Every December 31st people from around the globe gather in the Crossroads of the World to join a massive party: New Year’s Eve in Times Square. As many as a million people crowd into the cavernous square, joined by over a billion world-wide who watch the live telecast. Musical performances, pyrotechnics, a blizzard of confetti, and the climactic countdown to midnight are a thrilling way to ring in the New Year.
New Years celebrations have taken place in Times Square since 1904, when Alfred Ochs, owner of The New York Times (for whom “the square” was named) threw a New Year’s party to commemorate the newspaper’s new headquarters – The Times Tower. 200,000 people attended that day-long street festival, which culminated in fireworks. In 1907 the fireworks were banned, so Ochs installed a 700-pound ball that was lowered from the tower’s flagpole at midnight. Every New Year’s Eve since, people have gathered in Times Square to watch the ball drop and celebrate the coming of the new year.
Here’s a great video on the celebration’s history, as well as info about the New Year’s Ball. Historic video
Schedule of Times Square festivities –
Afternoon – Revelers begin arriving in Times Square (prime viewing areas are often filled by 3:00pm). By approximately 4:00pm, the center of Times Square will be closed to traffic. NYPD will also begin closing side streets (beginning at 43rd and moving north) between 6th & 8th Aves., setting up security check points.
6:00pm – Opening Ceremonies begin, including the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball above One Times Square and special pyrotechnics.
6:57pm – First of the hourly Countdowns.
7:30 – 11:59pm – Musical performances begin.
11:59pm – The Countdown – the New Year’s Eve Ball descends 77-foot during the final countdown to the New Year.
12:00am – The New Year – A flurry of colorful confetti will rain down on Times Square, along with Pyrotechnic Effects.
If you’re planning on going to Times Square, bear in mind…
- No tickets are required. The event is free of charge and open to everyone on a first-come basis.
- Your chance of getting a viewing spot near the Ball (Broadway & 43rd Street) increases the earlier you arrive. The blocks will be closed off as they fill up northward, street-by-street, as the police deem necessary. If you’re arriving by vehicle, you may not have access between 6th & 8th Aves. from 42nd to as far as 57th streets.
Revelers are directed by the NYPD to gather in separate viewing sections. As one section fills up, the attendees are directed to the next viewing section. As the evening progresses, revelers continue to fill the Times Square neighborhood along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to as far as Central Park.
- No alcohol, large bags or backpacks will be allowed.
- The only public restrooms “officially” available are at the Times Square Visitors’ Center (7th Ave & 47th St), which is scheduled to close in the afternoon. There will not be any portable restrooms. (Think twice before you drink that Venti coffee or celebratory pint.) While there are businesses with restrooms (Starbucks, McDonald’s, Toy ‘R Us, etc.), you will not be able allowed to reenter a viewing area once you leave.
- There will not be any Street Vendors selling food. Most nearby restaurants and delis will be open, but again you won’t be allowed to reenter after leaving your viewing area.
- The police will set aside a viewing area for the disabled, located on the northwest corner of 43rd Street. However, this area will fill up quickly, and it is advised that disabled visitors arrive early in the day.
The new Times Square Ball App is a free mobile application (IOS & Android) that will feature a commercial-free six-hour live stream of the celebration. It also allows users to send personalized New Years greetings via Facebook, Twitter and email, compete to have their personal photo displayed on the Toshiba Vision sign (just below the New Year’s Eve Ball), and feature lots of information about the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration, including the history, news, weather, photos, relevant maps, and live show schedule.
If you would like to see the famous glittering ball up close, stop by the Times Square Visitors Center where the New Year’s Eve Centennial Ball simulates the New Year’s Eve countdown every hour, on the hour, the 05, 25, and 45.
While in the Visitors’ Center, check the confetti Wishing Wall, where visitors can write wishes for the upcoming year to be added to the two tons of confetti that will fall on Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve
Have you ever been amongst the million in Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Do you hope to attend?