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What You Need to Know About the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop This Year

What You Need to Know About the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop This Year

Like many NYC holiday traditions, the New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop 2021 is closed to the public but will air on TV specials, a livestream, and an app to help families celebrate.

As with all things this year, our New Year’s Eve celebrations will look different from years past—perhaps the biggest change of all will be the fact that the traditional ball drop in Times Square will be available to watch via TV broadcast or livestream only. And this year’s celebration will start a little earlier than usual (after all, who doesn’t want 2020 to end ASAP?). 

RELATED: New Year's Eve Celebrations in the New York Area

A Virtual New Year’s Eve App

One Times Square—home of the 12-foot Waterford Crystal and LED Ball that counts down the start of the new year—is gamifying the Ball Drop experience with a new interactive Virtual New Year’s Eve (VNYE) app. Beginning Dec. 19, you can create an avatar to virtually explore Times Square, digitally reimagined, leading up to a livestream event of the Ball Drop.

“In a year of cancellations, there’s one party that can’t be postponed. We were inspired to create a place for everyone, everywhere to gather safely to celebrate as we welcome in the New Year,” says Michael Phillips, President of Jamestown, the real estate company that owns One Times Square. “VNYE offers an immersive virtual world from the epicenter of New Year’s Eve—Times Square.”

A first-of-its-kind virtual experience, the VNYE app will feature:

  • A 2020 Remembrance Hall where you can take a moment to reflect on the year before entering a brighter virtual world to ring in 2021
  • Virtual performances by emerging artists Alex Boyé, Armani White, and Chloe Gilligan
  • Three games: Dance Floor, where you try your best dance moves; Nature World, where you have to find and collect pieces of the Ball; and Zero G, where you slide to collect points and power-ups
  • Time Gallery, a multimedia art exhibit containing 60 pieces that focus on New Year’s Resolutions
  • And plenty of augmented-reality photo opps, including the NYC skyline, taking selfies with the New Year’s Eve Ball, Planet Fitness’ Father Time hat, and classic New Year’s glasses

On Dec. 31, you can watch a livestream of the Ball Drop Celebration and choose your view of Times Square from multiple camera feeds, watch celebrations from around the world, and see a virtual fireworks display at midnight to ring in 2021. 

How to Watch the Times Square Ball Drop on TV

Networks are still planning to air their New Year’s Eve TV specials. So once you put the little ones to bed (or when they inevitably fall asleep even though they try so hard to stay up), tune in to one of these broadcasts to ring in 2021—finally! Here’s what we know so far:

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021
Where to watch: ABC, Dec. 31, 8pm EST
Hosted by: Ryan Seacrest, Lucy Hale, Billy Porter, and Ciara, with Jesse James Decker as Powerball correspondent
Performers and guests: Jennifer Lopez will headline, with performances by Nelly, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper, and Jimmie Allen

NBC's New Year's Eve 2021
Where to watch: NBC, Dec. 31, 10pm-12:30am
Hosted by: Carson Daly, with Amber Ruffin and Stephen ‘tWitch” Boss as co-hosts
Performers and guests: AJR, Busta Rhymes, Chloe X Halle, Jason Derulo, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Sting, Bebe Rexha featuring Doja Cat, Pentatonix, Kylie Minogue, and Goo Goo Dolls

New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast of 2021
Where to watch: Fox, Dec. 31, 8-10pm and 11pm-12:30am
Hosted by: Ken Jeong and Joel McHale
Performers and guests: Additional guest appearances and musical guests to be announced.

New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
Where to watch: CNN, Dec. 31, 8pm
Hosted by: Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
Performers and guests: John Mayer, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, Carole Baskin, Josh Groban, Leslie Jordan, Dulce Sloan, Desus & Mero, Kylie Minogue, Aloe Blacc, Goo Goo Dolls ,and Jon Bon Jovi

Livestream on Your Computer
Where to watch: You can watch the commercial-free webcast below, Dec. 31, 6pm
Hosted by: Jonathan Bennett
Performers and guests: Gloria Gaynor and Heroes of 2020, with more to be announced

Main image courtesy Times Square Ball

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Katelin Walling


Katelin Walling is the Editorial Director for NYMetroParents. She can often be found reading, knitting, or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby.

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