Ringing in 2014 Times Square can be as hectic as it is exciting, so if you have plans to celebrate New Years’ Eve 2014 at the Crossroads of the World, this guide will make the experience hassle free. Can’t make it to New York? Don’t worry, we’ll give you the details on how to have a Times Square experience at home, too.

The reason everyone wants to be in Times Square for New Year's Eve (if you can handle the crowds, that is) is for the countdown and ball drop to signify the new year.

The famous Times Square ball got a little bit of a makeover this year. The 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that comprise the ball have been set in a design for 2014 known as Gift of Imagination. The design was described as "a series of intricate wedge cuts that appear to be endless mirrored reflections of each other inspiring our imagination with a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns on the ball." The ball creates a palette of 16 million colors and is illuminated through 672 LED modules.

Here's a little preview of things to come. The Times Square Twitter account posted this video of the Times Square ball being tested:

Find out the best view of the ball as well as Times Square access points, security measures and more below:

Best view of the ball

According to the official Times Square website, the best view of the ball is where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross. This is where the sound system for New Year's Eve 2014 is set up and is also close to the large video screen at One Times Square that shows the ball dropping. Other screens will also be set up throughout the area.

A designated viewing area for the disabled has been set up at 44th Street and Broadway. This area tends to get filled very early, however.

Other great Times Square ball viewing spots include Broadway from 43rd to 50th streets and along Seventh Avenue north up until 59th Street.

Restaurants with views of the ball

If you don’t want to brave the chilly temperatures and wait for the ball to drop in Times Square, there are a number of nearby restaurants with sufficient views of the ball. They include:

·         Renaissance New York

·         DoubleTree Guest Suites

·         Marriott Marquis

·         Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

·         Olive Garden

·         R Lounge

·         Novotel New York Times Square

When should I get there?

This isn’t an exact science, but the earlier the better is a good strategy to take. On the flip side, you don’t want to get to Times Square too early (i.e. before the NYPD has set up barriers for the event. If this happens, you will be asked to move). The officials Times Square website warns that prime viewing spots may be filled by the early afternoon.

How should I get there?

It is strongly advised that you use public transportation to get to Times Square. The 1, 2, 3, 7, A, B, C, D, E, F, N, Q, R, W, V and S subway lines all run through Times Square. Check the status of subway service here.

What can I bring?

Security will be tight in and around Times Square. Knapsacks and large bags won’t be allowed in the area, so leave them at home. Alcohol and champagne is also prohibited. But be sure to bring plenty of water to hydrate while braving the cold temperatures.

Entering Times Square

You can only enter Times Square via Sixth or Eighth avenues on New Year's Eve.

Here are the following Times Square access points, according to the official Times Square website:

South of 41st Street

37th Street & Seventh Avenue

37th Street & Broadway

38th Street & Eighth Avenue

38th Street & Sixth Avenue

North of 43rd Street

46th from Eighth & Sixth avenues (press access)

Emergency Vehicle Route (48th Street, Fifth-Ninth avenues)

49th Street from Eighth & Sixth avenues

52nd Street from Eighth & Sixth avenues

54th Street from Sixth Avenue

55th Street from Eighth Avenue

57th Street from Seventh Avenue

57th Street from Broadway

58th from Eighth & Sixth avenues

59th Street from Eighth & Sixth avenue

Pedestrian/Subway Chutes:

39th Street at Broadway to Sixth Avenue

41st Street and Seventh Avenue (directed westbound to Eighth Avenue)

49th Street and Seventh Avenue (directed eastbound to Sixth Avenue)

50th Street and Broadway (directed westbound to Eighth Avenue)

53rd Street and Broadway (directed westbound to Eighth Avenue)

55th Street and Seventh Avenue (directed eastbound to Seventh Avenue)

Schedule of events

The famous countdown of the ball drop is not the only festivities going on in Times Square as 2013 ends and 2014 begins. At 6 p.m., the ball is lit and raised atop One Times Square. At 6:20 p.m., sanitation crews hand out balloons and ribbons to the crowd to help them ring in 2014. Hourly countdowns begin just before 7 p.m. Among the personalities participating in the countdowns include Elizabeth Hasselbeck (7 p.m.), Anderson Cooper (8 p.m.) and Spider-Man (10 p.m.) For a full list of the schedule, head here.

Live stream

Not everyone can make it to the Crossroads of the World to see the ball drop in Times Square in person, but a free live stream of the ringing in of 2014 is available here.

Happy New Year!