This year is the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held on Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 24, 2016 beginning at 9am – ending at 12 noon.
The parade is one of America’s favorite holiday events and a New York City tradition since 1924. Past years have seen around 3.5 million in attendance to see the more than 1,500 dancers, 1,000s of clowns, and 30+ parade floats.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Okay, but how do I get tickets to this festive affair?”
There are many ways to view the Parade, whether you want to throw down the big bucks on the secondary market, finagle some grandstand tickets, view from the sidelines, or simply watch at home.
We’ve recapped some of our favorite tips for getting the most of out of your turkey day.
Looking for Discount Tickets to Top Attractions before and after the Parade?
Oh by the way, we know the Parade is the main event on Thanksgiving, but you still have the entire long weekend to see other top New York attractions.
So pick up a New York City Explorer Pass® and save up to 50% off combined admission to top attractions including…
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock Observatory
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Museum
- Museum of Modern Art
- and dozens more…
For some other ideas, check out our post on Thanksgiving in New York and things to do in November.
Secure a Free Spot on the Street
Of course, the most feasible option for many of us is to stake out a spot on the street and watch the holiday spectacle for free!
To secure a good spot and have the most enjoyable experience, you’ll want to get there bright and early! Spectators typically start lining the streets around 6 AM or earlier. We suggest you do not leave once you get a good place to watch.
A lot of the performances happen around 34thStreet, so those will be the most coveted spots and the most difficult to procure (along with spots at the beginning and the end of the parade route).
There is more than 2.5 miles of public viewing spots, but we have found that the higher up in Streets you go, the more space there is so you can probably get closer to the Parade.
You’ll want to dress in warm layers, bring a thermos of hot coffee or cocoa, and either pack a picnic basket or scope out a nearby food vendor, many of whom you’ll find in Central Park.
With the right attitude, you’ll have the time of your life when Tom Turkey leads his way through Manhattan.
Finagle Some Grandstand Tickets to the Parade
Technically, Macy’s doesn’t sell grandstand tickets to the general public. But sometimes, where there’s a will there’s a way…
Grandstand tickets to the Macy’s parade are reserved for the friends and family of parade participants, Macy’s employees and volunteers.
First, try asking around – if you live near New York, you may know someone with an extra ticket.
If this doesn’t pan out, try searching the web, like Craigslist. While not for sale through Macy’s, in past years grandstand tickets have been found online for a (very) hefty price.
Book a Hotel Room with a View
Grandstand seating and street spots may be hard to come by, but if you act quickly, you can get VIP access to the parade through one of the hotels along the route!
Again, hotel rooms with a view and VIP packages both come at a high price; however, once you see what’s in these exclusive packages, you just may find it’s worth it.
In the past, some package options included the Mandarin Oriental, the New York Hilton Midtown’s Thanksgiving Packages, the JW Marriot’s Buffet Brunch Package or Parade-View Room Package, and the Residence Inn Prime View Package.
Be sure to check out each hotel’s official website for specifics on this year’s packages.
More Tips for Viewing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Make sure you know this year’s parade route (as it has changed in the past). Check out the official site for the complete lineup, parade route, and much more info.
- Macy’s recommends between 61st and 72nd on Central Park West as the best place to watch the parade.
- Follow @Macys on Twitter and check out all social media with #macysParade to get the latest Parade updates, photos, and to join the conversation.
- If you are in or around NYC beforehand and want a chance to see the big balloons being inflated, head to 77th and 81st streets (between Central park West and Columbus Avenue) from 3-10pm on Wednesday night, before the parade.
- Stake out a spot very early, bundle up, and wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be standing for quite a while.
- Use the restroom before you arrive – there are no public facilities on the parade route.
- Bring plenty of snacks for you and your loved ones just in case there are no convenient options nearby.
- Expect massive crowds, and be cautious with your children. Keep the family together at all times!
- Be aware that this parade will cause a lot of attraction closures along the parade route. Save your exploring for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The 2016 Parade’s Balloons & Floats
This year’s signature giant character balloons include (as usual) plenty of fan favorites, including…
- ANGRY BIRDS’ RED
- CHARLIE BROWN
- DIARY OF A WIMPY KID®
- THE ELF ON THE SHELF®
- and many more!
Save on Admission to Top New York City Holiday Attractions
Remember, you can enjoy savings of up to 50% off admission to many of the top attractions with a New York City Explorer Pass® – the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility.
Enjoy the parade and your Thanksgiving weekend!