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How To Watch The Ball Drop, Times Square NYC

USA | Tuesday, 12 May 2015 | Views [798]

I’ve been to NYC once before, but driving in after a road trip across the country on New Years Eve is pretty memorable.  Our plan was to watch the ball drop: New Years Eve in New York City, pretty epic right?  That’s what we thought, and it was truly epic.  I love this travel memory.  However our experience brought to our attention that there needs to be some much clearer 'how-to' blogs on the ball dropping experience.

We got into NYC at about noon.  Driving into such an iconic place and seeing all of those historic, famous and infamous place names was a slightly surreal. Taking the abstract idea, and removed knowledge, of a place and turning it into a reality is probably always a surreal moment.  In this instance it happened to be both slightly un-real and SUPER-EXCITING... there may have been a few minor 'girlish squeals of excitement' on arrival.

So back to this How To Watch The Ball Drop breakdown.  Let's face it, not that many people at the ball-drop are locals.  The local NYC'ers already know that it's basically just en masse freezing your ass off for 6 to 12 hours. They all acknowledge that: “you gotta do it once!”... that is however their limit.

Therefore most of the people at the ball drop are out-of-towners....and WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING!


Questions & HOW TO tips:

  • Where is the ball? Seriously! (not just “in Times Square” ...where is that?... an actual address will help... the EXACT intersection...Times Square cover a few blocks...) It’s 43rd Street and 7th Avenue.
  • What direction do you want to see it from?  Ideally you want to see it from as close as possible, and ideally you want to get onto 7th Avenue.  Get in there as soon as possible, so find those access points from the parallel avenues, and join the line.  This brings us to access points.
  • There are access points? Oh we could have used that info TWO HOURS AGO. There are access points.  These are controlled entry points where the cops search bags etc and drip-feed you in.  As the street closer to Times Square fills up, the access points close, and open ones move further and further away from the 43rd and 7th intersection.  So you’ll be heading down 8th, away from Times Square, trying to find the closest access point that will let you in.  There will be rumours flying around – “You can get in down on 48th Street”, “The 48th Street access point is full”… however the best information comes from THE COPS.
  • Use the cops ...they're to-the-point but super helpful.  That’s all I really have to stay for this point.  Except that it’s true!  They have done this multiple times, they’re organized, they’re really respectful and if you ask nicely they’re ready to help.
  • Don't take a backpack (you'll have to leave or throw it away).  I had an over-the-shoulder handbag with me that was fine to take in.
  • Don't think you can just 'follow the crowd'...people will tell you this will work, but the reality is thousands of people are going all directions because they don't know where they're going either! Refer back to rumours flying around, and asking the cops!
  • There are no bathrooms (however this is the one thing people will tell you in advance).  Our strategy was don’t-hydrate-too-much, which worked.  You can always rehydrate the next day.
  • Take snacks.  You’re allowed food and drink in, yay!
  • Cover all exposed skin – you will get cold – it's all about the layers (shout-out to Sheldon/Onassis).
  • Your bag will be searched repeatedly so ditch that pocketknife.  You’ll get checked a few times at different check points.
  • If you want to really hear the concert, get closer than us (10 blocks away) so get there before 10/11am.

At about 7 or 8pm you will reach the “shall we just leave” point, especially if the temperature has dropped below freezing (as it had for us).  This is when lots of people do leave, and you get to move closer. Push through, stick it out, I BELIEVE IN YOU!  Hehe…but seriously, you’re already there. 

This is when you implement the ‘How To Stick It Out’ strategy:

Make Friends.

We formed a temporary support group and stuck it out!  It was a lot of standing, we were thirsty due to our don’t-hydrate-too-much strategy, and it was COLD, especially from about 4 hours in.  But even with all of this, or perhaps because of it, we actually had an awesome night!!  This was largely due to meeting cool people in the crowd, commiserating about the above points together, keeping the New Years spirit alive, and of course going to a pub together afterwards.


So we brought in our New Year with much hilarity and appreciation of hundreds of thousands of peoples' craziness in participating in this strange ritual...including us. Good times!!!

Like the locals say, “you’ve gotta do it once!”.

Tags: ball drop, new years, new york city, nyc, on the road, road trip, times square, travel blog, usa, watch the ball drop


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