Firstly, this article is not about getting to Times Square to see the ball drop. While this is one of the City’s most iconic traditions, we have created an alternative list of slightly different but definitely upmarket and stylish ways for all ages to experience the New Year in the Big Apple.
Why not start the night with a visit to the Luminaries at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan? This three-dimensional interactive light display in the Winter Garden atrium assaults the senses with an array of festive coloured lights that dance to the tunes of Michael Bublé and Tony Bennett’s winter classic songs.
If opera is more your thing, then have a night to remember at the Metropolitan Opera. This year French romanticism returns with the opening of Roméo et Juliette on New Year’s Eve. This classic love story will include four poignant duets with Diana Damrau as Juliette and Vittorio Grigolo as Roméo that will be sure to have you on your feet at curtain close.
Still in the cultural arena, on New Year’s Eve music director Alan Gilbert will conduct the world famous New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts as part of their special New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s show will feature mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato performing American classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein.
Be sure to take advantage of the vast number of fantastic restaurants in the City’s CBD. Most have two seatings on New Year’s Eve. Also a little insider tip is to seek out restaurants close to Central Park because beyond the bustling crowds of Times Square, New York puts on a fantastic fireworks display at midnight in the middle of the iconic park as the old year dies and the new one begins. It is truly spectacular and because of the vastness of the Park, you can always get a good vantage position.
One of the restaurants located a short distance from the Park is Café Boulud, an Upper East Side staple. The menu is inspired by Daniel Boulud’s four culinary muses: la tradition (classic French cuisine), la saison (seasonal delicacies) le potager (the vegetable garden) and le voyage (flavors of world cuisines). You will be offered the opportunity to sample from these influences for your New Year menu – all a delight to be sure.
Over on the west side of the park is a chic dining establishment, Dovetail, that puts on a great New Years Eve celebration. Located just steps away from the American Museum of Natural History, Dovetail sees in the New Year celebrations with award-winning contemporary American cuisine matched with really exciting wines. And this place really embraces all the New Year paraphernalia, ensuring its patrons are fully equipped with top hats, tiaras and tooters!
Another stylish, Central Park location is the Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle. High above the iconic New York skyline, with incredible views across the park, you can enjoy 5-star luxury at the Mandarin for your New Year celebrations. The Mandarin has its annual black-tie New Year’s Eve Gala in the Mandarin Ballroom featuring free-flowing champagne, a six-course dinner with wine pairings and live entertainment throughout the night. For the ultimate celebration, you can reserve your space in the exclusive Louis XIII Lounge at the New Year’s Eve Gala. Enjoy this exclusive experience that features caviar, champagne and a selection of fine spirits, and at midnight, ring in the New Year with a rare and unique Louis XIII Moment.
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Or celebrate with a grand finale feast at the Mandarin’s signature Restaurant Asiate overlooking the New York City skyline. Alternatively, toast in style at the Lobby Lounge with Central Park as the backdrop to a decadent dessert buffet and music entertainment. Just be mindful that all New York restaurant bookings for New Year are released a few weeks before and tend to go quickly.
Whatever the location for your final meal of the year, be sure to head down to Central Park for midnight not just for the incredible fireworks but also to watch the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Midnight Run. When the clock strikes midnight, runners will lace up their running shoes for the four-mile NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park. Or if you're a runner and want to be part of this New York tradition, it kicks off at 10pm with music and dancing, and then the race starts with a fireworks display at midnight, as you and hundreds of runners race across Central Park into 2017. Registration for the public is open and required.
For the littlest travellers, why not head to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan where families can enjoy a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve bash at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. The museum offers a New Year’s Eve Dance Party with DJ Chela, along with a New Year’s Eve ball drop just for the kids.
Another great option for families looking to enjoy a kid-friendly evening can party the night away with New York Water Taxi’s New Year’s Eve Family Cruise. With the City’s magnificent skyline as the backdrop, the cruise will sail along New York Harbor and includes hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet with dessert, juice and soft drinks and a cash bar for those 21 and older.
So if you are fortunate to be in this magnificent city for New Year, be sure to get amongst it because every New Year, this city parties like no other.
Images courtesy of Getty and Tara Young.