There is no place like New York City during the holidays. One great way to kick off the holiday season and get in the holiday spirit is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  The parade is a family friendly, free activity that is a once in a lifetime experience.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float

Photo credit: Macy’s

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Activities in NYC

Inflating Balloons for the Thanksgiving Day Parade:

Date: Wednesday, November 23, 2017, 1-8 pm.

The night before Thanksgiving, the helium balloons are prepared for the big Thanksgiving Day Parade. New Yorkers and out-of-towners gather to watch the famous parade balloons get inflated. The balloons are brought to life in the streets around the American Museum of Natural History, taking up to two full city blocks.

The only public entrance point is 74th Street at Columbus Avenue. All spectators will be subject to security screening. Our personal recommendation is to arrive at 5 or so, since that’s when you can really see the balloons take shape.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Photo: Macy’s

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Date: Thursday, November 27, 2014, at 9 a.m.

The parade travels down Central Park West from 77th Street to Columbus Circle along Central Park South to 6th Avenue. It then proceeds down 6th Avenue to 34th Street and along 34th Street to Macy’s Herald Square.

The Grandstand is located is located at Macy’s in Herald Square, but you need tickets to sit in this viewing area and they are not available to the general public. Here, those lucky enough to have tickets will see the performances that are shown on television.

Some of the floats new to the parade this year are Olaf and the Grinch. They will join perennial favorites like Charlie Brown, the Macy’s Start and Harold the Baseball Player (seen in the classic move, “Miracle on 34th Street.”

People begin arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. to get the prime viewing areas. Wear or bring your hats, scarves and gloves to ensure you are warm. Hot chocolate, coffee and tea can be purchased along the route.

Read all the parade details.

Before you go, read these tips for watching the parade from a jaded New Yorker.