New Year's Eve 2014 for NYC Kids: Best Ways to Celebrate NYE with the Whole Family
Whether your kids can make it until midnight or not, there are lots of fun ways to celebrate New Year's Eve in NYC with the entire family. We've rounded up some of the most promising options for ringing in 2015 family style, from FREE bike rides and fireworks, to swanky (and admittedly expensive) Times Square parties.
However you welcome the New Year, we hope it's a blast! You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Fun Guide.
For kids who can stay up until midnight
New Year's Eve Fireworks in Prospect Park – Prospect Heights
This annual Brooklyn celebration is our pick to ring in 2015—assuming it doesn't rain or drop way below freezing. The event kicks off at 11pm with live entertainment and hot refreshments, followed by a dazzling fireworks show at midnight. Best viewing spots include Grand Army Plaza, inside the Park on the West Drive and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street. Otherwise, find a friend with a nearby rooftop!
Big Apple Circus: Metamorphosis – Upper West Side
Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park, 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue
We've been recommending the troupe's ongoing show since we reviewed it back in November. On New Year's Eve, families are treated to an extra-special performance with a champagne (or cider) toast and a circus-style countdown to midnight.
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run – Upper East Side
Starts at the Central Park Bandshell, enter the park at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street
In advance: $60 for adults, $30 for children; day of: $65 for adults, $40 for children
A great way to start working off those extra holiday pounds, this noncompetitive run for ages 5 and up is an offbeat, only-in-NYC way to welcome 2015. There's dancing at 10pm and fireworks at midnight that kick off the actual run. If you're not the sneakers type, you and the kids can just come for the FREE pre-run fun, and then head back home. Happens rain or shine. Although you can register the day-of, it's best to do it in advance since that's less expensive and hectic.
New Year's Eve Bike Ride – Greenwich Village to Central Park
Meet under the Arch at Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North
Families can join this FREE ride from Washington Square Park to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, sponsored by grassroots environmental group Time's Up. Dress is festive and noisemakers and party favors are encouraged. After the ride, you are rewarded with an outdoor party filled with music, dancing and fireworks (yes, these are the same festivities the runners enjoy). If your kids can't cycle that far, there's an alternate Manhattan pick-up point at Madison Square Park. Best for children ages 10 and up on their own bikes, all ages if they're in a bike seat.
New Year's Eve Family Cruise – South Street Seaport
Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport
Boards at 9:05pm; sails 9:20pm-12:20am
$200 for adults, $125 for children ages 3-12, $600 per family of four
Many readers have written in asking how to see the fireworks on the New York Harbor, and an expensive boat ride is probably your best bet. Unfortunately, most New Year's Eve cruises seem to be 21 and up save for New York Water Taxi's. Enjoy food, festivities, Wii games, party favors, noise makers and unobstructed views of the sparklers, as well as many NYC landmarks including the Statue of Liberty.
It's not the place we would want to party on December 31, but if that's where you want to ring in 2015 with your family, a number of neighborhood spots are throwing high-end celebrations that accommodate the under-21 crowd. Many of them are right on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues but it's important to note that the live ball drop is not visible from most of these shindigs.
Dave & Buster's New Year's Eve Party includes a buffet, dancing, video games and a five-hour open bar (alcohol for parents, nonalcoholic beverages for kids). We've heard 14 is the suggested minimum age.
At Madame Tussauds, you can groove to a live DJ and snap pics with your favorite (wax) celebrities.
AMC Theatre Times Square has PG-13 movies all night, plus dancing.
Ripley's Times Square opens the doors to all its artifacts and you can also test your skills at a laser race. Like most places, dance to the ubiquitous DJ and enjoy hors d'œuvres. The midnight toast here provides adults with champagne and kids with cotton candy.
Even Mexican chain Chevy's and haunted house Times Scare have packages, as do a slew of other area venues. Not all allow patrons under 21 but if your mind is set on Times Square, this site seems to have all the packages available.
Admission ranges from not as bad as you might expect to totally insane. Visit the respective websites for complete info. We've never been to any of these shindigs, but they have to be better than braving the Times Square crowds outside.
For kids who can't stay up late
All of the children's museums have special activities planned, which are free with regular admission. At the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the preschool set can make New Year's crafts and learn about the traditions of the holiday. At the Children's Museum of Manhattan, children can collaborate on a New Year's Wishing Tree by writing their wish for the year on a paper and affixing it to the communal tree. Finally, the Staten Island Children's Museum is throwing a New Year’s Eve bash led by clowns Watson and Christine.
Five Manhattan BR Guest restaurants—Atlantic Grill East Side, Bill’s Bar & Burger in Rockefeller Center, Downtown and the Meatpacking District and Isabella's—are hosting afternoon fetes from noon to 4pm complete with apple cider toasts, face painting, balloons and special family menus. Prices vary so call each restaurant for exact details.
And there's a lovely early evening celebration at the Cathedral Church St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights: the New Year's Eve Concert For Peace. Founded by the late great Leonard Bernstein in 1984, this annual performance features famous classical works by Handel, Mozart and Hadyn, as well as traditional spirituals. Hosted by Harry Smith, special appearances will be made by by legendary singer Judy Collins and Jason Robert Brown. The concert starts at 7pm and a limited number of FREE tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can also purchase reserved seats for $30 each. Although the show ends three hours before midnight, it sends your family into 2015 with a joyful spirit.
Originally posted in December, 2009