To celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square, New York is something we all have thought about right? Some will say ‘it will never happen – it is too crowded’. Yet others have it on their bucket list and then there are those who have tried to join the celebration, but it became a big New Year´s Eve joke!
I think we have all had the fantasy of a perfect experience and celebrating New Year’s Eve in New York. Whether it was to an unbelievably expensive party, a fashionable new year boat cruise or the climax on Times Square.
You have definitely come to the right place if you like us, having a dream of standing in the middle of Times Square. Seeing the enormous digital watch counting down towards New Year and millions of people in Times Square are counting along.
We decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York in 2018/19. More specifically in Times Square. We were so excited and hyped it up with family and friends.
This was the epic celebration we had seen on TV-series, from movies or from live TV broadcasts. There, reporters would be surrounded by massive crowds of happy people and with confetti just pouring down from the sky above they would tell how crazy it was. This was the epic event we had hoped to experience ourselves.
Well… Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way we expected and our New Year’s Eve became a big fat New Year’s Eve joke.
We will tell you what little we knew, what we did horribly wrong and what we, for sure, will do next time. All while you can think about and consider whether it will affect your plans for New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
Our Preparation for New Year’s Eve in New York
We read a lot about how to enter Times Square before our trip. Many wrote about long waiting time and the streets were being blocked. Some were concerned about the food situation and others were joking about adult diapers. Yes, no kidding!
We took it all in and we discussed the pros and cons. Eventually, we decided to go for the stupid let’s-do-it-our-way-version. Tip! Don´t do that!
As we were only in New York for the New Year, it meant that we had two days to see other landmarks. We planned with sightseeing – also on the 31st.
If you are in New York to celebrate the New Year, then let that be your main event and attraction. Save the sightseeing and the rest of the attractions for another time.
New Year’s day had come…
We were staying in our Airbnb apartment down in the Two Bridges area. Not far from Brooklyn Bridge and with a distinct scent of shellfish from the street below.
New Year’s day came and we were so excited to be in New York. We woke up early. The day seemed cold with a few light clouds.
Our plan for the day was first to walk to Brooklyn Bridge and then see the New York Stock Exchange. Meet the little fearless girl and face the frightening bull.
Afterward, we planned to pay our respect to the World Trade Center Memorial and from there take the metro to Penn St. which is located only a short walk from Times Square.
Our brilliant plan was to walk towards Times Square at around 3 pm. On the way, we would grab a burger at Burger King and keep it in our bag for later. Yeah, a real treat on New Year’s Eve.
It sounded like a perfectly acceptable plan for us. We dressed up in multiple layers. It didn’t seem overwhelmingly cold. Rather have too many clothes on than too little we figured.
When we walked ahead for World Trade Center Memorial it slowly started to drizzle. We didn’t let some light drizzle get in our way for our plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York. Not yet at least…
From Plan to Reality
New York City is a city with a huge number of tourists all year. The New Year is no exception. The city was packed.
When we reached Penn St. reality hit us hard. Holy moly, where did all those people come from!
As the optimistic people we are, we were hoping to enter Times Square via 47th street and then into the top of Times Square. What a stupid thought! But again we thought that we were early and could enter.
For those of you who are not aware of this, Times Square will be blocked off. You will only be able to enter by 6th or 8th Street all the way from 38th Street and up to Central Park.
We hit the cueing line around 45th Street. 2 blocks away! For 1½ hour we waited in line. We killed time by watching funny people. We did not engage that much in conversations (as the ultra-introvert people we are), but we did recognize how rude and unfriendly people can act in a line. Some were nice though which is a relief.
Being in a Packed Crowd
And oh yeah, it wasn’t only drizzling anymore, it was raining! Luckily for us, the first 1½ hours, we stood under some scaffolding.
1½ hours passed and a policeman walked down the line with a message that 47th Street was closed, we had to go to 49th Street. This announcement caused a lot of commotion and people ran to get there first. The New Year horde swarmed forward to the next possible entrance.
By 49th Street, we were once again lined for 1 hour. Only once again to receive the message that it had been closed and we had to go further to 51st Street.
At 51st street people were tired of being stuck in line. The entrance was open, but only one person could enter at a time. Reason for this was for security check and this person had to be frisked and have the bag checked. Fair enough, we all care about safety.
Here is our next genuine insight from this experience.
While we were waiting in this massive horde of eager and impatient people, we were pushed forward from behind. We were squeezed so hard into each other as if we were in 3rd class on the Titanic pressed against the lattice door. You get shuffled, puffed and packed like cows going for the slaughter. You get the picture.
With my 5.5 feet, I was squeezed into wet hair or wet raincoats. It was horrible! People were yelling, some screaming and kids were crying. Yes, some parents had brought their kids into this massive chaos.
Note to Parents: Please don’t do that to you kid!
Just don’t bring kids or smaller children. They won’t have a great time, they can get hurt and it will be difficult to move away from the crowd in case of problems.
Note: You are not allowed to bring large backpacks or umbrellas. You will have to leave it by the gate/entrance with no supervision.
Tip: Kenneth brought his bike bag, it was allowed and it was big enough for food, snacks, and drinks.
Coming through – Coming through
We made it! Our excitement grew once more despite sensing the wet and cold rain seeping to our inner layers.
We entered through 8th and 51th Street. Now we just had to walk to Times Square and get as close as possible to where it all happens.
Yeah, we wished!
We turned the corner. Immediately, we noticed there were incredibly few people walking towards Times Square. We entered a smaller crowd that was stuffed together just before 49th Street.
It was blocked by trucks and we couldn’t get any further.
It was at around this time when the clouds above New York really opened up for the showers. The rain was pouring down on us. We had come well prepared for a cold night. Not a wet one.
We saw The Ball rise up to the top at 6 pm. While waiting, we ate our food and waited some more. The heavy rain gave no relief.
No toilet crises or food crises. We were all good but at 7 pm we had a crisis meeting. It was still 5 hours until New Year’s. We were not a part of the celebration on Times Square. Not even close.
Our clothes were completely soaked!
We had to give up!
A decision was made to leave the crowd and find an open metro. We realized we had actually arrived as some of the last people. Then again, quite a lot of people had probably left the lines even before getting inside the barricades. Our strategy had just been completely wrong.
Kudos to the police force and security personal. They were patient, firm and friendly to speak with despite being on watch on such a night.
On our way back to our Airbnb-home we bought a bottle of champagne from a small store to celebrate the New Year.
Getting inside in the warmth, we dropped the wet clothes. Tucked under the blankets we put on a movie and got warm. A few sips of the champagne and it was lights out still with hours until midnight…
No happy New Year, No Times Square and no Happy New Year-kiss.
This was our New Year’s Eve joke.
What have we learned from all of this?
Well, we have actually learned several things from this evening.
First of all, as mentioned above, dedicate the whole day to get the best spot on Times Square. You are here for the New Year. Do not arrange any other activities that day.
Second, there will be so many people everywhere – also in the quick fast-food restaurants. If possible, make some sandwiches at home or from the hotel to bring along.
Check out the WEATHER. Just to be on the safe side, bring a foldable rain cover. It will be your best friend if it starts pouring down.
Important note on shoes. Please be aware that you will have to stand up for a really long time. If you will be so lucky to be in the middle of the festivities going on in Times Square, you will, during the waiting time, not be allowed to sit. Take on your best trainers or some really comfy winter boots.
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What we have in mind for next time
‘Do you want to do this again’? you might ask.
Yes, we definitely have to try again. It is still on our bucket list to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York and we have decided to consider two options for next time.
Option No. 1
Our first option would be to check hotel prices and availability for the hotels in the blocked area. (In the area from 40th Street up to Central Park between 6th and 8th Street)
People with valid hotel reservations and room keys could enter the blocked streets. We could just watch in utter envy… and think…
If you are staying in that area you can enter anytime, and you can probably combine your day with some (a little) sightseeing.
Or even better, if you don’t have to think about money. Book a room with a view to Times Square. Then you can watch the celebration from the comfort of your warm room. With a window. And a toilet and maybe some champagne.
Hotels near Times Square for New Year’s Eve, that we would recommend you to check out:
- W New York – Times Square – 4*, located on Broadway on Times Square.
- Times Square EDITION – 5*, located on corner 7th Ave/47th St – view to Times Square.
- Novotel New York Times Square – 4*, located Broadway/52th with a view to the ball.
- Millennium Premier New York Times Square– 4*, rooms with the ball view
- New York Marriott Marquis – 4*, right on Times Square, rooms view Times Square view is expensive, but there is a terrace.
- Renaissance New York Times Square – 4*, in the centerline towards the ball. Rooms with city view.
These are other hotels within the area. They don’t have a view of the ball/square though:
I am writing this article at the end of August, 4 months before New Year’s Eve and there are still hotel rooms to get under $1,500 from 30th Dec – 2nd Jan and actually, I can find a hotel room down to $800 for those 3 nights, within this area. Just for your information.
Option No. 2 is a hardcore one.
Dedicate your entire day to Times Square. Show up at noon (or before) and do not leave your spot. This will be SO hard, but if you want to have the experience of New Year´s Eve in Times Square, this will be it!
Prepare yourself to stand up a whole day, put on some nice comfy shoes and for your own sake, dress in layers.
Bring food, snacks, and water/soft drinks.
Note: You are not allowed to bring any alcohol.
Bring something to entertain yourself with. Your phone is a good option, but do remember to bring a solid power bank!
And guys, we are not kidding, there are no toilets available, stores and shops are closed. You cannot hold yourself for 12 hours or more. We know it is a non-told word, but wear adult diapers, you just have to. Sorry!
Important information about New Year’s Eve at Times Square:
The event is free.
Be aware that the metro stations around Times Square will be closed – check out where the open metro stations will be, in advance.
The ball is located at the top of the One Times Square building on 43rd Street. It can be seen from Broadway from 43rd to 50th Street and from 7th Avenue from 43rd to 59th Street.
Please note: You will not be a part of the Times Square party unless you are in Times Square. That’s just how it is.
The streets that are blocked will be guarded by policemen, so you cannot just sneak inside.
Some entertainment will start at 6 pm on Times Square, with hosts, different performances and popular musicians.
We truly hope this article will help you to have an awesome New Year’s Eve in Times Square, New York.
If you have any questions, comments or just think this article was useful, please write us a comment below – we would love to hear from you.
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