By Jessica Allen
For most folks, New Year’s Eve celebrations fall into two categories: stay at home and tune into Times Square, or get dressed up and go out. In New York, though, we’re lucky to have literally thousands of options for ringing in the New Year, from fancy to funky to downright offbeat. Here’s our five top picks for unusual ways to say so long to 2016.
New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
In 1984, Leonard Bernstein hosted the first Concert for Peace at the gorgeous Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. Fast forward through the years, and the annual concert has become a cornerstone of the cathedral’s calendar, as well as a beloved community event. Special guests Harry Smith, Judy Collins, and Jason Robert Brown, among others, will be performing spirituals, gospels, selections from Haydn’s Symphony No. 6 in D Major, and a musical response to the Orlando nightclub shooting. Saturday, December 31, 7 to 9 pm, $40, tickets required.
Hedda Lettuce New Year’s Eve Party
260 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Combining wisecracks with beloved movies, Hedda Lettuce hosts Hedda Presents the Classics most Thursdays at Cinépolis Chelsea. On New Year’s Eve, “New York City’s premier comic drag queen,” as she’s often called, will be screening “The Poseidon Adventure.” Proceeds from the bar will go to Housing Works, which helps those living with HIV and AIDS. Your ticket gets you one free drink, snacks, a live countdown from Times Square, and a champagne toast at midnight. Saturday, December 31, show starts at 8 pm, $45, tickets required.
A New Year’s New York Fling
339 Eighth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Plenty of folks go dancing on New Year’s Eve, sure. But how many of said folks go contra dancing? Featuring sweet stylings by Will Mentor (a well-known dance caller and teacher) and Riptide, “one of the most energetic contra dance bands on the scene today,” this annual event welcomes all ages to the floor for a fun evening of “ community folk dancing that’s similar to square dancing. Beginner lessons start at 8 p.m. Sparkling beverages will be provided. Saturday, December 31, 8: 30 pm to 1 am, $25, tickets required.
New Year’s Eve Meditation
Kadampa Meditation Center
127 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Most people would agree that 2016 was a tough year—some might go so far as to say that it was no good, rotten, and pretty terrible, in fact. But the past is the past, and we can only hope that the future brings light and joy. Get a head start by opening your heart, calming your mind, and increasing peace by ending the year with an evening of mindful meditation at Kadampa Mediation Center. After you nibble on some vegetarian hors d’oeuvres, you’ll be led into 2017 via guided meditation. Saturday, December 31, 9 pm to midnight, $40 for nonmembers, registration required.
New Year’s Eve Bike Ride
Multiple meet-up locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
Resolved to get in shape in 2017? Get a jump on your resolution by heading out for a New Year’s Eve bike ride. You can join the fun on the Williamsburg Bridge (Brooklyn side) or meet up with the gang under the arch at Washington Square or in Madison Square Park a little later. There’ll be dancing and merrymaking and, of course, pedaling. You might as well pack a water bottle full of bubbly too. The organizer, Time’s Up, strives to promote “a more sustainable, less toxic city.” Saturday, December 31, first meet-up takes place at 9:45 pm, free.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.