What is Thanksgiving in New York, without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
October 09 2021
The three-hour parade was first launched in 1924 and has taken place every single year (bar three*) over the past 97 years – growing to become the most viewed in the world. The first ever Macy’s Day Parade drew an audience of over 250,000 people – but (pre-COVID) around 3.5 million spectators watched the spectacle in person, with a further 20 million+ tuning into live television coverage of the event.
The larger-than-life display is one of the greatest unmissable events on New York City’s calendar and combines floats, balloons, performances and huge crowds to kick off the official start of the holiday season in style.
*The only times the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has been cancelled was during the second world war.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 2021
If you’re in New York City for Thanksgiving this year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is set to be one of the biggest and best yet – to make up for the COVID restrictions that were applied to last year’s event. While all details are still to be determined, the parade this year is expected to be back to normal this winter.
The route has yet to be confirmed by Macy’s, but it is anticipated it will follow the normal route. Beginning at 77th Street and Central Park West, the parade follows Central Park West to 59th Street, where it heads east towards 6th Avenue. On 6th the parade heads south until it reaches 34th street and Herald Square where it ends in front of Macy’s Department Store.
There are no tickets for the Thanksgiving Day Parade – it’s completely free to attend. That said, in previous years crowds have reached almost four million, and for an event that begins at 9am you will need to get there early – preferably before 6am – in order to ensure you bag a spot with the best view. Alternatively – if cold November mornings aren’t your thing – the higher the street number the smaller the crowds, so it’s possible to still grab a spot somewhere between 75th and 50th Street until around 7.30-8.00am.
What to Wear and What to Bring
The weather in New York City at the end of November can be challenging – in fact 2018 hosted the coldest parade on record with lows of 19F (well below freezing). The event takes place outdoors and while the crowds will offer some protection to the elements – it’s important to wrap up warm in lots of layers (so you can cool down if you need to in the crowds) and to bring something to keep you dry.
Cold toes get tired a lot quicker than warm ones and the best way to survive a morning on your feet is often a good pair of thermal socks. Gloves and scarves are also a must – and if you do get too hot, they can be stowed in a pocket or small bag. Umbrellas in crowds are never well received – but standing in the rain for hours could be a recipe for a fever - pick up some cheap and lightweight waterproofs that can be thrown over your own coat or jacket instead!
If you’re committed to finding a good spot to see the parade, it’s likely you’ll be out looking for a place before 6am – a whole three hours before the parade even begins. If you have young kids, bring something to entertain them (and a battery pack for the electronic devices!) and try to get a hotel as close as possible to the route – like ours! Lastly, and perhaps most importantly – don’t forget snacks and drinks, it’s a long time to be out in the cold and there’s no option to dip out your spot to grab food once the parade begins!
Location from The Hotel Beacon
The Hotel Beacon is one of the best places to stay in the city if you want to see the parade, as the parade starts only 0.5 miles from the hotel – or a 10-minute stroll. The best thing about the hotel being within walking distance of the start of the parade, is being able to witness the inflating of the balloons.
All balloons used in the parade are inflated between 3pm and 10pm the evening before the parade, near to the Museum of Natural History and the start point for the parade. Head over before the sun sets to get the best view of this year’s balloons – including this year’s newest balloon, the Funko Pop! Inspired Grogu (from The Mandalorian) balloon which will debut this year.
Keep updated at Macy’s
Macy’s is yet to confirm the exact route, event details and guest stars – as Thanksgiving draws closer, keep an eye on the Macy’s website for the latest announcements.
If you’re in New York City over Thanksgiving Week, the Hotel Beacon is a stone's throw from the start of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and offers a range of apartment style suites in the heart of the action.