The organisers of New York City's New Year's Eve event stood atop One Times Square, counted down, flipped the switch and launched the famous Times Square crystal ball into the air, testing the process before its big drop on 31 December. For only a brief moment, a kaleidoscope of brilliant colours beamed over the heart of Manhattan.

Organisers said the ball is capable of displaying more than 16 million colours. The Times Square New Year's Eve ball is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, weighs 11,875lb, is 12ft in diameter and is illuminated with more than 32,000 Philips LED lights. Come New Year's Eve, more than a million people will crowd into Times Square to watch the crystal ball mark the start of the New Year.

"Midnight here in Times Square is incredible," said Jeff Straus, the president of Countdown Entertainment, which is one of the co-organisers of Times Square New Year's Eve.

"There's no other moment like it where the world truly comes together as one. And we have a tradition here in Times Square where we have a headline performer. This year it's going to be Jessie J singing Imagine and making John Lennon's wish – the world will come together as one – come true."

Straus said New Year's Eve in Times Square is a one-of-a-kind global event. "There's no other place like Times Square New Year's Eve. You can go to Sydney. You can go to London, Moscow. There's fireworks in Moscow, fireworks in London, fireworks in Shanghai – fireworks, fireworks, fireworks. It's only here in New York City where you see a million people gathered to watch a ball, a lit ball, come down a flagpole and as we count down, we embrace and kiss and celebrate. And it's a time of love and romance. Every year, it's one of the top nights for people to get engaged. I'll see people getting down on their knee and propose. And it's just an incredible feeling of energy and goodwill as we really realise that we are all together as one, celebrating."

The New Year's Eve Times Square crystal ball will make its public debut at 6.00pm local time, when the ball is lifted into place ahead of the final countdown of 2015 in New York City.