After 113 Years, The New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Will Be Going Virtual (Here’s What To Know)

With a sigh of relief, many people are ready to say goodbye to 2020 and now, they’ll have some help from a (virtual) ball drop.

For well over one century now, the ball drop in New York City’s Time Square had been one of the most highly-regarded parties when it comes to ringing in the new year. For a whopping 113, that tradition has stood strong with the occasional switching up of the schedule as well as the ball itself but has never undergone any major changes, until this year: The ball drop will still be happening, but the entire thing will be virtual this year.

While the news itself is surprising, the fact that the ball drop is happening virtually isn’t, given the current state of the world. What everyone wants to know is how is it happening, and will it be the same?

Related: How To Have The Most Classic New York City, New Year’s Day Brunch Ever, At Home

This past year, the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade followed suit with only a limited number of performers live on-stage, as well as a limited number of musicians. While it still felt strange, as the old saying goes, ‘the show must go on’ and while it was different, it certainly did. Now, the hope is that the ball drop will do the same in order to give a sense of normalcy and excitement to the general public about saying goodbye to one year and welcoming in a new one.

Always follow CDC guidelines for safe celebrations. Each state has its own guidelines regarding safe gathering numbers as well as restrictions, and masks should always be worn with people of other households, along with maintaining a safe, six-foot distance from others.

What’s To Be Expected

The very first Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration took place in 1904 and was organized by the owner of Times Square at the time, Adolph Ochs. While it was a grand party, there was no ball at the time and this aspect of the ‘ball drop’ didn’t actually happen until three years later in 1907. The original Times Square ball was made of wood and iron, weighing in at roughly 700 pounds. Today, the New Year’s Eve ball is covered with LED lighting weighs over 11,000 pounds – much, much heavier than what was originally seen in Times Square back when a mere 200,000 people gathered as opposed to the numbers today. With updated technology, the ball has the capacity to flash in 16,000 different colors and patterns, which differentiates each year’s ball drop from the next. Even more impressive is the fact that similar to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree star – which is Swavorski crystal –  the Times Square ball is made up of Waterford Crystal. So, how will this celebration differ from the last century+ of celebrations?

via Nancy Ann Ellis / Shutterstock.com

The event will be televised at 6 PM on December 31st and is being hosted by Jonathan Bennett. As opposed to previous years, there will be no commercial breaks this year, meaning the ball drop will be one long live stream until 12 AM, Eastern Time. Gloria Gaynor is the only artist who has been announced for a live performance but others are expected to follow, and the theme of the celebration will be celebrating 2020’s heroes. The entire night will be a tribute to frontline workers, hospital staff, first responders, essential workers, as well as their families.

Watching The Livestream

Watching the ball drop has been made especially easy this year as with everything else that has gone virtual. Those at home can tune into NBC, ABC, or Fox, with each news outlet airing their own New Year’s Eve broadcast. Those are as follows: ABC will have Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve With Ryan Seacrest, New Year’s Eve will be on NBC, and Fox will show New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey. Watching the ball drop is even accessible for those who don’t have cable, as it will be live-streamed on the Times Square website, as well.

Related: The Only New Year’s Resolutions You Need Are These Travel Resolutions

Of course, the ball drop times will differ for those around the country, and each time zone will reflect that. For those in Alaska Standard Time the ball drops at 8 PM, in Hawaii-Aleutian Time the ball drops at 7 PM, those in Pacific Standard Time can expect the ball drop at 9 PM, for those in Mountain Standard Time the ball will drop at 10 PM, for those in Central Standard Time the ball will drop at 11 PM, and everyone in Eastern Standard Time can, of course, watch the ball drop at 12 AM, midnight.

via Shutterstock

While this year’s celebration will definitely look different compared to what everyone is used to, the one thing to remember is this: This will likely be the only, and last time, a socially-distant New Year’s Eve will need to happen.

Next: New Year Tips On How To Do, And Be, Your Best (Wanderlust) Self In 2021

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About The Author


Katie Machado
(951 Articles Published)

Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper.

In college, she majored in English Literature with an emphasis in Political Science, soaking up most creativity and method from one of the last professors to study under famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The more she wrote, the more she learned about the world and, more importantly, herself.

She has been writing professionally and has been published since the age of 19, and for nearly a decade has covered topics in entertainment, lifestyle, music news, video game reviews, food culture, and now has the privilege of writing and editing for TheTravel.

Katie has a firm belief that every word penned is a journey into yourself and your own thoughts, and through understanding this, people can begin to understand each other. Through her voice, she brings personality, research, and a bit of friendly sarcasm to every piece she writes and edits.

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