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Dropping the ball: NYC ranks among worst places to ring in the new year

Personal finance site WalletHub says the most iconic party spot isn't the best.
Revelers celebrate after the ball drop during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times SqKena Betancur / Getty Images

Around the world, all eyes will turn to Times Square, if only for 10 seconds.

The tourist destination has become synonymous with New Year’s Eve. But its world-famous, 10-second countdown, complete with a crystal-studded ball, star-studded performances and plenty of confetti and bubbly, isn’t the best place to ring in the new year.

It’s not second or third best either.

Personal finance site WalletHub crunched the numbers, and ranked New York City 38th among the nation’s 100 biggest cities based on price of party tickets, food and drink, hotel costs and walkability scores.

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The average cost per ticket for a New Year’s Eve celebration rings in at $102, the fifth-highest in the country behind San Antonio, New Orleans, San Diego and Nashville.

Overall, Gotham is ranked the second-worst city based on cost: in dining, beverage prices, hotels, and salon and other “pampering,” the city is only second to Las Vegas as the most expensive to ring in the new year.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said those costs put New York City lower on the ranking than expected. Still, people flock to the tourist-crammed heart of Manhattan to reminisce on those auld lang syne.

Tickets to Times Square events often top that $102 mark.

A BallDrop Pass grants access to several parties, including Madame Tussauds, House of Brews and BB King Nightclub and includes free food and drinks. It starts at $299 per person. One venue, The Counter, is charging the same for its general admission, which includes a five-hour open bar.

Then there’s the hotel. On Dec. 31, the average three-star room totaled $345 a night — a 287 percent increase over a regular day.

But each year the revelers come.

“New York will remain a popular destination for New Year's Eve, despite its costs,” Gonzalez told Metro, adding that for WalletHub, personal finance is weighted more heavily than popularity or weather in the study.

Gonzalez isn’t wrong. Nearly one million people flock to the Square’s many parties each year.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. made headlines last year for selling tickets to its New Year's Eve celebration for nearly $800 per person. On any given day, the most expensive entree is $21.

Tickets sold out again this year.

Nearby B.B. King Blues Club expects 1,000 revelers at its celebration this year, on par with its previous parties.

A spokesperson for the 42nd Street club attributed its popularity to the music lineup. This year, a Phish-themed after-party follows DJs and live performances. Tickets are between $89 and $269.

Unlike other cities, New York's walkability — the best in the country — helped it in rankings. Even in Times Square, partiers can stumble from one bar to another without needing a cab or Uber. The city ranked second best for safety and accessibility by the finance site, too.

"As long as you plan a scheduled NYE route and try to stick to it, you can save on cab-fare or transportation costs in New York," Gonzalez said. "That way, you can allocate more funds to that expensive NYE party ticket!"

 
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