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For many people, spending New Year’s Eve in New York City is one of the absolute highlights in a life of travel. Every year, thousands of revelers head to Times Square to watch one of the most iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world: the Times Square Ball Drop. For New Yorkers and tourists alike, being there and watching the ball drop live can end up being one of their most memorable moments in New York – and a beautiful way to ring in the New Year.
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However, making it to New Year’s Eve in Times Square for that 60-second ball drop is easier said than done, and a successful evening depends on how well you plan it. That’s why we want to make sure you get the most out of New Year’s Eve!
In this article, we’ll share the best ways to watch the ball drop, what to avoid at Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and whether or not this legendary event is really worth your time.
New Year’s Eve in Times Square is a free event: don’t let anyone sell you tickets on the spot!
If you’re not in New York City, you can watch the ball drop live here on December 31st starting at 11:55 p.m. (go to the live stream).
Recommended: this is my guide to NYE in NYC 2022 with everything you need to know (besides Times Square!)
9 Tips On How To Watch The Ball Drop
- TIP #1 – Don’t use the Times Square – 42 St Station
- TIP #2 – Dress appropriately
- TIP #3 – Be there early
- TIP #4 – Make reservations
- TIP #5 – Charge your devices
- TIP #6 – No alcohol
- TIP #7 – Take only a small bag or backpack
- TIP #8 – Pack a snack
- TIP #9 – Don’t drink too much
Breaking Down Our 6 Must-Follow Tips For Times Square on New Year’s Eve
- Avoid the Times Sq – 42 St subway: in the afternoon, the Times Sq – 42 St station will be closed in preparation for the ball drop. But that’s not a problem because there are several Subway stations nearby that are your options: B D F M to “42 St-Bryant Park Station”, 7 to 5th Ave or A C E to the “42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal” station.
- Dress for the weather: The weather in December will definitely be winter-like; temperatures around 30°F are normal rather than the exception. You’ll definitely need warm shoes, preferably with a really warm insole.
- Be there early: especially if you want to see the ball drop at Times Square, you should be there far ahead of the event time. A good time to arrive is 1 p.m., even if it’s still quite a few hours until midnight. The event officially starts at 6 p.m. when the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is lit up and lifted to the top of the One Times Square building. After that, the festivities begin with live performances and concerts.
- Make reservations at attractions & restaurants: from Thanksgiving through the holiday season and New Year’s Eve, New York is packed with visitors – so be sure to reserve your seats in advance, especially at restaurants. The same goes for the city’s attractions!
- Don’t forget your power bank and backup batteries: it would be frustrating if your camera or smartphone ran out of battery life just before the ball drop at midnight! Due to the winter temperatures, your battery won’t last as long as it would in the warm weather, so be sure to have an extra battery for your camera or a power bank for your smartphone.
- No alcohol: drinking alcohol in public is prohibited in New York State. It’s better to not even think of taking alcohol to Times Square.
- Take only a small bag or backpack: larger bags or backpacks are not allowed, smaller ones will be screened.
- Pack A Snack: As one of the most popular events in New York City, the Ball Drop at Times Square gets crowded. That crowd wants the best view possible, so they may not save your spot if you need to go to a nearby restaurant for a snack. Save yourself the stress and pack some snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day.
- Don’t Drink Too Much: Unfortunately, there are no public or portable restaurants available for NYC Ball Drop attendees. Similarly, restaurants aren’t likely going to let you pop into their bathrooms. Once you’re in the viewing area, you’re in there until the ball drops so time your bathroom visit appropriately.
What is the ball drop in Times Square?
The ball drop in New York represents the dropping of the Times Square Ball on the One Times Square building just in time for midnight on New Year’s Eve. This spectacle is televised worldwide and is one of the highlights of New Year’s Eve in New York. At 11:59 p.m., the ball begins its descent as millions of voices join together to count down the last seconds of the year; “3, 2, 1 – Happy New Year!”
Where exactly does the ball drop take place in Times Square?
Times Square is located on 42nd Street just south of the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue. From there, you can see the ball drop, which takes place at the prominent One Times Square building. This building is located at the corner of W 43rd St and Broadway.
Where is the best place to watch the ball drop?
There is a simple rule for finding the best spot outside with a good view of the ball drop. The smaller the house numbers, the closer you are to the Times Square ball drop. The best view of the ball drop is from Broadway, between 43rd Street and 50th Street. Alternatively, you have a good chance along 7th Avenue from 43rd Street to 59th Street.
There are the designed entry points to watch the ball drop in NYC
- 6th Avenue – 38th, 49th, 52nd, 54th, 58th, 59th streets
- 7th Avenue – 37th, 57th streets
- 8th Avenue – 38th, 49th, 52nd, 55th, 58th, 59th streets
- Broadway – 37th, 57th streets
In addition to the outdoor areas, there are of course some hotels and New Year’s Eve parties that offer an exclusive view of the ball drop for an admission fee.
My tip: These are 9 best hotels with Ball Drop View in NYC.
What’s the best time to be in Times Square?
The best seats with a view of the ball drop fill up quickly, so motivated visitors arrive early in the morning. By 1 – 2 p.m. at the latest, the area will close because the event has reached capacity. From then on you can’t leave your place to go to the bathroom or to buy something to eat. You are allowed to leave the area, but reentry is not permitted.
Is New Year’s Eve in Times Square worth it?
- A unique event unlike anything else.
- It is a great experience to witness the countdown.
- You see famous artists & performances.
- Being a part of the crowd and its incredible energy is a joy.
- Long waiting times: it takes several hours to get there (especially if you want the best seats).
- No toilets: be sure to use the facilities before going to your seat or location. If you leave the event area, as you will not be able to reenter.
- The temperature: it‘s guaranteed to be quite cold, so be prepared.
Alternatives to the Times Square Ball Drop on New Year‘s Eve
There are several good alternatives on how you can spend an unforgettable New Year‘s Eve in New York City:
#1 Alternative to New Year's Eve in Times Square: a New Year's Eve boat tour.Cruise in Lower East SideAdd to myNY added
Make your New Year’s Eve in New York an unforgettable experience with a boat tour to see the fireworks over Manhattan! There’s hardly a better place to experience Manhattan’s glittering skyline and the fireworks over the Liberty Embankment than on the water. That’s why we have the best New Year’s Eve boat tours in New York City for you here!
My tip: Here you can find the most beautiful boat tours for New Year’s Eve 2022.
#2 Alternative to New Year's Eve in Times Square: Watch the ball drop from the comfort of your hotel!Hotels & Accommodations in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
There are 9 hotels from which you can directly watch the ball drop in Times Square. Either do it directly from your hotel room or from the hotel bar. Enjoy sitting relaxed in the warmth and toast to the New Year!
My tip: these are the best hotels with a view of the ball drop in New York.
#3 Alternative to NYE in Times Square: Central ParkPark in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Things are much more relaxed in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. Visit the fireworks directly at the Bow Bridge or watch them from Cherry Hill in Central Park (71st Street).
#4 Alternative to New Year's Eve in Times Square: Celebrate New Year's Eve in a bar or restaurant.French Restaurant in Financial DistrictOur Highlight
New Year‘s Eve in Times Square: My conclusion
New Year‘s Eve in Times Square – is it worth it?
The ball drop in New York City is a huge event that attracts mostly visitors. For many, it is an absolute must-see to witness the famous event live in Times Square at least once, and it is definitely an unforgettable experience. The atmosphere, the backdrop, the concerts – it‘s a truly unique event! However, you really have to be prepared to wait for hours outside in the cold without food and drink. If you consciously accept all this and prepare well, you can experience a very special New Year‘s Eve in New York City.
Personally, however, I would spend New Year‘s Eve in a more relaxed way; either relaxing on a dinner cruise with a view of the fireworks or in one of the many restaurants in the city. But if you‘ve always wanted to experience New Year‘s Eve in Times Square, you definitely should!
11 Fun Facts about the Times Square Ball and Ball Drop.
These are some exciting and fun facts about the Times Square Ball:
- The ball is 12 feet in diameter and it weighs almost 12,000 pounds.
- The manufacturer of the glass elements on the Times Square Ball is Waterford Crystal, named after an Irish city.
- The first New Year‘s Eve celebration in Times Square took place back in 1904 and the first ball drop followed three years later on the roof of the One Times Square building.
- Since 1904, there have been 7 different New Year’s Eve Balls; the current version, installed in 2000, is permanently installed. That first New Year’s Eve Ball was made of iron and wood. To illuminate it, they used 100 25-watt light bulbs. It was just 5 feet in diameter and only weighed 700 pounds.
- Over 16-million colors can be displayed by the ball’s LEDs.
- In total, the Times Square Ball consists of 2,688 triangular crystal faces. Its illumination is provided by 672 LED modules, on each of which 48 LEDs are installed. Thus, the Times Square Ball consists of an incredible 32,256 LEDs that make it glow.
- From 1981 to 1987, the ball consisted of red bulbs and had a green style; emblematic of the famous “I Love New York” campaign.
- Did you know? The tradition of the “time-balls” dates back to 1833. That’s when the first “time ball” was installed at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England so that the
- captains of the surrounding ships could set their chronometers according to it.
- More than a ton of confetti are scattered over Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
- Over a billion people watch the ball drop in Times Square every year; right there, on television, and streaming.
Ball Drop Live Stream
Here you can watch the ball drop in a live stream on December 31 starting at 11:55 pm.
Frequently asked questions
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The NYC Ball Drop – we have the answers to all your questions about seeing the ball drop at Times Square on NYE!
Can you watch the ball drop at home?
If you’re not in New York on New Year’s Eve or you want to avoid the crowds and waiting times in Times Square, you can also watch the spectacle live on your screen at home (to the live stream). In the USA, the event will of course also be broadcast on television on many basic cable channels like FOX, NBC, and ABC.
Who is performing at the Ball Drop 2023?
While the crowds are waiting for the new year and the ball drop on Times Square there are several artists performing on stage leading up to midnight. In the past stars like Christina Aguilera were rocking the stage in the pouring rain. We will keep you updated who is performing at the Ball Drop this year!
What time should I get to Times Square to see the ball drop?
The Ball is lit at 6pm, and that’s when the Times Square New Year’s Eve event starts. While there is no set time to arrive, getting to Times Square by 1pm will help you stake out your spot.
Do I need tickets to watch the ball drop?
No, you don’t have to purchase tickets to Times Square’s annual New Year’s Eve event. It’s a first-come, first-serve event with no spaces available for sale. Because of that, we recommend arriving early to this in-demand event.
How does the Times Square ball drop actually work?
Starting at 11:59:00 pm EST, the nearly 12,000-pound ball begins its descent from atop the roof of One Times Square. After 60 seconds, it arrives at the bottom, just in time for the New Year.
Is the Times Square ball drop happening this year?
100%! The NYE 2023 Times Square ball drop is happening on Sunday, December 31st, 2023.
Will there be any COVID policies for the 2023 NYE Ball Drop?
We will keep you updated as soon as these policies are announced.
Will there be food available at the Times Square event?
No, there are no licensed food or beverage vendors for the event. Be sure to pack a few snacks to keep your energy up for the evening.
When does the Times Square New Year’s Eve event start?
To enjoy all of the festivities, you’ll want to be in Times Square by 6:00pm EST when The Ball is raised to the top of One Times Square. From 6:00 pm until 11:59pm, there will be concerts and performances.
Where can I watch the ball drop online?
If you’d prefer to stay cozy during the NYE 2023 celebration, you can watch the ball drop here.
What is the best subway line to get to Times Square?
There are a number of lines that come close to Times Square. Remember that the actual Times Square – 42 St Station will be closed on the day and evening of New Year’s Eve. The area itself is served by the 1 2 3 7 A C E B D F M N R Q W and S shuttle trains. For current information on subway availability and potential closers, you can always visit www.mta.info
Where can I enter Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration?
Getting into the Times Square event can happen from 6th Ave. and 8th Ave. only. Once the streets have been closed, crossing Broadway/7th Ave. won’t be allowed, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Where is the best view to see the Times Square Ball Drop?
To see the New Year’s Eve Ball drop at One Times Square, we recommend heading to Broadway – 43rd St. to 50th St. – or to Seventh Street – going up to 59th St.
Is there a champagne toast at the NYC Ball Drop? Can I bring alcohol?
Alcohol is not permitted at the Times Square Ball Drop event. As always, public drinking is illegal in NYC.
What items are not allowed at the Ball Drop?
In addition to alcohol, the following items are not permitted at the Times Square event on New Year’s Eve:
- Large bags
- Picnic blankets
Where can the disabled view the event?
The designated viewing area for disabled persons is 44th Street and Broadway. It can be accessed at 44th and 6th Ave. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
How many public restrooms will there be in Times Square?
During the NYE event, there will be no portable restrooms available.
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