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.) 

Dress your best for the New Year
Create a special hat and funny glasses to wear as you ring in the New Year in style. Drop-in for kids six and older. 

Sat., Dec. 28 - Tues., Dec. 31;  1 - 5 p.m. 

Time Capsule
Create your own time capsule by placing messages and objects in a personalized container. Take it home to hide it away until next New Year! Drop-in for kids six and older. 

Mon., Dec. 30 & Tues., Dec. 31;  1 - 3 p.m. 

Happy New Year! Make Some Noise!
Create a noisemaker for your New Year’s celebration! Drop-in, ages five and younger

Sat., Dec. 28 - Tues., Dec. 31; 3 - 3:45 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Dance Party

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR! Join a countdown party to the New Year! All ages. 

Tues., Dec. 31; Noon, 2 & 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 7 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. For an upgrade for for the Family VIP ticket, which grants you access to a roped-off area with private tables, or the Inside View package, which gives you a view of the ball drop live! Note that strollers must be checked and are not allowed into the venue. 

Tues., Dec. 31, 7 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Tickets: Starting at $109/person
234 W. 42nd St. 
Times Square
Online: balldrop.com

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.) 

Tues., Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-3 a.m.
Tickets: $60 and up/person
AMC  Theaters
234 W. 42nd St. 
Times Square
Online: balldrop.com

photo: WCS/Bronx Zoo

To Get Wild at the Zoo

Head to The Bronx Zoo for a night of illuminated animal lanterns, ice carving, hot chocolate and more wintry fun. Last seen at the zoo in 2007, Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo is back bigger, brighter and greener than ever before. (Those lights are energy-efficient LEDs now.) Dazzling light displays cover several acres of the zoo in a walk-through experience with wildlife-themed displays, custom Asian lanterns, and animated light shows on the historic Astor Court.

Click here for more info!

photo: Hello Panda Festival

To See Spectacular Lights in Queens or On Randall's Island

It's not your imagination, there are a lot of light/lantern festivals around town this year! In addition to the illuminated animals in the Bronx, there's the international lantern, food and arts extravaganza, the Hello Panda Festival at Citi Field in Queens (pictured here), and LuminoCity on Randall's Island. Both are open on New Year's Eve to make the night especially bright! 

Click here for more info on the Hello Panda Lantern Festival!

Click here for more info in LuminoCity!

To Get Your Game On Together

Dave & Buster's on a regular night? Awesome. Dave & Buster's on New Year's Eve? Off the charts! Spend the night at this 31,500 square-foot arcade filled with more than 200 games. Added fun will include a live DJ, passed hors-d'œuvres and a buffet and a Champagne toast at midnight. This is an all-ages event, but there is an open bar from 7:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. 

Tues., Dec. 31, 7 p.m.- 1 a.m.
Tickets: $70 and up
Dave & Buster's
234 W. 42nd St. 
Times Square
Online: balldrop.com

photo: Matthew Murphy

To Celebrate in the Big Top

The Big Apple Circus is back, featuring all new acts and one of the most diverse circus lineups we've ever seen. Afro-Latina Storm Marrero steps in as Ringmaster, overseeing an international crew of circus pros that will tumble, fly, juggle, and balance to your amazement. Plus: acrobatic horseback riding, the "Wheel of Death", a real live circus scholar and even the Savitsky Cats. (Meow!) All the seats are within 50 ft of the performers so you'll get an intimate view of all the action in this one-ring big top tent.

Take in the 12 p.m. noon show with little ones; attend the 9:30 performance with big kids!

Tues., Dec. 31, Noon & 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $41-$112
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 the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra led by Director of Music Kent Tritle. Harry Smith will host and special guests include Paul Winter, Jamet Pittman, Jason Robert Brown, and David Briggs.

Tues., Dec. 31, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tickets: General admission: $40/person; $100-$150/reserved—on sale now (A limited number of tickets will be free the night of the event.)
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St.
Upper West Side
Online: stjohndivine.org

For Kid-Friendly Immersive Theater: Up Close Festival

The Up Close Festival at the New Ohio Theatre for Young Minds runs from Dec. 27- Jan. 4, but we think New Year's Eve day is a great time time check it out. The New Ohio's underground theater is transformed into a living archive that celebrates the rich history of NYC's West Village—expect everything from larger than life chess pieces, a historical "dig" and returning host from the inaugural Up Close Fest, Pizza Rat. Families will engage in a hands-on 360° pre-show experience, then become immersed in three different short stories, created by some of NYC's most accomplished theatre artists, including Spellbound Theatre and the Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company. 

Tickets: $25/person; $18/groups three or more people with code FAMILY
Tues., Dec. 31, 2 p.m.
154 Christopher St. 
Greenwich Village 
Online: upclosefestival.com

Click here for more info! 


To Toast Early on the Water: City Vineyard

City Vineyard hosts an early and a late party  waterside at Pier 26. Come by with the kids from 5-8 p.m. for a prix fixe meal including appetizer, entree and dessert as well as sparkling wine for adults. (Kids get a glass of sparkling cider!)

Tues., Dec. 31, 5 - 8 p.m.
Tickets: $65/adults; $20/kids
City Vineyard
Pier 26 at Hudson River Park
Online: cityvineyardnyc.com

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 40th 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.

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

photo: Rock and Roll Playhouse

For a Phish-y Celebration: The Rock And Roll Playhouse Featuring Uncle Ebenezer NYE Celebration 

Get the party started really early (and indulge your inner jam band fan) with this "New Year's Eve"/Fifth Anniversary Celebration of Rock and Roll Playhouse on Sunday. The Rock And Roll Playhouse Plays Music of Phish for Kids featuring Uncle Ebenezer New Year's Eve Celebration takes place at Williamsburg's Brooklyn Bowl—which you'll see below keeps things rolling on New Year's Day. Doors are at 11 a.m., with show at Noon, making sure everyone will be tuckered out by midnight. While the volume is lowered to protect little ears, hearing protection earmuffs are also available. Note that stroller parking is limited. 

Tickets: $12/person; kids under one are free
Sun., Dec 29, 11 a.m.; show at Noon
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Whythe Ave. 
Online: ticketweb.com/event

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
Wed., 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. 

You can catch fireworks along the boardwalk at midnight on New Year's Eve. 

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 and you must be there by noon if you plan to plunge. (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! They are even offering incentives as thank-yous!) Plus: 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: coneyislandpolarbearplunge.causevox.com

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

featured photo: iStock


Boredom Busters: How To Keep the Kids Busy Over Winter Break

NYC Holiday Bucket List: Things to Do with Kids This Season

Where to Chill: Winter Getaways the Kids Will Love