This bustling area is particularly spectacular viewed at night when the billboards and screens around you blaze with electronic light. It’s a great way to show New York City’s energy and life, as well as humanity’s technological prowess – and excess. The lights, colours and sounds are overwhelming so don’t bother looking for the stars, unless it’s along Broadway as you wander along to take in a show.
Times Square is also famous for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the ball dropping from the flagpole on the One Times Square building. If you happen to be there on December 31st, you could join the packed crowds to shout out the countdown of the last few seconds of the old year and welcome in the new.
Times Square hosts events throughout the year, such as art displays and Valentine’s Day events, so visitors should keep an eye out for these, and for scrolling proposals on the billboards.
George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square
Unique Things to See and Do in Times Square
- Be overwhelmed by the sheer blaze of light and the realisation of humanity’s technological capabilities
- Attend a Broadway show
- Find the famous New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square – watch it drop if you’re there at midnight on the 31st of December!
- Check out some of the messages and art on the billboards and screens around the area
New Year’s Eve at Times Square
Reportedly named for the fact that the One Times Square building used to house the New York Times, Times Square hosts a number of events, but it’s probably best known for the New Year’s Eve ball drop, when the 5,380 kg ball, covered in crystal triangles, drops for 60 seconds to signal the last minute of the old year.
The ball sits atop the One Times Square building and became a year-round fixture in 2009, so you can spot it during daylight no matter when you choose to visit. The Times Square Alliance says more than one billion people watch the ball drop worldwide, with about one million watching it in person.
A number of movies have featured the ball dropping as a way to move the plot forward, including When Harry Met Sally and (obviously) New Year’s Eve. Speaking of movies, while it didn’t feature the ball drop, the movie Vanilla Sky did feature Tom Cruise running through a deserted Times Square, a shot which the New York Post says cost more than $1 million to achieve, and which occurred in the early hours of a Sunday morning. For fans of the movie, be prepared for the complete opposite, with the Square a hive of activity and bustle during the day.
Getting to Times Square
Times Square, located in central New York City, is a busy place to be, and while there are apparently parking garages nearby, walking or catching the subway is probably your best option. The nearest station is the 42nd Street Times Square Station. The subway system in NYC is reliable and affordable. You can also take the bus in or make like they do in the movies and hail a cab, with taxis reliable and comfortable (but requiring a tip).
Ready to plan your visit to New York City? Check out these popular guides and trips.