It's almost time for the Times Square ball drop, and that means 2016 is right around the corner! Did you wait till now to try and make plans? Not to worry, there are still plenty of New Year's parties you can still score tickets to. From dining at some of the best restaurants in NYC to doing something more relaxing (like meditating or a bike ride) there's something out there for everyone to start the New Year out on the right foot.
RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to New Year’s Eve in NYC
Go effing nuts
For an out-of-this-world party, the good folks at BangOn!NYC look to the heavens for their annual Time and Space bash. The rager takes over a 32,000-square-foot Brooklyn warehouse, with two stages for music from Justin Martin and Kill Frenzy and performances that utilize zip lines, 3-D projection mapping and “cyber time travel” (you’ll have to attend to find out what the hell that means). Don’t worry if you don’t have anyone to French kiss when the clock strikes midnight; this party marks the ball drop by launching a rocket (read: ascending a giant metal art installation containing two go-go dancers to the ceiling), which sounds (almost) better than making out.
Photograph: BanOn!NYC, Anya White
Saying goodbye is hard to do, so thank your techno-lovin’ stars that Output’s send-off to 2015 lasts well into the first official night of 2016. If dancing for 22 hours straight is one of your resolutions, you’ll be in no danger of failing. You can groove to an extended set from drum-heavy Latin-influenced DJ Oscar G, tribal-tech DJ Victor Calderone and others under the club’s giant caged disco ball until you have to be dragged out. And don’t count on catching the name of the cutie you’re locking eyes with over the state-of-the-art Funktion-One sound system: You’ll have to communicate through your sweet dance moves.
You know that old saying, The holidays are best celebrated with 18,000 of your favorite blazed out, grooving friends? (Wait, did we just make that up?) Throw on your best ratty tie-dye, because tireless jam-band Phish is once again taking over Billy Joel’s domain, Madison Square Garden, for four long, strange nights of four-hour shows, confetti, costumes, glow-stick wars and other ridiculousness. You’ll jam, you’ll dance, and you’ll seriously trip when the boys cook up some weirdness. (Past New Year’s Eve runs at MSG have featured Trey & Co. riding on a giant hot-dog sculpture in the rafters and donning diapers.) Wed 30–Sat 2 at 7:30pm; $70–$80.
If you have a case of Saturday-night fever (er, but on a Thursday), hop on the train to Coney Island’s Eldorado Auto Skooter for the cure, the Last New Year’s Eve Disco Extravaganza. Greet the future with a decidedly retro night of dancing the hustle and finger-pointing at the bumper-car-arcade turned discotheque. Divine divas Rochelle Fleming and Melba Moore revive their hits from the ’70s, like “Armed and Extremely Dangerous” and “This Is It,” and DJ Nicky Siano spins vinyl classics using the last still-working sound system built by Richard Long, the engineer behind the audio gear at Studio 54 and the Garage.
Led by Eugene Hütz, Gogol Bordello plays fast-paced hardcore punk on everything from fiddles to accordions to saxophones while keeping the Gypsy rhythms Hütz grew up hearing. The eight-piece outfit, with members from Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, got its start at Lower East Side Bulgarian bar Mehanata, packing in jumping, thrashing fans on a weekly basis before becoming an international touring sensation. If you’re not won over by the group’s infectious bursting charisma, then head back up grinch mountain, and stay there until the next holiday season. Thu 31 at 10pm; $35, at the door $40.
It’s no surprise that the home of the city’s biggest Halloween bash, Webster Hall, has perfected how to go big for the most popular party night of the year. Midnight is marked with 100,000 balloons falling from the ceiling and a sexy circus-style performance from nightlife favorite Shane Savant and his cast of kinky freaks. After the final countdown, roam the 40,000-square-foot East Village mainstay’s four dance floors and six rooms for tunes, fire breathers and aerial performances. Oh, and come the morning hours—the bash goes until 10am—you can ward off a nasty hangover with a complimentary continental breakfast. Thu 31 at 8pm; $99, $150, VIP tables $880–$1,840.
Ride into 2016 on a wave of sweat-inducing electronica when a Brooklyn warehouse becomes the venue of choice for Grammy Award–winning French dance heroes Justice. The duo, which rocketed to fame back in 2007 with its cheerful Jackson 5–inspired hit, “D.A.N.C.E,” is playing its first show in NYC since 2013. The pair, which knows a thing or two about sending a crowd into a frenzy, is joined by Vancouver-raised Brooklyn-based indie-house-music twosome Bob Moses and special guest French techno DJ Gesaffelstein.
Be classy as balls
Want something more sophisticated than screaming “Happy New Year,” putting your tongue down a stranger’s throat and listening to faint sounds of a distant performance from a pop star du jour while wearing an adult diaper in midtown? For polite exchanges of bonne année, kisses on the cheek and crystal-clear music, throw on your best tux or gown, and head over to Lincoln Center to see the New York Philharmonic. For its annual New Year’s Eve series, the famed orchestra is channeling the City of Light for its program La Vie Parisienne, which includes “La Vie en Rose,” Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals and Offenbach’s Can-Can. Magnifique! Thu 31 at 7:30pm; $89–$275.
The holiday celebrated around the world becomes decidedly ethereal at Dances of Vice’s Celestial Ball. The extravagant party planners were inspired by the stars—both the classic-Hollywood variety and the constellations named after Ancient Greek gods and heroes—for an evening of live music, fanciful puppets and fire dancers. General admission grants you access to dance among the bedazzled performers in the 19th-century, usually-closed-to-the-public FiDi clubhouse the Down Town Association, but for an additional cost you can also fortify yourself with baba ghanoush, pan-seared salmon and apricot lemon cake at the dinner buffet. You’ll want to deck yourself out to the nines in your best nine-planets getup; the dress code is vintage glamour and Olympian opulence. The Down Town Association, 60 Pine St (dancesofvice.com). Thu 31 at 10pm; $75–$220.
For your mission, grab a cold martini, and go undercover in a killer gown or suit to infiltrate Tomorrow Never Dies: A James Bond–Inspired Black Tie New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. (Tuxedos are welcome too, obviously.) The minds behind Queen of the Night use Agent 007 for their inspiration as they trade in their usual surreal circus wear for the sexy-sleek costumes that Bond girls and villains are known for, and they perform acrobatics, amazing juggling feats and other spectacles. For those who find that world is not enough, lay down some serious dough ($25,000) for the ultimate VIP experience, which includes a helicopter tour of the city and a night’s stay at the Times Square Hotel. Go ahead: You only live once. Thu 31 at 9:30pm; $100–$25,000.
At the Slipper Room’s annual Lovefest, the cold winter night becomes steamy with a naughty variety show hosted by James Habacker’s hacky Borscht Belt comedian alter ego, Mel Frye. This scintillating night has a bit of everything: Pinkie Special masters the hula hoops, Harvest Moon dazzles with burlesque, Matthew Holtzclaw makes your inhibition disappear with his magic tricks, and aerialist and acrobat Jason Mejias contorts in midair. If you want to get close to the action, front-row seats are $100, but if you have $1,000 to spare, you and 12 of your friends will get access to a party pen, where you’ll have roped-off seats, three bottles of champagne and your own dedicated cocktail waitress. Baller. Thu 31 at 9:30pm; $35–$1000.
If drunken debauchery isn’t your idea of a good time (what, do you think you’re better than us or something?) or if you’re tired of making empty resolutions year after year, book it to Kadampa Meditation Center’s annual celebration in Chelsea. Enjoy vegetarian hors d’oeuvres and nonalcoholic drinks before a workshop on Buddhist teachings and a guided group meditation. Expect talks about compassion and peace and all that jazz, as well as prayers and mantras led by Kadam Morten Clausen, the Eastern U.S. National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition. By the time 2016 begins, you’ll be this much closer to enlightenment. Thu 31 at 9:30pm; $15–$30.
In the spirit of goodwill to all, the Upper West Side’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine presents the annual Concert for Peace. The 31-year-old tradition was started by Leonard Bernstein, and on Thursday 31, the church is honoring the late great musician’s legacy with a rendition of his Chichester Psalms by a full orchestra, not to mention performances by the Cathedral Choir and pop chanteuse Judy Collins. Thu 31 at 7pm; general admission free, ticketed seating $40–$150.
While an estimated 1 million frozen people are squishing and pushing their way into Times Square, forgo the insanity, and see a spectacular pyrotechnic display in Prospect Park. Keep warm with free hot cocoa, and enjoy a live concert at 11pm, followed by fireworks at midnight that will out-dazzle any old crystal ball. Thu 31 at 11pm; free.
Markers of passing time can make anybody get the blues. Get in touch with those feelings—oh, so many feelings—with Smiths and Morrissey tribute band the Sons & Heirs. These charming men are playing a full set of the British downer’s greatest hits and little-known B-sides, so instead of counting down to the stroke of 12, you can ask, “How soon is now?” or down some liquid courage in order to join the sing-along. Downer’s choice. Thu 31 at 9pm; $20, at the door $25.
Get a head start on your resolutions
Usher in 2016 with a clear mind and a limber bod at Laughing Lotus’s special evening asana yoga sessions. The two hours of stretching, muscle building and groaning—er, chanting—will give you the clear head and energy to greet 2016 with a determination your drunken non-yogi friends will surely be jealous of come New Year’s Day. 636 Sixth Ave, third floor · 232 Broadway, third floor, Brooklyn · nyc.laughinglotus.com; Thu 31 at 10pm; $60.
Burn off those last calories of 2015 as you take your wheels—bike or skates—on a jaunt up the West Side for the annual Time’s Up New Year’s Eve Ride. Meet on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge at or at Washington Square Park to travel en masse to your destination: an outdoor dance party near Central Park’s Belvedere Castle, beneath fireworks at midnight. Pack to share for the potluck after. Potluck, you guys! How cute is that?
Stuff your face
If the holidays left your wallet skinnier than your weight-loss goals, don’t fret: You won’t need much money for the milk and honey at Park Slope’s comfort-food spot Backyard. You can choose to either order off the regular à la carte menu—New England clam chowder ($10), shrimp ‘n’ grits ($17) or short ribs ($25)—or start your New Year with a full stomach, and enjoy a three-course prix fixe for just two Jacksons. Not only do you get a rich meal on the cheap, but it includes a complimentary glass of bubbly. Cheers. Thu 31; $40/person.
Get the best of land and sea at Momofuku Ssäm Bar’s five-course tasting menu. Choose dishes like peekytoe crab, tuna tataki, succulent roasted quail and sake kasu ice cream. Bring several or a dozen friends to get in on special larger offerings like whole rotisserie duck (6 to 20 people) or Korean-style pork dish bo ssäm (8 to 20 people). Thu 31; $115/person, $130/person for dry-aged rib eye.
If you believe that old adage that what you do on New Year’s will reflect on the rest of the 365—and in the case of 2016, 366—days that follow, then a luxurious dinner at the NoMad Hotel should bode well for the rest of your year. Surrounded by opulent furnishings and glamorous fellow patrons, you’ll feel a part of some secret society of successful city dwellers, without having to spend a ton of money. Toast yourself as you savor each bite of chef Daniel Humm’s menu, including seared cod ($36), butter-poached lobster ($36) and suckling pig ($40), or if you’re feeling romantic, choose a roast chicken for two with black truffles ($84). Thu 31; prices à la carte.