Article: The best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York City
Last year we celebrated Christmas and New Year in New York City. As we spend most of the year in warm temperatures, we imagined a romantic white New York Christmas like in the movies. However, the weather had other plans last year and it turned out to be the warmest Christmas on record. On December the 24th, it was 66F degrees (about 18°C) at noontime in Central Park. It was strange walking through the park without being all wrapped up in winter clothing.
On New Year’s Eve the temperatures were a bit more normal and fortunately there was no snow at midnight. Our hotel was in the Times Square area but this is not where we celebrated.
Initially we thought of going to Time Square for New Year’s Eve, however, to do this spectacle comfortable you really have to dig deep into your savings to afford a simple table. Even the lowest priced general admission ticket at TGI Friday’s at Times Square costs you USD 179.00. The cheaper and free option to celebrate at Times Square would be to line up for HOURS on end in the cold outside at Times Square (Times Square is open to the public and it is FREE on New Year’s Eve so don’t buy any fake tickets from someone).
The FREE option seemed excruciating. First of all Times Square is totally controlled by NYPD, which is a good thing of course and they did and are doing a great job, but this also means that there are several restrictions. In fact, a lot of police around the world could learn a thing or two from the NYPD on that!
You cannot simply turn up just before the ball is dropped and have a space readily waiting for you. You really have to line up early (starting before or at noon) to get a good spot at Times Square.
If you leave the line, i.e. to go to the restroom, you are not guaranteed to get your space back. Also, there are no portable restrooms available at Times Square and so you should go to the restroom beforehand and make sure your hotel is nearby so you can use the restroom there. You should also eat something beforehand as there are no food vendors at the square during the celebrations. If you are outdoors in NYC, remember alcohol in public is illegal and so don’t think of having your fizzy drink at the square or elsewhere in public at midnight! The only thing you get at Times Square are the free New Year’s celebration articles like the free hats. At around 8pm, musicians give live concerts at the stage there.
If you made it through to midnight at Times Square, then you will be able to see the ball being dropped. The square is filled with lights and lots of confetti. As you can imagine, this all seemed like a big pain and so we opted for a better option.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve with the locals at Central Park.
It was a relaxed and civilized atmosphere there.
From 10pm until 1am there was last year (and is again this year) free music and celebrations at the Rumsey Playfield.
We basically entered the park near Columbus Circle and headed towards the stage. As we don’t like crowds, we didn’t go all the way to the stage but we were still able to enjoy the music and festivities from further back. They even had portable restrooms there!
This celebration is part of the annual NYRR Midnight Run. You can read more about the run and entry fees on the organizers website here.
It was a great place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. You can bring your own food and drink (of course non-alcoholic 😉 ) and there were plenty of places to get away from the crowds. Plus you also get a fireworks display.
After the fireworks display, we headed back to our hotel a few blocks away from Times Square. The streets were filled with masses of people and police. Although it was a fun atmosphere in the streets nearby, we were secretly very pleased with our choice of New Year’s Eve celebration.