Times Square in New York City on New Year’s Eve. Photo Credit: NYCgo.com.
New York Travel
One million revelers will pack Times Square in New York City to witness the world-famous ball drop at 11.59 pm to signal the arrival of the New Year.
A national audience of 175 million people and a global audience of 1 billion people will watch the festive event on live television.
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest show will kick off the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations earlier in the evening.
Pop star Fergie will co-host the Billboard Hollywood Party, featuring celebrity performances throughout the night.
When the clock strikes 12 midnight, thousands of pieces of confetti will rain down upon the revelers in Times Square. Each piece will contain a wish from someone across the globe.
The skies over Manhattan and two locations in Brooklyn – Prospect Park and Coney Island – will erupt in a blaze of spectacular pyrotechnics.
If you are more interested in the fireworks than the ball drop, the best spots to view them are in Central Park south of 72nd Street or from the deck of one of the cruise lines that will host New Year’s Eve cruises.
How to Beat the Crowds
The crowds in Times Square can be intimidating. People start lining up to enter what is called the Lock Down Zone in the morning.
The police start letting people enter the Lock Down Zone at 3 pm. They stop letting people enter the zone when it becomes full, which is usually a few hours before midnight.
Keep in mind that there are no public toilets in the Lock Down Zone.
When I was living in New York City many years ago, I decided to realize a childhood dream of ringing in the New Year in Times Square. Would I recommend it? Read my …
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If you don’t want to brave the crowds on the ground in Times Square, consider these (pricey) options …
- Reserve a table at a restaurant with a view of the square;
- Attend a New Year’s Eve ball drop party at a venue with a view of the square;
- Book a hotel room with a view of the square.
The best viewing locations are between 43rd Street and 50th Street in mid-town Manhattan.
Top 10 Times Square Hotels in New York City
TripAdvisor lists more than three dozen hotels within the vicinity of Times Square. Some of these hotels offer luxurious accommodation, fine-dining restaurants, trendy cocktail lounges, sybaritic spas, and other facilities.
There are also modest hotels offering simple but clean rooms and little more.
A recent search on the website revealed standard double rooms from as little as US$76 to as much as US$386 a night.
The following hotels are considered the best hotels in and around New York City’s Times Square. Check to see if any of their food and beverage outlets have a view of the square or if any parties are planned.
Most hotel dining rooms will serve fixed price sets menus or dinner buffets.
- The Chatwal Hotel
- Renaissance New Year Times Square
- New York Marriott Marquis
- AKA Times Square
- The Kimpton Muse Hotel
- The Casablanca Hotel
- The Westin New York at Times Square
- Hilton Garden Inn New York Times Square Central
- The Knickerbocker
- W Hotel New York Times Square
If you want to watch the New Year’s Eve action from your hotel room, make this clear when you make your reservation. Not all hotel rooms will have a view of the square.
Ball Drop Parties
Several Ball Drop parties at spaces with views of the square will be held on New Year’s Eve. Admission usually includes an open bars, hor d’oeuvres, buffet dinners, and champagne at midnight.
Doors usually open at 8 pm. Festivities will usually continue at least until 12.30 am. Prices usually run in the US$375 to US$800 range.
Several cruise line operators will offer cruises along the East and/or Hudson rivers, taking revelers past the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building, and other world famous landmarks.
Cruises usually offer an excellent view of the midnight fireworks. Another highlight is getting to see the Statue of Liberty up close.
Boats accommodate from 200 to 800 people. Higher end cruises include open bars, hors d’oeuvres, and buffets or sit-down dinners.
New York City comprises five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Most of the larger scale celebrations will be held in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
There will also be smaller scale celebrations in the other three boroughs, but they are targeted more at locals living in the neighborhoods rather than out-of-town tourists visiting the city.
Here’s a quick guide to the top 10 ways to ring in the New Year in the Big Apple.
- Party in Times Square – here’s your chance to be one in million!
- Watch the ball drop in Coney Island – Coney Island in Brooklyn will have an LED ball drop of its own. It will be simulated on the Parachute Jump, along with a stunning 3D laser light show and a circus sideshow fire finale.
- Enjoy the fireworks in downtown Brooklyn – Prospect Park in Brooklyn will stage a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. There will also be hot refreshments and entertainment.
- Check Out the Empire State Building – The spire of the Empire State Building in mid-Manhattan will be bathed in colorful confetti lights until midnight, when the entire building will come alive with sparkling white lights.
- Run Through Central Park – The New York Road Runners Midnight Run through Central Park will commence at 10 pm with music and dancing. The race will kick off at 12 midnight as spectacular fireworks display lights up the skies overhead.
- Ride Your Bike Across the Williamsburg Bridge – Time’s Up 19th Annual New Year’s Eve Bike Ride will commence at 9:45 p.m. on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Participants will cycle across the bridge, through Washington Square Park and Madison Square Park in Lower Manhattan, and end up at Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
- Cruise Around Manhattan – Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, World Yacht Cruises, New York Water Taxi, and other operators will offer cruises with food and beverage as they sail around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve.
- Attend a Live Performance – The New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, the Apollo Theatre, Resorts World Casino, and Madison Square Garden are among several venues that will stage live musical performances on New Year’s Eve.
- Attend a Black Tie Gala – The Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the 36th Floor Mandarin Ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental New York will both host posh black-tie galas with music, sit -down dinners, and champagne.
- Take a Plunge in the Atlantic Ocean – Join the Coney Island Polar Bear Club Annual New Year’s Day Swim in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
New Year’s Eve parties are held parties at restaurants and nightclubs, on board boats, at private homes, or in large public squares throughout the world.
Some of the most spectacular fireworks displays take place in Honolulu, Hawaii; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Beijing, China.
Generally speaking, a large quantity of alcohol is consumed. And the last thing you want to do is drive home when inebriated..
If someone in your group doesn’t like to drink, he or she can serve as a designated driver, making sure that those that do like to drink don’t get behind the wheel.
But the fact is, even if you don’t drink, many others on the road will be drunk, and traffic accidents are common.
Public transportation is one option. Another is taking a taxi. A third is booking a room in a hotel. Read my …
Tips on how to stay safe and have more fun on New Year’s Eve>>