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New Year's Eve: Tips For Seeing The Big Ball Drop In Person At Times Square

The earlier you arrive, the better your view and the closer you will be to the action.

So, you've decided this is the year you want to go to Times Square to witness the annual dropping of the big ball to celebrate the start of 2012. But, how are you going to get there to be part of the crowd of an estimated 1 million people who will be at Times Square?

The Times Square District Management Association offers these tips:

Where is the Ball lowered?

The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball descends from a flagpole at the top of One Times Square. It can best be seen along Broadway, from 43rd Street to 50th Street, and along Seventh Avenue, as far north as 59th Street.

What streets will be closed for the celebrations?

The New York Police Department will begin closing down access to Times Square starting at 43rd Street and Broadway and moving north as revelers arrive. The exact times that these blocks close to pedestrian and vehicular traffic will depend on when the revelers begin arriving. It is likely that there will be no vehicular traffic on either Broadway or Seventh Avenue as of approximately 3:00 p.m. Vehicles will most likely have difficulty traveling across town after 6:00 p.m. above 42nd Street as far north as 59th Street. If you are planning to come to Times Square and join in the festivities, you are advised to enter from Sixth or Eighth Avenue. Your chance of getting a viewing spot near the Ball (at 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.

Will there be areas in Times Square designated for the disabled?

Yes. 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. For a listing of the access points from which you can enter Times Square, click here.

Where is the best view?

The earlier you arrive, the better your view and the closer you will be to the action. The sound system is set up in the Bowtie area (where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross), and the video screens on One Times Square (where the Ball is lowered) are easily visible. There are additional screens set up at Broadway and 50th Street, Broadway and 52nd Street, Broadway and 54th Street and Broadway and 58th Street.

What is the best way to come to Times Square?

The best way to come to Times Square is via public transportation. To get to Times Square, the # 1, 2, 3, 7, A, B, C, D, E, F, N, Q, R, W, V and S shuttle trains all service the Times Square area. Please note that the MTA has advised revelers not to use the 42nd Street Subway Station on New Year's Eve due to crowding conditions - you are advised to exit at one of the surrounding stations and enter Times Square on foot. It is expected that the MTA will keep all subway stations open on New Year's Eve. Some entrances and exits may be closed as crowd conditions require. After 7 p.m. on December 31st, the N and R train station at 49th Street and Seventh Avenue may be closed until after midnight. Trains may also bypass some stations, depending on how the crowds build. For further information nearer the date of the event, please call or visit the MTA at (718) 330-1234 or www.mta.info.

Other useful sources of information:

Port Authority Bus Terminal (212) 564-8484
New York City Transit Authority (Local Bus Service) (718) 330-1234
Amtrak (800) 523-8720
Metro North (212) 532-4900
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) (718) 217- LIRR

For questions on New Year's Eve about access, please contact the NYPD sub-station at (212)-239-9803 or the Times Square Alliance Dispatch Office at (212)-452-5218. Please call ONLY on New Year's Eve.

How do I enter Times Square on New Year's Eve?

If you are attending a party or event within Times Square on New Year's Eve, be sure to contact the business to confirm special instructions you may need in order to access the entrance of the establishment.

Access Points:

To Access Times Square South of 41st Street

  • 37th & 7th Ave
  • 37th & Broadway
  • 38th & 8th Ave
  • 38th & 6th Ave

To Access Times Square North of 43rd street

  • 46th from 8th & 6th Ave (press access)
  • Emergency Vehicle Route (48th, 5th-9th Ave)
  • 49th from 8th & 6th Ave
  • 52nd from 8th & 6th Ave
  • 54th from 6th Ave
  • 55th from 8th Ave
  • 57th from 7th Ave
  • 57th from Broadway
  • 58th from 8th & 6th Ave
  • 59th from 8th & 6th Ave

Pedestrian/Subway Chutes:

  • 39th - Broadway to 6th Ave
  • 41st - 7th Ave directed westbound to 8th Ave
  • 49th - 7th Ave directed eastbound to 6th Ave
  • 50th – Broadway directed westbound to 8th Ave
  • 53rd – Broadway directed westbound to 8th Ave
  • 55th – 7th Ave directed eastbound to 7th Ave

When should I get there?

Revelers begin to gather in the late afternoon on New Year's Eve, December 31st. The best advice we can give is to get there as early as possible. We cannot predict how quickly the viewing areas will fill up. Prime viewing areas may fill up early in the afternoon.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. EST the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball will be raised to the top of the 77-foot flagpole at One Times Square (Broadway at 43rd Street) and lit. At exactly 11:59 p.m. EST, the Ball will make its 60-second descent down the flagpole to signal the start of the New Year.

Note: Revelers who arrive very early in the day, before the police have established viewing areas, may be moved by the NYPD when barricades are put in place.

What is the schedule of New Year's Eve events in Times Square?

Check the event schedule to see when and where it's all happening in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Here is the timeline for LAST YEAR'S street closures and viewing areas and are subject to change without notice. This information may be helpful for planning your trip to this year's event:

  • 3:10 PM - 7th Ave & Broadway closed from 43rd St. To 49th St (cross streets at 3:30 PM).
  • 4:55 PM - viewing areas filled north to 48th, south 40th-41st St
  • 5:00 PM - cross street closures begin moving from south to north as spectators arrive.
  • 6:05 PM - viewing areas filled to 52nd St.
  • 10:30 PM - 7th Ave viewing areas filled to 59th St.
  • 10:35 PM - viewing areas filled to 58th St., south to 38th St.
  • 11:00 PM - Broadway viewing areas filled to 59th St.
  • 11:00 PM - viewing areas filled on 59th St., 6th – 7th Ave.

Will there be portable public restrooms available?

No. There are no portable restrooms in Times Square during the celebration. The Times Square Visitor Center and Mini-Museum has public restrooms but will be closing early on New Year's Eve.

Times Square Visitor Business Hours

  • 7 Days a week, 8 am - 8pm
  • Please check back for holiday hours

Is alcohol or champagne allowed?

No. Public drinking is illegal in New York City. Police will confiscate alcohol.

Will there be food and drink vendors in the square?

No. There will be no licensed food and beverage vendors in Times Square. However, there are hundreds of restaurants in and around Times Square (see below).

Will there be restaurants open in the area? Can revelers return to the same viewing areas after dining?

Many restaurants located in the Times Square area will be open on New Year's Eve - be sure to consult the Restaurant Guide  to locate a restaurant - and make your reservations well in advance. Please remember that if you dine at a local restaurant, you will not simply be able to come out and watch the Ball lowering at midnight. Revelers will arrive in Times Square early in the day, and while you are dining, designated viewing areas will fill up on a "first come, first served" basis. Furthermore, no one is allowed to stand in the emergency lanes or on sidewalks. Please remember that if you leave your viewing area to dine in a restaurant, you will not be able to return to your spot in a viewing area.

A list of New Year's Eve Parties in Times Square can be found here.

Are theaters, stores and restaurants going to be open?

Some Broadway theaters will be open on New Year's Eve. The TKTS booth will open on New Year's Eve. Please check the TKTS website for the schedule of hours. You can check the schedules for Broadway and some Off Broadway shows at www.telecharge.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Stores and restaurants will be open at their own discretion, so please call them ahead of time. Please remember that if you leave your viewing area to dine in a restaurant, you will not be able to return to your spot in a viewing area.

Which Times Square restaurants and hotels have a view of the Ball?

  • Renaissance New York
  • R Lounge
  • DoubleTree Guest Suites
  • Marriott Marquis
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
  • Sbarro Pizza
  • Olive Garden

Please check our Dining and Hotels pages for contact information for the above venues.

What security procedures are in place?

The New York Police Department will control all access points to Times Square. No bags or backpacks are permitted. Emergency Service squads, drug and bomb sniffing canine units and counter-terrorism personnel will be present in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Where can I find information on Times Square New Year's Eve parties?

There's no more electrifying place on the planet than Time Square on New Year's Eve. Check this page for details on New Year's Eve parties you can attend at the Crossroads of the World. More >>

What is the history of the Times Square New Year's Eve event?

Revelers have been celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square since 1904. To learn more about the celebration's history, check out the  History page.

What should I wear and what should I bring?

Dress warmly. Remember that you could be spending an extended period outdoors in potentially below-freezing conditions. You should be well-prepared and well-insulated. Many layers, synthetics (such as Goretex and polypropylene), wind-resistant and water-repellant outerwear and a good hat are the keys to staying warm.

Finally, remember to drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Not only is public drinking illegal in New York City, but both caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you. Dehydration is very common and can sneak up on you in cold weather.

Are tickets needed for this event?

No. This event is open to everyone. However, to get the best view, arrive early in the afternoon. Some private parties are held in many of the restaurants and hotels in Times Square and tickets are required in advance. Please check here for parties on New Year's Eve.

Will there be a Webcast?

Yes. Visit www.TimesSquareNYC.org on New Year's Eve for a live webcast.

Are there still hotel rooms available in the Times Square area?

There are more than 17,000 hotel rooms in the Times Square neighborhood - ranging from large hotel chains, to small quiet retreats or suite hotels for extended stays. There are also several youth hostels situated in and around the Times Square area. Book your stay now to avoid disappointment. For a complete listing of hotels in the area visit the Hotel page. You can contact the hotels directly about rates and availability, or contact your travel agent for more information and reservations.

How much confetti is dropped in Times Square on New Year's Eve?

More than 1 ton of confetti.

Metro North Commuter Railroad:

Pre-New Year's Eve Getaway Service on Friday, Dec. 30 with early trains departing Grand Central starting at 12 Noon. Because of lighter ridership, some PM peak trains will be canceled or combined. See a current timetable or visit our schedules page for train times.

New Year's Eve Holiday Service Sat., Dec. 31 - Monday, Jan. 2. Read more.

West-of-Hudson New Year's Eve Holiday Service Sat., Dec. 31- Monday, Jan. 2. Read more.

 

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