Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Ringing in the holiday season

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Every November, the world’s most famous parade, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, draws thousands of spectators to New York. For you, that means balloons, floats, clowns, marching bands, cheerleaders, celebrities, and most of all, finally ringing in the holiday season!

This year the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns with in person viewing!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021

  • When is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Since Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 25th in 2021. It will mark the 94th annual Thanksgiving Parade in NYC.

  • What time does Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade start?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade kicks off at 9 am EST sharp on West 77th Street & Central Park West. The whole parade takes about 3 hours and ends at the department store chain’s flagship store at Herald Square.

  • What channel is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on?

You can conveniently watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from home or your hotel. Every year since 1948, NBC broadcasts the New Yorker parade live on TV. Here is the link to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade online.

  • Who’s in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lineup for 2021 will be announced a few weeks before the parade! Performers of last year’s parade include the Black Eyed Peas, Chris Young, Ciara, Idina Menzel, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Natasha Bedingfield, TLC, and Ozuna. Once announced, you can see a full list on Macy’s official website. New York’s Thanksgiving Parade is a fun way to see top celebrities for free.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route

As usual, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route leads you from Uptown Manhattan down to Midtown Manhattan. Starting at West 77th Street & Central Park West, it will travel towards Columbus Circle and then head straight down 6th Ave all the way to Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. In sum, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route is 3 miles long and takes one hour to walk! To visualize the Thanksgiving Parade route for you, we’ve created a map:

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Day Route

The best places to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC

play video

So now you may wonder where to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Generally speaking, the best place to catch a good glimpse of the Thanksgiving parade is towards the start of the route, along Central Park between 60th and 68th St. Standing at the beginning does not only give you the benefit of smaller crowds but also the advantage that you can leave right after the Santa Claus’ float passed you – long before it will reach Macy’s at 34th Street. Once the last float arrives at Macy’s, everyone will be trying to get away as soon as possible, leading to a huge mess on the streets, subways, and trains.

Where NOT to stand:

  • Columbus Circle
  • between 34th and 38th Street
  • Macy’s Herald Square

Abandon the idea of claiming a spot between 34th and 38th Street. This is the telecast area, including the grandstand, that will limit your access and views. The closer you try to get to Macy’s and the performances, the bigger the crowds. You’ll be better off standing towards the beginning of the parade, which will also save you some serious wait before the parade. Columbus Circle should also be avoided as the parade will turn onto Central Park South. There is no public viewing in this area.

Where to stand:

  • Central Park West
  • Central Park South
  • 6th Avenue

When I was walking in the parade last year, I happened to notice that Bryant Park can be a great place to watch the Thanksgiving Parade in New York. Why? The little staircase on 6th Avenue is perfect to level up a bit. Note that people will even bring their own chairs and ladders to have a better view – no joke. With a spot at Bryant Park, you can leave your ladder at home!

Other options to get guaranteed views of the Thanksgiving Parade in NYC without the hassle of waking up too early include attending a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Viewing events. These are private events at selected locations (typically restaurants and bars) along the parade route that prepare special celebrations. Typically these include lots of food and perfect views of the parade. They do, however, come with a cost of a few hundred dollars.

The Best Thanksgiving Parade Viewing Brunch Spots in NCY

My tips for watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York

Astronaut Snoopy Balloon at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Get there early

New York’s Thanksgiving Parade is one of the best-attended events worldwide and attracts thousands of visitors. To claim the best views, you will need to be willing to wake up early and wait in the cold. Streets start to fill up as early as 6 am. How crowded it gets also depends on the weather. Last year’s parade seemed less crowded due to the extremely low temperatures that day. I would recommend getting there no later than 7 am for the best experience.

  • Don’t underestimate the cold weather

Just like every year, you should prepare for cold weather and rock your warmest winter outfit! It’s best to grab some foot and hand warmers at CVS or any other store to help you endure the cold temperatures while you eagerly wait for the parade to kick off. Ideally, you’ll also want to wear thermal clothing. It was a life-changer for me and totally worth every dollar! Remember that you’ll be standing in the same spot for quite some time making it hard for your body to generate heat. Check the weather beforehand as it can be very different from year to year; in 2018, Thanksgiving marked the second-coldest temperatures ever recorded (19°F) for that day whereas 2019 was one of the mildest days for parade-goers.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation

Paw Patrol Balloon before the Thanksgiving Parade in NYC

If you can’t attend the parade or simply want to see more of the Thanksgiving Parade in NYC, you should know there is a way to get a preview of the balloons the day before Thanksgiving. The balloon inflation takes place near the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Although the balloon inflation has become pretty popular, it’s not nearly as packed as the Thanksgiving Day Parade itself. Due to current safety precautions, everybody will need to be screened before entering the zone. This also means you may have to wait in line. Try to avoid bringing backpacks, umbrellas, and chairs to speed up the process.

  • Where does the Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation take place?

The inflation takes place around the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. The public entry point is located at 79th St & Columbus Ave. From there, the loop leads to Central Park West and ends at 81st & Central Park.

Street closures will make it difficult to get there. Your best bet is the subway!

  • When is the Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation?

The inflation will take place on Wednesday, November 24th. Admission is granted from 1 pm to 8 pm. I wouldn’t recommend going right away because the balloons only really take shape in the afternoon (around 4 pm).

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About the author
Steffen

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On this blog, I want to share everything I have learned and discovered, so you can have the best time in the greatest city in the world. By the way: Did you like my article? Then think about becoming a supporter of us on Patreon!

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23 Comments

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Diane Pirowski

My bucket list includes riding on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I turn 65 this summer; how does one get to ride on a float?

Keith

Is the parade going down 5th ave or 6th? Text states 5th but map indicates 6th.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Keith,

thanks for your message! It’s going down 6th Avenue as indicated on the map. We’ve fixed the error in the text. Thanks again!!

Maureen

Lynne Boucher

I have fibromyalgia and can’t stand in the cold. Which hotels have the best window views of the parade ??

lkmonty

Needed to see a larger map of the parade route.

Maureen Steinert

Hi there,

just click on the photo and you’ll have a larger image 🙂

Maureen

Richard Mutascio

Thanks for the great guidance. I was planning to take my family to the Museum of Natural History that day . Do you think that is to much to do in one day. Thanks for the great Article.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Richard,

I’m glad you found the article helpful! Unfortunately, the Museum of Natural History will remain closed on Thanksgiving 🙁 Some major attractions, like the Empire State Building, will be open that day. You will definitely have time to do something in addition to the parade.

Maureen

John Mcnamara

Great info thanks travelling from wales U.K.

Maureen Steinert

Hi John,

hope you’ll have a wonderful time 🙂 The parade is so much fun!

Maureen

Cathy Parker

Since the wait time is so long, are chairs allowed?

Maureen Steinert

Hi Cathy,

yes, they are! Lots of people bring chairs (and even ladders) with them.

Maureen

Kevin McCarthy

Thanksgiving does not fall on the last Thursday of November.
It falls on the FOURTH Thursday of November.
The next time this rule will come into play will be in four years, (2023), when Thanksgiving will be 11/23 rather then 11/30.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Kevin,

you are absolutely correct!!!

Maureen

Kevin

Interestingly, this rule was put in place by Congress so as not to compete to much with and actually keep more days of shopping available before Christmas. It was a decision based 100% on US economics.

Teresa M Cowell

I’m finally getting to the parade just before my 67 birthday😍 We are staying on 80th street and Columbus. I am most excited to see the balloons. Thanks for the great information.
O.j.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Teresa,

that’s so exciting! You will have a great time. I will be marching with Astronaut Snoopy, the first large balloon!

Maureen

Paul Joseph Sowinski

I hope the parade with its floats and balloons is possible this year. I just saw on the news that winds might stop the balloons from appearing in your lovely parade. Thank you.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Paul,

Macy’s said not to worry about it! It’ll be a last-minute decision and so far, in the history of the parade, they’ve always flown!

Maureen

Alicia

Hi, I am hoping you can help us (my son, daughter-in-law and myself) with our plans in attending “Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 2020.” You see, it has been a dream of mind since I was a little girl watching it on a 7 inch TV with my mom, dad and sister. I will be 79 years old and will be able to cross it off my bucket list if everything goes as planned. I have many questions, hopefully not to many!🥴 What are some of the names of hotels that are on the route of the parade? Possibly with a view of the parade from our room. We’d also like to see, The Rockets, Lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Square, Carriage Ride in Central Park and Of course Grounds Zero . I Thank you in advance for all your help and God Bless.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Alicia,

you will love the parade! It’s a lot of fun and a spectacle you won’t forget 🙂 The parade runs along Central and then heads down 6th Avenue. If you book a hotel there hoping to get a view from your room, I’d suggest specifically asking for it before you book it.
The parade is on November 26th and the tree will be lit the Wednesday after. That would be the perfect time to visit. The lighting ceremony can be accessed by the public but you would need to wait in the cold starting no later than 3 pm. It’s not super convenient, unfortunately. It’s just so popular! There are events, however, that guarantee views of the tree without waiting in the cold but they are expensive. You’d need to see if that’s worth it for you or not!

Clarence T Carter

will fans be allowed this year?

Steffen

Hi Clarence,
yes!!! This year the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns with in person viewing!

All the best!!!
Steffen

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