This is my annual New Year’s Eve last-minute guide to events that are still available on New Year’s Eve 2021 (when 2020 turns into 2021) in New York City.
concerts., and cabaret.
Yes, it is different from previous New Year’s Eves — in-person activities are limited — but there are still ways to celebrate (and some of the annual events are going forward… online.)
The ball will drop in Times Square as it has since 1907, and there will be a schedule of live performances leading up to the midnight event, featuring Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”) Missing this year: The millions of revelers who stand in the cold Crossroads of the World for hours. It’s not open to the public in person, but the usual broadcasters will still be there to cover it (see TV listings) and the celebration will unfold live online here too:
No Broadway theaters are open for business, but that’s true almost every New Year’s Eve, since during a normal year revelers crowding the streets of the theater district make a performance that night logistically impossible.
Most of the traditional holiday shows will still be available for streaming on New Year’s Eve, some of them for free. Check out my Holiday Shows 2020 Guide. Two I saw and recommend:
Meet Me in St. Louis at Irish Rep
at 3 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 5 p.m. New Year’s Day
A Christmas Carol with Jefferson Mays
Mike Birbiglia: Working It Out Virtually Worldwide Part 5: New Year’s Everywhere
The actor, writer and comedian offers 60 minutes of his amusing take on life, for $28.50. For an extra $532.07, you can “join Mike after the show for a post-show reception, with Q&As and a hang!” (The money goes to food banks)
A Very Pointless Digital Holiday Spectacular
It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole, and Santa’s elves are off the clock and ready to cut loose! “Recommended for Elves 13+”
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone
Hershey Felder as Sholem Aleichem in Before Fiddler
St. John The Divine Concert for Peace
A holiday tradition for over 30 years, founded by Leonard Bernstein as a tribute to the people of New York, the free concert will feature performances by members of the Cathedral Choir and Artist in Residence David Briggs, and be live-streamed at the link above from 7 to 8 p.m. ET
An Evening with Audra McDonald
A concert at New York City Center with the six-time Tony winning performer. Michael Urie serves as host and sole audience member. 70 minutes. Tickets: $35
A Time to Sing: An Evening with Renée Fleming and Vanessa Williams – Online
Recorded live at the Kennedy Center earlier this year
The Rolling Stones Live at Fonda Theater — Online Stream
A recording of a 2015 concert. Tickets cost $4.99
John Lloyd Young – New Year’s Eve Online and VIP After Party
John Lloyd Young, the original “Frankie Valli” in Broadway’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Jersey Boys,” presents a repertoire of classic pop and R&B. 11 p.m. ET.$36.75 – $76.75
Justin Bieber New Year’s Eve Live
The live show will feature Bieber with a five-piece band, a dance crew, a new stage and a state-of-the-art light show. 10:15 p.m., $26.41 for the general public. T-Mobile customers get free access.
The artist is ending the year by performing one last time in 2020 for fans. She’ll be expanding her usual 60-minute streaming set “Mama’s Choice” by an additional half an hour
The intimate venues that comprise the cabaret scene have been shut down, but a couple are offering concerts online:
Birdland is offering The Best of Radio Free Birdland on Demand, starting at 7 p.m. for $23.50, with host Jim Caruso, introducing the best clips from Radio Free Birdland’s first season of Broadway performers including Christina Bianco, Sierra Boggess, Reeve Carney, Nikki Renee Daniels, Aisha deHaas, Amanda Green, Telly Leung, Eva Noblezada, Laura Osnes, Kate Rockwell, Christopher Sieber, Billy Stritch, Paulo Szot, Max Von Essen, and Jessica Vosk.
Feinstein’s/54 Below is offering the latest Sondheim Unplugged on demand for $28.50
One of the six performers of the Sondheim concert, Natalie Douglas, has spent the past 21 New Year’s Eves in her own cabaret show “A Very Natalie New Year” at the Duplex. This year, Natalie has just announced a live concert on YouTube for free, starting at 9 p.m. (She does welcome contributions.)
Dining on New Year’s Eve
While indoor dining has been banned in New York City in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, a number of restaurants are offering outdoor dining on New Year’s Eve. More restaurants are serving special New Year’s Eve meals for takeout or delivery
Open Table lists 100 eateries with New Year’s Eve menus (although some of the descriptions look to have been written before the indoor dining ban was reinstituted.) The blog Eater lists 27 Celebratory Restaurants Open on New Year’s Eve in NYC
Not all of these special menus are pricey (but most are.)
Have a favorite neighborhood eatery that’s not listed on Open Table or Eater? Call up the place NOW, and ask them whether they are offering outdoor dining on New Year’s Eve and if so whether they are taking reservations; and if not, whether they will be preparing meals for takeout or delivery, and how much in advance you can order them.
A caveat: Outdoor dining on New Year’s Eve strikes me as somewhere between crazy and risky. Crazy, since the weather forecast is a 50 percent chance of showers; risky, because those restaurants that have provided space heaters and built enclosures for their “outdoor” dining areas in order to shelter their patrons from the elements have not necessarily paid attention to ensuring adequate ventilation and social distancing.
“The safest way to celebrate the new year is to celebrate at home with the people who live with you or virtually with friends and family,” writes the Centers for Disease Control in a page offering advice for a health New Year’s Eve.
Typically, there are hundreds of establishments offering New Year’s Eve parties in New York City. This year, there are a few online including Speakeasy on Demand, which features a show that fuses not only “Cirque, Burlesque. Magic” (see picture above) but also “Mixology” — “five finely crafted cocktails” are delivered to your door, presumably in advance.
Snoop Dogg’s Virtual New Year’s Eve Special
“Live Performances. Crazy Stunts. Epic Countdown.” Starting at 11 p.m., free
I didn’t find any in-person dance club parties, although I’ll admit I didn’t look very hard. I couldn’t recommend going to one.
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 over the years 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: