Best Tips for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 2019
Hi, I’m Christine; a mother of three kids and I’m happy to share my best tips for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We’ve lived in NYC since 2011, with a 20-month break in Singapore. Our favorite things to do in NYC are going to Central Park, eating all the delicious food (we live above an ice cream shop), and exploring our wonderful city.
There is never a bad time of year to visit New York City. However, if you get the chance to visit during the holidays, come! Hands down, it’s the most wonderful time of year.
All the New York City movies will come alive, and you will have the most wonderful time. That is why we almost always stay in the City for the holidays. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the festivities every year. It is one of our most beloved traditions. It would not feel like Thanksgiving if we did not go.
The day before – balloon inflation fun
The Parade activities start the day before Thanksgiving with the inflation of the balloons. Visitors can get an up-close sneak peek at all the characters they will see in the parade the following day. It’s a great bonus preview of the balloons making their debut in the parade that year. The parade balloons are blown up around the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in the early afternoon.
For Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 2019 the event will go from 3-10pm. The public entrance is at 79th street and Columbus Avenue. Visitors will circle around the AMNH in a clockwise direction starting from 77th Street and Central Park West and ending at 81st Street and Central Park West. Expect large crowds.
If you have small children use a carrier or small umbrella stroller. Large strollers are difficult to get through the crowd. It is definitely worth going to. The kids love it, and your inner child will love it too! Some people see the balloons the night before instead of going to the parade, but for us, it builds excitement for the parade the next day.
Time and route for Thanksgiving Day
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2019 starts at 9:00 am from 77th Street and Central Park West. It turns east at Columbus Circle (59th Street) and then again south down 6th Avenue, ending at Macy’s Herald Square (34th Street and 6th Avenue).
The parade goes for about 2 hours in our experience (plus the time it takes for the first float to arrive at your spot in the parade route). We are always toward to beginning of the parade route, so we are always home by noon.
How to best enjoy the parade
Send one of your party very early to save your group a spot. My husband usually goes around 5:30 am. That guarantees us a front-row seat to the parade. The rest of your party should get there no later than 7 am. It’s early, but it gets packed quickly. Chairs and food are allowed. My husband brought some tape last year to mark our area, and it was very helpful to keep our spot secure.
It is always cold (and sometimes frigid), so wear multiple layers. Have the last arrivals of your group bring hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. If you need to duck out to get some drink or food, shops start on Columbus Ave, just a block away.
Do not leave your spot without someone in your party still there. People will take it. Be warned, it gets very crowded as the morning goes on. You will still get back to your seat, but it may take you a while.
Where to watch
We have always watched from Central Park West, usually from the west side. Great spots for viewing between West 75th and West 59th Streets.
The Central Park side is reserved seating only. There are areas where you can enter in from the park and go down the parade route, but there are no guaranteed viewing spots.
Avoid viewing from 38th Street to 34th Street 6th Avenue. Broadcasters use that area, and there will be no available public viewing.
Once the parade starts it is pure magic. It is like a small town parade with the school marching bands, parade characters coming up to the barricades giving viewers high fives and throwing confetti. Everyone is wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving. It is a friendly environment, one that may not normally be associated with NYC!
The parade starts out with Thanksgiving-themed floats and balloons. The balloons that were inflating the day before are now full size. If you look down the avenue you can see them making their way towards you. Many of the floats have popular characters or celebrities, and every generation will be able to recognize at least one.
As the parade progresses the floats transition to Christmas themes. Santa and Ms. Claus are the last to go by, officially bringing the Christmas season to New York City.
It starts the day before, from 3pm - 10pm, around the Natural Museum of History. It goes from 9am - noon. It will always be crowded. Get a spot as early as possible on Central Park West from West 75th to West 59th Streets.
What times does the balloon inflation for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade start?
What time does the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade start?
Where is the best place to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?
It starts the day before, from 3pm - 10pm, around the Natural Museum of History.
It goes from 9am - noon.
It will always be crowded. Get a spot as early as possible on Central Park West from West 75th to West 59th Streets.