Revisiting the Past At The McKittrick World’s Fair

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credit: Kenny Rodriguez or Jane Kratochvil for The McKittrick Hotel

All photo credit: Kenny Rodriguez or Jane Kratochvil for The McKittrick Hotel

New Year’s Eve at the McKittrick Hotel is an event to be reckoned with. The five-floor “McKittrick World’s Fair” combines spectacle, music, motion, and performance to make one of the best NYE in experiences in NYC–Pretty much what you’d expect from the McKittrick.

For the uninitiated, the McKittrick Hotel is a six-floor performance space best known for their production “Sleep No More,” a choreographed, noir retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, told across six floors of the McKittrick and explored at your own pace. In addition to Sleep No More, they also have the Club Car (dining and performance space), The Lodge at Gallow Green (rooftop drinks and dining), and Manderley Bar (the Sleep No More lounge with an excellent absinthe drink list). 

Throughout the year, the McKittrick hosts events of all kinds, including plays, magic shows, and burlesque. Their New Years’ Eve party is one of their top parties. 2019-2020’s party was McKittrick World’s Fair; an extravaganza themed around bygone eras, the Worlds Fair, and around “explorers.” This latter theme was open to broad interpretation, ranging from British safari to A Trip to the Moon to extraterrestrial travelers. The NYE event featured five floors of concerts, dance parties, soirees, and experiences, through which guests wander as they enjoy the open bars and champagne scattered through the building. 

What sets the McKittrick’s events apart, especially in Sleep No More, is the inventive use of space. They craft each room into a unique experience, and wanderers at Sleep No More often experience the surreal sensation of stumbling onto moments–scenes in progress with their own feel and tone–making each doorway into a teleportation gate to another world. 

The NYE World’s Fair captures this experience. As I wandered from one room to another, I felt transported every time that I passed through a doorway or exited a staircase. One room had a dance floor flooded with red light and shadow as dozens of people danced around a band led by a woman in a spiked halo crown. Just above, a jazz band played in a softly-lit lounge with milling guests and artists in one corner. Instagrammers took pictures with the artists or of themselves posing in a bathtub in the center of the room. Through a pair of glass doors, a gothic ruin was transformed into a misty jungle with catlike performers on the prowl through foliage and over walls. 

The creative approach reached down to the details, especially the spots designed for Instagram. Plasma globes, bathtubs filled with tinsel ice, and short, wide beds drew a dozen picture-takers at a time (myself included) to pose with whatever prop had been set up in that room. That’s pretty standard fare. But, for most of the rooms, these props blended in with the decor and featured other forms of live entertainment, interactivity, or a tableau taken directly from Sleep No More. 

Which brings me to my next point–wherever you go at the World’s Fair, you are still walking through Sleep No More. It makes for an uncanny experience. Some parts, like the central ballroom, are almost unrecognizable from its ballroom and dining room set from Sleep No More, dressed up as it was as a central performance stage and party central. Others, though, like the ruins-turned-jungle, were merely repurposed, leaving SNM veterans seeing double. 

Your base NYE package is a five-floor party from 10:30 pm to 4 am, complete with an open bar. You wander floor to floor, experience, to experience, through dance parties (multiple) and photo ops. The centerpiece was the aforementioned ballroom, with a stage, performances, and an update on the New Year’s Eve countdown. For a little more money, you can purchase tickets to a showing Sleep No More earlier that day, a dinner, and a table reservation all night by the center stage. The tickets for Sleep No More are a plus if you’ve seen it before, but a must if you haven’t yet had the opportunity. 

If you’re interested in any more of The McKittrick Hotel’s events, check them out here

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