New York: Many ways to celebrate New Year

By Chris Melzer

Ringing in the New Year at the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is special, but the truly classic place to celebrate remains Times Square in New York City.

This year's celebrations at Times Square have the added attraction of a performance from Taylor Swift. Photo / Supplied
This year's celebrations at Times Square have the added attraction of a performance from Taylor Swift. Photo / Supplied

New York City's New Year's party is colourful and loud but also strictly regulated, so those looking for a looser New Year's Eve experience in the Big Apple should not be afraid to consider other locations.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of revellers make their way to Times Square and are happy to stand in the cold and queue to be certain of a place despite ever-increasing security and the fact that no alcohol is permitted there during the New Year's celebrations.

Brooklyn is a good alternative to the expensive, loud and sometimes shrill Manhattan. Locals celebrate New Year at Grand Army Plaza, the main entrance of Prospect Park.

"The best place to enjoy the fireworks is from Grand Army Plaza,'' says George Fertitta, head of NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation for New York.

"There is enough food and drink and of course all kinds of entertainment.''

At midnight fireworks will go off at Long Meadow and apart from Grand Army Plaza the best vantage points for the 15-minute display are inside the park on West Drive and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street.

The more sporting partygoers can kick off the New Year at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Manhattan's Central Park. Festivities begin with dancing, followed by a costume parade and contest at the Central Park Bandshell, say organisers. The 6.4km run will begin on the stroke of midnight, and include a spectacular fireworks and laser display to light up the night.

In the BB King Blues Club & Grill near Times Square, top Beatles cover band Strawberry Fields will spend the night playing hits from Liverpool's Fab Four. The Mercury Lounge in Houston Street, by contrast, offers The Felice Brothers, a five-member rock and folk band from northern New York State.

Another favourite New York tourist spot is the Brooklyn Bridge, which offers breath-taking views of the city's famous skyline. Unfortunately, it also very windy and on the last night in December almost certain to be icy cold.

Mathias Vos took part in the 2011 New Year's celebrations at Times Square, and had to be there before 3pm in the afternoon when the area was sealed off.

He was not able to leave to eat at a restaurant, or return to his hotel room, as he would not have been permitted back to his spot.

"It is world-renowned event and I wanted to be part of it at least once,'' he says.

Large bags are not allowed and smaller ones are searched. If you are caught drinking alcohol, the police will confiscate the drink.

"I initially hated it and kept asking myself why I was standing there for nine hours,'' Vos explains. "But in the end it was really nice because I was in the middle of like-minded people who were as foolish as me.''

This year's celebrations at Times Square have the added attraction of a performance from Taylor Swift.

"It is a really special experience and perhaps everyone should experience it once in their lives,'' says Vos.

"Especially, when shortly after midnight a million people start singing `New York, New York' and you are in the middle singing along with them. It is an unbelievable moment that gives you goose bumps.''

- AAP

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