Forget Manhattan – spend New Year’s here!

By The Times-Ledger

First Night

As the largest and most diverse of the city's five boroughs, Queens' role in the citywide “First Night” celebrations is big.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the center of First Night in Queens, starting with storytelling and arts and crafts at the Queens Wildlife Center, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Then there's skating at the World's Fair Ice Skating Rink from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a great view of the Unisphere.

Special First Night activities at the New York Hall of Science from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. include live demos of laser optics, chemistry, flight, and “magic,” and creating kaleidoscopes make it/take it activities, and more. The ongoing SPORT exhibit, exploring the science behind sports, will be open, too.

From 5:30 to 11 p.m., the Queens Museum of Art presents a light show over the Panorama of New York intricately detailed scale model of the five boroughs, a mini film festival, “Circle the World” storytelling, “Heads and Tales” masks and stories, discovering ancestors dating back to 9 A.D., making a chair out of newspapers, and more.

From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Queens Theatre in the Park presents “Jazzethnics” – contemporary jazz and Brazilian music – traditional and contemporary music of the Andes, and more.

Of course, no New Year's celebration – especially one at the Unisphere – would be complete without a countdown and fireworks, and it starts at 10:30 p.m. Outdoor music is presented by Grupo Yahuba Latino percussion ensemble, and New Life Band.

One ticket – $10 for adults, $5 for children 2 to 12, free for under 2 – is all you need for all the events. Tickets are avialable at the sites in advance or at the door, or call Ticketmaster, 212-307-7171.

Other New Year's events

Celebrate the True Millennium this New Year's Eve at the Bayside Jewish Center, 203-05 32 Ave., Bayside. A full open bar, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, A five-course sit-down dinner served to you, choice of prime rib or chicken, five-piece orchestra with singer. Admission: $87.50. 718-428-0434 or 352-2910.

A Murder Odyssey, a special murder mystery New Year's Eve dinner and dance show with open bar, champagne toast and more starts at 9 p.m. at the White House, 10-26 154th St., Astoria. 516-877-7744.

Yeats' Tavern, 42-24 Bell Blvd., Bayside offers a live band (“Shoot the Moon”), food buffet, party hats, and champagne. 718-225-0652.

Many other clubs and restaurants offer special New Year's Eve events. See the Clubs listing in the Arts and Entertainment calendar, and the restaurant guide, in this edition of Qguide.