New York, New York, a city so nice they named it twice. But it gets even better on New Year’s Eve at Times Square. Why? For the iconic crystal ball drop. Originally a tradition dating back to 1904 is now a full-blown NYC party with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga taking centre stage for the event. With dance, music, the countdown and of course, the fireworks lighting up the sky at the stroke of midnight, it is THE place to be if you're in the Big Apple.
A far cry from the original ball drop - which was the inauguration of the New York Times’ new headquarters - this celebration has survived two world wars, bombs scares and a turn of the century. Yet, there's no place better to be that here when the clock winds down on 2023.
All eyes turn to the ball dropping at Times Square, New York City. No amount of watching films like New Year’s Eve can ever compare to the real deal, eh! After all, the New Year's Eve Ball Drop is not just a tradition; it's a global phenomenon that marks the beginning of a new chapter.
Is being at Times Square for New Year's Eve worth the hype?
If it is in New York, it is worth your attention. Times Square is the perfect place to spend your New Year’s Eve as it is the melting pot of the world where people from all walks of life gather uninhibited and unencumbered.
Early bird gets the best spot! Beat the crowd and snag that prime spot! Arrive early and claim your throne in the heart of the action.
Soar above the crowd at the Empire State! Imagine watching the festivities from the iconic Empire State Building. A bird’s-eye view that's nothing short of breathtaking!
Be at the heart of it all at the 'Bowtie'! The 'Bowtie'—where Broadway meets 7th Avenue—is the place to be for the legendary ball drop. Feel the energy pulse around you as the clock strikes midnight!
Skip the crowd, sip a cocktail! 🍸 Why jostle with the masses when you can enjoy the show in style? With the NYC Explorer Pass or the New York Unlimited Attraction Pass, zoom past the lines to stellar spots like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. Picture this: Skyline views, front-row seats to the ball drop, cocktail in hand. Yes, please!
All about the ball: Engineering meets artistry
This year, the Ball Drop features a sphere that is 12 feet in diameter and weighs a solid 11,875 pounds. A jump from the previous one that was just 5-feet, it also featured a dazzling 32,000 LEDs that will have Times Square bathed in a kaleidoscope of colors and glitzy patterns. And it isn’t just LEDs that make it shine. The Crystal Canvas Embellishing the surface of the ball are 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, each engraved with its unique motif that ties into the year's theme - Rebirth and Resilience, which is meant to bring us all hope in these trying times, and turn into a sparkle of strength, celebrating our collective perseverance. If you thought that was all, well darling, it is 2024. So those little LEDs are not just that. They are programmed to synchronize perfectly with the evening's music and fireworks. And yes, they consume significantly less energy than their incandescent predecessors, embodying the event's shift towards sustainability.
Countdown to 2024
The Ball's journey begins at 6 PM EST, ascending 130 feet, in a symbolic nod to the year's progress. As the final seconds of the year tick away at 11:59 PM EST, the Ball commences its descent, marking the transition into the New Year with a stunning display of pyrotechnics and the unanimous cheer of "Happy New Year!" If you’re traveling with a partner, this is your chance to be as dramatic as they are in all the movies. Reality may be different with people jostling for space, but hey, who are we to stop you from your Hollywood moment.
In the limelight
No New Year's Eve in Times Square would be complete without the star-studded performances that lead up to the Ball Drop. Renowned artists grace the stage, contributing their charisma and talents to an already electrifying night. The current lineup is under wraps but come December, come right back to this space to know all the performers who's be at the celebration.
First time in New York City for New Year's Eve?
- Be prepared for the streets close to Times Square to be closed off to create a vast pedestrian plaza that buzzes with the energy of thousands of revelers who gather to witness the spectacle.
- Arrive early to claim a prime viewing spot. Some folks arrive in the morning or even the night before!
- Dress for New York's winter. This means layers, coats, scarves, and gloves. The party outfit can be below all of that!
- Bring snacks and beverages to keep your energy up through the long wait, but remember, public drinking is a no-go.
- Public restrooms are few and far between, so plan accordingly.
- Keep tabs on event updates and security information through the news and other channels.
Top parties and events around Times Square
The most iconic Christmas Show in New York City features the Radio City Rockettes who put on a memorable performance suitable for all ages. With a heartwarming Christmas story, the Christmas Spectacular Show is a glitzy dance ensemble held annually at Radio City Music Hall until early-January. Elevate this experience with dinner at either Dave and Busters, Applebees or Hard Rock Café with the exclusive Christmas Spectacular Show & Times Square Dinner.
A New Year’s Eve Cruise on the Hudson River sounds almost magical and it truly is. As the Manhattan skyline is illuminated by an iridescent array of bright lights, enjoy a boat cruise across the Hudson with the New Year’s Eve Circle Line Cruise or a Dinner Cruise with pop music and an eclectic crowd.
Ready to welcome 2024 in style? Head over to Clinton Hall 36th Street in New York City, the latest and largest addition to the Clinton Hall family, perfectly situated at 16 West 36th Street, nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues. This hotspot is not just about its prime location near Penn Station, MSG, Port Authority, and the NJ transit, but it's also famed for hosting one of the best New Year's Eve parties in the city! The festivities kick off at 8 PM on December 31, 2023, and don't stop until 2 AM on January 1, 2024. You can look forward to an extravagant open bar from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, a celebratory champagne toast at the stroke of midnight, and party favors to keep the energy high.
Celebrate New Year's Eve at Bar 54, Manhattan's tallest rooftop lounge. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Ball Drop, a 5-hour premium open bar, and gourmet appetizers. Dress to impress for this exclusive, Black Tie optional event in the heart of Times Square.
One of the most sought-after New Year’s Eve Parties in New York is at the popular dance club Copacabana with dance tunes courtesy of international DJs. Enjoy the drinks, food and good vibes with everyone basking in the festive glow and have a memorable time with friends and loved ones.
How to get to Times Square?
If you're planning to catch the iconic New Year's Eve Ball Drop in Times Square, aim for spots like 44th Street and Broadway. These public viewing areas start filling up by 3 PM, so it's wise to secure your spot early in the day. Meader over post lunch, public transportation, as that is the easiest way to get to Times Square. They have multiple routes and make it convenient to join the festivities without the hassle of parking or traffic. This strategy ensures you're right in the heart of the action to welcome the new year!
Shuttle Trains and buses are the most convenient methods but make note that certain exits such as the 42nd Street Subway Station are overcrowded so it is better to disembark at an earlier stop to avoid diversion.
Entry points for the viewing include access from south of 41st street and north of 43rd street, among others. Check the official Times Square website for a detailed map of where and how to enter Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
There are multiple events taking place in New York on New Year’s Eve and you can avail taxi services from sources such as Taxi Leader, NYC Limousine and the iconic yellow cabs to get around town. This is the time to use an NYC Explorer Pass to skip the long lines and enjoy the benefit of swift entry to many of New York’s major attractions.
Get yourself a New York Subway Pass to navigate the metro system or sign-up for a Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tour for an NYC tour. There are many guided tours offered to travelers including walking, cycling and bus tours by Free Tours by Foot for an immersive introduction to the city.Best Safety
Hotels near Times Square
New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times in New York City and travelers can find suitable accommodation that is centrally-located and may even offer a view of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, if you wish to avoid the crowds. Here are a few hotels and accommodations we recommend staying at in New York during New Year’s Eve:
Millennium Premier New York Times Square
Accessible from the subway and only a two-minute walk to Times Square, Premier New York Times Square by Millennium Group is a coveted hotel for its location and modern comforts. The lounge is free for use and you can watch the New Year’s Ball Drop straight from this boutique hotel.
A high-rise hotel at a five-minutes’ walk from Times Square-42nd Street subway station, Hyatt Centric offers stunning views of the New York City skyline from its terrace. You can gaze at the fireworks illuminating the sky at midnight right from your bedroom!
A tribute to tradition and the yesteryears, Casablanca Hotel is designed with warm, wooden interiors. The hotel is located within walking distance from Times Square in the Theater District.
New York Marriott Marquis
It does not get better than the view from the New York Marriott Marquis found right across from Times Square, home to the NYE Ball Drop. The subway stops and Empire State Building are only minutes away and the revolving restaurant offers the perfect amount of whimsy in the concrete jungle.
Radio City Apartments
Radio City Apartments are only a four-minute walk to Rockefeller Center and Times Square so guests have the option to either visit Bar SixtyFive for drinks and views or head straight to Times Square for the Ball Drop. The services are impeccable and the location is ideal as it is close to many other places of interest like the Museum of Modern Art.
Hilton Times Square
Hilton Times Square is conveniently located on 42nd Street making it even easier for you to navigate the New Year’s Eve crowds. It is a 44-story hotel with breath-taking views of the Manhattan skyline.
Know before you go
- If the NYPD starts cordoning off the Bowtie area from 3 PM in the afternoon, you know it is serious business. The Ball Drop takes place on the roof of One Times Square. Plan to get there early in the afternoon to reserve the best seats in the house to view the flagpole which hosts the hypnotizing crystal ball.
- The closest viewing points are at Broadway and 43rd Street that fill up quickly as revelers flood the space. At 6 PM, the ball begins ascending to the top of the flagpole and 60 seconds prior to midnight, it starts its descent to mark the end of the current year and welcome in the new year.
- Entry to the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop at Times Square is free for all and spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that it takes at least nine hours from the moment you arrive to the ball drop that you are circumscribed in your position so bring kids at your discretion.
- There are no public bathrooms once you get here so go beforehand and limit any liquid intake, for good measure.
- Large bags are a strict no-no since the security check will turn you away at the entrance checkpoints. Be sure to carry a cross-body or fanny-pack with your essentials only and prepare to be here for a good chunk of the day and enjoy the music that plays on the sound system.
- New York weather is unpredictable, so carry your mackintosh and rain boots but be sure to leave your umbrellas at home since they are shunned in the gathering!
Insider tips for spending New Year's Eve at Times Square
- Keep security checks in mind and leave prohibited items like large backpacks, umbrellas, and alcohol at home. Opt for a cross-body bag for safety against pickpockets and to keep essentials within reach.
- Since you'll likely be in one spot for the day, bring along some light snacks and activities to stay occupied.
- Arrive at the viewing points early in the afternoon. This helps avoid the rush as crowds pour in and before the NYPD closes off the area to traffic.
- Prepare for unpredictable weather. Umbrellas are not allowed, so pack a raincoat and extra socks to stay dry and warm.
- Limit your liquid intake to stay hydrated but remember, there are no portable restrooms in the public areas, and leaving the crowd for a bathroom break might not be feasible.
- For a less crowded experience, consider watching the ball drop from a nearby hotel bar or restaurant like Renaissance New York, Olive Garden, or The Knickerbocker, though it's a different experience from being in the thick of the action.
- Join in the global celebration as each hour marks the New Year in different parts of the world, building up to your moment in Times Square.