Here’s a fact: It’s cold in New York City on December 31. No one would blame you if you didn’t want to spend the last hours of 2018 crowded behind barricades in Times Square, waiting for that ball to drop. Here are eight better ways to spend New Year’s Eve in New York City:
See Phish at Madison Square Garden
Phish first played at Madison Square Garden in December of 1994. More than two decades later, the rock band will play its 60th show in the arena on New Year’s Eve. No special plans have been revealed just yet, but last year’s five-hour event might be a clue: Attendees received “cosmic wristbands” with LED pods that lit up blue and green just before midnight, aerialists unfurled a giant sail (the backdrop for a projected countdown) and balloons and confetti dropped all around.
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
INFO $95 and up; 866-858-0008, msg.com
See Sandra Bernhard at Joe’s Pub
You might recognize Sandra Bernhard from her appearances on “Pose,” “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” “Difficult People,” “2 Broke Girls,” or “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Or maybe she’s stuck in your head as Nancy Bartlett from “Roseanne.” Now you can see her live in “Quick Sand,” a holiday show mixing music, comedy and cabaret all in one evening.
WHEN | WHERE 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., Manhattan
INFO $150-$200; 212-539-8778, publictheater.org
Go on a midnight run in Central Park
For those who’ve resolved to be more active in 2019, there’s no better way to start than New York Road Runners four-mile midnight run with fireworks crackling overhead. You can bring one non-running guest with you to toast to the New Year with sparkling cider halfway through the race and enjoy the festivities at Rumsey Playfield — including music and dancing — before and after.
WHEN | WHERE 10 p.m. (pre-race festival), 11:59 p.m. (race) Monday, Dec. 31, starting at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Manhattan
INFO $70 for nonmembers, 855-569-6977, nyrr.org
Go to the circus
The Big Apple Circus's New Year's Eve show starts with a two-hour extravaganza featuring clowns, aerialist and acrobatic duos, a freestanding ladder act, a flying trapeze family, a wall trampoline troupe, an animal presenter and a horizontal juggler. And then there’s a party right there in the tent, complete with a ball drop and Champagne toast in the ring when the clock strikes midnight.
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at Lincoln Center, 62nd St. between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, Manhattan
INFO $45-$250; 212-257-2330, bigapplecircus.com
Dine at Buca di Beppo
Maybe you don’t want to stand outside in Times Square to watch the ball drop but still want to be close to the action. Go all out with a New Year’s Eve family-style Italian feast at nearby Buca di Beppo. There will be hors d'oeuvres, favorite entrees (including Fettuccine Alfredo and Eggplant Parmigiana), desserts, a midnight champagne toast and an open bar. You’ll also have access to Planet Hollywood, right downstairs, where a DJ will be playing all night.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at Buca di Beppo NYC, 1540 Broadway, Manhattan
INFO $349-$399, 212-201-0735, balldrop.com
Take a New York Water Taxi cruise
Ring in the New Year on the water, with a stunning view of the evening’s fireworks and the city skyline. Sip on beer, wine and soft drinks; munch on hors d'oeurves including mini lobster rolls and tomato and basil bruschetta; dig into a dinner buffet featuring grilled beef tenderloin and mustard-crusted salmon; and top it off with something sweet. You can watch the ball drop on the TV on board, and you’ll be back on land by 1 a.m.
WHEN | WHERE 10 p.m. (boarding), 10:30 p.m. (departure), Monday, Dec, 31 from Pier 81 at West 41st St., Manhattan
INFO $199; 212-742-1969, nywatertaxi.com
Hear Renée Fleming at Lincoln Center
You’ll be tapping your feet to a New York Philharmonic program that zooms in on the intersection where classical music meets dance. There’ll be waltzes, polkas, marches, operetta excerpts, and songs from Broadway and film, with soprano Renée Fleming and conductor Jaap van Zweden presiding.
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at David Geffen Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan
INFO $105-$285; 212-875-5656, nyphil.org
See a comedy show at Carolines on Broadway
If what you decide to do on New Year’s Eve has any bearing on what kind of year you’ll have, why not make sure December 31 is full of laughter? Join comedians including Yamaneika Saunders, Derek Gaines, Stavros Halkias, Kevin Iso and Alex Edelman for the New Year's Eve Spectacular, hosted by Jason Scoop, pictured. You can make a reservation to have dinner in the Supper Lounge before your show.
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, Dec, 31 at Caroline’s on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, Manhattan
INFO $38.25-$98 (plus two-drink minimum); 212-757-4100, carolines.com