As 2012 draws to a close and we get ready to usher in 2013, here are some last-minute ideas to celebrate. Ranging from the traditional to the unconventional, New York City and the surrounding areas are brimming with things to do on this special night, so there’s no excuse to sit at home (unless you want to).
We have to start with the obvious. Times Square hosts one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations, and if you can brave the crowds and endure the cold, it’s the place to be. An estimated one million people gather to watch the ball, decked out in Waterford crystals, descend from atop One Times Square. There’s confetti, pom-poms, and star-studded concerts and appearances from A-list entertainers. Our advice: get there early and pack your patience! http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/index.aspx
There are also plenty of unconventional options to revel in the New Year in and around New York; the Seventh Annual Ghost Walk into the New Year by Ghost Tours of New York is no exception. The tour kicks off at 10pm at McSorley’s Ale House at 15 East 7th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. From there, ghost hunters bar crawl their way through all sorts of spirits (alcoholic and paranormal) throughout downtown, and end back at McSorley’s for a New Year’s Eve toast. The entire thing costs $40 – first and last beers included. It’s guaranteed to be a hauntingly good time. http://www.ghostsofny.com/calendar/
Speaking of beer – another offbeat way to spend the holiday is at Bohemian Hall Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens. Doors open at 7:30 with two buffets and a 5-hour open bar. Advance tickets are $115 for singles and $200 for couples. If you buy at the door, tickets cost $130 for singles and $240 for couples. There are 14 draft beers on tap in addition to wine and liquor. http://www.bohemianhall.com
Of course, what would New Year’s Eve be without fireworks? You can head over to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for a dazzling display of sparklers. Hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Marky Markowitz, the show kicks off at 11 pm with refreshments and food trucks available in Grand Army Plaza. Bring a blanket to spread out on the lawn and a warm jacket! http://www.prospectpark.org/calendar/event/new-years-fireworks
Revelers can also catch several fireworks displays across NYC and New Jersey by taking the Staten Island Ferry – and the best part – it’s free! The Staten Island Ferry provides roundtrip transportation between the terminal just off Battery Park and Staten Island. For 25 breathtaking minutes, you’ll see fireworks light up the skies over Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey, and Liberty Island.
If you’re not the boating type, never fear – there’s always the Brooklyn Bridge. There is no better way to take in the city skyline, and NYE fireworks, than walking the span of this iconic bridge. You can see the Empire State Building all aglow for the holiday, as well as the Chrysler Building, and fireworks displays across the harbor. If you go for a midnight stroll, bring a date for added romance.
For those of you who would rather enjoy Brooklyn with your feet firmly on the ground and your hand firmly around a wine glass, there’s the Brooklyn Winery’s Golden Gala. For $150, you’ll get top shelf wine, champagne, and liquor as well as a full dance floor. The event thus far is sold out, but there’s always a chance they will release more tickets closer to the magic hour! http://bkwinery.com
If you want to stay away from the crowds and traffic jams of Manhattan, consider organizing a bar crawl in Long Island City. There are tons of small pubs and breweries hosting great parties including The Creek and Cave 10-93 Jackson Ave 718-706-8783, Rest-au-Rant 30-01 35th Avenue 718-729-9009, and Soel Lounge 33-02 Queens Boulevard, 718-433-4500. Call ahead to find out about any cover charges – even if they have them, they’re a fraction of the price you’ll pay across the river.
In New York, you can also run your way into the New Year – literally – with The Emerald Nuts 4 Mile Midnight Run in Central Park. The event kicks off at 10pm with a dance party at the Central Park Bandshell near Bathesda Fountain, and a costume contest at 11pm. Runners hit the starting line at the stroke of midnight on the 72nd Street transverse near Bathesda Fountain. The event ends with fireworks. You can find more information and entry fees on their website: http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/emerald-nuts-midnight-run
If you’re craving a little culture, why not take in a concert with the Long Island Philharmonic? The acclaimed musical ensemble is holding its 21st annual New Year’s Eve Spectacular: The Great American Songbook. The program is packed with selections from America’s great composers and musicals including Annie Get Your Gun and Porgy and Bess. The audience will also be treated to the Philharmonic’s own NYE ball drop while singing Auld Lang Syne. The concert ends at 9:30 PM, so there’s plenty of time to get to those late night parties. http://www.tillescenter.org/event.cfm?id=846
Those of you who want to spend December 31st in the Hamptons will find plenty to do, including Gurney’s 50th Annual NYE party: From Montauk With Love. This soirée has a James Bond theme, so come dressed as your favorite 007 or Bond girl. The party starts at 7pm NYE and wraps up at 2pm the next day – that includes 11.5 hours of dinner, dancing, and cocktails. The total cost – $145 plus tax/person. http://www.gurneysinn.com/
Folks in Westchester County will have a safe way to party into the wee hours, with free shuttle service courtesy of T.J. McGowan and Sons. For the third consecutive year, these designated drivers will pick up anyone in need of a lift from parties, restaurants, and bars in Haverstraw and Stony Point, and will drop them anywhere as far away as North Rockland. The number to call for a ride is 845-429-2130.
Last but not least, if you want to avoid the pomp and circumstance altogether, it’s perfectly fine to curl up on your couch with a choice beverage for a NYE-themed movie night. Some of our favorite flicks include: When Harry Met Sally, Holiday Inn, Bridget Jones’ Diary, 200 Cigarettes, and of course the very recent blockbuster New Year’s Eve.
Stay safe, have fun, and above all, Happy New Year!