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New Year's Eve Times Square ball drop: What to know about the NYC tradition

Look out for Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas and Sugarland this year.

Times Square's large New Year's Eve numerals arrived

Times Square's large New Year's Eve numerals arrived on Dec. 13, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

The ball drop in Times Square is as iconic a New Year's Eve tradition as drinking a glass of Champagne or sharing a kiss at midnight.

For 110 years, people have braved snow, sleet and the coldest of temperatures to ring in the new year in the center of the world (to us New Yorkers, anyway). It's the prime spot to be as the world watches one year melt into another.

Whether you’re looking to head to Times Square yourself or plan to watch the ball drop from the warmth of your home, here’s what you need to know about the spectacle as 2017 turns over to 2018.

Who’s performing in Times Square this year?

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” will be headlined by Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas and Sugarland.

The Tongliang Athletics Dragon Dance from China will open the celebration with a 50-foot-long dragon dance.

Ciara will co-host from ABC's Hollywood party in Los Angeles.

How big is the NYE ball?

The original 1907 ball was 500 pounds. It had 100 25-watt lightbulbs and was made of iron and wood. This year's Times Square ball, made from Waterford crystal triangles, weighs 11,875 pounds and is illuminated by 32,256 LED lights. It's capable of displaying more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns to make a kaleidoscope effect.

This year's designs are spread across four sets of 288 triangles and another 1,536 triangles.

One pattern, called "Gift of Serenity," resembles butterflies flying above a meadow. Another, "Gift of Kindness," makes up a ring of rosettes that symbolze unity with the fronds reaching out. "Gift of Wonder" is a pattern that forms into a faceted starbust. "Gift of Fortitude" makes the shap of a crystal pillar to represent resolve, courage and spirit. 

The remaining triangles reflect each other.

The numbers 2-0-1-8 stand 7 feet high and contain a total of 561 9-watt LED bulbs.

Can anyone watch the ball drop in Times Square?

Watching the ball drop is a free event, but attendees have to arrive in Times Square early in the day and spend the remainder of 2017 waiting to ring in the new year. According to the official Times Square site, New Yorkers and tourists alike begin gathering for the ball drop in the afternoon, so heading to the event as early as possible will be the best way to guarantee a spot. Though you may be on your feet for hours, public restrooms are not set up for this event and you most likely won't be let back into your space if you leave. Be sure to dress warmly.

Where is the best viewing location?

The sound system will be set up where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross in Times Square, so the closer you can get to that area, the better view you will have. The Times Square Alliance says the ball can be seen best along Broadway, from 43rd to 50th streets, and along Seventh Avenue, from 43rd to 59th streets. 

Police will be directing people to open viewing locations. 

What can I bring to Times Square?

All attendees have to go through a security check before entering the viewing areas that are barricaded by the NYPD. Large bags and backpacks are not permitted, so don't expect to be able to bring a lot of snacks or drinks for your wait. There are no food vendors in Times Square and alcohol (including Champagne) is not allowed.

How many people attend the Times Square event?

Though millions around the country are glued to their televisions to watch the event, approximately 1 million people attended the Times Square ball drop for NYE 2016.

Can I watch the ball drop online or on TV?

Major networks including ABC, NBC and CNN will be hosting New Year’s Eve specials live from Times Square, showing the ball drop when the clock strikes midnight.

If you don't have cable, you can stream it live on Times Square's website, Facebook and Twitter.

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