Free and cheap things to do on New Year's Eve 2012

Get started on that resolution to save money in 2013 early and hit one of the best free or cheap New Year's Eve events in NYC.

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It's nearly 1pm on December 31, and if you don't have New Year's Eve plans yet, well, you've still got some time. (But you need to get started, like, now.) For those who don't want to spend wads of cash at a fancy NYE party or show—and, let's be honest, most of those are sold out anyway—there are plenty of awesome free and cheap New Year's Eve events happening tonight. (Bonus: More money for drinks!) There's a shindig for every taste: Gather a group of friends and watch the fireworks display over Prospect Park, or boogie into the wee hours at Jonathan Toubin's annual New York Night Train New Year's Ball.


RECOMMENDED: New Year's Eve in New York guide


Free things to do on New Year's Eve in NYC

Murderfist’s New Year

  • Critics choice
  • Free

No-holds-barred sketch troupe Murderfist presents performances from James Adomian, Mike Lawrence, Nick Turner, Micah Sherman, Andrew Short and Amber Nelson. After the laughs, there's a champagne toast at midnight and a musical performance from Skulk, the Hulking at 1am.

  1. The Creek and the Cave 10-93 Jackson Ave, at 49th Ave
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

Kinfolk Studios

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Lately, this hybrid artist haunt—a coffeeshop, bar and restaurant all in one—has gotten attention as a cutting-edge culinary incubator, with Scandinavian pop-up Frej recently giving way to buzzworthy Aska. But on December 31, the cool industrialist drinkery returns to its laid-back boozy roots with a no-cover dance party (and drinks designed by Aska’s Eamon Rockey). Order champagne ($8–$20), Asahi beer ($6) and cocktails (like a persimmon shandy, $12) at the black-walnut bar. Then get down to an eclectic playlist of pop, hip-hop, underground disco and world music spun by DJs into the wee hours. • 347-799-2946, kinfolklife.com. 10:30pm–2am.

  1. 90 Wythe Ave, (between North 10th and 11th Sts)
More info

New Year's Eve at Times Square

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Since 1907, a sparkly sphere has been lowered in Times Square, and even though the rest of the country has adopted the tradition, New York can still lay proud claim to it. Last year's event boasted performances from Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. At a minute to midnight, the geodesic sphere (11,875 pounds, 12 feet across and covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles and 32, 256 LEDs) will begin its 70-foot drop, before confetti is released into the city sky. Arrive by 2pm and be prepared to stay put: The main area (from 42nd Street to 47th Street) is usually packed by 3pm, and the rest fills up before 11pm. There’s also a limited amount of public restrooms in the area, and leaving to grab some food nearby means giving up your spot. Having said that, this is really the best kind of holiday masochism: You haven’t really celebrated until you’ve frozen your ass off and lost your voice screaming while that ball drops above you.

  1. Times Square Broadway, between 42nd and 47th Sts
  2. Wed Dec 31 - Thu Jan 1
More info

New Year's Eve Fireworks

  • Free

Bundle up for a free, low-key New Year’s Eve with hot beverages and fireworks sparkling over Park Slope. Live music starts at around 11pm at Grand Army Plaza, where you can also snag a free cup of hot cocoa. At midnight fireworks will go off at Long Meadow; the best vantage points are at Grand Army Plaza, inside the park on West Drive and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street.

  1. Grand Army Plaza enter at Flatbush Ave and Prospect Park West
  2. Wed Dec 31 - Thu Jan 1
More info

Emerald Nuts Midnight Run

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Ring in 2013 and get an early start on that resolution to shed a few pounds at the four-mile Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. First warm up your legs as a DJ spins pop hits at the Naumberg Bandshell (10pm), then show off your holiday getup during a costume contest (11pm). Afterward, make your way to the start line; both the race and a fireworks display begin when the clock strikes midnight. Runners will get a celebratory glass of non-alcholic bubbly (sparkling apple cider) at the halfway mark, while spectators—up to 5,000 strong— can enjoy the aerial show as they wait to cheer on the finishers. RECOMMENDED: More New Year's Eve fireworks displays in NYC 2012

  1. Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park 72nd St, at Fifth Ave
  2. Tue Dec 31 - Wed Jan 1
More info

Time’s Up Annual New Year’s Eve Ride

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Meet at Washington Square Park Arch, Washington Sq North at Fifth Ave. Ring in the New Year on wheels (bikes or skates) at this yearly New Year's Eve event, organized by environmental organization Time’s Up. From Washington Square Park, the brigade will travel north to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, where a dance party awaits. Check times-up.org for other meeting points throughout the city.

  1. Washington Square Park W 4th St to Waverly Pl, between MacDougal St and University Pl
  2. Mon Dec 31 - Tue Jan 1
More info

New Year's Eve Concert for Peace

  • Free

Usher in the New Year in a positive manner at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, a bona fide New York institution. The Cathedral Choir and Orchestra will perform selected works by Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Bruckner; NBC's Harry Smith hosts, and singer-songwriter Judy Collins makes a guest appearance. The program includes readings, meditations and further festive music.

  1. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam Ave, at 112th St
  2. Until Tue Dec 31
More info

Cheap things to do on New Year's Eve in NYC

New York Night Train Annual Dusk Till Dawn New Year's Ball

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Jonathan Toubin tosses an early-starting, late-ending end-of-year throwdown in his longtime abode, Home Sweet Home. As always, Toubin will be spinning a selection of first-rate funk and soul, largely exquisite obscurities from the mid-’60s; he'll be aided in the effort by an ace lineup that includes Josh Styles from the Smashed! Blocked! affair and the Dirtbombs' Mick Collins. There'll be plenty of band action as well, with Kid Congo Powers and the K-Holes, Andy Animal Family Band and Call of the Wild among those taking the stage. Bonus: It's one of the least wallet-thinning wingdings of the night.

  1. Home Sweet Home 131 Chrystie St, between Broome and Delancey Sts
  2. Until Tue Dec 31
More info

Union Hall and Karaoke Killed the Kat $5 NYE Spectacular

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The weekly basement bash of impresarios, MCs and hype men Chris Goldteeth and Lord Easy is perhaps the one party in NYC we can call off-the-hook without cringing—so this bargain New Year's Eve option featuring champagne specials should be epic. If you’re planning to perform, just remember: it’s not quality but wild energy that counts. RECOMMENDED: More New Year's Eve parties in NYC 2012

  1. Union Hall 702 Union St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

Reverend Vince Anderson and His Love Choir

  • Price band: 1/4

Somewhere between Wesley Willis and Tammy Faye Messner is the Reverend Vince Anderson, a self-styled "dirty gospel" musician with a gravelly voice and a penchant for lightning-fast organ playing. If you're looking for a raucous, ridiculous (and cheap) way to ring in the New Year, we suggest you snap up your ten-buck ticket now.

  1. Union Pool 484 Union Ave, at Meeker Ave
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

T Blues Band + Michael Powers

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Singer-guitarist Michael Powers behaves like he has a Delta hellhound on his trail. We’re not so sure that’s the case, but the gritty soul on his record Prodigal Son befits a cat who apprenticed with James Cotton.

  1. Terra Blues 149 Bleecker St, between La Guardia Pl and Thompson St
  2. Until Mon Nov 25
More info

Psychic Ills + Herbcraft

Psychic Ills brings its incense-scented throb to Greenpoint for a New Year's Eve gig. The shadowy local neopsych mainstays have been sounding especially trippy lately, like Jandek encountering the Dead.

  1. Saint Vitus 1120 Manhattan Ave, between Box and Clay Sts, 11222
  2. Until Sat Mar 16
More info

Yes Ma'am

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

886 Pacific St at Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Subway: C to Clinton–Washington Aves. Rebel Cupcake's Bevin Branlandingham teams up with Nicky Cutler and DJ Average Jo to bring you this body-positive queer dance party. For the New Year's Eve edition, you get two open bars (10–10:30pm and 2–2:30am), a champagne toast at midnight and $4 Yes Ma'am punch all night. For more information, go to queerfatfemme.com.

  1. Location TBA
  2. Sun May 26
More info

Bushwig presents N-Y-E

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The queens of Bushwig are back at Secret Project Robot to celebrate the arrival of 2013 in gender-bent style. Revelers will enjoy cheap booze, dancing, performances, games, a photo booth, and many more strange and curious delights throughout the evening.

  1. Secret Project Robot 389 Melrose St, between Flushing and Knickerbocker Aves
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

Body Rock and Beefcake

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Chris Reed hosts this New Year's Eve shindig at the ultimate West Village bear den. DJ Billy Pfeiffer spins while you take in go-go performances, snack on free food and drink up for a champagne toast at midnight.

  1. Rockbar 185 Christopher St, at West St
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

Eraserhead

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Lynch’s astonishing feature debut, a staple of the midnight circuit, employs unforgettably grotesque imagery in the service of a surreal tale about the fear of becoming a parent (and, by extension, an adult). You’ll never look at Cornish hens or radiators the same way again.

  1. IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave, at 3rd St
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info

The Manchurian Candidate

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This is the king of Cold War communist conspiracy thrillers, in which Sinatra discovers a plot to assassinate a presidential hopeful, and the double agent is Ol’ Blue Eyes’s former army superior (Laurence Harvey). Creepy, creepy stuff.

  1. IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave, at 3rd St
  2. Until Mon Dec 31
More info


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