Looking for a New Year’s Eve celebration the whole family can enjoy? We’ve rounded up kid-friendly festivities like daytime museum parties, free public gatherings, special performances, and even fun on January 1 to get things rolling in the New Year. Read on to find the NYC kid-friendly New Year’s Eve event perfect for your family!

To Celebrate the New Year With a Ball Drop at 12 NOON

The Children's Museum of Manhattan is hosting its popular daytime ball drop and party again this year (for those who can't, or don't want to stay up for the Times Square event at midnight), along with other festive crafts and activities on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. (FYI: the museum's afternoon ball drop happens three times on December 31, so you have a few chances to catch it.) 

Hats and funny glasses crafting
Kids can create a special hat and funny glasses to ring in the New Year in style. (Times throughout the day; Advance sign-up in the lobby required for hat and glasses workshop; recommended for ages six and up.)

Make a noisemaker
Or, drop-in to the make-your-own noisemaker workshop from Noon to 1:45. (All ages.) 

The New Year’s Eve ball drop, parade, and party
Catch the disco ball drop at Noon, as well as 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, and get down with  DJ Ayo NiSh from 2 to 4 p.m.   

Dec. 29, 30 & 31
Tickets: $14/person; $11/seniors; free for museum members and children under one
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Online: cmom.org


To Party with Celebs, Superheroes, and Presidents

It's all possible at Madam Tussaud's, of course. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., you can take in more than 85,000 square-feet of space filled with the lifelike wax figures of all kinds as a top DJ spins tunes and you nosh on passed appetizers and drink from the open bar (from 8 pm. to midnight). Interactive entertainment includes the 4D cinema, as well as Ghostbuster and Superhero experiences. Note that strollers must be checked and are not allowed into the venue. 

Mon. Dec. 31, 8 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Tickets: Starting at $99/person
234 W. 42nd St. 
Times Square
Online: balldrop.com

To Get Inspired at the Children’s Museum of the Arts

The Children's Museum of the Arts will be crafting and celebrating on New Year's Eve day. Craft some fireworks in the Clay Bar (advance registration required) and make a New Year's Wish in the Media Lab. Other activities include pop-up booklets and contributing to a collaborative story project. And don't forget to check out the museum's current exhibit: A Way With Words: The Power and Art of the Book.

Mon., Dec. 31, Noon- 5 p.m.
The Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St.
Online: cmany.org/classes-and-activities

For a Booze-Free Family Film Fest

For a night of family-friendly films, and no alcohol anywhere, head to AMC theater's Family Fun Fest. The all-ages event features PG and PG-13 films running throughout the night, a live DJ and dancing, arcade games, concessions for sale, and a live countdown with favors at midnight. (FYI: there's no view of the ball from the theater.) 

Mon., Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-3 a.m.
Tickets: $49 and up/person
AMC  Theaters
234 W. 42nd St. 
Times Square
Online: balldrop.com

For a Family Night Ride/Fireworks Combo: Time's Up New Year's Eve Bike Ride

For the bike-crazy, eco-conscious family (or those with buggy bike contraptions to house sleepy little ones), the annual New Year’s Eve bike ride from environmental organization Time’s Up should be considered. The ride ends in Central Park near Belvedere Castle, with an informal dance party and fireworks at midnight. “Feeder” rides depart from the Brooklyn Side of the Williamsburg Bridge (9:45), the Washington Square Park arch (10 p.m.), and Madison Square Park at 23rd and Broadway (10:20 p.m.) Skaters are welcome, too!

Mon., Dec. 31, 9:45-Midnight
Downtown to Central Park 
Online: times-up.org

photo: Juliana Crawford/Big Apple Circus

To Celebrate in the Big Top

The Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center, and the reimagined spectacle is a bit more "cirque", with acts influence by the French-Canadian circus and a lady ringmaster! The new show features the wall trampoline act of the Spicy Circus, Duo Fusion performing acro balance, trapeze artists the Flying Tunizians, animal presenter Amy Vidbel (expect horses and dogs), jugglers, comedic acts, and more. 

Take in the 12 p.m. noon show with little ones; attend the 9:30 performance--and an after-show after-party!—with big kids!

Mon., Dec. 31, Noon & 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45-$250
Damrosch Park
62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
Lincoln Center
Upper West Side
Online: bigapplecircus.com

To Get Centered at the New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace

Feeling the need for some unity and peace? Take the whole family to this annual NYC tradition of music, candlelight and goodwill, which was founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984. This year's concert will feature William Boyce’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat; Robert Convery’s powerful setting of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech; the cathedral choir performing make peace by David Lang, and the New York premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Alleluia. There is also music by Mozart, J.S. Bach, and special guests such as Judy Collins, Jason Robert Brown, and Paul Winter. Plus: the crowd is led in singing "This Little Light of Mine" as candles are lit with hope for the new year.

Mon., Dec. 31, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tickets: Free on a first come, first served basis night of show (limited)
General admission: $40/person; $100-$150/reserved—on sale now
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St.
Upper West Side
Online: stjohndivine.org

photo: Prospect Park Alliance

To Get a Big Bang for No Bucks at the New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Prospect Park

Now in its 39th year, Prospect Park's New Year's Eve nighttime celebration is a favorite among Brooklynites.

The evening festivities, brought to you by the Prospect Park Alliance and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams feature an annual fireworks celebration, live music and more. Locations for viewing the fireworks include Grand Army Plaza, the Park’s West Drive, and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street.

Mon., Dec. 31, 10:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Tickets: Free
Prospect Park & Grand Army Plaza
Prospect Heights
Online: prospectpark.org

To Roll Into the New Year

Welcome the new year on January 1 with a rousing bowling match at Brooklyn Bowl. The alley will host Family Bowl from Noon - 6 p.m. There's no cover (just pay per game), and both a brunch menu and kids menu will be served.

New Year's Day Family Bowl
Tues., Jan 1, 2019, Noon- 6 p.m.
Online: brooklynbowl.com

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave.
Online: brooklynbowl.com

To Get Crazy at Coney Island

Coney Island offers New Year's fun on the eve and January 1. 

Catch fireworks along the boardwalk at midnight. (There's also a more adult party in the evening if your kids are older and you're a Coney Island kind of family.) 

New Year's Day brings the famous Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, during which dozens of lunatics run into the icy waters of the Atlantic for a bracing start to the year. (We kid: they're amazing!) It's a tradition that's been going on since 1903!

In case you want to join the brave masses, it's free to plunge but you must register. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at Stillwell and the Boardwalk. (FYI, even though there is no fee, the event is also a fundraiser for Coney Island organizations such as the New York Aquarium, The Alliance for Coney Island, the Coney Island History Project, and others, so donate a few bucks!) All participants get free admission to the aquarium. (If you are plunging with a child under 18, you must sign a waiver for them.) Don't forget some old sneakers for plunging! 

For more Coney Island kookiness, head to Sideshows By the Seashore for the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, which will perform continuously from 2 - 6 p.m.

Coney Island Fireworks
Coney Island Boardwalk

Polar Bear Club New Year's Day Plunge
1-2 p.m.
Registration starts at 10 a.m. at Stillwell Ave. and the Boardwalk.
Online: 2019-coney-island-polar-bear-plunge

Coney Island Circus Sideshow
Tues., Jan 1., 2 - 6p.m.; last ticket sold at 5p.m.
Tickets: $10/adults; $5/kids
1208 Surf Ave.
Coney Island
Online: coneyisland.com

—Ilyssa Smith


Merry Merry! All the Holiday Things to Do with the Kids

The Light Stuff: NYC’s Best Hanukkah Events for Families

FAO Schwarz Is Back! Inside New York City’s Favorite Toy Store