ESL Music’s Ursula 1000 takes control of the fun Williamsburg watering hole Trophy for a night of freewheeling, fortified funkiness. Party time! If you're looking for something fun, low-key and cheap to do tonight, you could certainly do far worse. Trophy, 351 Broadway between Keap and Rodney Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-227-8515, trophybar.blogspot.com). 10pm; free.
Left-field musical offerings are what Zebulon specializes in, and the music venue’s New Year’s Eve programming will be no different. Singer-songwriter Laurel Halo opens the evening with a live set of electronica; then DJs Hiro Kone and Alexis Georgopoulos (who has also released work under the moniker Arp) are on selection duty—expect everything from soul, disco and house to postpunk. Zebulon, 258 Wythe Ave between Metropolitan Ave and North 3rd St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-6934, zebuloncafeconcert.com). 10pm; free.
Go to Real Gone!
DJs January 1963, Kitty Beat, Captain Heartlock, Dr. Jones and guests spin a ’60s-heavy mix of garage- and psych-rock, surf material, soul and more at the fun, tiki-esque Otto’s. Live bands often open up the night; tonight's shindig features a pair of keyboard-driven flower-punk combos, Madam Robot & the Lust Brigade and the Runaway Suns. Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 E 14th St between Aves A and B (212-228-2240, ottosshrunkenhead.com). 10pm; free.
Tick New Year’s Eve in Times Square off the bucket list
It’s the best kind of holiday masochism: You haven’t really celebrated until you’ve frozen your ass off and lost your voice screaming while that ball drops above you. Arrive by 2pm to guarantee entrée; the main area (from 42nd Street to 47th Street) fills by 4pm. Entertainment includes pop star Taio Cruz, and if you can get in, you’ll be one of a million guests attending the first NYE wedding in the square. See timessquarenyc.org for details.
Gawp at the Prospect Park fireworks
Bundle up for a free, low-key New Year’s Eve with hot refreshments and fireworks sparkling over Park Slope. Live music by Brooklyn’s Rock ‘N’ Soul Experience starts at around 11pm at Grand Army Plaza, where you can also snag a free cup of hot cocoa. At midnight there will be fireworks set off at Long Meadow; the best vantage points are at Grand Army Plaza, inside the park on the West Drive and along Prospect Park West. Grand Army Plaza, Flatbush Ave and Prospect Park West at Eastern Pkwy, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-965-8951, prospectpark.org). 11pm, fireworks begin at midnight; free.
Watch the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run
This annual race through Central Park, sponsored by snack company Emerald Nuts (you know, the ones with those wacky commercials), is a good alternative to the Times Square craziness: Instead of drunk people peeing in the streets, there will be a costume contest and parade, DJs, a four-mile fun run and fireworks at midnight. Register online before Thursday 30 ($50)—a limited number of same-day registration kits will be available at the race ($55), and it’s free to watch. Central Park Bandshell, enter the park at Fifth Ave and 72nd St (nyrr.org). 10pm.
Pedal into 2011 with Time’s Up! 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Ride
Ring in the New Year on wheels (or bikes or skates) at this annual event, organized by environmental organization Time’s Up. From Washington Square Park, the brigade will travel north to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, where a dance party awaits. Check the group’s website for other meeting points throughout the city. Meet at Washington Square Park Arch, Washington Sq North at Fifth Ave (times-up.org). 10:30pm–12:30am; free.
Praise the Lord for a Free Concert to Usher in the New Year
If high-priced NYE parties make you curse your meager bank balance, stumble into cheery St. Bartholomew’s Church. You don’t have to be religious (or rich) to feel uplifted by this organ concert produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation. Arrive around 10:30pm to secure a seat in the center section, where the acoustics are awesome. St. Bart’s organist William K. Trafka fills the church with music by Bach, Vivaldi and other composers; at midnight he’s joined by two percussionists to perform Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. You’ll feel richer for the experience, trust us. St. Bartholomew's Church, 325 Park Ave between 50th and 51st Sts (212-378-0222, stbarts.org). 11pm; free, donations accepted.
Prepare for midnight at the New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace
Legendary singer-songwriter Judy Collins joins Harry Smith, Lauren Flanigan and others in a night of readings, meditations and festive music—including the traditional passing of candle flames while singing “This Little Light of Mine” and a performance of Haydn’s Mass in Time of War. Although the 90-minute program ends long before midnight, it’s a positive way to prepare for 2011. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St (212-316-7490, stjohndivine.org). 7pm; reserved tickets $60, general admission free on a first-come, first-served basis.