Photograph by Yuliya Skya Courtesy of House of Yes

It is almost time to ring in the New Year! If you are looking for a way to celebrate in New York City that avoids Times Square and the massive crowds that gather to watch the ball drop, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting ways to bid farewell to the past year. From secret masquerade balls to bike rides for a cause, here are 10 alternative ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York City:

1. The Illuminati Ball

Photograph by Mark Shelby Perry, Courtesy of Speakeasy Dollhouse

Inspired by the Baron and Baroness de Rothschild’s iconic 1972 Illuminati Ball in France attended by celebrities like Salvador Dali and Audrey Hepburn, The Illuminati Ball – New York City will explore guests’ deepest desires with daring performances and experiences all night long. Staged within a three-floor, 6,500 square foot space inside massive former Victorian-Era bank in Brooklyn, masked guests will take part in ritual ceremonies and wander through areas such as the Domed Ballroom where there will be dancers, fire, aerial pole, and levitation performances and interactive tableaus throughout the night.

This evening is produced by Cynthia von Buhler and the team at Speakeasy Dollhouse, experts in immersive theatre experiences who have staged six hit plays including Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic at the Liberty Theater in Times Square and The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini at Theatre 80. You can purchase VIP and Outer Circle Tickets here.

2. Midnight Million$

Photograph  Courtesy of The Game Theatre, LLC

Join The Game Theatre and their cast of Suspects for Midnight Million$ this New Year’s Eve – an immersive social game of spending, thievery and murder mystery madness in a secret, historic South Street Seaport location! In this interactive murder mystery you will be given $1,000,000 in money or precious items to spend or sell with the objective of solving a murder. By making sales (“deals”) with other players you can then ask a Suspect a question to uncover clues about the case. Your evening’s goal is to spend or sell everything before the ball drops to solve a mystery and inherit a financial empire. Imagine playing monopoly in reverse to solve a crime!

If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, and part of the Untapped Insiders’ Facebook Group, you can enter to win a pair of free tickets ( a $300 value!) in our Facebook giveaway by 5:00pm on Wednesday, December 19th!

3. Behind the Scenes Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

Start the new year with an adventure and a look back into the past on Untapped Cities’ Behind the Scenes Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital. For years the hospital stood as the standard for United States medical care and went on to serve many other purposes, including as offices for the FBI, once immigration operations ceased. Now, for over sixty years the 22-building complex has been left to decay and blocked off to the public. This hard hat tour will bring you on a unique exploration of the abandoned facility with visits to the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms laundry facilities and other off-limits areas. You will also see pieces of the site specific art installation Unframed by world renowned artist JR. This installation is made up of historical, photographs, taken on the island, that have been blown up to life size and pasted on the walls, doors, windows, floors, and furniture throughout the buildings.

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

4. NYRR’s Midnight Run


Courtesy of NYRR

Run into the new year in Central Park at the New York Road Runner’s four mile Midnight Run through the park! The race starts with a kick off party at Rumsey Playfield featuring live music and dancing before runners embark on a four mile loop around the park up Cat Hill, past Engineer’s Gate, alongside the Reservoir and downhill to the finish line near Bethesda Terrace. The kick-off party starts at 10:00p.m and the race begins at the end of the countdown to the new year in conjunction with the fireworks display!

You can register for the race here, now until 5:00pm on Monday, December 31.

5. Concert for Peace

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Kripaks

The annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984 and has become a signature Cathedral event. This year’s concert, led by Kent Tritle the Director of Cathedral Music, will feature performances by the Cathedral Choir, orchestra, and soloists. Music will range from Bach and Mozart to the New York premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Alleluia. Thee evening will conlcude with the Cathedral Choir’s own Jamet Pittman leading the audience in singing This Little Light  as candles are lit to welcome the new year with hope, joy, and affirmation.

General admission seats are free and open to the public on the night of the show. Reserved seats are on sale now.

6. New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at DROM

Photograph Courtesy of Urban Adventures

Costumes are strongly encouraged for this Mardi Gras themed celebration at DROM in the East Village. The evening will feature live New Orleans jazz by The Gotham Kings with acclaimed, Grammy winning trumpeter Alphonso Horne, lavish burlesque performances, and a captivating circus and sideshow with aerialist stunts. Host Shelly Watson will preside over the affair. You can even get a photo taken by famed New York City photographer Ilya Popenko against a glittery Mardis Gras backdrop.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online and range rom general admission to a VIP package.

7. Fireworks in Prospect Park

Photograph by Andrew Gardner, Courtesy of the Prospect Park Alliance

Watch fireworks explode over Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza right at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance for Brooklyn will present a spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration with live entertainment by Brooklyn’s own Quintessential Playlist. Now in it’s 39th year, this family friendly event is free and open to the public, but you can RSVP here.

8. Hang a Tibetan Prayer Flag


Photograph by Ben Hider, Courtesy of the Rubin Museum

For 2019, the Rubin Museum is adopting the theme of “Power: Within and Between Us” as a yearlong focus on empowering visitors. To kick of the New Year, the first event under this mission statement will be a prayer flag, or lung-ta, ceremony with mantra chants and blessings from Geshe Tashi Dorje, the director of the Center for Universal Peace in New York. Participants are invited to add their hopes and anxieties to the display of Tibetan prayer flags that have been collected and displayed on the Spiral Wall at the museum. In Tibetan tradition, it is believed that when a prayer flag is blown by the wind, the prayers purify the environment and help bring peace to the world.

This event will take place on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. The event is free but you must register online in advance. The first 35 people to RSVP will receive a free prayer flag.

9. Activist Bike Ride and Dance Party

The all volunteer non-profit groups of The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space and Time’s Up have teamed up to create a New Year’s Eve event with a purpose. Time’s Up is an environmental organization working to create sustainable and positive changes in New York City for the past thirty one years. Their annual New Year’s Eve bike ride is one way to raise awareness for their causes. This year’s ride starts at 9:30pm in front of the Plaza Hotel or at entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge or 10:00pm at Madison Square Park, 23rd & Broadway, and will end at Time’s  Up’s Musical After-Party at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space in the Lower East Side.

The dance party will feature multimedia presentations by East Village activists and artists including Fly, Seth Tobocman and Eric Drooker and live music by Banji and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. The bike ride is free to join and the dance party will be $5-$25 at the door with free valet bike parking.

10. NEW New Year’s Eve 2018 at Grand Prospect Hall

Photograph by Yuliya Skya Courtesy of House of Yes

House of Yes is partnering with ZERO to bring their New Year’s Eve party back to Grand Prospect Hall to ring in 2019. This New Year’s bash will encompass two floors of dance magic, spellbinding performances, healing lounges, and sacred encounters. The first floor boasts a Burlesque speakeasy with a New Orleans jazz band, a tarot lounge, and a live tattoo parlor. Just beyond the two bars, guests can find themselves taking a journey to the Spa Ship, which will feature sound healing and divination rituals. On the second floor, the Temple of Sacred Sin stands waiting to be explored, where fetish goddesses and sideshow specialists rule the night. The midnight moment in the Grand Ballroom will be the biggest spectacle of the night, perfectly complimenting the more intimate experiences bubbling up across the other lounges and spaces well into the morning. Music will be provided by Acid Pauli, Behrouz, Mira, and Be Svendsen.

Costumes are required, and guests are invited to dress extravagantly in shades of white, gold, and black. You can purchase tickets here.

Next, check out Take a Photo with the Giant “1” and “9” of the “2019” NYE Sign in Times Square and 10 Places to Find Festive Holiday Decorations in NYC

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