New Years Eve NYC on a Budget

By Nanci Callahan
Nanci Callahan
Nanci Callahan
December 29, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

If you are among those who find New Year’s Eve rapidly approaching and you have not made plans, fear not. There is hope—not only to have fun, but to not break the bank while doing it! It is possible!

Fireworks: Nobody does it like NYC, but it does take some planning. If you are going to join a million of your closest friends watching the ball drop on Times Square, there are some rules: Go early and plan to spend the day and evening. (The streets are blocked off early.)

Dress warmly (lots of layers) and bring a hot drink (non alcoholic) to keep you warm. Be prepared for inebriated fellow watchers to crowd you like a sardine, and once you have done it once, wild horses probably would not be able to bring you to it again. But after all, it is the most important NYE celebration in the world. And it’s free.

Let’s give kudos to the Times Square Alliance staff who work so hard to make the event wonderful and safe Lots of responsibility, not as much fun for them!

You are not up for Times Square and want alternatives. What more is there you ask. This is New York, of course there is more. Well, as long as we are talking about fireworks, (all free):

Include Central Park-Manhattan: enter at 72nd St. Central Park West, and if you are up to it, the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run at 10pm at the Central Park Bandshell (entry fee $60 unless you’re a vet).

Brooklyn-Prospect Park fireworks; best viewed from Grand Army Plaza/Park Slope. (If you don’t have a friend with a roof or big window).

And one of the most unique and memorable sites is from the Staten Island Ferry (also free) to see the fireworks from Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. Don’t forget your cameras! 718 727-2508.

NYE Bike Ride: another freeby, going from Washington Square to Belvedere Castle in Central Park. (Remember the fireworks there?) You can also join from Brooklyn, contact:

Stay at Home: Perhaps one of the sanest and most romantic suggestions is to cuddle up with your sweetie, (or have friends over) have a chilled bottle of champagne, stay warm, and watch the festivities on TV.

In addition to the Dick Clark special on ABC, you can turn on almost any other channel, web streaming,, and if you are mobile, balldropnyc app.

If cooking is not your thing, best to order delivery from a favorite local eatery as almost any type of venue has taken advantage of New Year’s Eve to create a hefty priced package.

Church Service: The NYE Concert for Peace at St John the Divine is sold out, but a better choice is the beautiful Riverside Church Watchnight Service at 120th St (470 Riverside) 10pm to 12am. Free 212 870-6700.

I would suggest visiting both St Patrick’s Cathedral and Cathedral of St John the Divine at another time. They are well worth it.

Remember to reflect on last year, forget resolutions for next year (use last year’s), make a wish and have a Happy New Year!