This New Year’s Eve, we aren’t just saying goodbye to the past year, but we are closing out the second decade of the 21st century. We’ve rounded up the best ways to close out 2019 and welcome in 2020. From physically smashing old bad memories, to watching an all day poetry reading marathon, check out our picks for how to kick off a brand new decade in New York City:
1. Good Riddance Day in Times Square
Photograph by Hannah Lee, Courtesy of the Times Square Alliance
Start the new decade with a clean slate by getting rid of whatever negativity you are holding on to from the past. At Times Square’s Good Riddance Day, participants can take part in a practice of purging inspired by a Latin American tradition in which New Year’s revelers stuff dolls with objects representing bad memories and then set them on fire. On December 28th, bring the physical manifestation of your ad memories, whether its something to smash, toss or shred, to Broadway plaza.
The cathartic destruction will take place between 45th and 46th streets from 12–1pm. You can register for a free ticket to this event here. One lucky attendee will win two tickets to see Mean Girls on Broadway.
2. Come Calling on New Year’s Day at Merchant’s House Museum
Celebrate New Year’s the old fashion way at the Merchant’s House Museum. At this New Year’s Day celebration, learn how New Yorkers like the Tredwells, the formers owners of the home, celebrated in the 1850s. At that time, paying social calls on friends and family the day after New Year’s Eve was customary. Guided tours of the house will run throughout the afternoon along with walking tours of the NoHo neighborhood.
Hot cider and cookies will be served in the cozy 19th century kitchen, and guests will even get to meet Gertrude Tredwell, portrayed by a costumed interpreter. The lady of the home will receive guests in the elegant parlors. The home will still be decorated for the holidays with swags of evergreens, holly berries, white mistletoe, poinsettias and of course a tree trimmed with ribbons and candles. There will also be a holiday raffle drawing. Tickets are available online here!
3. Backstage Tour of the Met Opera
The Metropolitan Opera House auditorium. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Opera by Jonathan Tichl
Pack the last few days of December with adventure by joining the last behind-the-scenes tour of the Metropolitan Opera House of the year. The Metropolitan Opera has been an institution since 1883. The Opera moved into its current Wallace Harrison designed theater at Lincoln Center in 1966.
On this backstage tour, guests will see first hand how the opera’s extravagant productions come to life in the buzzing backstage areas. Guests will get to peek behind the curtain and gain access to areas like the scenic and carpentry shops, the wig shop, the costume shop and more.
4. Midnight Run in Central Park
Photograph Courtesy of New York Road Runners
Get a jump on your 2020 fitness goals by taking part in the 41st Annual New York Road Runner’s Midnight Run in Central Park. This nighttime race begins at the stroke of midnight after a pre-race festival at the Naumburg Bandshell. The festival starts at 10:00pm and is open to all of the runners and their guest. There will be sparkling cider, music and dancing until midnight when the race kicks off with an amazing fireworks display. Halfway through the four mile race, runners can make a toast at the sparkling cider fluid station. The route will pass near Bethesda Terrace, through rollings hills and by the reservoir.
Before the race, when you pick up your numbers at the NYRR Runcenter, there will be hot chocolate and coffee to warm up with! You can register for the race here.
5. Explore an Abandoned Hospital
Explore the abandoned halls of Ellis Island’s century old hospital complex on a behind-the-scenes hard hat tour. On this unique experience, guests will get to step inside the complex which has been closed to the public for more than sixty years. Throughout your journey through the 29-building complex you will visit areas like the morgue, the laundry room, the kitchen, and more.
The hospital complex served as many things over the years including an FBI office and Coast Guard Training facility. Today, the decaying structures house a haunting art installation by world renowned artist JR. Using photographs from the Ellis Island archives, JR has filled the forgotten spaces with life size images of the island’s past.
6. TWA Hotel New Year’s Eve Party
Party like its 1962 at the TWA Hotel! At this retro-themed New Year’s Eve party inside he recently restored TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, guests are encouraged to don their finest mid-century attire for an evening of music, ice skating, drinking and dining. You may want to book a room to stay for the night after you are through with all the festivities. Guests will enjoy a five hour open bar, the chance to take a spin on the new Runway Rink, and mark the start of 2020 as the iconic Vulcain clock strikes midnight.
The party will run from 8:00pm on New Year’s Eve through 1:00am on New Year’s Day. You can purchase tickets online and opt for General Admission or a VIP package which includes seating in the Sunken Lounge and a bottle of Champagne for a midnight toast.
7. Uncover the Secrets of Grand Central
Ring in the new year by finding out what is hidden beneath the most iconic clock in New York City, the clock at the center of the main concourse in Grand Central Terminal. On Untapped New York’s Secrets of Grand Central Terminal Tour, our expert tour guide will walk you through the gilded age landmark and reveal the fascinating tales hidden within.
From hidden tennis courts and forgotten murals, to a major design flaw in the main concourse, seasoned commuters and newcomers alike will discover something you never knew about this New York City treasure. Explore the history of the station from its early days and the golden age of rail travel, to its near destruction and eventual resurrection.
8. Concert for Peace at St. John the Divine
Photograph Courtesy of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
The annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a tradition started by Leonard Bernstein in 1984. This signature performance features the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra led by Director of Music, Kent Tritle. With special guests Paul Winter, Judy Collins, Jamet Pittman, Jason Robert Brown, David Brigg and host Harry Smith, guests will be entertained with music that spans from the Baroque works of Handel and Bach, to the contemporary works of Briggs and Hoiby. The audience will get to participate in singing This little light of mine 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. If you want to guarantee a seat, you can purchase a premium spot online. The concert will be held at 7:00pm on December 31st.
9. Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge
Photograph by Daniel Turkewitz, Courtesy of the Alliance for Coney Island
Jump start the new year with a jolt as you run into the freezing cold waters off the coast of Coney Island at the 116th Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club Plunge. This chilly New Year’s Day swim is for fun and a good cause. There is no fee to participate, but swimmers are encouraged to donate at least $25 to raise funds that will benefit the Coney Island community by helping to create a more sustainable and cleaner environment, support programming for Coney Island youth, and improve quality of life for residents.
It is recommended that you bring bring warm clothes, surf boots or old sneakers, and towels. The NYC Parks Department provides changing facilities on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue. That is also where registration will take place starting at 10am. All plungers should arrive by noon.
10. Poetry Reading Marathon
Photograph by Ted Roeder
Witness an all day poetry reading at the 46th Annual New Year;s Day Marathon Reading inside St. Mark’s Church. This ten hour performance, presented by The Poetry Project, is a tradition that started in 1974 when Anne Waldman gathered thirty-one poets for the first marathon. Today, the marathon host around 150 poets, performers, and artists.
You can book your ticket and check out the full line-up of performers who will take the stage from 2:00pm through 10:00 pm here. Can’t make it in person? You can stream the whole day thanks to Montez Press Radio.