Watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2016 Live in New York City

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become a tradition for many American families. For a lot of us, Thanksgiving Day simply isn’t the same without tuning in to the television set at breakfast to catch a glimpse of the balloons, floats, and various performers and celebrities making their way through the streets of Manhattan.

There’s only one thing that can beat watching this iconic parade on TV. That is none other than traveling to New York City to watch the spectacle live. If you’re planning to travel with your family for Thanksgiving weekend, why not visit NYC to see the parade?

What to expect with this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

the pikachu balloon at macy's thanksgiving day parade
Pikachu balloon at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013 | Charlie Lhasa/Wikimedia Commons

So, what’s ahead with this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Just like in previous years, the parade will feature thousands of participating performers. The number is pegged at a massive 8,000 this year – around 1,000 clowns, 1,500 dancers, a dozen marching bands from high schools all over the country, and more.

Marching bands from West Point, the New York Police Department, and Macy’s own Great American Marching Band will join too. The Rockettes will, as usual, be counted among the featured dancers of the parade.

The highlight of the parade has always been the balloons and the floats. This year, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will fly balloons in the likeness of current favorites from TV and movie cartoons, as well as from games, such as Hello Kitty, Pikachu, Batman, Red Power Ranger, Angry Birds’ Red, Scrat and his acorn from Ice Age, Spongebob Squarepants, and Ronald McDonald.

The Ronald McDonald balloon will be accompanied by a Big Red Shoe Car float with the rest of Ronald’s gang in them. The Sesame Workshop participates this year with their own Sesame Street float, as does Nickelodeon with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float. Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang will have their own float as well. Of course, the floats will not be complete without Macy’s own floats. This year, Macy’s will deploy Santa’s Sleigh and Tom Turkey.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2016 route

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013: East Coast Marine Corps Composite Band rehearsal
The East Coast Marine Corps Composite Band rehearses for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Camp Upshur on Nov. 25, 2013. Marines from Quantico Marine Corps Band, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and the 2nd Marine Division came together to support the parade. (Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andrew Rasure/ Released)

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will start at 9:00 AM sharp on November 24, 2016. The spectacle will kick off at the corner of Central Park West and 77th Street. From there, the parade will make its way southward to Columbus Circle, and then eastward going to Central Park South and 6th Avenue. And then, the parade will march straightaway from 6th Avenue from the 59th to the 34th Street, until it reaches the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.

The parade route stretches 2.5 miles. The estimated time it will take for the parade to travel from Central Park West to Herald Square is three hours. If you want to see the balloons inflated, you can stroll down between Central Park West and Columbus Circle on November 23 to watch the balloon prep.

Tips for making the most out of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2016

Getting to the streets of Manhattan to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is going to be a scramble for your family. Here are a few tips that will make watching the parade as fun and stress-free as possible.

Decide where you’re going to view the parade

You don’t need to pay a fee to watch the parade. Because it’s free, there’s sure to be a fuss to get the best viewing spots possible. So you need to decide where you’re going to watch the parade and get there as early as possible.

The best viewing spots are anywhere between 75th and 59th Streets, and along 6th Avenue between 59th and 38th Streets. It’s common to see families camping here as early as 4:00 AM on Thanksgiving Day just so they could save their spot, so come as early as you can. Forget about grabbing a spot closer to Herald Square because that place will be crawling with TV crews broadcasting the parade.

Call Healing Arts Initiative if you’re a spectator with special needs

Reserved seating is provided for spectators with special needs. These special seats are limited, though, so if you require them, better call Healing Arts Initiative at 212-284-4100 before you travel to New York City.

Come prepared

Take note that it’s likely to be cold outside and stores along the parade route may be closed. There won’t be any public restrooms available along the route as well. So, before you head on to your chosen viewing spot, make sure you’re warm and comfy, you’re wearing comfortable shoes, you’ve got some snacks with you, and you’ve used the bathroom.

Be mindful of your children

If you’re traveling with children, keep your eyes on them all the time. Don’t let them wander on their own. It’s going to be a crush out there during the parade, so it will be very easy to lose your kids in the crowd.

Reserve your table for lunch

Since the parade will end at lunchtime, restaurants are going to be packed right after. To save yourself and your family from going hungry while waiting for a table to become available, make reservations at your chosen restaurant at least a few days before the parade.

Save your sightseeing for after Thanksgiving Day

More likely than not, you’ve included sightseeing in New York City as part of your Thanksgiving holiday. Most of New York City’s attractions will be closed for Thanksgiving Day, so you should plan to go out and see these attractions on the weekend after Thanksgiving instead.

Better yet, instead of watching the parade on the street, why not book accommodations close to the parade route that offers views of the parade? In that way, you and your family will be able to watch the parade up close, but without the discomfort of standing in the street on a chilly autumn day. It may sound like a splurge, but it’s going to be worth it.

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Pikachu balloon at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013 | Charlie Lhasa/Wikimedia Commons


Anna is a wandering writer. If she isn't wandering, she's working on other blogs. And if she's not doing that, either she's reading or she's busy with a crafting project.