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Who is hosting the New Year’s Eve in New York?

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and New York City hosts one of the most famous New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world. Over 1 million people flock to Times Square every year to watch the iconic ball drop at midnight and ring in the new year. But who actually hosts and organizes the massive event?

Who is in charge of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration?

The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment are the organizations that produce the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration. The Times Square Alliance is a non-profit partnership between businesses, public entities, property owners, residents, and workers in Times Square focused on improving the quality of life and economic vitality of the area. Countdown Entertainment represents the co-owners of One Times Square and proprietary owners of the New Year’s Eve Ball. The two organizations work together each year to organize and host the festivities in Times Square on December 31.

What is the Times Square Alliance?

The Times Square Alliance was established in 1992. Their mission is to improve Times Square in the following ways:

  • Improving public safety with more police officers and security cameras
  • Improving sanitation with sidewalk sweeping and graffiti removal
  • Beautifying public spaces with public art, gardens, and seating areas
  • Promoting local businesses and tourism in Times Square

They work closely with the New York City Police Department and other city agencies to accomplish these goals. The Times Square Alliance also sponsors many public events in Times Square, including concerts, family activities, art installations, and promotions. Their largest event is the iconic New Year’s Eve celebration.

What is Countdown Entertainment?

Countdown Entertainment represents the owners of One Times Square, where the New Year’s Eve ball drop takes place, and the New Year’s Eve ball itself. Jeff Straus is the president of Countdown Entertainment and has been in charge of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations since the 1990s.

Countdown Entertainment maintains and operates the New Year’s Eve ball. Each year, the ball is redesigned with new LED crystal panels and architectural lighting effects. They are in charge of the ball raising and lowering ceremony with the push of a special crystal button at midnight.

Who else is involved in the Times Square New Year’s Eve event?

In addition to the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, many other partners play important roles in this massive production:

  • The City of New York – Provides essential city services, street closures, security, and sanitation.
  • NYC Mayor’s Office – The Mayor traditionally presides over the festivities on stage.
  • NYC Police Department (NYPD) – Maintains safety and security for the event.
  • Department of Sanitation – Handles cleanup before, during, and after the event.
  • MTA – Provides extra subway service to accommodate revelers.
  • Corporate Sponsors – Major brands sponsor stages, TV broadcasts, and VIP viewing areas.
  • Media Partners – Broadcast the celebrations internationally to over 1 billion viewers.
  • Special Guests & Performers – Celebrity guests and musical acts perform live on stages.
  • 1 Million Revelers – The people who come to Times Square to ring in the new year!

Who pays for New Year’s Eve in Times Square?

The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration costs approximately $7 million to produce each year. The bulk of the budget is funded by corporate sponsorships, with over a dozen major brands sponsoring stages, viewing pens, broadcasts and other experiences. Top sponsors in recent years have included Planet Fitness, Party City, Nivea and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly.

Additional funding comes from licensing deals for merchandise and broadcasts. The Times Square Alliance also utilizes funds from its operating budget, donations and partnerships. The City of New York budgets over $1 million in city services annually, covering expenses for security, sanitation, traffic control and other municipal services.

Revenue Source Amount
Corporate Sponsorships $4 million
Merchandise & Broadcast Licensing $500,000
Times Square Alliance Budget $1 million
City of New York $1 million
Donations & Other $500,000

When did the Times Square New Year’s Eve tradition start?

The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square was held in 1904. At the time, Times Square was still known as Longacre Square. The New York Times newspaper had just moved their headquarters to the area, spurring the name change to Times Square.

The first New Year’s Eve event was organized by the newspaper to celebrate the official opening of their new building. Fireworks were set off from the roof of the skyscraper as part of the festivities to welcome 1905. Over 200,000 revelers attended, starting an annual tradition.

In 1907, the first New Year’s Eve ball drop occurred with a 700-pound iron and wood ball decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. This ball drop replaced the fireworks and provided a dazzling spectacle to ring in 1908. The event grew in popularity over the next few decades, solidifying itself as a bucket list experience for New Year’s Eve.

Major Milestones in the History of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration

  • 1904 – First Times Square (then Longacre Square) New Year’s Eve event held by The New York Times newspaper to celebrate new HQ opening
  • 1907 – First New Year’s Eve ball drop with 700-pound, light-adorned ball
  • 1920s – Event began drawing over half a million revelers annually
  • 1942-1943 – Ball drop canceled during WWII blackout years
  • 1955 – First televised ball drop with estimated viewership of 10 million
  • 1995 – Permanent pole installed for New Year’s ball drop
  • 2000 – Over 1 million revelers fill Times Square for millennial celebrations
  • 2007 – First LED crystal New Year’s Eve ball debuts
  • 2021 – First ball drop with limited audience due to COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2021 – Record 1.25 billion viewers worldwide

How has the celebration changed over the years?

While the heart of the celebration remains the iconic ball drop at midnight, the Times Square New Year’s Eve event has grown and evolved greatly since its inception in 1904:

  • Bigger ball. From the first 700-pound ball, the current ball weighs nearly 12,000 pounds and measures 12 feet in diameter.
  • LED lights. Over 2,000 LED crystal panels decorate the current ball, displaying over 16 million colors and patterns.
  • Permanent ball pole. A 77-foot steel pole designed by Countdown Entertainment was installed in 1995, allowing the ball to be lowered every year.
  • National TV broadcasts. The first televised ball drop in 1955 drew 10 million viewers. Today over 1 billion people worldwide watch it on TV.
  • More performers and stages. Early celebrations featured a single performer or band. Now there are multiple performance stages and hours of live entertainment.
  • Enhanced security. Security measures are stricter post-9/11 with more police, blocker trucks, sand trucks, and counter-sniper teams.
  • Corporate sponsorship. Increased sponsorship in the 1990s and 2000s allowed for a bigger budget and enhanced production.

While the core tradition remains, each year the organizers work to enhance the spectacle with new lighting and effects, celebrity guests, musical acts, and pyrotechnics, continuing to make it a bucket list event for revelers from all over the world.

How big is the crowd for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration?

Times Square can accommodate around 100,000 people in viewing areas for the New Year’s Eve celebration. However, over 1 million revelers pack into the surrounding streets and neighborhood to experience the excitement.

Here are the approximate Times Square crowd numbers on New Year’s Eve (in millions):

Time Approx. Crowd
12 PM 0.3 million
3 PM 0.5 million
7 PM 1 million
Midnight 1 million

Crowds start arriving early in the day to soak up the ambiance and catch some of the performances leading up to the main event at midnight. By 3 PM, visitors are directed into specific viewing pens which fill up over the next several hours.

The crowds peak at around 1 million people immediately before midnight. After the ball drop, many revelers disperse although festivities continue for hours longer.

With so many people packed into a small area, revelers need to prepare for the crowds by dressing warmly, using the restroom before arriving, and avoiding trying to enter viewing areas after 3 PM as capacity is reached.

What are the best times or tips for avoiding massive crowds?

  • Arrive by 12 noon to beat larger afternoon and evening crowds.
  • Come alone or in a very small group for easier movement.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be standing for hours.
  • Use public transportation as most roads are closed.
  • Avoid entering viewing pens after 3 PM when they reach capacity.
  • Bring hand warmers, small snacks, and hydration to stay comfortable.

How do you get selected to push the Waterford Crystal button to lower the New Year’s Eve ball?

The honor of pushing the Waterford Crystal button to lower the New Year’s Eve ball at exactly midnight is given to a special VIP each year. Here is the selection process:

  1. The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment work together to select a notable person who made a positive impact in the past year. Recently this has been an essential worker in tribute to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. The honoree is notified in late November or early December and asked to participate.
  3. During the Times Square New Year’s Eve commercial-free webcast, the honoree shares their story and what the recognition means to them.
  4. At midnight, the honoree joins Jeff Straus of Countdown Entertainment on the main stage to push the Waterford Crystal button, lowering the ball.
  5. The moment is seen by over 1 billion viewers worldwide.

Being chosen for this honor is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to represent a “Hero of the Year” and ring in the new year in spectacular fashion. Honorees are those who have made selfless contributions to positively impact society.

Where does the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball go the rest of the year?

The New Year’s Eve ball is on display year-round at Times Square’s Museum of Duffy Square located on the third floor of One Times Square. Visitors can see the ball on display and learn about the history of the New Year’s Eve celebration at the museum.

After the midnight ball drop on New Year’s Eve, the ball is taken down and stored at One Times Square. Any damaged LED lights or crystal panels are replaced in preparation for the next year’s celebration.

In the fall, Countdown Entertainment begins testing and preparing the ball for its next descent down the flagpole. The ball is raised to the top of One Times Square building in early December to begin the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve Ball Facts

  • Weighs nearly 12,000 pounds
  • 12 feet diameter
  • Covered in 2,688 Waterford crystals
  • Features over 16 million LED light patterns
  • On display year-round at Museum of Duffy Square
  • Gets rebranded and tested each year
  • Raised to pole top in early December

How can you watch the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop if you are not there in person?

For those who can’t make it to Times Square, several television networks and online live streams carry the midnight festivities. Here are ways to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop from home:


  • CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
  • NBC’s New Year’s Eve Special with Carson Daly
  • ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest
  • Fox’s New Year’s Eve Live with Steve Harvey

Online Live Streams

  • official webcast
  • Livestream on Times Square Ball social media
  • YouTube live streams

The official Times Square Alliance live stream on provides multiple camera angles and behind-the-scenes coverage for the best at-home viewing experience. It captures all the musical performances leading up to the ball drop and fireworks at midnight.

Billions of people across the world tune in each year to watch the iconic ball drop and share in the excitement of ringing in the new year with Times Square revelers.

Does it cost money to attend the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration?

The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration is free and open to the public. Anyone who arrives early enough to get a place in one of the viewing pens is able to attend at no cost and watch the ball drop in person.

However, there are VIP paid reservation options available for those looking for guaranteed access and amenities:

Paid Reservation Options

  • Hotel packages – Some area hotels sell room packages that bundle rooms with reserved viewing areas.
  • Hard Rock Cafe – Offers dining packages with premium views from their cafe overlooking Times Square.
  • Corporate sponsors – Brands like Planet Fitness and Airbnb host private viewing areas for guests.

Reserved viewing areas provide bar access, restrooms, seating, hand warmers, and other comforts for an enhanced experience. Packages typically start at $500 per person or more.

For the majority of revelers, the free public viewing pens are the most popular way to attend. Arriving early in the day is key to getting a spot in these areas closest to the action.


New Year’s Eve in Times Square provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience unlike anywhere else in the world. Over a century old, the tradition continues to evolve with the iconic ball drop at the center of the spectacle. The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment meticulously produce the event each year for over 1 million attendees and 1 billion viewers worldwide. Braving the large crowds and freezing temperatures is a small price to pay for ringing in the next year from the crossroads of the world.