Here's how the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration will be different this year

A dramatic trailer teases the safe and virtual event.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Editor, Time Out New York
Times Square New Year's Eve
Photograph: Shutterstock/Simon D

With less than 100 days to go to New Year's Eve (adios, 2020!), organizers of the Times Square celebration are teasing a new type of celebration with safety in mind. 

Since 1907, revelers have braved snow, sleet and frigid temperatures to ring in the new year in the center of the world, but the current pandemic is enough to change that. Other NYC events have been canceled (like the Village Halloween Parade and San Gennaro Festival), but NYC's biggest celebration will go on in a different way.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Times Square Alliance, Jamestown Properties, and Countdown Entertainment announced that the ball drop and celebration that usually attracts one million people each year will be virtually enhanced and scaled back with "socially-distanced live elements," which are still to be determined.

Instead of hosting a horde of revelers in 2021 glasses (and diapers), there will be an "extremely limited" group of socially distanced in-person honorees, who will "reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020."

"No one needs to be reminded of what the dominant news of 2020 has been so far: COVID-19 and a host of racial, economic and climate crises," said Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance. "Through a limited number of honored guests, we will note where we’ve been, but more importantly, we will honor and celebrate the courageous and creative spirits who have helped and will help us travel through these challenging times into the New Year. More details to come; either way, we will be celebrating with you in some form on the 31st."

Tompkins says this year's event will be "significantly new" with "virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences" but could not yet say what those would be exactly.

It may look like what the MLB did this season with its fans, who recorded themselves cheering—the owner of One Times Square, Jamestown, has actually built a virtual Times Square and a complementary broadcast app to bring fans together.

"Because more than ever in these divided and fear-filled times, the world desperately needs to come together symbolically and virtually to celebrate the people and things we love and to look forward with a sense of renewal and new beginnings," Tompkins added.

The plan currently has Mayor Bill de Blasio's approval. In a statement, he said he commends the organizers on finding "a safe, creative and innovative way for all of us to continue to celebrate this century old-tradition."

"A new year means a fresh start, and we’re excited to celebrate," he said.

Most popular on Time Out

- An Upper West Side restaurant installed “space bubbles” for outdoor dining this fall
- A new drive-in movie Broadway hybrid is coming to NYC this weekend
- You can now workout on top of the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere
- The 100 best movies of all time
- A brand-new bowling alley with a pub and arcade has opened on the LES

Want to know what’s cool in the city before your friends do? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest and greatest from NYC and beyond.

Popular on Time Out

    You may also like
    You may also like