new york ball drop 2021

All You Need To Know About The 2021 Ball Drop

Every year on December 31st, hundreds of thousands of observers gather on Times Square’s streets to ring in the New Year. It’s The Big Apple‘s most anticipated event and draws thousands of tourists from all corners of the globe. It’s a fantastic tradition second only to fireworks and one of those things that just makes the New Year countdown more fun. Everyone is familiar with the giant Waterford crystal sphere that dangles high above NYC waiting to ring in a new 365 days. It sits patiently on One Times Square as the hours, minutes and seconds of one year turn to the next before plummeting. However, just last month news dropped (pun intended!) that Times Square would be doing the 2021 ball drop a bit different this year.

new york ball drop 2021

2021 Ball Drop Going Fully Virtual Due To Pandemic

The vibrant metropolitan city has been one of the nation’s hardest-hit by COVID-19 with more than half a million cases and nearly 35,000 deaths. It’s given way to a completely different world – and not in a good way. In addition to being a global pandemic, COVID – 19 has brought with it a devasting crater to the way things are normally done. Schools are now practically 99.9999% online, zoom meetings are a part of routine life and visiting museums in person is practically a thing of the past. It’s all been digitalized to fit within the realms of Coronavirus and NYC’s iconic ball drop is no exception. It’s not all bad, though. Virtualizing anything and everything means there is some pretty cool stuff out there that can now be explored remotely. Want to experience Opéra de Paris without leaving your couch? Do that here. Stroll the Louvre while you’re at it with this. Or why not “jet” over to the Great Wall of China with Google’s Heritage on the Edge initiative? Tired of planet Earth? Check out NASA x Google’s tour of Mars. The list goes on and on.

It’s Another Sign Of The Times

With the need for further digitalization of life, it’s no surprise that holidays such as New Year’s Eve would be digitalized, too. That’s right, New York’s 2021 ball drop will be crowd less and completely virtual. It’s the latest of many blows to NYC traditions and certainly a sign of the times. On the plus side, while the ball drop has always been broadcasted, this year it’s getting a facelift.

“This year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences – still in development — will take place in Times Square.”… “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,”
Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a news release.

As we march forward into incredibly trying and different times, we thought we’d share a few tidbits on one of the world’s most iconic NYE symbols.

Facts About Time Squares Spectacular Ball Drop

It’s Been A Thing For A While

Times Square has been kicking off the new year via the ball drop for over a century now. The first Times Square ball decent was made way back in 1907. In the 104 years since, it’s seen quite a bit such as NYC’s Jazz era, the Great Depression and both World Wars.

It’s *really* heavy

While the geodesic sphere isn’t that large itself, it does carry a lot of weight. At just 12 feet in diameter, it weighs in at a whopping 11,875 pounds. This is partially thanks to the nearly 3,000 crystals that cover it. Varying greatly in size, the surface of the ball is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles making for quite the sparkle!

new york ball drop 2021

It’s More Colourful Than You Think

The giant sphere boasts a whopping 32,256 LED lights providing for truly spectacular light shows. Even more, the ball is able to display 16 million – yep, that’s 16,000,000 – colours. Can you imagine the type of kaleidoscope images this thing can produce? Truly an engineering masterpiece. There is a slight downside to all of this colourful glory, though. You’ll need 50,000 watts to light this bad boy up. Keep in mind that’s nothing compared to the 161 million watts needed to power Times Square.

It Used To Be Completely Different

It should come as no surprise that the original New Years Eve ball wasn’t quite what it is today. The first ball dropped in 1907 was actually made of iron and wood and around 5 feet in diameter. Sound dull? It wasn’t. It was adorned with one hundred 25-watt bulbs and weighed a hefty 700 pounds! In the decades since the first hoo-rah, the ball has been changed seven times.

Why Do We Drop It Anyway?

The meaning behind the legendary ball drop is based on an old 19th-century maritime tradition. In this practice, “time balls” were dropped down poles shortly before noon. It was a way for surrounding ships to tell time with noon as a guiding point. Slowly gliding down it would reach the base of the pole at noon sharp. Today we use that same logic in Times Square to get to Midnight.

It’s Only Ever Been Cancelled Twice

The famous sparkling ball has been lowered every year except for 1942 and 1943. Both years the ceremony was suspended due to wartime lighting restrictions in NYC. That didn’t stop party-goers from celebrating, though. Times Square was still bursting at the seams both years with revellers ready to ring in the new year.

It Garners Quite The Audience

It’s no secret that hundreds of thousands of people pack Times Square each year to watch the famous ball drop. However, did you know that the ball drop spectators go beyond even that? Thanks to modern technology it’s estimated that one billion people around the globe watch the annual ball drop. A silver lining to remind us that people have been virtually doing things long before the pandemic.

new york ball drop 2021

Fun Facts About New Years Eve

We’ve hoo-ed and hah-ed over the ball, but what does it signify? Let’s take a look at what exactly the New Year symbolizes and why we celebrate it in the first place. Here are some fast facts.

The First NYE Party Dates Back Thousands of Years

Four thousand some odd years ago, Julius Ceasar declared January 1st a national holiday. January was aptly named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces – one forward-facing and one backwards. Very poetic given that New Years Day symbolizes the closure of an old year and beginning of a new one. Prior to Ceasar’s declaration of January, the year began in March.

Feeling An Itch For Change?

New Year’s is synonymous with resolutions for many around the globe. In the United States alone, more than 45% of people make New Year’s resolutions. Now, how many actually stick to them is a whole other deal. This study shows that just 8% of people who make resolutions manage to keep them. Don’t let that sway you, though. Trying something new or forming a healthy habit, even short term, is always a great idea.

Grand Larceny Crimes Spike On NYE

Stats from the National Insurance Crime Bureau show that on New Year’s Eve, you are more likely to have your car stolen than any other holiday. Why? Who knows. It sure doesn’t seem like the best way to set the tone for the coming year on either side.

New Year Specific Foods

You may be surprised to learn that there are several types of food associated with the New Year. All around the globe, superstitious folks partake in certain foods on the last day of the year to bring good fortune. Pork is a popular table item originating from the belief in Germany that it will bring good luck. Similar can be said for lentils in Italian households and fish in Scandinavia. Throughout many east-Asian countries, revellers consume noodles to hope for longevity. Additionally, in the Southern US, there’s the old saying that goes, “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” Curious about more food traditions that surround the New Year? Check this out.

Ideas For This Year’s Unusual NYE

While it’s clear that this year’s New Year celebrations will be a great contrast from previous years, different doesn’t always mean bad. Whether you’re planning a party of your own or want to keep it lowkey this year will definitely be remembered. Here are a few creative ways you can ring in the New Year from home before enjoying a live stream of the 2021 ball drop.

Virtually Experience The Big Apple

Like we mentioned earlier, this year’s pandemic has lent itself to endless digital possibilities. Why not indulge in a virtual tour of NYC to celebrate the final day of 2020? From the comfort of your home, you can stroll Central Park, wander the American History Museum and even visit the Statue of Liberty. Copious amounts of NY style pizza, warm bagels and or authentic Chinese takeout strongly suggested. See all you can do around New York City remotely right here. A great lead up to a memorable 2021 ball drop.

nyc ball drop

New York City Themed Celebration

Grab a few friends, mix a few drinks and transform your space into The Big Apple. We suggest mixing up some of your favourite New York cocktails to start. We’re talkin’ Long Island Iced Teas and Manhattan’s all around. While sipping on your drinks play a round of NYE trivia or pop on any one of the gazillion classic films set in New York. Feeling organized crime? Goodfellas has you covered. Want a cheesy but good chick-flick? When Harry Met Sally is the way to go.

Go All In With A Suite

Even though celebrating in Times Square when the big moment happens isn’t an option this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t still feel like you’re travelling. A great way to ring in the New Year is booking a staycation in your city! Get some friends together and split the cost on a nice suite at a local hotel. Stock up the fridge with some drinks and countdown the ball drop luxury style.

Have An At Home Around The World NYE Celebration

While waiting for the ball to drop why not partake in a few global NYE traditions? Do like the Spanish and eat 12 grapes for good fortune or take a page from Denmark’s book with smashed plates. (safely of course) In Colombia, they revel in a fun tradition of carrying an empty suitcase around the block in hopes of a travel-filled New Year. The world is full of unique and quirky celebrations you can do right at home. Check out this list to plan the ultimate global NYE party.

Countdown again and again

It’s no surprise that most people are ready to kiss this year goodbye and forget 2020. If you follow this New Year countdown, you can strategically plan to kick off the New Year every few hours. Depending on your location, start with your furthest timezone and work your way West throughout the day. The first country to celebrate the New Year every year is the stunning Pacific Islands of Tonga, Samoa, and Kiribati. Next up is New Zealand, followed by Japan, South Korea and so on. If you’re feeling extra bitter, you can even say good riddance to 2020 every hour for each of the globe’s 24 timezones.

Have a Happy Virtual New Year!

Don’t forget to seal these off with an epic live stream of this year’s unusual 2021 ball drop that will surely “go down” in history! What are your plans for this New Years Eve? Do you have any unique traditions that you practice yearly? We’d love to hear how you plan to count down the New Year in the comments below.

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Melanie Hamilton
Melanie Hamilton

Melanie is an avid traveller with a passion for history and global foods. She is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia where most of her time is occupied with qvevri wine and Soviet history. Having do-si-do'd her way across Europe and Latin America, she's enjoyed some of the world's most exciting places firsthand and can't wait to tell you about them.

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