Written by: Tamar Auber
Every New Year’s Eve, over a million revelers gather into Times Square to watch the iconic ball drop. Wish you could be one of the packed masses counting down in the crossroads of the world next year? If long waits, fickle weather and massive throngs are not your cup of tea, you can still join in the festivities of one of the biggest New Year’s parties on the planet in 2013.
For New Year’s 2012, the audience holding pens opened up at 3 pm EST, meaning the persons closest to the action waited nearly nine hours, without access to a bathroom, to watch the ball take its plunge. Yet savvy New Yorker’s gathered much earlier, noon on December 30th, to be exact, to watch the crystal ball make its practice run. While it lacked the atmosphere of New Year’s Eve, the practice run drop is still quite an impressive site and required none of the unpleasant waiting or holding pens that greet the intrepid million on New Year’s Eve.
In fact, ball crazy tourists, have a number of ways to see the New Year’s ball. The Times Square Visitor Center offers an exhibit featuring the history of Times Square New Year’s and a replica ball, allowing a close-up viewing. The Walgreen’s at 1 Times Square where the ball makes its descent also offers a picture with the Times Square ball in the days around New Year’s.
Another way to experience Times Square is to come early, the morning of New Year’s Eve, to mill about the crowds and explore the bright lights and New Year’s displays readied for the evenings festivities. This year’s early birds were treated to product samples, hats and a good view of the 2012 sign atop 1 Times Square. An alternative is to show up on New Year’s Day, when the year sign will be aglow and most revelers will still be in bed after their long night.
Finally, if you have your heart set on being in Times Square when the clock strikes midnight, consider forking out the cash for a restaurant seat. While pricy, restaurants offer a chance to bypass the crowds, relax in the hours before the big event. Then just as midnight is about to strike, you can step out into the electric atmosphere of Times Square to watch the show and confetti drop.
Whether or not you brave the weather and the holding pens to see the ball drop live or celebrate New Year’s in Times Square in your own way, the excitement of Times Square at New Year’s is a bucket list experience not to be missed.