Perhaps nowhere else on Earth do the eyes of the world focus more on New Year’s Eve than Times Square in New York City, one of the best travel destinations in the world. The Times Square ball drop is not only a Manhattan tradition but a worldwide occasion—whether you’re watching this iconic event live in Times Square with more than a million people, or are one of an estimated billion people who view this heralded event on TV from any one of a million places around the globe.
But whether you’re watching what’s often referred to as the “biggest party in the world” in real time (and being covered in one ton of confetti) or three or more hours after the actual ball drops, it’s still a chance every year to share a defining moment with a very large number of one’s fellow citizens of the world. If actually visiting Times Square for New Year’s Eve to witness the ball drop, it is also a chance to be part of history, and help preserve a tradition that dates back to 1904. However, the first ball drop didn’t actually take place until 1907, but the ball has been dropped every year since from One Times Square with the exception of two years (1942 and ’43) during World War II because of wartime lighting restrictions in the city.
Needless to say, if traveling to New York City for the New Year’s Eve ball drop, or just to be in the city for New Year’s, it is best to plan far in advance as hotels in and near Times Square, and much of the city, will be hard, if not impossible, to book last-minute, as will flights to New York City.
However, if in New York City during New Year’s but aren’t planning on reveling in Times Square with a million other revelers, one can still see the ball—an 11,875-pound 12-foot geodesic sphere that was put into play in 2008 and is double the size of its predecessors—at one’s own convenience as it is a year-round attraction. But if you don’t plan on missing the ball drop for anything in the world, keep in mind that the event is free and tickets are not required, which makes the experience even more priceless.
Naturally, the time to go for the Times Square ball drop is on New Year's Eve, no matter the year. And despite the fact that the ball begins to drop at 11:59 PM, it is advised to get to Times Square hours in advanced as it will be thronged by a million-plus people.
Odds n' Ends
It is imperative to plan ahead and make reservations for things to do in New York City pre- or post-ball drop as the influx of visitors to the city during New Year's can make it a herculean task to visit NYC hot spots, take in a Broadway show, or gain entrance to one of the city’s world-renowned museums.
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