Here’s what you need to know about Times Square’s virtual ball drop this New Year’s Eve

December 16, 2020

Photo credit: Countdown Entertainment, LLC, courtesy of Times Square Alliance

In September, the Times Square Alliance announced that its annual New Year’s Eve celebration will take place virtually this year, including the famous ball drop. This will be the first time in 114 years that the December 31 event will not have a crowd. But thanks to a new app developed by Jamestown, Times Square will come to the living rooms of revelers around the world. Turning the New Year’s Eve experience into a video game, the app lets users create a personalized avatar, explore a virtual Times Square, play games, and live stream the countdown to midnight.  Real-life musical performances, interviews, and countdowns are still happening this year but will be live-streamed instead.

Courtesy of Jamestown

“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,” Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, which owns One Times Square, said. “VNYE offers an immersive virtual world from the epicenter of New Year’s Eve—Times Square.”

The “gamified” digital experience includes a “2020 Remembrance Hall” and a virtual tour of One Times Square’s observation deck and game rooms. Users can listen to virtual performances by Alex Boyé, Armani White, and Chloe Gilligan, dance, and view dozens of digital artworks.

The app also features an augmented reality feature that lets users take selfies with the NYE Ball, wear classic 2021 glasses, and even enjoy a virtual fireworks show. The digital experience can begin as early as December 19 and viewed at or downloaded in all app stores.

“We are the stewards of time in our capacity as the owner of One Times Square—home of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Celebration for more than 100 years,” Phillips said. “As time ticks on, the Ball Drop Celebration remains a symbol of hope, reflection, and connection, all which couldn’t be more important as we come to the close of 2020 and ring in 2021.”

While Times Square will not be open to the public this year, there will still be live performances. On Tuesday, the Times Square Alliance announced that Gloria Gaynor will perform “I Will Survive” and other hit songs and “Mean Girls” actor Jonathan Bennett will serve as this year’s host.

The event will also honor “Heroes of 2020” as this year’s Special Guests, including the first responders, essential workers, and all those who sacrificed so much for their community this year. The Heroes of 2020 will be represented by New York families of first responders, frontline and essential workers, “whose personal stories from the past year inspire all of us and reflect the best of the human spirit,” according to a press release.

“This year, undoubtedly more than any other in recent memory, we recognize the need to celebrate our local heroes,” Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, said. “As we join together to ring in the new year, the families celebrating in Times Square mirror families across the globe celebrating safely from their own homes.”

The New Year’s Eve event will be live-streamed at,,, and at the video above. It will also be viewable on all major TV broadcast channels. The event will kick off with the ball raising at 6 p.m., with live performances, interviews, and more until the famous drop at 12 a.m.

Other live events on December 31 include “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’Eve with Ryan Seacrest “on ABC, which will be headlined by Jennifer Lopez with performances by Billy Porter and Cyndi Lauper, “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen,” on CNN, “New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast of 2021,” on FOX, and “¡Feliz 2021!” on Univision.


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