Things to do in New York City on New Years eve

Since I was going to be in New York City on new years eve, I wanted to make sure I made up for the cold and wetness of the day by seeing the amazing ball drop, fireworks and festivities of the season. Except, none of my plans panned out.

This post is a post of what to do and what not to do (at least without adequate preparation) when you are in New York city on New years eve.

My sister and I made the 2 hour trip from Albany to New York on new years eve and stopped right at Herald Square, Manhattan. I hadn’t being to NYC in several years, but you can imagine the crowd of people. We ducked into Macy’s to check it out, but promptly escaped the hordes of people in the store. Our short lived foray into the store revealed it to be lavishly decorated for the holidays though.

Don’t – Do not do your last minute new years eve shopping in Manhattan. Just don’t.

World Trade Center (Memorial and Oculus)

We hopped on the subway and made our way to the World Trade Center. Previously twin towers that were bombed down by the 9-11 attacks, the world trade center complex was replaced by one tower, museums, parks and a memorial to those who died. The one tower is the tallest building in North America.

In the space where the Twin Towers once stood, waterfalls now rush into two enormous square memorial pools. The pools are ringed with bronze panels inscribed with the names of all the 9/11 victims, as well as those who were killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Beneath the tree-shaded memorial plaza is an underground museum  with multimedia exhibits that tell the story of 9/11 and its aftermath.

The Oculus is in reality a new replacement train station to serve the new world trade center. It looks nothing like a train station.While its architecture is magnificent, it really is more suited for artsy endevours (as also shown by the premium designer stores there) than a train station.

Hudson Yards

New yorkers would refer to the Hudson Yards neighborhood as upscale. Others like me, new to North America know that “Manhattan” is the most upscale neighborhood. We would both be right in our estimation because Hudson yards is in Manhattan. A place for the super uber rich and those who like to fake being wealthy. I found this article about Hudson Yards you might find on point.

The Vessel

The Vessel is a climbable steel sculpture right at the middle of the Hudson yards public space. Its interconnected climbable staircases are meant to be climbed (that way we can appreciate art while we deceive ourselves that we are working out). Articles online have likened it to a massive shawarma and also the ribcage of a robotic animal. I didn’t get to climb it as access ends after 9pm.

Avant Gallery

Full disclosure – I do not have an eye for what artsy people call art.

This contemporary gallery is located where the shops and restaurants are located in Hudson yards. It is the only art gallery in the upscale neighborhood which might be a reason why they had price tags above $15,000 for pieces that looked like glitter dust or glittering eye shadow was splattered on canvas (read full disclosure above).

Anyway, it was good to walk around and confirm the fact that you can make a career albeit a profitable one out of anything. You only need to find a small niche of people who like what you create or do.

Times Square

If you have been to New York, then chances are that you have been to times square. It’s that commercial strip with millions of lit billboards, advertisements, and people located right midtown Manhattan. It is also the location of the New Years eve ball drop which I decided to go see.

Since it was New years eve, I decided I would use this beautiful opportunity to finally experience the NYC ball drop which had been going on since 1907. After all, I was already in Times Square, so how bad could it be?

Very, very bad…

My sister and I had dinner around 9 pm at TGI before we parted ways as she adamantly refused to navigate the crowd to see any ball drop. As soon as I was alone, I made my way to an reasonably long queue… you see… I had seen people in a line all around Times square, but I convinced myself they couldn’t be queuing up in relation to the “ball dropping”. Once I approached the long queue to ask for directions as to how to see the ball drop, you can imagine my surprise when they said that was the queue.

I didn’t even go to the last person (they must have been 4 blocks behind), I just cut into the queue. We went through security where umbrellas and backpacks needed to be removed before we entered the main times square street.

Once past that point, it was free for all, you could make your way towards any direction you wanted except for the front (not the front where you could see the ball drop, but 2 inches in front of you). There were literally millions of people ahead. So I stayed in the crowd, sandwiched between people with different accents, testament to their origins and the journeys they had made all in the effort to see the ball drop and usher in the new year with the world.

I didn’t see the ball drop and only barely saw some firework sparks that made their way to our part of Times square, blocked by all the skyscrapers as they were. But the feeling of being outside (in the drizzling rain) on the 31st of December, with a million or so other people as we counted down to the demise of a decade cannot be replicated. I closed my eyes in brief and heartfelt gratitude to God (Jesus) for his grace and mercy. When I opened my eyes, it was 2020 and it was time to disperse.

It was sheer pandemonium as the cops were trying to get the VIPs through by barricading accessible streets, and the weather not cooperating with the incessant rain. I made it back to the greyhound station (right at the square) and boarded a bus back to Albany, a place way more sane than Times Square.

I’m glad for the experience, but next time, I would not go to times square on new years eve. I’ll just watch it on you tube or TV or better still check into a hotel on Times square for the night for an unfettered view (probably pay a ransom for a nights rate which I will not do).

On another note, I checked out the ball drop on youtube and… the ball is super tiny. They really should have some considerations for the die hard people (like me) who come to see it and make a bigger ball to drop from a more visible height. So much more ways to make this a more valuable experience for all (just my 2 cents 🙂)

There you have it, my experience in Times Square on New years eve. Happy 2020 and may all your dreams come true.

2 thoughts on “Things to do in New York City on New Years eve

  1. Wow, amazing post and fantastic photos. Isn’t New York City an incredible city to explore and photograph, especially decorated for festive season? Considering the fact that non-stop flight time from Dublin to New York is around 8 hours, I should definitely look into it. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva


    1. Hi Aiva, New York City is an incredible city indeed. You and the family should definitely look into it. Thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving a comment.


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