Times Square in New York City is and always has been (at least in my lifetime) the place to be for New Year’s Eve. Even if you can’t be there in person, most likely you will be somewhere watching that ball drop and doing the countdown to midnight for the start of the New Year. This doesn’t just hold true for Americans- people around the world watch the New Year’s eve celebration in Times Square on their television sets!
This is a Dick Clark New Year’s eve, where the host almost every year for as long as I can remember has been there on the television set, announcing the time left until midnight, and hosting the New Year’s eve celebration. Whether you go to a bar, a dance club, a restaurant, or just stay at home, your eyes will be glued to the television for at least the moment before midnight when the New York City Times Square ball drops to bring in the New Year.
Many people decide to actually be part of the action and visit Times Square for New Year’s Eve. I know this is what I did for 2005-06 New Year’s, which happened to be the 100th anniversary of the ball drop in Times Square. I have to say, I learned alot about what to do and what not to do to enjoy this celebration.
Are you planning to visit New York for a 2007 eve New Year’s, or 2008 or beyond? Are you going to join the New York New Year’s eve celebration in person this year?
Here are my ten tips on how to watch the ball drop in Times Square, and have a rockin’ New Year’s Eve in New York City…
1. The New Year’s Eve ball itself is situated at One Times Square, at 43rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan. It is raised to its starting place for the official ball drop at around 6 pm on New Year’s Eve. The police start blocking off areas starting at 43rd street and going North, as each area starts to fill up with people.
The first tip is preparation, preparation, preparation. If you are going to do this, you have to be prepared and know what to expect in advance. If not, you will end up not being able to see the ball drop or even having much fun other than trying to get through a crowd of over a million people and not knowing what you are doing. The traffic will be a nightmare, perhaps causing you not to be able to even get to New York City!
2. If you want to be outside to watch the ball drop on New Year’s eve, and have a true New York New Year’s eve, then there are things you must do to make this happen. The first thing you must do is arrive incredibly early to Times Square. If you want to be right at 43rd Street in Times Square, then plan on getting to Times Square around noon. Alot of people will tell you that you can arrive in the late afternoon, but I personally didn’t find this to be the case. When I arrived at 2 pm, I found that two streets were already blocked off.
3. If you leave to go eat, or to go to the bathroom, you will not be able to return to the viewing spot you were in before. You would have to go North to the first available spot. Two years ago when I was there, they did not have port-a-potties for people to use the restroom without having to leave the viewing area.
I know what you’re thinking, this is barbaric! How can they expect you not to go to the bathroom for up to twelve hours? It’s ridiculous! What this means is you have to come up with a plan for eating and going to the bathroom.
4. The first part of this plan has to do with going to the bathroom. You could choose not to go at all. If you choose this option, I recommend drinking alot of water in the early morning, and stopping around ten am (or two hours before you plan to go to the viewing area.) You can then spend the next two hours letting this run through your system and going to the bathroom as much as possible before you go in to the viewing area at Times Square. This way, you will be as hydrated as possible but won’t have the urge to go much after you have arrived in TImes Square. You shouldn’t drink anything after this, so you don’t have an unexpected urge to go later.
The other alternative is to go right where you are. This is what many people had to do. You go right on the street. Of course, there are cops everywhere and loads of people. So, my advice is to find a way to be discreet. Go to the bathroom without letting anyone know. Find a way of dressing that will allow you easy access to be able to go without having to take off layers of clothes. Males will find this task easier, but for females you might have a problem! This takes some thoughtful preplanning. Worst case scenario you just drop your drawers in front of everyone, but not around any police officers!
5. The second problem has to do with food. You could eat alot before your arrival to the New Year’s eve Times Square celebration. (Don’t forget, you will then probably drink and have to go to the bathroom!) Eat foods that will have a lasting effect, such as pasta or pizza. These can fill you up for awhile. Bring snack foods with you. For me, I find that having crackers and some sort of protein, as well as something sweet, helps to tide me over. I would recommend bringing some beef jerky or slim jims, which easily fit into pockets, some packs of cheese or peanutbutter crackers, and a candy bar or brownie. Bring some small bottles of water that will fit into your purse or pockets.
6. Dress for the occasion. The year I spent for the New Year’s eve party in Times Square, it was unusually warm and in the fifties. This was rare. Most likely, you are looking at temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees fahrenheit. You want to dress in layers, so that early in the day when it is warmer you can tie jackets around your waist, or carry them. Then, as the evening gets cooler, you can put on the layers. The first areas to get cold will be your head, face, neck, hands and feet (your extremities), so plan to keep them warm. Bring a hat, gloves, scarf and insulated shoes or boots. If it’s snowing or raining, you may need a mini umbrella to protect you from the weather, or a waterproof jacket and waterproof shoes. Wear a coat that has insulation to keep you warm. I suggest also bringing hotpacks. You can get these at any sports store or Walmart. You break them, or hit them against something, and they become warm for up to a couple of hours.
7. It is easier to find a way to view the ball drop from inside somewhere, looking out onto Times Square. This too, takes thought and preparation. The biggest thing to remember about New York New Year’s eve dining and celebrations is that if you don’t have a reservation, chances are, the police will not let you past the barracks to get to your destination. When I found that I had arrived too late to get a spot close enough outside to view the Ball drop in Times Square for New Year’s eve, I decided to go somewhere inside. I chose Planet Hollywood, which had a big New Year’s eve celebration planned (and cost over $200 per person.) However, I didn’t have a ticket already. The cops didn’t want to let me through, because they had already closed off the area by this restaurant. I did finally get in, after finally convincing the cop we were really going there, but it wasn’t easy.
Get your ticket in advance for where you will be going to a New Year’s eve party near Times Square!
8. If you are going to a restaurant, you will need some paper evidence that you have a reservation. You can either have them email you confirmation, and print it out and have it with you, or some places may mail you some type of ticket. Reservations should be made months in advance. Don’t think you can call on December 27th and get a reservation somewhere near Times Square! You may get lucky, but don’t expect this luck if you really want to get to see the Times Square ball drop at midnight! You will also have to choose a dining time that will place you inside the restaurant still at midnight. So, you’ll have to pick a dining time around 10:30 pm or later. The exception would be if the restaurant specifically will allow you to hang around once you finish your meal.
9. Find somewhere to stay in a hotel that has a view of Times Square. The best place is Renaissance New York. The Marriott Marquis and DoubleTree Guest Suites also offer a view. You will have to get a room with a view of the ball drop, or find somewhere in the hotel that has a view of Times Square. You may be able to walk right outside the hotel and see the ball drop from the street.
Make sure to have your room key to the hotel and evidence of the dates you are staying, or you may not be able to get back to your hotel if you go somewhere for dinner! Be careful!
10. Remember, the ball in Times Square only drops for one minute, and then it’s all over. So, you really have to make sure you give yourself time to get somewhere, whether it’s inside or out, to view the event. Don’t wait until one minute before midnight to walk outside, because with crowds you could end up missing it!
Whatever you do for New Year’s eve in New York City, in Manhattan, be safe and have a good time! Just being in New York City brings an incredible sense of energy and passion to the evening, and you feel like you’re in the action. At midnight, make sure to get a New Year’s kiss while dancing to a New Year’s song. Then, you’ll have a New Year’s firework no matter what you’re doing.
I don’t think I will make a second trip to see the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It was too hectic. Although it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, now that I’ve done it my need has been totally satiated. I wasn’t able to get a spot anywhere close to 43rd street (I couldn’t even get 56th street!). I almost couldn’t get in anywhere to do anything (I did finally make it to Planet Hollywood.) It cost a fortune for one weekend. The hotel alone was almost $300 per night, and this was for a dumpy hotel about six blocks from Times Square on a side street! The New Year’s eve party at Planet Hollywood cost over $200 per person. And, there was the cost of traveling to New York and eating, etc., during the rest of the trip.
This was an unforgettable experience, though. It’s worth doing once! Just plan, plan, plan and read this article over and over until you have it memorized! You can make your experience one that is much more valuable.