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!
Disclaimer: Unfortunately the Thanksgiving Parade (in person) was canceled for 2020. There will be a virtual event happening.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2020
- When is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Disclaimer: Unfortunately the Thanksgiving Parade was canceled for 2020. Since Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 26th in 2020, but in a virtual way. 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 2020?
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lineup for 2020 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.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route 2020
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:
The best places to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC
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.
My tips for watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York
- 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.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation
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 25th. 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).
Oh, how lucky I am… always at the pulse of the greatest city in the world – what could be better? New York City is my passion and I’m happy to be able to share my experiences along with insider tips and helpful tricks with you. With me by your side, you’ll never miss a beat!