Five Tips to Help You Enjoy (and Survive) New Year’s Eve in NYC

28 Dec 2011

written by Mike Barish

New Year's Eve in Times Square by Flickr user amelungc.

New Year’s Eve is a party all around the globe, but it’s an epic celebration in New York. Close to one million people gather in Times Square, parties abound and the city is abuzz as midnight approaches. If you’re planning to ring in the new year in New York, be sure to prepare yourself. Here are some essential tips.

New Year's Eve in Times Square by Flickr user amelungc.

1. Either Commit to Times Square or Avoid It Like the Plague

If you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square, more power to you. Get there early (think morning of December 31), dress warmer than you think necessary and mentally prepare yourself for the lack of bathrooms. Check out this excellent FAQ from the Times Square Alliance for everything you need to know. If standing around with a million of your closest friends sounds like an awful idea, don’t go near Midtown at all. Streets will be blocked off, subway stations will be closed and cabs will be useless. Speaking of cabs…

2. It’s Best to Stay Close to Home (or Your Hotel)

Getting around on New Year’s Eve is a pain in the ass. Everyone is attempting to do the same thing: get to a party. Cabs are at a premium, subways are packed and it’s cold. If you can find a bar or house party in your neighborhood, you’ll be thrilled when you just have a short walk standing between you and your bed when the festivities wind down.

3. Bars and Clubs Will be Zoos

$50 for an open bar, champagne toast at midnight and 4 a.m. breakfast buffet? Sounds like a steal, right? Bars and clubs will offers these deals to entice you to spend New Year’s Eve at their establishments. The truth: most of these venues will most likely disappoint. The open bar will prove worthless when the line for drinks is 20 deep all night. You’ll be packed in like a sardine, won’t get your money’s worth and probably hate everyone there within the first hour. If you are up for a night on the town for New Year’s, MyCityWay has a list of ideas to help you navigate the evening.

The alternative: house parties. Host one. Guilt your friend into hosting one. Celebrate with your friends, supply your own cocktails and avoid all the hassles of bars and enjoy cleaner bathrooms.

You can also enjoy a special dinner out. Many restaurants offer prix fixe New Year’s Eve menus and you’ll celebrate the holiday in a low key but no less enjoyable fashion. Here’s a list from with some excellent options.

4. It’s Amateur Hour…Act Professionally

Yes, New Year’s Eve is a night to let loose, have fun and even go wild. But it’s also one of the holidays that brings out the worst in New York City nightlife (Halloween being the other). There will be drunks getting thrown out of bars. People will be vomiting everywhere. Fights will break out for seemingly no reason. Glass bottles will be flying. Keep your wits about you, drink responsibly and keep an eye on your friends. Don’t ruin a good night with one dumb action.

5. Run into 2012

If you’re looking for something completely different than the party scene, you can attack the new year by running in the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. The four mile race starts at midnight and takes you through Central Park. It features fireworks, entertainment and a downright fun atmosphere with runners in crazy costumes ready to run into 2012. Even if you’re not participating, you can head for the Central Park Bandshell (near the 72nd Street Transverse) to take in the festive scene. Registration is $45 for members and $50 for non-members. You can smugly tell your friends about it the next day while they’re all nursing their hangovers.

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About the author

Mike Barish is a freelance travel writer, host and regular contributor to Gadling. He is a universally respected expert in the SkyMall catalog whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Budget Travel, World Hum, One+ and Intelligent Travel. He has hosted Chevrolet’s Cruze-arati web series, SOYJOY's Real Take On campaign and the Mike & Alex’s Travel Show podcast. Mike is based in New York City where he lives with his fiancée and their two dogs.

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One Response to Five Tips to Help You Enjoy (and Survive) New Year’s Eve in NYC

  1. Liz

    Great tips! New Years in NYC can be a magical night if you know what you are getting into! A great idea for people planning a trip to NYC for New Years is a guided tour! Family In New York offers custom private New York tours. They can create a custom tour for you with your unique schedule and interests in mind! They can take you of the beaten path and make your New Years in NYC truly something special!

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