Tips for Seeing the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC

For more than nine decades, the magic of the holiday season has symbolically kicked off with the march of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember countless Thanksgiving mornings as a child, watching the parade on TV in my parents house, as the smell of the upcoming meal and festivities fill the room. Since we always hosted Thanksgiving at our house, my parents were busy cooking each year, so I was always content watching the floats on TV, and never thought to ask them if we can attend in person, though I would have LOVED to be there. Fast forward to a few years ago, my dream came true and I took my own kiddies to see the parade, and it’s now become a tradition.

For the 93rd edition this year, the line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 marching bands. Keep reading for a sneak peak of the new balloons making their parade debut this November!

To kick off the revelry, a special must-see opening number featuring a who’s who of actors, singers, dancers and more, all joined by the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, will start the Thanksgiving Day party with a smash. Along the route, the nation’s best marching bands bring the beat to the holiday revelry. This year, eleven of the specially chosen ensembles will ignite hometown pride as they perform on the streets of the Big Apple.

Following the opener, on 34th Street, Broadway’s best shows will take a star turn in front of Macy’s famed flagship with special performances. In addition, the show-stopping Radio City Rockettes® will bring a taste of their signature high-kicking magic to Herald Square.

New Balloons for 2019

Some new giants joining the line-up this year include Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon. In celebration of his 75th birthday, heritage balloon and fan favorite will return to the Parade as Smokey Bear once again takes to the skies over Manhattan.

 

New Floats for 2019 

This year, five new floats will debut, including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! (Josh Dela Cruz), The Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®(Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City by COACH® (Billy Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Kelly Rowland).

 

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade always includes must-see entertainment for everyone in the family. Appearing or performing onboard one of Macy’s signature floating stages will be Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela Cruz, Debbie Gibson, former NASA Astronauts Kay Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, NHL Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tensile Townes, and Chris Young; with an extra special appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.

Tips for attending the parade! 

The parade begins at 9am, kicking off from 77th Street and Central Park West, marching down to Columbus Circle, turning on Central Park South, continuing south on 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. It will make its final turn right onto West 34th Street, to its final destination of Macy’s Herald Square. I’ve included a parade map below, along with some tips that I’ve learned over the past few years of taking my children to the festivities.

1. Choose Your location

Over the years, my family and I have viewed the parade from bleacher seats, through the window of restaurants, standing room only spots along the side lines, and even from the grandstands in front of Macy’s Herald Square. While all the activity on West 34th Street is exciting, those seats are tough to come by, so here are some of my other favorite locations….

Upper West Side. The parade starts there which means it ends earlier, getting you home to you loved ones and candied yams that much sooner.

Central Park West between 59th and 75th streets is filled with excited parade goers, well before the majority of the city has even gotten out of bed. Macy’s states people start lining up along this section of the parade route at 6 a.m.

Columbus Circle – Head up to the second and third floors of the Shops at Columbus Circle for an elevated — and warmer — view of the parade.

The intersection of Central Park South and Sixth Avenue is another spot with several vantage points. It also offers a great view of the parade as it heads south toward Herald Square.

And lastly Sixth Avenue between West 59th and 38th Streets.

2. Get there early 

Considering we drag ourselves out of bed early every day during the week for work or to get our kids off to school, the last thing we want to do it get up early on a holiday. Well, if you want to be a parade goer, you need to get there super early. Even though the parade doesn’t start until 9am, plan to arrive as early as 6:30/7am, as police will close the streets to access. Get out early, and stake your claim!

3. Dress Warm

Layers, hats, gloves, hand and foot warmers. I even put the kids in their ski pants and winter boots, and brought blankets and seat cushions for the tushes! And if the weather is anything like last year, you’ll want to dress appropriately! It is November in New York City after all.

4. Bring Snacks

I usually pack a bag with waters and snacks for the kiddies to keep them at bay during the wait before the floats roll out. Before entering the parade route, we’ll pop into a coffee shop or deli to load up on coffee and hot cocoa.

5. Plan bathroom breaks

There are no bathrooms along the route, so you’ll want to plan ahead and “do your business” before you snag your spot.

6. Go watch the balloon prep on Thanksgiving Eve! 

With so many of us cooking and/or traveling Thanksgiving morning, attending the Parade in person may not be an option. On Thanksgiving Eve, the massive balloons are lined up and prepped down side streets of the Upper West Side. If you can make your way to that part of town on Wednesday night, you can see plenty of your favorite balloons, down on the ground, before they take to the skies on Thanksgiving morning. I’ve done this a few times with my kids, and it was especially nice when they were much younger and unlikely to sit through hours of parade processions.

Viewing Map 

Start the countdown, in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Let’s Have a Parade! Happy Holidays! (Wow, is it really the holiday season again already!) Also check out these free printable Thanksgiving family fun games!

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10 thoughts on “Tips for Seeing the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC”

  1. WOW this sounds absolutely amazing, something I would love to see with my husband and kids some day! We don’t have anything like this here in the UK but I wish we did as it would be a lovely tradition to see each year. Great tips for anyone hoping to get a great view too! x

  2. I have been to NYC twice, once in February and once in June. I have said next time we go I would love to go so that we can see the Thanks giving parade. It looks like an amazing experience.

  3. Pingback: Tips for Viewing NYC Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – News Blog

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