Everything You Want To Know About New Year's Eve In Times Square

New Years' Eve Planning

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New Year’s Eve is the time for champagne toasts, resolutions, and celebrations with family and friends.And one of the most epic places to usher in the New Year is in New York City’s Times Square.

The six-hour-long bash — which has live music performances, celebrity guests, and free schwag — culminates with the famous ball drop at midnight.

And while the event happens overnight, the planning certainly doesn’t.

The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is co-produced annually between the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, the firm that represents One Times Square. We spoke to Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment, and Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, to find out exactly how much planning goes into this spectacular annual event. We learned some surprising facts on the side.

The first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square New Year's Eve took place in 1904.

In 1904, the city decided to throw a New Year's Eve party at One Times Square to commemorate the opening of both the New York Times office building and the city's first subway line.

Prior to 1904, the New Year's Eve celebration was held at Trinity Church, where revelers would throw bricks in the air to celebrate the New Year.

Source: Times Square Alliance

The first ball dropped on New Year's Eve in Times Square in 1907.

In 1907, the first New Year's Eve ball was dropped from the flagpole at One Times Square.

The iron-and-wood ball was five feet in diameter, weighed 700 pounds, and was adorned with one hundred 25-watt bulbs -- measly compared with today's ball.

Source: Times Square Alliance

The ball today is very different than the one used in 1907.

Today, the ball measures 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds. It's covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles of different sizes and lit with 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED light bulbs.

Source: Times Square Alliance

The Times Square Alliance plans for the 6-hour event all year long.

Planning for the event starts almost immediately following the prior year's celebration, Tompkins tells us.

About 500 people work on all aspects of the event, not including police officers protecting celebrators and the New York City sanitation workers that conduct cleanup.

The confetti is tested before New Year's Eve.

Tompkins tells us that they do a test run of the confetti on December 29 at 11am from the eighth floor windows of the Times Square Alliance office.

At the live event the confetti is released by machine from multiple rooftops, but during the test run Tompkins, Straus, and a few other colleagues toss the confetti themselves.

Each year the televised event seems to get more extravagant.

Before the ball drops, there are a series of live music performances and celebrity guest appearances.

Last year Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber performed, and in 2013 the lineup includes Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepson, and PSY.

The whole event runs for six hours.

Source: Times Square Alliance

Revelers can stream the events online with the Times Square Ball app.

Revelers can stream the live event to any Apple or Android mobile device with the Times Square Ball app.

They can also upload their photos onto the app for a chance to have them displayed on the massive Toshiba screen right below the ball.

People around the world can watch the festivities on TV.

Each year, ABC televises the New Year's Rockin' Eve program.

For the past 40 years, Dick Clark hosted the program, but he passed away in April at the age of 82.

This year's event will be hosted by Allison Hagendorf.

Allison Hagendorf is a radio personality and music journalist who has hosted shows on Fuse, CW, and MSG. She has also covered the Lollapalooza, SXSW, and Bonnaroo music festivals.

Hagendorf will host the Times Square event from 6pm until midnight.

Approximately 1 million people will crowd into Times Square for the event.

About 1 million people will fill city streets from Times Square all the way up to Central Park.

People attending the live event are divided into small groups by 'party pens,' says Straus.

'But what's great is that by the end of the night, you've met everyone in your pen,' he says. 'You meet the person from Kenya or Japan or California or Colorado, and you've all become friends by the end of the night.'

Source: Times Square Alliance

Police officers start letting revelers into the pens before 6pm.

There's lots of live music to entertain revelers before the countdown.

At 11:59, the ball is activated and the countdown begins.

At 11:59pm New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a special guest (who will be revealed on New Year's Eve) push the button that activates the descent of the New Year's Eve ball.

Glowing, it descends the 70-foot flagpole on top of One Times Square in 60 seconds.

Source: Times Square Alliance

At the stroke of midnight, the ball erupts in a bright display of different coloured lights.

Once the ball hits the bottom of the pole at midnight, the number 2013 -- the new year -- lights up and Times Square is flooded with confetti.

Each numeral in '2013' is seven feet tall and lit by 529 custom Philips LED flood lights that use just 9 watts each. The number 13 is adorned with thirteen multicultural good luck charms to bring good fortune to everyone entering the New Year.

Source: Times Square Alliance

The countdown to the New Year always ends with a kiss at midnight.

Kissing at midnight is a beloved tradition, and hundreds of thousands of revelers in Times Square uphold that tradition.

Nivea, one of the sponsors of the event, hosts an annual Kiss Of The Year contest, in which they present the winning couple with the opportunity to kiss onstage.

Source: Times Square Alliance

More than a ton of confetti is dropped on Times Square.

Cleanup after the celebration takes place in a matter of hours.

Still reminiscing about last year?

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