Ready to talk turkey? Thanksgiving is less than a month away; this year, we’ll gather around the table on Thursday, November 23! And with the turkey comes a tradition since its origin in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held annually in New York City.
With an expected 3.5 million spectators and more than 50 million television viewers nationwide, the parade is our nation’s most celebrated and anticipated family treat. And it’s definitely a NYC event to experience at least once in your lifetime.
Here are 3 ways to enjoy the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
1) Put Yourself at the Heart of the Action in NYC
The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession marches to Columbus Circle, turns onto Central Park South and goes down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. There it makes its final turn west and ends at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
Where to Watch:
Columbus Circle is an insider favorite for watching the parade in person. The west side of the street on Central Park West from 59th to 75th Streets, where the Parade runs from about 9 am until 10:30 am, is also a good spot. If you prefer to arrive later, further down the route on 6th Avenue may be best; the Parade first reaches this area around 9:30 am. We don’t suggest viewing from 6th Avenue between 34th and 38th Streets or in front of Macy’s Herald Square, which provides very limited viewing due to the TV broadcast.
Lineup: For the 91st edition, the famed spectacle’s line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 27 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 16 marching bands and performance groups.
This year, a brand new recreation of Harold the Baseball Player will take to the skies once again in a special nod to Miracle on 34th Street, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. And everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf from Frozen will make his debut in the parade.
Artists Andra Day, Common, Sabrina Carpenter, 98 Degrees, and more will perform!
Make it a Staycation: Traveling out of town and want to make it a weekend trip? Or maybe you want to splurge and create the most awesome Staycation ever? Area hotels offer Thanksgiving Day Parade specials with parade views right from your room. These sell out fast, so we recommended calling now to get a reservation:
- New York Hilton Midtown: Located directly on the parade route (corner of 54th Street and 6th Avenue), the rooms facing 6th Avenue provide great views.
- The Gregory Hotel: Book the Thanksgiving Getaway package and have a spot just 800 steps from Macy’s Herald Square with a private street access to watch the parade balloons floating by (insider tip: 35th Street is only open for hotel guests)
- Mandarin Oriental NYC: Guests who book the I Love a Parade package have exclusive access to perch 280 feet above the parade’s colorful array of floats and balloons passing through Columbus Circle on Thanksgiving morning.
- 1 Hotel Central Park: Offering a “Thanksgiving Eats” package that gets you close to the action and let’s you enjoy a special Thanksgiving meal and an overnight stay
- Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan/Herald Square: Enjoy front row views of the parade from your hotel room with special Thanksgiving Day Parade packages.
- JW Marriott Essex House New York: Set right on Central Park South, the rooms offer perfect parade viewing from a posh, plush, perch.
- The Quin: This boutique spot along the parade route on 6th Avenue offers a luxurious way to enjoy the parade.
2) Skip the parade and attend the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation
The Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation is an exciting event for families to see the balloons come to life. It takes place around the American Museum of Natural History at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. The balloons are inflated on Wednesday, November 22, between 3 pm – 10 pm, but arrive even earlier (or go late if you have night owls) to avoid the crowds. Another way to avoid a long line is to visit the American Museum of National History earlier in the day and then exit right in the middle of the action.
Make it a full experience by having a great pre-Thanksgiving Day meal at a local restaurant.
3) From your home. On the couch. In your pajamas.
If you have very young children and/or hate crowds, this is truly the best way to enjoy the parade. Trust us. This year, the TODAY Show will host the three-hour broadcast highlighting all the balloons, bands, and performances from 9 am – 12 pm ET/PT.
(Top photo: Flickr)