New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, which means that approximately 1 million revelers will soon 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.
Unsurprisingly, security will also be beefed up for the event. All bags will be searched and those who decline a search will not be permitted. Additionally, large bags, knapsacks, and umbrellas are not permitted. Radiation detectors will be deployed, manhole covers will be sealed, and mail drop boxes located along 34th to 59th streets on Seventh Avenue will be removed.
So here’s what you need to know if you want to try and get around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve:
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 and watch the whole thing from the comfort of your own couch. (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. This year, the sphere has 192 new Waterford Crystals in a design called the “Gifts of Harmony,” reports ABC7. The new design “utilizes small rosette cuts flowing into each other in harmony.”
When do people start gathering in Times Square?
Early. Though the Times Square Alliance says that people begin showing up around in the late afternoon, 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?
Expect all of Times Square to be blocked off, including points south (to 38th Street) and north (to 59th Street). The NYPD’s list of streets closures is extensive, and the Times Square Alliance summarizes thusly:
On December 31, the New York Police Department will begin closing down access to Times Square starting at 38th Street and Broadway, and moving north as revelers arrive. Viewing areas will start at 43rd Street and move north. 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.
Access points are as follows:
South of 41st Street
37th & 7th Ave
37th & Broadway
38th & 8th Ave
38th & 6th Ave
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
39th from Broadway to 6th Ave
41st from 7th Ave directed westbound to 8th Ave
49th from 7th Ave directed eastbound to 6th Ave
50th from Broadway directed westbound to 8th Ave
53rd from Broadway directed westbound to 8th Ave
55th from 7th Ave directed eastbound to 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 there’s a small wrinkle: The MTA recommends that those coming to the event avoid the Times Square-42nd Street subway station, since many of its entrances and exits will be closed. Instead, per the MTA, “Riders are urged to exit from stations at 50 St, or 57 St and walk to Times Square.”
According to the NYPD, these subway station changes will be in effect:
Southbound and northbound N/R/W lines will bypass the 49th Street station beginning at noon, Monday, December 31st until approximately 12:15 a.m., Tuesday, January 1st.
The northbound IRT “#1” train will bypass the 50th Street station beginning at noon, Monday, December 31st until approximately 12:15 a.m., Tuesday, January 1st.
And since this is the MTA we’re talking about, there are likely to be outages on some of those lines, so you should check the agency’s list of New Year’s service changes for more details.
Anything else I need to know?
If you find yourself suddenly having doubts about ringing in the New Year in Times Square, there are options in other parts of the city, which we encourage you to check out here.