After canceling the in-person event last year, the iconic celebration will return in 2021.
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For the first time in 113 years, there were no crowds in Times Square on New Year's Eve last year due to pandemic safety precautions. But the iconic event is officially back on for 2021, so you can watch the ball drop in person this year—or tune in to watch it from anywhere in the world. 

The ball drops at midnight, signaling the start of a new year, but the celebration begins much earlier than that—and crowds typically camp out in Times Square all day in anticipation of the event. This year's New Year's Eve program begins at 6 p.m. EST on December 31 and will run through the ball drop at midnight.

If you want to attend in person, there are a few important safety things to note beforehand: All adults and children over 5 years old must be vaccinated, and bring proof of vaccination along with a photo ID. Children under 5 (who can't yet be vaccinated) are able to attend but must be with a vaccinated adult. The event is free and open to the public, so you don't need to buy tickets or reserve space ahead of time, but it is first-come-first-serve based on space. For more in-person attendance questions, check out the FAQ page on the Times Square website.

new years eve ball drop
Credit: Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

How to Watch the Ball Drop 

If you don't plan to make the trek to Times Square this season, you can tune in to the ball drop and six-hour broadcast from anywhere in the world.

All major news outlets air the ball drop, so tune in to ABC, Fox, or NBC on New Year's Eve to catch the show. Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest airs on ABC, New Year's Eve With Steve Harvey airs on Fox, and New Year's Eve airs on NBC. Check your local listings to find out how early each show airs in your time zone. 

If you don't have cable—or if you want to tune in on your phone or computer—you can also watch the live broadcast on the Times Square website

What Time Does the Ball Drop?

The ball—which is officially titled the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball—descends on Times Square at midnight Eastern time, which means you'll need to tune in before midnight if you want to watch it live from another time zone. Here's what time to tune in live from each time zone.

Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time: The ball will drop at 7:00 p.m.

Alaska Standard Time: The ball will drop at 8:00 p.m.

Pacific Standard Time: The ball will drop at 9:00 p.m.

Mountain Standard Time: The ball will drop at 10:00 p.m.

Central Standard Time: The ball will drop at 11:00 p.m.

Eastern Standard Time: The ball will drop at 12:00 a.m.

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