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Expert travelers know there’s still no place on Earth to party quite like New York City, especially on the eve of the New Year. If you’re coming into town for a 2020 fete, you probably already have a table reserved, a room at The Knick booked and an outfit selected (if you don’t, plan on filling your suitcase with sequins, shimmer and shine—and that goes for both men and women).
And sure, everyone knows that velvets and metallics play this time of year. But there are a few essential items every partygoer needs for a New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City, whether you’re planning to watch the ball drop in Times Square or you’re joining us on the rooftop for an unforgettable affair.
So, before you leave home, check your suitcase once or twice to make sure you have every box on this comprehensive packing list ticked. And let New York City take care of the rest.
Whether you’re wearing stacked heels or a sensible leather brogue, you’ll want to make sure your footwear is comfortable. This is New York City on New Year’s Eve, after all, so you need to be prepared to walk a few blocks to get to your destination or, perhaps, chase after a cab. In the market for a new pair? Men and women can stock up on timeless designs with plenty of cushion at Clarks (seriously, you’ll thank us). And if your shoe isn’t up to snuff, consider giving your feet a boost with a supportive insole.
We’re predicting plenty of faux fur jackets and button-front overcoats in heritage textures and textiles for both men and women this year. But if you think you might be cold, you will be, so opt for wool and insulated coats that will keep out the blustery winter weather as you work your way from 2019 into 2020. You can also pack baselayers, especially if you plan on standing outside for hours on end to watch the live performances at Times Square.
Check your list, and check it twice. Don’t leave home without a pair of elegant and, most importantly, warm gloves or mittens. While you’re rummaging through your drawer of winter accessories, we also recommend a cozy scarf and a hat, fleece headband or earmuffs—maybe all three if you can’t decide. The key here is to make sure your ears are covered.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you don’t need a pair of smart shades for your New Year’s Eve trip to the Big Apple. Cold winter days can be very bright, especially if there’s been any recent snowfall, so pack accordingly. Polarized shades work best and will protect your eyes from the widest spectrum of radiation, and if you’ve been out all night celebrating, they’re sure to come in handy the next day too.
Hear us out: Winters in New York City can be freezing, so invest in a solid pair of wool socks. We love Darn Tough and Smartwool, which are both lightweight and thin but incredibly warm and moisture-wicking. (You can stock up at the REI flagship in Soho if you forget.) Believe us, your toes will thank you.
Don’t let rain, sleet or snow stop you from enjoying your New Year’s Eve festivities. You’ll want to pack either a waterproof winter ski jacket or a lightweight rain shell you can wear over your winter coat. You can bring an umbrella, too, but on a very windy day, you don’t want to rely on that to keep you dry and warm.
Nothing will rain on your New Year’s Eve party parade faster than soggy feat, so you don’t want to leave home without packing a pair of reliable rain boots. We suggest investing in a pair of insulated winter boots that will keep out rain, snow, and sub-zero temperatures. Sorel makes great winter boots for men and women that are virtually slush and sleet-proof, and lined with fleece or faux fur.
Never misplace your belongings when they’re stowed away in a classic leather backpack. Suitable for men and women, a stylish leather rucksack transitions well from day to night, and will be able to stand up to even the worst winter weather.
Don’t let your New Year’s Eve celebration go undocumented. If you’re not attached to a DSLR or mirrorless camera, now’s a great time to upgrade your smartphone. Modes for nighttime photography have never been better, so consider investing in the iPhone 11 or Google Pixel 4 before your New York City trip so you can snap unforgettable photos of confetti descending over Times Square, or fireworks exploding over the Manhattan skyline. (Pro tip: ride the ferry for an unforgettable view of the pyrotechnics).
Counting down the seconds might not be something you do every day, but it’s what we’ll all do as the clock approaches midnight on New Year’s Eve. Keep an eye on every New York minute with your favorite smartwatch or classic timepiece. The key here, whether you prefer sport bands or full-grain leather, or digital or analog displays, is to not be late.
Get even more recommendations on what to experience in Manhattan on our New York City travel guide, curated by The Knick.