RECOMMENDED: New Year's Eve in New York guide
New Year's Eve in Times Square
It's 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. Arrive by 2pm to guarantee entre; the main area (from 42nd Street to 47th Street) fills by 4pm. Entertainment includes pop star Taio Cruz, and if you can get in, you'll be one of a million guests attending the first NYE wedding in the square.
The Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe and featuring vocalist Hilary Kole
Swing in the New Year as jazz chanteuse Hilary Kole lends her pipes to Birdland's house ensemble. "Cheap" seats at the bar (as opposed to tables) are available for $40, which includes one drink and excuses you from the usual food-drink minimum. 315 W 44th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-581-3080, birdlandjazz.com). 8pm; $50 plus $20 food and drink minimum. 11pm; $75 plus $20 food and drink minimum. Bar seats for both shows $40 (includes one drink).
Dave and Buster's Times Square
Forget your responsible, mature New Year's resolutions and let your inner child out to play. This behemoth food and entertainment venue offers arcade games and virtual-reality simulators—enjoy a five-hour open bar and buffet dinner while playing Dance Dance Revolution, Pac-Man and Skee-Ball. But beware: NYE tickets don't include gaming, so you still need to buy a "Power Card," starting at $10. 234 W 42nd St at Eighth Ave (646-495-2015, daveandbusters.com). 7pm--1am; over 21 $85, under 21 $75.
HA! Comedy Club and Dueling Pianos Show
This club hosts lots of professional comics; there are no lineups announced in advance, but tonight's early shows mean you'll see five or six funny folks, with enough time to head out to a party later. Or stay indoors; once the jokes are over, sing along with live accompaniment when NYC Dueling Pianos begins. 163 W 46th St at Seventh Ave, enter from the east side at the NYPD security checkpoint at Sixth Ave and 46th St (212-977-3884, hanyc.com). Comedy: 7, 8, 9pm; $25 plus two-drink minimum. Dueling Pianos Show: 212-977-3884, nycduelingpianos.net. 10pm--2am; $200.
Madame Tussauds New York
Tonight, the famed wax museum will transform into an upscale, faux-star-studded venue for dancing and drinks (no one looking at your Facebook photos will be able to tell the difference). Too classy to make you buy your drinks once you're in, Madame is hosting a six-hour open bar and serving nibbles until the wee hours. 234 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (347-612-3520, madametussauds.com). 8pm--3am; tickets start at $85.
Earth is so blas. Ring in 2011 on Mars at this cavernous, galaxy-themed eatery. Once you've satisfied your hunger you can dance, sip alien concoctions in the Mars Bar and play hard with unlimited access to the arcade. In case you can't be bothered going outside for the ball drop at midnight, the live Times Square feed on the 100-foot-wide screen (with champagne toast) will surely suffice. 1633 Broadway at 51st St (347-612-3520). 8pm--4am; tickets start at $85, under 21 $75.
New Year's Eve Spectacular
You can say you were in Times Square without actually braving the cold if you buy tickets for this comedy showcase: The evening's lineup features five impressive local comics we'd be happy to see on any night: Nate Bargatze, Harrison Greenbaum, Kurt Metzger, Mike Vecchione and Vince August. After the late show, watch the ball drop on the big screen before a DJ turns the place into a dance club. Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Sts (212-757-4100, carolines.com). 7:30, 10pm; $35, late show $80, plus two-drink minimum.