Shopping giant Macy's 90th Thanksgiving Parade is a New York City annual tradition and close to 3.5 million are expected to attend this year. It is happening on November 24, Thanksgiving Day, at 9:00 am. It is, as always, free and a non-ticketed event.
The parade will stretch out from Central Park West, Columbus Circle, and Sixth Avenue, to 38th Street and Herald Square, up to the south side of 34th Street along Broadway and Seventh Avenue. There are many opportunities for viewing, but it is highly recommended to catch a spot on these three areas: Central Park West, Columbus Circle, and Sixth Avenue.
Central Park West is the best area for viewing the start of the parade, which goes from 9 to 10:30 am. This west side is open to the public, while Central Park itself is closed off for invite-only attendees. As a popular area for viewing, this spot gets filled up as early as 6:00 am.
Sixth Avenue is another good spot as it gives a good view of the floats and balloons, highlights of every Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
Columbus Circle is also another good area, especially if crowds are to be avoided. Attendees can choose to view the parade from the top floors of The Shops, the famous shopping mall in this area. The Shops opens at 9:00 am.
The parade route changes every year so it's important to get the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Day app for maps and event schedules. This year, it goes from Central Park West, to Columbus Circle, then Central Park East, then South. It then goes on to 6th Avenue, then 59th Street, on to 34th Street. The parade, as it happens every year, ends in Herald Square where Macy's Department Store is located.
The prepping up of balloons is available for public viewing the night before, from 3 to 10:00 pm, on 77th and 81st streets. Just like the parade, this is free to watch.
With the influx of millions of people for the parade, it is important to arrive as early as 6:00 am to get the best spot. Some shops are also closed on that day, so bring water and snacks. The parade being close to winter, the morning may most likely be bitter so dress up warmly. It is highly advisable not to bring the handicapped and the elderly to the open public areas as there are no priority designations for them. It is best to bring them to a high-rise restaurant or shop, such as The Shops or the Trump International Tower both at Columbus Circle, so they can view from a warmer and less crowded vantage point.