Ringing in the New Year in New York City, in Times Square is one of the most iconic ways to commemorate this annual global celebration. But if you’re not a local, there are a few tips you should know so that you can blend in with the masses and enjoy the festivities without a hitch.
To follow New Year’s Eve protocol, we’re doing an abbreviated countdown featuring eight hacks for spending NYE in Times Square in a way that will make it both safe and spectacular:
- Arrive Early – Yes, there will be crowds and there will be limited space, so it’s important that you arrive in the area as early as possible on New Year’s Eve in order to stake out a spot and get the best view – we’re talking early morning hours of NYE Day; you’re contending for valuable real estate with over a million other people. Remember, you do NOT need to purchase a ticket to this event; it’s free and open to the public, so if you’re being offered a deal by someone on the street, politely decline. If you can score a spot between 43rd and 59th Streets at 7th Avenue or between 43rd and 50th Streets at Broadway, then you’ve arguably found the best viewing location for this momentous occasion.
- Use Public Transit – Not only can cabs be an expensive option depending upon where you’re coming from, but navigating the heart of New York City on one of its most highly anticipated days of the year in a car should prove to be cumbersome and perhaps an even impossible task. Taking public transit followed by a small walk is a good way to save time and money while also enjoying the festive scenery that will undoubtedly surround you. There are many shuttle trains that service the Times Square area, so make sure you do your research to figure out which route is the most efficient from your point of origin.
- Dress Warmly – You’re in the northeast in the winter; while there’s always a chance it’ll be mild, your best bet is to dress warmly and prepare for a typical northeast winter night. From wool socks and water-resistant boots to fleece-lined leggings, warm sweaters, winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and even face masks, come ready to battle the elements. In fact, the coldest New Year’s Eve ball drop ever recorded was in 1917 when it was 1 degree with a -18 degree wind chill.
- Pack Snacks – You will have a long day ahead of you in order to experience the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration so plan accordingly. There are plenty of restaurants in Times Square, so if you’re aiming to go that route in order to satisfy your appetite, make sure you account for wait times and call ahead to make reservations, if possible. Additionally, you’ll want to stash some snacks in your coat pockets to nibble on throughout the day and into the night; especially if you’re unable to easily get into an eating establishment.
- Leave the Alcohol Behind – Although tempting and celebratory in nature, do be aware of the fact that consuming alcohol in public is illegal in New York City. Warm up with some festive spirits at some surrounding local establishments before or after, but stay dry while enjoying the main event. Officers will be heavily patrolling the area and will confiscate any alcohol they find.
- Ditch the Bags and Backpacks – New York City always increases security around the holidays, and amplifies it even more on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Avoid bringing bags or backpacks as they are not permitted; and their contents will be subject to being searched and will likely be confiscated. Fit what you can into your pockets and travel as lightly as you can. Additionally, every individual will be searched by handheld wand at the various entry points and viewing areas in Times Square.
- Use the Bathroom Ahead of Time – Use the restroom before you arrive or at one of the local restaurants or establishments. There are not any portable toilets located in Times Square during this massive event so you will certainly want to make note of that and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that if you do use a restaurant, you will likely be required to make some kind of food or beverage purchase in return for enjoying their amenities. Additionally, you’ll want to be aware of the fact that if you do leave your spot prior to the ball drop, then there is a good chance you have given up your hard-earned viewing area for good.
- Watch the Ball Being Raised – We all look forward to witnessing the sparkling ball’s descent, but perhaps even more impressive and highly underrated is the ball being raised. This majestic icon weights over 11,000 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter, and features thousands of Waterford crystals and Philips Luxeon LED lights. At 6p.m. EST, the 50,000 watt ball is raised to the top of its 77-foot flagpole. And of course, at 11:59p.m. EST, the ball will begin its 60-second descent down the flagpole as it ushers in a new decade.
Once New Year’s Eve has come to an end, stay for a few days to experience as many of New York City’s iconic attractions as you can. Make sure to check out the variety of awesome passes and bus tours that CitySightseeing New York can offer to you and your family as you experience the Big Apple for the first time or the tenth time.