My annual New Year’s Eve last-minute guide features the Broadway show schedule for New Year’s week, and other theater, as well as parties, concerts,intimate dinners, cruises, and quiet or healthy alternatives that are still available to do on New Year’s Eve 2018 (when 2017 turns into 2018) in New York City. Some events are free, some are outdoors — and then there are TV listings.
Only eight percent of Americans reportedly plan to go out on New Year’s Eve. For those New Yorkers (and New York visitors) 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
Keep in mind: The forecast is for temperature to go as low as 11 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the coldest ball drops on record.
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, which in the past has reached 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 – or make new friends.
Times Square offers an outdoor evening of entertainment.
Confetti, “2018” 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 remember that the highlights will be televised. See What’s on TV, below.)
You can also watch the festivities online
DINING OUT ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
Open Table lists some 700 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 provides all sorts of filters — you can look for a table for 2 at a “charming” French restaurant at 7 pm in your specific neighborhood.
Have a favorite neighborhood eatery that’s not listed on Open Table? Go to the place NOW, and ask them whether they will take reservations.
THEATER ON NEW YEAR’S WEEK
Only two of the shows currently on Broadway will be offering performances on New Year’s Eve, both matinees– Junk (which is at Lincoln Center) and Once on This Island (at Circle in the Square.) This is a huge decrease from the 15 matinees last year. (New Year’s Eve fell on a Saturday then; this year it’s a Sunday.) Then eight of the shows will offer performances on New Year’s Day, all of them evening performances.
Keep in mind several of these shows are closing soon, so this may be your last chance to see them.
Closing January 7, 2018:
Closing January 21
(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 King Masquerade, “live performances and an open bar all night long.’
Similarly XIV Company offers its “Nutcracker Rouge,” (a “baroque, burlesque” not-for-children take on Nutcracker Suite) at a new theater in Bushwick, Brooklyn, followed by a party with the cast.
FAMILY SHOWS NOT ON BROADWAY
Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular (two performances on New Year’s Eve, in the morning and the afternoon.)
That Physics Show (showings at noon and 3 p.m.)
Sistas The Musical (4:30 p.m. — at St. Luke’s Theater, 46th west of Eighth, so perilously close to Times Square)
OFF BEAT THEATER
with performances on New Year’s Eve (and, through Goldstar, at a discount)
AT NIGHTCLUBS & WEIRD PLACES (including home)
There’s a New York for almost any taste, so why would it be surprising that Eventbrite lists some 1,000 New Year’s Eve parties? Some 90 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, “six floors of fun” for as little as $39 (that’s after 12:30 a.m. admission) and as much as $2,100. Most promote 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 2017)
Then there are the super-hip (and less expensive) parties in Brooklyn.
BangOn!NYC no longer holds their bash at a secret location. They now have a new home in East Williamsburg, which they’ve turned into an intergalactic extravaganza with psychedelic art installations and roaming fire breathers below a spinning planetarium.
Purple Rain Dance Party. For the fourth year in a row, Syndicated, a movie theater, bar and restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn will project the 1984 movie” Purple Rain” on the wall while dj/vjs The Hogstad Brothers spin Prince classics like “Raspberry Beret” and “Cream.” Purple Rain or Prince-inspired costumes/attire “strongly encouraged.”
Many suggest 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.
(P.S., don’t do this.)
An annual event since 1984, when it was founded by Leonard Bernstein. This year’s concert will feature excerpts from Bernstein’s Mass in celebration of the maestro’s centennial year. Artists in residence Judy Collin and theater composer will make their own musical offerings in a program that concludes with Joseph Haydn’s Te Deum, to welcome the new year with affirmation and joy. This concert is free, first come first serve, although ticketed seating is also available starting at $40.
The New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center: Bernstein on Broadway. Annaleigh Ashford, Christopher Jackson Laura Osnes, and Next and Aaron Tveit will perform from West Side Story, Wonderful Town, and On The Town. Bramwell Tovey conducts.
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 9 p.m.
Phish at Madison Square Garden for the 11th year in a row!
Cardi B at Knockdown Center The Bronx rapper breaks loose in Queens. The singer of the hit “Bodak Yellow,” entertains along with DJs Venus X, DJ BEBE, DJ Shelby Sells and DJ Pro Style at the cool arts center housed glass-manufacturing plant built in 1903 in Maspeth.
With the repeal this year of the hated 91-year-old Cabaret Law, which banned dancing at all but a handful of licensed venues (fewer than 100), you could argue that life is a cabaret (or at least could be) at all 25,000 eating and drinking establishments in New York City. But “cabaret” has come to define specific genres of intimate entertainment at just a few, relatively small venues, such as those below.
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.
Sandra Bernhard: Sandemonium at Joe’s Pub
Natalie Douglas at the Duplex — her 18th New Year’s there
Bazazz! at Don’t Tell Mama “A sequined variety starring Rick Skye as Liza Minelli”
Annual Prospect Park Fireworks – free. at Grand Army Plaza
Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration -4th annual celebration, with 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. (But there are cruises during the day on New Year’s Eve”