Free New Year’s Eve events Downtown

It’s the time when New Yorkers and tourists alike cram themselves by the thousands into every available inch of Times Square to watch the ball drop. It’s a time-honored tradition of course, but if the crowd doesn’t appeal to you this year, Downtown offers its own array of free New Year’s events that are far more relaxing.

It looks like the fireworks over Liberty Island will take place again this year, despite some uncertainty after Hurricane Sandy tore through the harbor. A New York Fire Department spokesperson said there was a permit in the works for pyrotechnics, though he was unable to comment on the permit’s status. While Liberty Island might be closed, there are a number of lookouts from Battery Park City and historic Battery Park that they shouAld be visible from.

Staten Island Ferry
What better way to enjoy New Year’s fireworks than on the water? Instead of spending money on an expensive cruise line, take the ferry out to Staten Island and back for a fun and maybe fireworks filled evening on the decks. Even on a holiday schedule, the ferry leaves from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal every 30 minutes in the hours surrounding midnight, and travel time is about 25 minutes, so you’ll get some time to enjoy the river and the fireworks blooming over the harbor. Check www.siferry.com for updated schedules.

Trinity Wall Street
Downtown’s Trinity Wall Street rings in the New Year, literally, as it tolls the bells in a peal of New Year’s cheer. Trinity once was the center of New Year’s festivities as Times Square is now, so if you are passing by, take a moment to homage to a New York icon. The bells will be ringing the Stedman Triples and Grandsire Triples for about 20 minutes before and after midnight on New Year’s. The church itself will not be open and due to scaffolding covering its fa√ßade, the best place to listen is probably from across the street at the east corner of Trinity and Wall St.

New Year’s Eve Ride
For bicycling enthusiasts and beginners alike, Time’s Up brings back its annual tradition of hosting a group bike ride from Washington Square Park up to Belvedere Castle in Central Park for the New Year’s dance party and fireworks. The ride starts at 10 p.m. from under the Washington Square Arch, and makes its way to the center of Central Park. Riders are encouraged to bring festive gear, noise-makers and food and drink. Bicycles and skates of all kinds are welcome! Party-goers are also invited to meet at the castle rather than make the trek with the group. An outdoor after party takes place later that night at 2 a.m. in Williamsburg. See times-up.org for more info.

— Kaitlyn Meade