The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the quintessential kick-off to the holiday season in New York City. Now in its 90th year, this holiday parade is promising to be yet another memory-maker for the entire family, with its famous giant balloons, one-of-a-kind floats, clowns, marching bands and performances from stars like Tony Bennett, Sarah McLachlan and De La Sol, as well as a special performance from the Muppets of “Sesame Street.” With millions of people expected to attend this year’s parade, you’ll want to check our guide and create a game plan before you head out the door.
Parking in Manhattan is always tight, but on Thanksgiving Day it’s nearly impossible. From Westchester & Connecticut, your best bet is taking a Metro-North train to Grand Central Station. It’s an easy walk west from Grand Central to the parade route on Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street. From Long Island, take the LIRR to Penn Station. From the Seventh Avenue exit, you can walk east one block to the end of the parade route at Macy’s Herald Square, but we highly suggest heading north first for better viewing spots between 38th and 59th streets on Sixth Avenue. If you must drive, consider coming in to the city around 6 a.m. in order to get a spot in nearby lots on the Upper West Side, or near Lincoln Center where garages are abound.
Authorities strongly recommend the use of mass transit due to the expectation of heavy trafficin the city throughout Thanksgiving Weekend. However, if you are planning to drive, keep these street closures in mind:
Formation for the parade will begin at 8 a.m. at the following locations:
- West 77th Street and West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- Central Park West between West 77th and 86th Streets
The parade will begin at 9 a.m. from Central Park West and 77th Street and proceed on the following route:
- South on Central Park West to Columbus Circle
- South through E/S Columbus Circle to 59th Street
- East on 59th Street to 6th Avenue
- South on 6th Avenue to 34th Street
- West on 34th Street to 7th Avenue – (dispersal area)
Additional closures are as follows:
- Broadway between West 34th Street and West 40th Street- Midnight to 1 p.m.
- 6th Avenue between West 23rd Street and West 42nd Street – 2 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- 7th Avenue from West 34th Street and West 42nd Street – 2 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- 34th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue – 10 p.m. (Wed) to 5 p.m.
- 59th Street E/B between 7th Avenue and Central Park West – Midnight to 2 p.m.
- 59th Street W/B between 5th Avenue and Central Park West – 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 35th Street between 5th Avenue and 8th Avenue – 2 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- 36th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue – 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 37th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue – 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 38th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue – 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 8th Avenue between 34th Street and 40th Street – 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Broadway between 38th Street and 59th Street – 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- 33rd Street between 7th Avenue and 10th Avenue – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 40th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 49th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 50th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Central Park 65th Street/66th Street Transverse Roads 7 a.m. until conclusion.
Click here for a complete list of closures.
Other Thanksgiving Day travel tips:
The Parade Route
The parade kicks off Thursday at 9 a.m. from 77th Street and Central Park West. The revelry then heads south down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, before making a left and heading east on Central Park South. The parade then makes a right turn and heads south on Sixth Avenue for the main stretch of the route before making its final turn west onto 34th Street, where it stops outside Macy’s Herald Square.
For a map of the parade route, click here.
Where to Watch
Plan to arrive at 6 a.m. to get a prime viewing spot, especially if you want to be near the start of the parade between 75th and 59th streets. Typically, the parade marches through Central Park West between 9 and 10:30 a.m. While many choose to watch from Central Park West, that also tends to be the windiest and shadiest part of the route. Instead head to Sixth Avenue between 59th and 38th streets. The sidewalks are wider and less-crowded there. You’re more likely to find food in delis and nearby coffee shops in this area. Plus, you can arrive a little bit later since the parade doesn’t hit Sixth Avenue until around 9:30 a.m.
- Avoid Sixth Avenue between 38th and 34th streets and Macy’s Herald Square. Due to the national TV broadcast, parade organizers severely limit public viewing in those areas.
- If you have a spectator with special needs, please call Healing Arts Initiative (formerly known as Hospital Audiences, Inc.) at 212-284-4100 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on viewing area options.
- Grandstand tickets are not for sale to the general public.
Tips, Tricks And Things To Remember
Coming with little kids? Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Bathrooms are scarce. Hotels around the route are your best bet as well as at The Time Warner Center on 59th Street near Columbus Circle.
Leave the stroller at home, or plan on bringing one that folds easily and can be carried. Trying to get through the crowds with a stroller can be impossible — not to mention scary for your kid. Instead think light and easy to carry for your child and the stroller.
Pack snacks! While delis and convenience stores are usually open along the route, standing in the same place for a few hours waiting for the parade to start can feel like an eternity for little kids. Avoid meltdowns by supplying your own treats.
Dress warm and in layers. Even if it’s milder than usual on Turkey Day, standing outside for six hours can get pretty cold. Hats and gloves will keep you and your parade watching family happy and warm.
The Night Before
What started out as an event that only locals knew about, the pre-Thanksgiving balloon inflation has turned into its own must-see Thanksgiving event. See Hello Kitty, Pikachu, Spongebob Squarepants and all the other gigantic Macy’s parade balloons come to life in the areas surrounding the Museum of Natural History beginning at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.
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