The Best NYC New Year’s Eve Celebrations, Whether You’re Broke, on a Budget or Balling
New York welcomes the New Year like no other—we know how to throw parties, even if said parties can be notoriously overpriced, filled with tourists or both. But there are plenty of worthwhile opportunities to get out and paint the town red—or perhaps just watch the ball drop the same way you would at home, except all dolled up in the presence of total strangers. Here are some of the best bets—and best values—when it comes to spending your NYE in NYC.
Free (well, minus a subway swipe)
That Times Square thing aside, there’s one great and totally gratis place to let the warmth of your Champagne buzz lead you, especially if you’re OK with partying outside. Give your MetroCard one last swipe for the year and make your way to Grand Army Plaza for the fireworks display in Prospect Park, where it’s usually crowded but not so crowded that you can’t move or use a bathroom like that celebration in Manhattan. There will be live music leading up to the show, and it’s generally a more family-friendly (read: chill) way to ring in the New Year.
Under $50 bucks in New York is basically free—right?
Coupette Bar Takeover at Diego
The Public Hotel is arguably one of the most stylish new spots in the city, and its cozy Diego bar makes for an ideal NYE spot. This year, Coupette, 2018’s best international cocktail bar, is coming in from London and taking over the bar menu with a selection of unique cocktails, including the signature Champagne piña colada. The best part: There’s no entrance fee and cocktail prices range from $17 to $20, so it’s essentially a slightly fancier normal night out.
Or, for about as much as you spend at Starbucks in a week, you can head to Quality Eats in the West Village for a four-course prix fixe menu that’s just 48 bucks. You read that right: You’ll pay just $48 for a first course consisting of foie gras and caramel apple, second course of caviar and Irish nachos (we’re officially intrigued), third course of a lobster corn dog and fourth course of black truffle atop chopped cheese. The best part? Each diner will leave that night with a homemade “hangover pancake mix” for the next morning.
$100+ NYE parties are a dime a dozen, but these are actually worth their salt
Rooftop at Exchange Place
Manhattan has it all—except for stunning views of, uh, itself. At Rooftop at Exchange Place, however, you can take in the beauty of the skyline unobstructed from One World Trade Center all the way up to the GWB. Plus, if you attend, you’ll have something to talk about at New Year’s Day brunch when you tell your pals you went to Jersey. Don’t worry, though, it’s seriously easy to get there thanks to a PATH stop just steps away. Prices range from $50 (food and live music included; drinks available for purchase) to $120 (open bar from 8 p.m. to midnight, lots of yummy hors d’oeuvres and a Champagne toast).
A tiki bar is a good idea any night of the year, but the Polynesian’s New Year’s Luau just might be one of the most unique ways to ring in 2019 (particularly if it’s frigid outside). Tickets start at $125 and include a buffet pig roast, your own lei and plenty of hula dancing, plus the tiki cocktails that made the Polynesian instantly famous and even a Champagne toast at midnight.
The Illuminati Ball
This soiree at the Weylin in Brooklyn will not be a family-friendly affair, but it will certainly be something to remember. The immersive experience is inspired by leaked photos from the Rothschilds’ legendary 1972 party that Salvador Dalí attended back when Williamsburg was admittedly a bit edgier than it is today. It promises to be part Cirque du Soleil, part burlesque show and part masquerade ball...and there will be nudity and adult themes, so send your visiting relatives elsewhere if they’re the buttoned-up type. Tickets are $180, but for a one-of-a-kind close to 2018, they will be sincerely worth every penny.
Air’s Champagne Parlor & Tokyo Record Bar
The folks at this cheeky wine bar and its downstairs Japanophile counterpart sure know how to sell a NYE party: The website promises surprises, a dance party, sake-bomb karaoke and a guarantee that “someone will break something”—last year it was a neon sign. But most important, be sure to get your $140 ticket for an “endless flowing of Champagne and sake.”
If you’re really just looking to drink your weight in Champagne, it might as well be at one of the most popular places in town. A mere $125 for an open bar and finger foods, mandated 1920s cocktail attire and a Great Gatsby-esque party that will be remembered for years to come? We’re totally there.
Café Altro Paradiso
This restaurant from chef Ignacio Mattos is offering a $105 prix fixe menu of pure Italian pleasure for the big night. We’re hungry just thinking about the crudo di pesce with caviar, lasagna with wild boar ragu, and malfatti al tartufo. Mattos is also the capocuoco at the stunning Flora Bar on Madison Avenue, where you can find another—albeit more expensive—coursed menu to ring in the New Year.
A cheese-themed New Year’s party? Be still our heart. A great pregame (read: dinner) before you hit the town, the Most Decadent New Year’s Eve Ever at cult-favorite Murray’s new speakeasy event space, The Leroy Room, will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. so you can enjoy one last bite in 2018. You’ll close it out with a bang, because during the event you’re promised to sip Champagne and enjoy fancy foods like caviar, truffles and foie gras—all paired with cheese, of course.
A total freakin’ splurge
Vigilia di Capodanno at Armani Ristorante
The Armani restaurant on Fifth Avenue generally takes dining experiences to the next level, especially its NYE celebration—but would you really expect anything else? If you’re willing to splurge a little, look no further than this black-tie event. The space itself screams New Year’s Eve with its floor-to-ceiling backlit-paneled windows. The people watching is sure to be insane, per usual, and the $350 price tag includes one of the most serious prix fixe menus you can gobble down to the sounds of a live jazz band. Among the courses you’ll enjoy white truffle raviolo, pan-seared sturgeon with osetra caviar, Black Angus tenderloin with foie gras and black truffle reduction, and nocciola e pera. (We refuse to list the ingredients of this magnificent dessert because, trust us, you’ll want to be surprised.)
With additional reporting by Josep Jorba.