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New Year’s Eve in Times Square: street closures, times, and more

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Everything you need to know about the ball drop

New Years Eve Celebrated In New York's Times Square Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means that in just a few hours, approximately 1 million revelers will descend on Midtown for the ball drop in Times Square. For tourists, it’s a once in a lifetime event celebrating the new year; for New Yorkers, it’s a reason to avoid the area between Herald Square and Columbus Circle at all costs. (That’s confirmed by science! Or something.)

Unsurprisingly, security will also be beefed up for the event, given the bombing that took place in the Times Square subway station earlier this month. According to CBS New York, “unprecedented” security measures are being implemented, including closing parking garages near Times Square, and stationing NYPD officers in hotels along the ball drop route. Various agencies, including the National Guard, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the MTA, are all deploying additional resources along the route for the ball drop.

So here’s what you need to know if you want to try and get around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve:

Don’t.

Just kidding. But seriously—most of Midtown will be an epic mess, so unless you’re seriously committed to navigating the New Year’s hordes, it may be better to stay home. (Did we mention that there are no restrooms in Times Square during this time? Yeah.)

When is the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square?

The enormous Times Square ball—covered in Waterford crystals, and clocking in at nearly 12,000 pounds—begins its descent atop One Times Square at 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. It gets lifted into place at 6 p.m. the same day.

When do people start gathering in Times Square?

Early. Though the Times Square Alliance says that people begin showing up around 3 p.m., it’s likely that they’ll gather earlier. Be warned, though: There are no Port-a-Potties in the designated area for ball drop watchers, so that’s something to consider.

What streets will be closed for the New Year’s Eve ball drop?

Here’s the official word from the Times Square Alliance:

On December 31, 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 3:00 p.m. or earlier above 42nd Street and 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 increases the earlier you arrive. The blocks will be closed off as they fill up northward, street-by-street, as the police deem necessary.

Basically, expect all of Times Square to be blocked off, including points south (to 38th Street) and north (to 59th Street). Access points are as follows:

South of 41st Street

37th & 7th Ave

37th & Broadway

38th & 8th Ave

38th & 6th Ave

North of 43rd street

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

What’s the best way to get to Times Square on New Year’s Eve?

Given the street closures and masses of souvenir hat-wearing people, streets will be all but impassable on New Year’s, so the subway—not the bus, and definitely not an Uber—is the way to go.

But here’s another wrinkle: According to the Times Square Alliance, “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.” That means 49 St on the N, Q, and R; 50 St on the C; and the 1, A, C, and D at 59th St–Columbus Circle.

And since this is the MTA we’re talking about, there are likely to be outages on some of those lines (the 1, for example, won’t stop at 50 St); check the Weekender app for more details.

Anything else I need to know?

This NYPD video has helpful tips for anyone going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve: