Photo: Julienne Schaer
It can be freezing cold. Typically an estimated 1 million people are packed in tighter than commuters on a 6 train during rush hour, though and last year, Covid restrictions meant it was more like 15,000. Mostly, they stand around waiting. Heck, they’re not even allowed to drink .
Still, it’s no wonder that many New Yorkers and visitors want to spend at least one New Year’s Eve in Times Square. To people all over the world—more than 1 billion at-home viewers, in fact—Times Square is New Year’s Eve, the backdrop to a lifetime of TV specials hosted by Dick Clark (and, more recently, Ryan Seacrest), the place where the ball drops, the fireworks explode and the streets are bathed in a ton of confetti. And we don’t mean “a ton” as in “a lot”—we mean an actual ton, as in 2,000 pounds.
So if you choose to be part of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve party, here are some essential tips to ensure that your experience is memorable and pleasant. (For more details, visit , our main source for Times Square dos and don’ts.)
The famous illuminated —which can display more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns—begins to descend from a flagpole atop 1 Times Square with exactly one minute left until the new year. The Times Square Alliance recommends watching on Broadway between West 43rd and West 50th Streets and along Seventh Avenue, all the way up to West 59th Street. Be sure to arrive early, as police officers close down streets as they fill up, while certain subway entrances close as early as 10am. (The Alliance has the .)
Those who score the choicest spots typically arrive before 3pm; the ball rises to the top of the flagpole at 6pm; by 10:30pm, it’s nearly impossible to find a spot with a view of the ball. This year’s pre-drop show schedule and performers have not been announced yet; keep an eye on for updates.
Public transit is by far the best way to reach the celebration, but try to detrain at a stop other than Times Square/42nd Street and walk the rest of the way. That subway station in particular becomes uncomfortably crowded on New Year’s Eve and often has entrances closed and/or controlled by the NYPD. Be sure to check the MTA’s website for any service changes before finding your alternate station; last year trains were bypassing stops close to Times Square like the 49th Street N/R/W station.
Spectators with disabilities are invited to watch from a designated accessible viewing area at 44th Street and Broadway, with an entrance at 44th Street and Sixth Avenue. Be aware that this area fills up quickly as well.
We know you want to look nice on New Year’s Eve, but no one is going to see your feet in this crowd. If you arrive early enough to get a good viewing spot, you’ll be standing for many hours—and Reeboks will serve your tired feet much better than Manolos. Whatever comfy shoes you wear, just make sure they’re closed-toe (and accompanied by a thick pair of socks), or it won't be long before your feet go numb.
The cops won’t let you past the barricades with a backpack or large bag, period. (Cargo pants, anyone?) And no, lawn chairs, folding stools and picnic blankets aren’t allowed either.
It’s likely to be very, very cold, and the temperature will continue dropping as the hours pass. Wear more layers than you think you’ll need. The Times Square Alliance website actually references Gore-Tex by name, which tells you everything you need to know about the conditions.
You can’t reclaim your viewing spot if you leave the area, so grab a bite beforehand on nearby Restaurant Row or some other convenient place—but make sure you’re sufficiently nourished and hydrated for the long haul once you join the throng.
There are no public bathrooms in the viewing area, so be sure to go before you arrive.
While it won’t hurt to like the people you’re with and have plenty of conversation topics ready, you’ll be surrounded by folks from all over the world who have come to Times Square for this experience just like yourself. Of course, if Times Square isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other ways to ring in 2023 in NYC—including concerts, comedy shows and a run in Central Park. However you choose to celebrate, have a great time.