Every year on December 31st an estimated one million people flock to New York City’s Times Square to bid a collective farewell to the departing year and express joy and hope for what’s ahead. Covid changed that last year. But thanks to science, revelers are welcomed back to Times Square to safely watch the ball drop in person.
The catch? You need to be fully vaccinated and have a valid photo ID. And this year, the number of spectators in Times Square will be limited to 15,000, and no visitor will be admitted until 3 pm, which is much later than past years.
At least people are able to retune this year, so, that’s great news(!) but did you know that each year some people (ok, a lot of people) just flock to Times Square all willy-nilly for the ball drop, mistakenly thinking they’ll have things like tons of port-a-potties or food vendors? Guys, it’s a rugged experience, and you’ve got to prepare for it and know the rules.
Here are seven tips for having a great time at the ball drop.
7. Arrive early
Normally, you can arrive whenever you want but this year no visitor will be admitted until 3 pm. So, we recommend arriving as early to 3pm as possible because the best spots in a normal year fill up by 4:30 pm anyway. And keep in mind that you won’t be able to use the restroom for another 8+ hours if you stay put. If you actually want to see Times Square and maybe even the ball, do not arrive later than 6 pm!
6. Bring provisions
No large bags or backpacks are allowed, so try stuffing some bags of 100-calorie snacks and maybe a bottle of water or two into your coat. And bad news: no alcohol allowed. I know, the horror.
5. Eat dinner and use the restroom before heading into Times Square
There are no public restrooms in Times Square. And you can bet that even if restaurants in the area let you in, you’d be waiting in a line so long that you’re gonna miss the ball drop. We suggest having a light (but warming, like soup) meal in the vicinity and take advantage of that restaurant’s restrooms. Then head straight from dinner into Times Square.
4. Save energy for the trip home
Unless you’re paying through the nose to stay in a hotel nearby Times Square, you’ll have a tiring journey back to bed. When the Times Square festivities are over, the subways get crowded — shocking, I know. Basically, pace yourself with jumping up and down and screaming “2019 OKURRR!,” because you’ll need the energy on the clogged subway.
3. Pucker up
Whether you’re a boy kissing a boy, or a girl kissing a girl, all that matters is that you start the new year by kissing someone special. Be prepared.
2. Dress warmly
There’s a reason this is on our list: this is New York City in winter after all. You’ll understand when you arrive and realize that despite being surrounded by a million or so other people, it’s freaking cold outside. And even if you work up some nice heat by making out with a hot guy around you, there is a dangerous thing called hypothermia.
1. Fauci ouchie
The Times Square New Year’s Eve organizers will require full vaccinations for all in-person revelers. “Fully vaccinated” means that on the date of December 31, 2021, a reveler is at least 14 days after their second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine OR at least 14 days after their single dose of an approved single dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Happy New Year! Be careful! Have fun! And before you resolve to volunteer more, drink less and eat healthier in the new year, improve your 2022 travel calendar by planning your next getaway with fagabond.com.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.