New Year’s Eve in New York City 2019: Last Minute Plans

Check out my updated guide New Year’s Eve 2020 in NYC

My annual New Year’s Eve last-minute guide to events that are still available to do on New Year’s Eve 2019 (when 2018 turns into 2019) in New York City

You can also watch the festivities online live!

New Year’s Eve in New York means the dropping of the ball in Times Square, the fireworks in Prospect Park and Coney Island, the annual concert at St. John the Divine, the midnight run with fireworks in Central Park  — all FREE, and all things you can decide to do at the last minute.

It also can mean obscenely expensive shows and extremely loud parties, an annual arena concert featuring Phish and a new cabaret act from Aaron Tveit, a cruise in the harbor, or a dinner for two in your favorite eatery — not all of which are sold out weeks in advance. You can pretend to converse with 200 celebrities carved out of wax, or stay at home and watch the festivities online — on this very post.


Broadway show schedule for the week,+ other theater

intimate dinners
quiet or healthy alternatives

TV listings

Only eight percent of Americans reportedly plan to go out on any given New Year’s Eve, and I suspect the percentage is even lower when it occurs on a Monday, as it does this year. 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 on December 31st.
Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon. 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.

Bebe Rexha and alt-pop band lovelytheband will be among the performers during the countdown.

Times Square offers an outdoor evening of entertainment, culminating in confetti, “2019” 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.)


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.


No Broadway shows will be offering performances on New Year’s Eve, which falls on a Monday this year, normally the dark day for most shows.  But 25 of the shows will offer performances on New Year’s Day, all of them in the evening. 

(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 a “New Year’s Eve Feast” and something called the McKittrick King Masquerade,  with live performances and an open bar (“All guests should come in their finest attire in shades of gold, silver, and black, suitable for a King’s Masquerade.”) The cost is astronomical.

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.



Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular (two performances on New Year’s Eve, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m..)

Big Apple Circus> (noon and 9:30 p.m.)


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https-cdn-evbuc-com-images-26816208-85633514729-1-originalThere’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? More than 100 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 $49 (that’s after 12:30 a.m. admission) and as much as $3,300. Here’s an odd one offered at a discount through Goldstar

Party With the Stars at Madame Tussauds — which is to say, “with over 200 life-sized wax figures.”

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)

Then there are the super-hip parties in Brooklyn and Queens.

BangOn!NYC has moved its annual bash this year to Maspeth, Queens, at the (aptly named?) Knockdown Center, with three musical stages, a silent disco, live painting, interactive art installations and performances, a bartering blackjack table, and more cosmic creations to transcend time and space.” (Their promotional material still claims the show is in Brooklyn — perhaps they mean it as a state of mind.)

Purple Rain Dance Party. For the fifth 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:

  1. Have a mix of people as your guests, but nobody with dirty feet.
  2. Secretly drug them.


(P.S., don’t do this.)

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Some concerts that will be sold out or too expensive will be available in your home, live, depending. (See TV listings below.)

St. John the Divine Concert for Peace.

An annual FREE event since 1984, when it was founded by Leonard Bernstein. Along with the music of Mozart and Bach, this year’s concert includes a choir singing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I have a dream speech.(You can pay in advance to reserve a seat. Otherwise it’s first come, first served.)


The soprano Renee Fleming will accompany the New York Philharmonic in performing Broadway and film hits, Viennese waltzes, and operetta gems. For those who can’t make it to Lincoln Center, it will be presented Live from Lincoln Center on PBS. (See TV listings below.)



Phish at Madison Square Garden for the 12th year in a row! The bad news is that their New Year’s Even concert is sold out. The good news is 1. (as of this writing) tickets are still available for their three earlier dates. 2. see TV listings below.

Margo Price and Lilly Hiatt
Music Hall of Williamsburg (country)

The Lone Bellow and Courtney Maries Andrews
Bowery Ballroom (folk, country and blues)

Oteil and Friends, Brooklyn Bowl (Southern rock)

Gov’t Mule,Beacon Theatre (indie rock)

Snoop Dogg, Terminal 5, Hell’s Kitchen (hip hop and r&b)

Post Malone, Barclays Center, Brooklyn (hip hop and r&b). See TV listings below.


With the repeal in 2017 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: Quick Sand at Joe’s Pub


Natalie Douglas: A Very Natalie New Year at the Duplex — her 20th New Year’s there


New Year’s Eve with Charles Busch and Friends at Feinstein’s/54 Below (early show)

Aaron Tveit on New Year’s Eve at Feinstein/54 Below (late show)

The Birdland Big Band at Birdland Jazz Club



Annual Prospect Park Fireworks – free. at Grand Army Plaza

Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration -5th annual celebration, with free fireworks on the boardwalk


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”

Circle Line New Year’s Eve Cruises

Queen of Hearts Cruise

New York Water Taxi New Year’s Eve Cruise

Cornucopia Yacht at Pier 81

New Year’s Fireworks Cruise at Pier 15

Fireworks Cruise at Pier 62


The Kadampa Meditation Center in Chelsea, $50 for non-members, provides a way for you to “ring in the New Year “with compassion and beneficial intentions!” — hors d’oeuvres, meditation, and no alcohol. (Pre-registration is required.) Also one this year in Williamsburg
New York Road Runners’   Midnight Run in Central Park
Shorewalkers Happy New Years Day Hike — Hiking the shores and parks of upper Manhattan starting at noon on New Year’s Day, which gives you a good excuse to go to bed early.
Annual Bike Ride and  Party, from Time’s Up environmental action organization. This year they’re doing it a little differently:  The ride will begin in three different locations (one in Brooklyn) and end up indoors at Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space in the East Village for what they’ve renamed the “Future Positive New Year’s Eve Dance Party” which will feature a multimedia presentation by activist artists and then live music.

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WHAT’S ON TV (and other home devices)

ABC: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2019.  Co-hosts include Jenny McCarthy, Ciara and Lucy Hale. Performances from Christina Aguilera and Post Malone (who’s also performing at Barclay Center that night, so he’s busy), as well as Florida Georgia Line, Maren Morris, Ella Mai, The Chainsmokers, Lauren Alaina, Bazzi, Kane Brown, Camila Cabello, Ciara, Halsey, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Dua Lipa, Macklemore, Kelsea Ballerini and Foster the People.
CNN: Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will be back together as hosts of CNN’s New Year’s Eve special for the second year (Cohen last year replacing Cooper’s decade-long partner Kathy Griffin.) They will be in Times Square live, and check in with several Broadway casts, including The Band’s Visit, Wicked, Tootsie, Pretty Woman and Come From Away, while Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon will be presenting the countdown from New Orleans. (I can’t help quoting what Anderson Cooper said in 2013: “I don’t know anybody who has a fun time at a party at New Year’s Eve. That’s why I work on New Year’s Eve.”)
Fox: Fox’s New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey: Live from Times Square will feature performances by . Sting, Robin Thicke, Florence + the Machine, Jason Aldean, Juanes and Why Don’t We.
NBC: Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will preside over a year-end special A Toast to 2018! featuring a look back at the highs and lows, followed at 10 p.m. NBC’s New Year’s Eve with hosts  Carson Daly hosts, Chrissy Teigen and SNL‘s Leslie Jones, and musical performances by Jennifer Lopez, Bebe Rexha, Urban, Diana Ross, Kelly Clarkson, Andy Grammer, Brett Young, John Legend and Blake Shelton
PBS: Live from Lincoln Center with Renee Fleming and the New York Philharmonic, followed at 10:30 by Great Performances: Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood.


TV Marathons
Most of these start in the evening of New Year’s Eve and then go all New Year’s Day
AMC: “The Walking Dead”
FXX: “The Simpsons.”
IFC: “The Three Stooges”
SYFY: “Twilight Zone”
WPIX: “The Honeymooners”
 And, in a nod to a new era,
1. SiriusXM plans to air live New Year’s Eve concerts by artists including Post Malone, Phish, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, on various stations — eg Malone on Hip Hop Nation, Phish on Phish Radio.

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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