The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been delighting the residents of New York City – and the world – for nearly a century. Held on Thanksgiving Day, its unique combination of live entertainment, themed floats and incredible balloons makes this event one of the most recognisable public celebrations on earth.

If you’re visiting the Big Apple this Thanksgiving, we’ve got all the best tips on where to go for a great view – and if you’re not, you can catch the whole thing on live TV. The Parade is a uniquely American event that’s as much of a treat for foreigners as it is for Americans themselves; don’t miss your chance to get involved!


In the 1920s, many employees of the Macy’s department store chain were European immigrants freshly arrived in the Land of Opportunity. Keen to maintain their family traditions as well as celebrate their new status as American citizens, they combined the street parades common across Europe with their new holiday of Thanksgiving. This created a lively and vibrant event featuring music, zoo animals and generally all the fun of the fair. With the exception of a few years during the Second World War, the Macy’s Day Parade has entertained New Yorkers ever since.


The Parade is perhaps best known for its spectacular balloons, which range in size from novelty hats to giant floating creatures. These colourful creations are actually the reason the Parade couldn’t continue throughout the war – rubber and helium were too important to waste on cartoon characters when there were boots and airships to be made! The biggest balloons, which are always in the shape of lovable figures from fiction (last year’s balloons included Snoopy the beagle and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon) are tethered by no fewer than ninety uniformed balloon guards, all hoping not to go on an unplanned Up-style balloon ride…

Where to Watch

Although the Macy’s Day Parade runs through a huge swathe of Manhattan, it’s important to claim your spot in advance if you’re planning to watch (that is, unless you’re lucky enough to have an apartment overlooking the parade!). There are three main stretches to choose from – Central Park West, the Time Warner Center and 6th Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street. Central Park West is great for early birds as it’s near the start of the parade, whilst 6th Avenue lets you see the seemingly endless extent of the parade as it appears in classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street. Wherever you stand, make sure you wrap up warm – the parade can take ninety minutes or more to pass by, which is a long time to be standing still on a New York winter’s day!

There are so many wonderful things to see and do in New York City, and although the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the best-known it’s just one of thousands of options. If you take a trip to New York this year, we’re sure you’ll have a great time – just don’t try to take a scenic drive around Central Park on November 27th. Our cars are pretty tough, but running into a giant inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants is definitely not a good idea.