Facebook Twitter

Everything you need to know about the Thanksgiving Day Parade: Start time, history and more

The 97th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, Nov. 23. Here’s everything you need to know about how it started and how to watch it

SHARE Everything you need to know about the Thanksgiving Day Parade: Start time, history and more
The Grinch balloon floats over Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018 in New York.

In this Nov. 22, 2018, file photo, the Grinch balloon floats over Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, Associated Press

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become an essential part of Thanksgiving celebrations for many families across America, and this year — its 97th iteration — is bound to be spectacular.

Now featuring 25 balloons, six “balloonicicles,” (balloons led by tricycles), 31 floats, 11 marching bands, 18 musical performers, 29 clown crews and seven performance groups, it’s vastly different from the parade that first went on display in 1924.

Here’s everything you need to know about how and when to see the parade and a little bit about its history.

How to watch the Thanksgiving parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 8:30 a.m. EST — half an hour earlier than usual — in New York City at West 77th Street and Central Park West. It is set to wrap up at noon EST.

The parade will be broadcast live on NBC and Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. It will be recorded and broadcast a second time at 2 p.m. EST on NBC, per the “Today” show.

If you’d like to watch in person, the public can view the parade along several areas in the 2.5-mile-long route, which can be found on the parade’s website. This is not a ticketed event and there is no grandstand seating.

History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s opened its flagship department store in New York City in 1922 and expanded it to cover an entire city block in 1924, per the History Channel. To celebrate the expansion, Macy’s hosted a parade on Thanksgiving day that year, although the parade itself was Christmas-themed in order to inspire holiday shopping.

It was nowhere near the extravaganza it is now, but was still impressive at the time, stretching two city blocks and marching through six miles. It was a success, and Macy’s did the same the next year — and the next, and the next. The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 because the rubber for the balloons was needed for World War II, per The New York Times, but has continued uninterrupted since then.

The parade has grown and changed quite a bit since its inception. While it originally featured real circus animals, Macy’s soon replaced them with balloons, which were happier to travel the length of the parade route.

What’s new to the Thanksgiving parade in 2023?

This year features several new balloons, including Beagle Scout Snoopy, Po from “Kung Fu Panda,” the Pillsbury Doughboy and the parade’s first balloon of an NFT character, Blue Cat.

There are also four new floats: “Camp Snoopy” from the “Peanuts” franchise, the Good Burger Mobile from the 1996 film “Good Burger,” an outdoor camping scene from Solo Stove Bonfire and “Mutant Mayhem,” which features the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

There will also be a total of 18 musical guests performing along the parade route, including Cher, Jon Batiste and Pentatonix.

Travel tips for the Thanksgiving parade

Although most people view the parade from home, with Variety reporting 27.7 million viewers on television last year, around 3 million were expected to attend the parade in person last year, per CNN. If you’d like to join their ranks, here are some tips for making it an enjoyable experience:

  • Get there early. Even though the route is 2.5 miles long, the sheer number of people expected to be in attendance means you aren’t guaranteed a good spot unless you camp out beforehand.
  • Dress warm. The Weather Channel predicts a high of 48 degrees in Manhattan on Thanksgiving, so wear layers.
  • Bring seats or expect to stand. There are no seats for the parade, but you can bring your own. It’s best to bring something you can easily pack up and transport, like a camping chair. While most people stand as the parade passes to get the best view, you might not want to be on your feet for all three-plus hours of the parade.