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

details about macys thanksgiving day parade in nyc

Key Details about the Thanksgiving Parade 2019

When is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
As Thanksgiving always falls on the last Thursday in November, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 28th this year. It will mark the 93rd annual Thanksgiving Parade in NYC.

What time is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day starts promptly at 9 am EST and takes about 3 hours.

What Channel is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on?
If you are not in New York, or simply don’t want to wake up early and face the extreme crowds, you can conveniently watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from home or your hotel. As every year since 1948, it will be broadcast LIVE on NBC. Here is the link to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade online.

Who’s in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2019?
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lineup for this year has not yet been announced, but we promise to keep you posted! You can find more info on Macy’s official website. No matter the weather, you can be sure that you’ll get to see some top celebrities. Last year, the Parade Lineup included John Legend, Rita Ora, Ashley Tisdale, Leona Lewis, Pentatonix, Bad Bunny, Barenaked Ladies, and Diana Ross just to name a few.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route 2019

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 5th Ave all the way to Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. In total, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route is 3 miles long and takes 3 hours to walk! To visualize the Thanksgiving Parade route for you, we’ve created a map:

The best places to watch Macy’s Parade

So now you may wonder where to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Generally speaking, the best places to watch the parade are towards the start of the parade, along Central Park (between 60th and 68th St)! Standing at the beginning does not only have the advantage of smaller crowds but also the advantage that you can leave right after the Santa Claus’ float has passed – 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.

Do NOT try to get 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 more crowded it will be. 

I was walking in the parade last year and noticed that Bryant Park can also 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. You must know that some people even bring their own chairs and ladders to see better – no joke. 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 early include 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 the Thanksgiving Parade in New York

  • Get there early

The Thanksgiving Parade is one of the best-attended events in New York and attracts thousands of visitors to the city. To claim the best views, you will need to be willing to wake up early and wait in the cold. Streets already begin filling 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 extreme cold.

  • Prepare for cold weather

Just like every year, you should prepare for cold weather and wear your warmest outfit! It’s best to grab some foot and hand warmers at CVS or some other store to bear the cold while you wait for the parade to kick off. Ideally, you’ll also want to wear thermal clothing – it will be worth the money! You’ll be standing on the same spot for quite some time making it hard for your body to generate heat. Last year, Thanksgiving marked the second-coldest temperatures ever recorded (19°F) for that day.

Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation 

Paw Patrol Balloon before the Thanksgiving Parade in NYC

If you’re not planning to attend the parade (or even if you are), you should know there is a way to get a preview of the balloons the day before the parade. The balloon inflation takes place near the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. Even though the balloon inflation has become very popular, you will notice that it’s not as packed as the 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.

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 path’s 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 27th and start at 1 pm. The last admission is granted at 8 pm. In order to beat the crowds, you should arrive as early as you can. However, the balloons only really take shape in the afternoon (around 4 pm).

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A comment

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?

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