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Out with the old, in with the new! There's no shortage of places to celebrate the early hours of 2012 in New York City. Here are some of them that caught our eye:
News Year's Ball Drop in Times Square From 6 P.M. to 12 A.M., confetti, fireworks and musical performances from Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Drake, Cee Lo Green and Tony Bennett await at One Times Square. And of course there will be the traditional "ball lowering" celebration, which started in 1907. Arrive early to get a spot or catch the festivities on TV. Free. In Manhattan.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks From 11 P.M. to 12 A.M., watch fireworks and drink some hot refreshments at Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Prospect Park. Best locations to catch the lights are in Grand Army Plaza, inside the park on the West Drive and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street. Free. In Brooklyn.
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run Fax and online registration has closed for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, but you can still register at New York Road Runners in person for this year's midnight New Year's Eve four-mile race in Central Park. (Check out the route here.) Before the run, onlookers can also watch a laser light show, listen to music and check out a costume parade and contest at the Central Park Bandshell (Entrance is at Fifth Ave and 72nd Street). The run and fireworks start at midnight at Central Park’s 72nd St. transverse. The price is a little steep (starts at $45) but think of it as an investment in your future — and waistline. In Manhattan.
Walk into the New Year over the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday night, learn little known facts about Manhattan's City Hall area before taking a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks will be served on the bridge, and you'll see the night's fireworks displays if you're lucky. New Year's Eve walks start at 10:15 P.M. The last walk starts at 11:15 P.M. Meet outside McDonald’s on 160 Broadway (between Liberty and Cortland). Tickets start at $40. In Manhattan.
Time’s Up New Year’s Eve Ride If you'd like to glide into 2012 on wheels, head to the Washington Square Park Arch at 10 P.M. on Saturday. You'll meet other revelers there on bikes and skates who will roll or ride over to the Belvedere Castle in Central Park on wheels. At the castle, a dance party awaits. Participants are encouraged to bring food, noisemakers and party favors. Alternate pick-up points include 10:20 P.M. at Madison Square Park (23rd and Broadway) or 9:45 P.M. at the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Free. In Manhattan.
New Years' Eve Concert for Peace At 7 P.M. at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, soprano Indra Thomas, mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, tenor Noah Stewart and bass Soloman Howard will sing spirituals alongside the Dessoff Symphonic Choirs and the UBUNTU-SHRUTI Orchestra. Free, but first-come, first-serve. ($60 tickets can be purchased for reserved seating.) In Manhattan.
Steve Byrne Comedy Show The Irish-Korean comedian Steve Byrne, who has done standup on "The Tonight Show," "The Jay Leno Show," and "The Late Late Show," among other TV shows, takes the stage at the Gotham Comedy Club at 8 P.M. at 208 West 23rd St. Angelo Lozada and Colin Jost will join him. Tickets cost $25. In Manhattan.
Murray Hill’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza! The Williamsburg location of the Knitting Factory at 361 Metropolitan Ave rings in the New Year with a bunch of shows that start at 10:30 P.M. The performers include Dirty Martini, Bridget Everett, Angie Pontani and Neal Medlyn. Revelers can enjoy complimentary champagne and dance music from DJ Sirlinda. Tickets start at $25. In Brooklyn.
New Year's Eve Under the Big Top Jugglers, a mechanical doll that comes alive, trapeze flyers and a porcupine. These are some of the attractions to be seen at the New Year's Eve show of the "Big Apple Circus: Dance on!" The show, which is at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park (Amsterdam Ave. at 62nd St.), kicks off at 9:30 P.M. and includes champagne for the adults. Tickets start at $25. In Manhattan.
And on New Year's Day:
Early Morning Bird Walk For the early risers, the Audubon Center at Prospect Park will host a bird walk at 10 A.M. The walk includes an exploration of the park's nature trails and hopefully a look at the park’s wintering ducks. Let's hear it for avian knowledge! Free. In Brooklyn.
Coney Island Polar Bear Club Head out to Coney Island on Sunday with your swimsuit to take a dip in the Atlantic and unofficially become a member of the oldest winter bathing organization in the U.S. The swim starts at 1 P.M. and is followed by a breakfast and includes admission to the New York Aquarium. Assemble on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue. Pay what you want. In Brooklyn.
Annual Alternative New Year’s Day Spoken Word Extravaganza Head to the Bowery Poetry Club Sunday from noon to midnight to hear more than 150 poets do their thing on the mic. If you can't make it to the show, you can also watch a livestream of the spoken word here. Free; donations encouraged. In Manhattan.
New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading The St. Mark's Church Sanctuary will host a poetry marathon beginning at 2 P.M. on Sunday. Dozens of poets and performers will take the stage. Tickets cost $15-$18. In Manhattan.
With reporting by Sophia Tsang