My annual New Year’s Eve guide features the Broadway show schedule for New Year’s week, and other shows, parties, concerts, intimate dinners, cruises, outdoor events and quiet alternatives you can still do on New Year’s Eve 2017 (when 2016 turns into 2017) in New York City. Also free events — and TV listings.
Only eight percent of Americans reportedly say they plan to go out on New Year’s Eve. For those who haven’t made those plans yet, here are some ideas:
The New Year’s Eve tradition in Times Square began in 1904 with a rooftop celebration to greet the New Year. Three years later, they started lowering a ball.
From the organizers comes this overview of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, so you know what is in store for you if you decide to stand at the Crossroads of the World for New Year’s Eve
3 p.m. Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. By approximately 3:00 PM., the Bowtie of Times Square (42nd to 47th Sts. between Broadway & 7th Ave.) is fully closed to traffic. The crowd, in the millions, could go as far uptown as Central Park, 17 blocks away.
Another way of saying this: If you want to be within naked-eyesight of the Times Square ball, arrive in the afternoon, and be prepared to stand immobile until the ball drops at midnight. Huddle with friends and loved ones for warmth.
6 p.m. The celebration begins with the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square.
Following is an evening of entertainment — although, if you’re looking solely to be entertained, standing in Time Square might not be the best option.
11:16 – 11;19 p.m. “The Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news gathering organization, presents a news reel highlighting some of the most memorable events of 2016.”
Mariah Carey performs medley of Auld Lang Syne, Emotions and We Belong Together on the Countdown Stage. (The picture is of Carey performing at Times Square on New Year’s Eve a decade ago.)
The Sixty-Second Countdown
The Mayor of New York City and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon push the Waterford crystal button that signals the 70-foot descent of the New Year’s Eve Ball over 60 seconds, as everybody counts down.
Confetti, “2017” sign in lights, lots of hugging and wishing for a Happy New Year
I’ve spent three New Year’s Eves in Times Square, which is probably two more than necessary, but found each memorable. Do keep in mind, though, that the highlights will be televised. See What’s on TV, below.)
DINING OUT ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
Open Table lists some 800 restaurants with “New Year’s Eve offers” Most of them offer a choice of seatings – 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 lead up to midnight, where you can often turn on a TV so that you can watch the ball drop in Times Square. Open Table enables you to look for one in your neighborhood.
Have a favorite neighborhood eatery that’s not listed on Open Table? Go to them NOW, and ask them whether they will take reservations.
THEATER ON NEW YEAR’S WEEK
Fifteen of the shows currently on Broadway will be offering performances on New Year’s Eve — all of them matinees. (They’re almost all in Times Square, remember.) Then 16 of the shows will offer performances on New Year’s Day, a mix of matinee and evening performances.
Below is the schedule for the entire week leading up to New Year’s Day.
Crossed out dates= canceled performance
Bold faced dates= added performance
Italic dates= different curtain time
Keep in mind that a good number of these shows are closing soon, so this may be your last chance to see them.
Closing December 31:
Fiddler on the Roof
Closing January 22
Closing January 29
The Front Page
(If tickets are not available through the box office, try buying tickets here)
Of course, New York theater is far more than just Broadway, and some Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway shows are not just happening, but getting into the whole excess thing that means New Year’s Eve to so many in New York. Prime example is Sleep No More, which for New Year’s Eve adds something called the McKittrick Masquerade, “live performances and an open bar all night long,” at a cost of a mere $450 apiece.
Similarly XIV Company offers its “Nutcracker Rouge,” (a “baroque, burlesque” not-for-children take on Nutcracker Suite) at Irondale Theater in Brooklyn, followed by a party with the cast.
FAMILY SHOWS NOT ON BROADWAY
Harlem Gospel Holiday Celebration at Mount Olivet Baptist Church
NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTIES AT NIGHTCLUBS & WEIRD PLACES (including home)
There’s a New York for almost any taste, so why would it be surprising that Eventbrite lists nearly 500 New Year’s Eve parties? Forty of those are listed as free (that’s my taste.) Others are obscenely expensive.
You can dance at parties set up in Times Square venues, such as the Marriot Marquis and the AMC 42nd Street movie theater, most promoting a great view of the ball dropping (which — do you mind my pointing out? — is an insane pitch, but apparently an effective one. Maybe that’s a good summary of 2016)
You can also dance at a party set up at a “Secret Bushwick Warehouse Location.” That’s BangOn!NYC‘s offering; we do know it’s called “Time + Space” and features a host from Australia — “tropical house” DJ Thomas Jack.
Webster Hall offers “four huge dance floors, 6 unique rooms, 8 DJs, and 100,000 balloons at midnight.” It’s loud.
Also loud is what’s billed as the “F#CK 2016!” party at Brooklyn Bazaar: “As quite possibly the worst year on record, let’s destroy it like a teenage house party” with performances by Titus Andronicus (that’s a band, not Shakespeare’s bloodiest play), High Waisted and Toys in Trouble.
For contrast there is the Third Annual New Years Eve Flamingo Formal, which takes place at the Royal Palm Shuffleboard Club. (In Florida, a shuffleboard club might not be hip enough to be hosts on New Year’s, but this one opened in 2013 in Gowanus, Brooklyn.)
Many have suggested throwing your own New Year’s Eve party, and offer vaguely insulting step-by-step tips on how to do so. The most memorable advice for throwing a party came from Joan Crawford, who was quite a partier in her day (see above). Her advice (see below) can be summed up as:
- Have a mix of people as your guests, but nobody with dirty feet.
- Secretly drug them.
(Don’t do this.)
An annual event since 1984, when it was founded by Leonard Bernstein. Free. This year with special guests Judy Collins, soprano Jamet Pittman, and theater composer Jason Robert Brown, in a program that includes Haydn, Bach, African-American spirituals, and a new work “Light Shall Lift Us,” a musical response to the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando.
The New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center: “Some Enchanted Evening.” Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Tony-winning baritone Paulo Szot sing Broadway hits from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, while the orchestra performs Copland and Strauss. The bad news about this concert is that it’s sold out. The good news is that it’s being broadcast live on PBS starting at 8 p.m.
Phish at Madison Square Garden for the tenth year in a row!
Louis Armstrong Tribute with Joey Morant and Catfish Stew at BB King Blues Club.
Tip: Most cabarets offer two seatings on New Year’s Eve. The one earlier in the evening is far less expensive. Many of these performers return to these venues every New Year’s — a wonderful tradition that makes last-minute tickets chancy, but worth trying.
Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford, with her band the Whiskey 5, at Feinstein’s/54 Below
Playwright and performer Charles Busch at Feinstein’s/54 Below early show
Sandra Bernhard at Joe’s Pub
Natalie Douglas at the Duplex — her 17th New Year’s there
Marilyn Maye at the Metropolitan Room
Annual Prospect Park Fireworks – free. at Grand Army Plaza
Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration – free fireworks on the boardwalk
Central Park Fireworks (See also midnight run below)
Big selling point of all these cruises — a close-up of the New Years Eve fireworks over the water. Most include a buffet, open bar, and dancing with a dj. Drawbacks: These cost hundreds of dollars, and many are already sold out.
FXX: A 30-hour marathon of “The Simpsons” animated TV series, dubbed “The Simpsons New Year’s Resolutions,” beginning with “The Simpsons Movie” at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 and continuing with resolution-themed episodes from the past 26 seasons. (And yes, they did a Simpsons marathon last year too)
NBC: New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly.Daly returns to Times Square for the 14th year, joined by Mel B. Performers include Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Pentatonix and Blake Shelton.