Though many people would scoff at the idea of spending New Year’s Eve wading through the crowd with frozen toes in Times Square, most New Yorkers would still agree that it is a once in a lifetime experience. Despite the cold, the masses, and the lack of alcohol, the experience of being there, live in Times Square, as the countdown to the new year begins, is a bucket list item for many. If you’re thinking about spending your New Year’s Eve in NYC, here are a few tips to make it an occasion worth remembering.

The celebration in Times Square on New Year’s Eve is a free public event; no tickets required. Check out the Times Square website to find out everything you need to know from what size bags you can carry to what trains will get you to the best viewing spots. Research and plan ahead for what time you want to arrive and how you’ll get there. And don’t forget to keep an eye on weather conditions.

Speaking of weather conditions, dress comfortably in light layers to hold in your body heat. You can remove layers if you become warm due to the crowd. People often underestimate how cold it will be standing outdoors, even if the temperature is predicted to be relatively mild for this time of year. Since you’ll be standing for an extended time, proper footwear is crucial.  

Arrive Early
Although free, the festivities are open to the public on a first-come-first-serve basis. That means an early arrival is necessary for prime viewing locations. Revelers start gathering early in the afternoon on December 31, and the top viewing spots fill up quickly. According to the Times Square website, it is best to arrive as early in the afternoon as possible; however, keep in mind that if you arrive before the police cordon off the viewing areas, the NYPD may move you when they put the barricades in place. 

Food Situation
It is advisable to eat before you arrive or pack some snacks and water because there isn’t room for street vendors in Times Square. There are many restaurants in the area if you plan well enough in advance and make reservations; however, keep in mind if you’ve found the ideal viewing spot, you’ll lose it if you leave to get food. 

“Go” Before You Go
There is no public restroom access in the square, so hydrate well in advance and use the facilities before arriving. Local establishments will only permit paying customers to use their restrooms. 

When all is said and done, it is a magical experience celebrating with nearly a million others in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Even if you only manage to do it once in your lifetime, know that as long as you go in well researched and prepared with a positive attitude, you’ll have an experience well worth remembering.