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Celebrating New Year's Eve at Times Square

New Year's Eve at Times Square captures the worldwide image of ringing in the new year - and for good reason. Watching the ball drop on the Empire City's streets is a majestic bash filled with live music, celebrities and flurries of confetti. All of this has been drawing visitors from all corners of the globe for more than a century. The square welcomes about 1 million visitors in person and more than 1 billion around the world watching on TV and the Internet. Reserve your New York City rental car to discover all the city has to offer in the daytime, but when it comes time to party, be sure to park it at the hotel.

Glimpse back at the first New Year's Eve in Times Square

While there's little doubt now that Times Square is the place to be on December 31, it was not always so. The first-ever festivities started in 1904 to honor the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times. At that time, the Times structure was the second-tallest building in Manhattan, serving as a centerpiece for not only the square but the city as well. Adolph Ochs, the newspaper's owner, did not spare a penny to ensure the bash would be unlike anyone had ever seen before. And with an all-day street festival, more than 200,000 attendees and fireworks that shot off from the base of the tower, the celebration was considered just as extravagant as it is today. 

Highlights of the festivities

For business men and women who want to release at night, you can purchase passes or package deals to enter various restaurants, lounges and event spaces around Time Square. There are an array of entertainment opportunities going on throughout the night, with dozens of party vendors that offer a scheduled route plan granting access to multiple venues around the square. However, for all celebrations, this same advice holds true: Show up early to reduce the wait time. At the Crossroads of the World, you can expect there be plenty of traffic, both foot and vehicle. 

The festivities here are limitless. Check out open bars, top-notch dinner buffets and elaborate desserts for starters. As you might have seen on TV, iconic artists like Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers grace the stage during the party of all parties. There will be several stages where television performers and anchors host things like Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. In the past, revelers have embraced the opportunity to see everyone from music divas to U.S. Supreme Court Justices to international movie stars. 

There is also a Wishing Wall, where you can write down your wishes for the New Year on pieces of official Times Square New Year's Eve confetti. These wishes will then be posted on the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall located in the Times Square Museum and Visitor Center. If you get yours in soon enough, they will be added to the ton of confetti that flutters down at midnight onto the crowd.

Planning your New Year's Eve day

The Bow Tie of Times Square (42nd to 47th streets between Broadway and 7th Avenue) closes to traffic at around 3 p.m. By this time, you should have your New York City rental car parked. 

At 6 p.m. the celebrations kick off with the lighting and raising of the New Year's Eve Ball. There are hourly countdowns capped off by celebrity appearances and live performances. 

In the final seconds of the year, the ball begins its descent, falling 70 feet in 60 seconds. The geodesic sphere is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds, capable of creating more than 16 million vibrant and patterns in a kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square. When the clock strikes 12, get ready for a whirlwind of confetti and champagne toasts.