropping, but let’s presume the theater knows what it’s doing.) However, New Year’s Day on Friday and over the ensuing weekend, nearly every Broadway show is giving performances; again, check the schedule. (And, for the uninitiated, please understand that you are unlikely to get a ticket unless you buy them in advance.)
Those in the know, however, know that there is more than one theater district in New York City, and may want to check out what is playing New Year’s Eve Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.
For some of my recommendations for holiday theater-going in general, check out this post of mine: Broadway During The Holidays 2009: Recommendations for Theatergoing.
NEW YEAR’S EVE NIGHTCLUBS
Prefer to celebrate New Year’s more traditionally, by getting soused at a nightclub? Here is a list of some 80 club events that you can choose from.
NEW YEAR’S EVE CONCERTS
Mariah Carey New Year’s Eve Concert at Wamu Theater at Madison Square Garden
New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve: Hampson, Gershwin, Copland & Broadway at Avery Fisher Hall at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Feinstein & Barbara Cook New Years Eve 2009 shows at 6 and 9 p.m.
New Year’s Eve Gala with â€œCarmenâ€ at the Met Opera at 6:30 p.m.
New Year’s Eve at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola — Paquito D’Rivera & Brazilian Dreams
w/the New York Voices
Gov’t Mule at the Beacon Theater at 9 p.m.
Fischerspooner at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza at 10 p.m.
New Year’s Eve Ball w/ MSTRKRFT at Webster Hall
Gaelic Storm and The Spring Standards at Gramercy Theater at 10 p.m.
NYGASP Champagne Gala Gilbert & Sullivan Favorites at Symphony Space at 8 p.m.
New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine featuring Judy Collins, Glen Cortese, Lauren Flannigan and others at 7 p.m.
Free Organ Concert to usher in the New Year at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue at 11 p.m. featuring works by Bach, BÃ¶hm, Langlais and, at the stroke of midnight, Copland’s â€œFanfare for the Common Manâ€
New Year’s Eve Celebration at Bargemusic with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
New Year’s Eve with Steve Tyrell at The Carlyle
Los Lobos at City Winery at 7:30 and 11 p.m.
Chuck Berry at 8 and 11 p.m. at BB King Blues Club
Circle Line Cruise boards at 9 p.m.
New York Waterways New Year’s Harbor Cruise, departs from four locations including Pier 78.
Half Moon party cruise
New Year’s Eve Spirit Cruise
World Yacht Cruises
WALKING AND RUNNING
Walking and Running
Big Onion’s Historic Lower Manhattan – New York in a New Year 1 p.m.
Uncle Sam’s walking tours:
Broadway Theater District Walking Tour, 11 a.m.
Alexander Hamilton Financial District Walking Tour, 1 p.m.
Edgar Allan Poe Greenwich Village Walking Tour , 2 p.m.
Heroes of the World Trade Center Walking Tour, 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Lights walking tour, 4 p.m.
Ghosts of NY walking tou Greenwich Village Pub Crawl 9 p.m.
New York Road Runners’ Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park
OTHER THINGS TO DO ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
to be continued Come back for our lists of bell-pealings.