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The Reality of New Years Eve in New York City

Updated on April 29, 2021
Jackie Zelko profile image

I took many trips each year with my friends and family to NYC growing up. I decided it could be fun to go for New Years Eve in 2014.

It's Cold

It's important to dress in layers. Not only will your body be cold, but your face will sting from the painful wind too. Once you're in the crowd though, it won't feel as bad. You'll be shoulder to shoulder with people, which will make it warmer and you not feel the wind as much. Here is how you should dress:

  • A warm hat, gloves, and scarf.
  • Three layers of long sleeves.
  • Your warmest winter coat.
  • Leggings underneath your pants.
  • Three layers of socks.
  • Warm boots.

The Crowd Comes Early

Go at noon, so you can keep an eye out for when the crowds start to form in front of the gates. There are plenty of things you can do around Times Square while you wait. You can grab some hot chocolate, and go into nearby shops. You can also grab something to eat, and hangout until it's time for you to go out into the cold again.

It's a Long Day for You

You'll most likely be needed to start lining up at the metal gates anywhere between 2:00pm-4:00pm. You need to get some food in your stomach before spending the entire night out on the streets of Times Square. New York City is already expensive enough, so getting pizza is the cheapest option you will have.

It'll also be your last chance to use the restroom. There are many places in New York City that do not allow non paying customers to use their restrooms. Buying a slice of pizza is your best opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, while grabbing a water bottle to go.

Limit Your Liquid Intake

Don't pregame, get drunk, or drink anything else excessively before you go out into Times Square. You'll be giving up your spot in the crowd to go to the restroom.

You're Going to Have to Wait in Line

There will be metal gates everywhere on the streets of Times Square with police officers guarding them. The gates you will want to stand by are the ones that are directly behind Times Square. This is the biggest mistake I made when I went. I assumed that since the crowd was forming behind the ball, which is where we would be standing for the whole night. What I didn't know is that the police officers would move the gates at a certain time, allowing the crowd of people to flood in to the main spot.

Instead of staying put, I decided to walk on the streets that were on the outside of Times Square to get to the front of where the ball would drop. Each gate I walked up to was closed off because there were already too many people waiting by it. I tried to go back to the original spot behind Times Square, but that was at capacity too. I had to walk down for many blocks until finally I was let in through a gate. However, I was so far back I couldn't hear anything. You could just barely see that there were performances going on, but the sound wasn't traveling back far enough to hear. It was a waste of time.

Asking for Directions is Tough

Asking police officers for help may be pointless. They're very much willing to help, and they were always very kind to me; however, try finding someone in a shop for directions if you need it. My experience is that the police officers have very strong New York accents to the point where you can't understand what they are saying. I approached many police officers for directions, only to get frustrated and give up.

Is it Worth it?

If you know what to expect and where to go, it could be worth it. You'll need to keep in mind what you'll be getting into after the ball drops. You'll need to expect that there will be massive amounts of people trying to find a restroom to use. People will be flooding into the subways, and you'll most likely have to wait a long time to hop on a train back home. It'll be chaos.

For me, it wasn't worth it. I decided to leave at 10:00pm because it was useless to be standing in the cold for two more hours when I could not hear or see the performances. I made it home with exactly two minutes left before the ball dropped. Although I may think it is overrated, my judgment may be clouded by my disappointing experience.

People Who Have Experienced New Years Eve in NYC:

How was your experience?

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© 2019 Jackie Zelko


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