Times Square numerals arrive in NYCPhotograph Courtesy of Countdown Entertainment

Few new years have been as highly anticipated as 2021. We’ve all simply had enough of 2020 and can’t wait to celebrate its end. Even though spectators are not allowed to watch the famous ball drop in Times Square, there will still be plenty of ways to celebrate, and celebrate we will! From ball drop live streams and virtual parties to new museum exhibits and a reading marathon, check out the best New Year’s Eve events in NYC to ring in 2021!


1. Virtually Explore Times Square

A screenshot from the Virtual New Year's Eve appImage Courtesy of Fly Studio

Times Square’s New Year’s Eve party is going virtual this year. Bring the party to your home with the Virtual New Year’s Eve (VNYE) interactive gaming experience. Accessible on phones, tablets, and PCs, this app allows users to place themselves (in the form of an avatar) right in the heart of Times Square to play games, view digital art, hear musical performances, play with augmented reality filters and watch a live broadcast of the ball drop.


From the app, you can also watch live streams of the countdown to 2021 from all over the world. By choosing different cameras, your stream is fully customizable. You can even watch from space via the EarthCam Rolling Live feed! The iconic ball drop will also be streamed onTimesSquareNYC.orgTimesSquareBall.net and livestream.com/2021.

2. Sip Champagne on a Hudson River Cruise

Ring in the New Year on the Hudson River as you sip champagne aboard a 1920s inspired yacht. Classic Harbor Line offers multiple cruises departing from Chelsea Piers on the evening of December 31st. Aboard their New Year’s Eve Champagne Tasting Cruise, guests will enjoy a three-flight sparkling wine tasting, paired with a custom cheese plate, handpicked by an in-house wine expert and cheese master. The cruise will pause for three special on-deck viewing opportunities where guests will get to take photos and take part in an on-deck toast with each of the three different handpicked varietals.


Tasting segments of this cruise are outside while stopped in front of three of New York Harbor’s icons: Times Square and Hudson Yards, The Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center and the Financial District, and/or the Brooklyn Bridge. Exact routes will be subject to the wind and tide conditions during your cruise. You’ll find the main salon of the Manhattan warm, cozy and enchanting – fully decorated for the holidays and plenty of space and partitioning to feel at ease while you take in the sights. Book your tickets here!

3. Go Back in Time to Dutch New Amsterdam

A tour guest touches an 18th century wall

Touch the past on an Untapped New York walking tour of the Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam. Travel back many New Year’s Eves ago to when New York City was still a colony under Dutch rule. As you walk the city’s original coastline (it wasn’t where it is now) and street grid (much of which IS still where it was), you will discover the relics of New York’s first European settlement.


Along the way, you will actually get to touch the physical remnants of Lower Manhattan’s past, from an 18th-century stone wall to the oldest fence in New York City which dates to revolutionary times. All of Untapped New York’s tours are run with adherence to our new health and safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for our guests and our guides.


4. Stream the Poetry Project’s New Year’s Day Reading Marathon

Remington vintage Typewriter in the Bankers Club at the Equitable Building

The Poetry Project’s 2021 New Year’s Day Marathon marks the 47th annual event, which usually takes place at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. This year, like many other New Year’s Eve events in NYC, the festivities will be held online in the format of a 24-hour continuous, virtual broadcast featuring readings and performances from more than 200 poets, writers, artists, musicians, dancers, and theatre-makers from around the world. Poetry readings will be accompanied by hypnosis, DJ sets, music videos, ritual offerings, celebrations of place and history, cooking segments, short films, archival media, and more.

The marathon starts at 11pm on December 31st with a broadcast of live performances and a special feature from the clocktower of St. Mark’s. You can watch for free at this link, The Poetry Project’s Facebook or YouTube. Since this year’s event is free, if you wish to make a donation to the Poetry Project, you can do so here!

5. Watch St. John the Divine’s Concert for Peace

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace at St. John the Divine is a traditional New Year’s Eve event in NYC. This year, the concert will be live-streamed on Thursday, December 31st from 7:00 to 8:00PM ET. Founded by Leonard Bernstein as a tribute to the people of New York City, the Concert for Peace has been performed annually for over 30 years.


The concert will be hosted by Harry Smith and will feature a welcome from the Right Reverend Clifton Daniel, Dean of the Cathedral. Members of the Cathedral Choir and Artist in Residence David Briggs will perform. You can watch the live-streamed concert for free on the Cathedral’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

6. Learn About 19th-Century New Year’s Day Traditions with the Merchant’s House Museum

Merchants HOuse Museum

After taking part in the festive New Year’s Eve events in NYC the night before, spend New Year’s Day with the Merchant’s House Museum. At 3:00pm on January 1st, the Merchant’s House museum team will host a virtual tour through the home. In this virtual experience, guests will learn about the 19th-century tradition of paying social calls to friends and family on New Year’s Day.


On this tour, you will meet the Tredwells, former owners of the Merchant’s House. and hear how they (the servants, that is) have been decking the house for New Year’s Day and preparing their lists of social calls. This online event is free but a $15 donation is suggested. You can register online here!

7. Attend a Virtual New Year’s Eve Party

Virtual New Year's Eve eventCourtesy of Eschaton

If you are one who usually goes out on New Year’s Eve, this year the club will come to you. Eschaton, a virtual nightlife experience operated via Zoom will host a virtual New Year’s Eve party on December 31st from 11:00pm until 1:00AM New Year’s Day.

The Zoom will feature multiple rooms of performers including burlesque dancers and mentalist magic from Magic Castle alum. Tickets start from $25 and the VIP package includes an hour-long afterparty. Festive New Year’s Eve attire is encouraged!

8. Reflect on 2020 at MCNY’s New York Responds Exhibit

New York Responds at MCNYPhotograph Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Reflect back on how New York has handled all of the challenges 2020 threw at it in a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, New York Responds: The First Six Months. This photography exhibit looks at the past year through the eyes of over 100 New Yorkers. Photographs, videos and other works of art were crowd-sourced from all over the city. A jury of twelve diverse New Yorkers helped museum curators pick which pieces to include in the exhibit from among the tens of thousands of submissions.

New York Responds: The First Six Months is open now and will be on view through April 11th, 2021. The museum will be closed on New Year’s Day. You can buy timed tickets for entry on their website.

9. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Explore Times Square on a Holiday Hunt scavenger hunt that will take you through the neighborhood’s local landmarks and businesses. Using a set of clues posted on the Time Square Alliance website, you will find a cast of illustrated characters created by local illustrator Hannah Lee. Each clue will lead you to a sticker of a character posted in the front window of a local business. The stickers will be visible from outside the establishment. When you find a character, take a photograph and post it to Instagram or tweet it with #HolidayHunt and @TimesSquareNYC.

Each tagged post enters you into a raffle for a $50 gift card to a Times Square business of your choice. You can find all of the scavenger hunt clues here and see the illustrated characters you will be looking for! The scavenger hunt will run until Sunday, January 10th, 2021. See official Sweepstakes rules here!

10. Take a First Day Hike

Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Head out to a New York State Park for a First Day Hike. In New York City, the education team at Shirley Chisholm Park will lead their 2nd Annual First Day Hike. Guests will go on a 4.5-mile hike through both sides of the park to explore Jamaica Bay. Call (718) 277-2420 ext. 5003 to register beforehand. State Parks all over New York will host guided and self-guided First Day Hikes throughout New Year’s Day. Check out the New York State Parks website for an interactive map of all First Day Hike locations to find a participating park nearby, or one to travel from for a New Year’s day adventure!

Next, check out Times Square’s New Year’s Eve Party Goes Virtual and The Top 10 Secrets of Times Square NYC