No you do not have to buy tickets to attend or watch the New York Times Square Ball drop on New Years Eve.
The ball drop for ringing in the new year in New York City is on a first come first serve basis and all you have to do is show up for the event to watch it.
So you should get there early if you plan to watch it because it can get really crowded and hard to get into but it's worth seeing.
I've seen it 5 years ago and hope to see it again in another 5 years when I can get to New York City again.
I wouldn't want to live in New York City but it's a good place to visit.
Times Square Ball does stay up all year so you can see the Times Square Ball year round when you visit New York City.
However the Times Square Ball only drops on New Years eve starting at 11:59 PM and takes 60 seconds to completely fall down from the top of the pole which then makes it to the ground level at 12:00 AM on New Years day.
The Times Square Ball is mounted on a special flag like pole that allows the ball to drop and then go back up.
December 31st 1907 is when the first Times Square ball drop happened to ring in the New Year of 1908 so it's been going on for a long time.
That means the ball drop has been ringing in 112 New years which is amazing and it will continue for many more years.