Thanksgiving is one of the favorite traditions in New York – the city is full of different holiday events, with the crown jewel being Macy’s Parade. This year, it would be even more special because of the fact that it would go without any COVID restrictions, unlike the previous two years.
Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in New York. Just a month prior to Christmas, many companies use the holiday spirit that takes over the whole town to announce their holiday campaigns or unveil their Christmas decorations.
Most of the major tourist attractions in New York will be closed on Thanksgiving, but not all of them. Here’s a list of what will be up and running on Turkey day.
- Summit One Vanderbilt
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock
- One World Observatory
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
- 9-11 Memorial & Museum
- The Met
- Guggenheim Museum
- Statue of Liberty
- Christmas lights
‘The most wonderful time of the year’ is just around the corner. Window decoration has a cult status in New York, and some famous stores have become popular tourist attractions. If you have a taste for unique Christmas decorations be sure to visit Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and the huge five-story shop of Saks Fifth Avenue. Another Christmas-themed attraction that opens up around Thanksgiving is the ice-skating rinks. The ones in Industry City and Rockefeller Center are usually the first to open!
Most of the Broadway superstars will be home Thursday night (Nov. 25), celebrating Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Only four shows will be open – Chicago, Stomp, Waitress, and The Phantom of the Opera. This means that there’s no Thanksgiving in the Chicago jail, Joe's Diner will be open, and the Phantom will be cranky in his cave. Besides that, your Broadway options are limited.
However, several shows and their leading stars would make special appearances. Wicked, Moulin Rouge!, and Six will star at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, alongside Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, and Jordan Fisher. As tradition dictates, the Radio City Rockettes would make a triumphant appearance at the parade.
Hands down, the biggest Thanksgiving event in New York is Macy's Parade. The department store chain is always active and creative when it comes to holidays.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of New York’s most-famous festive celebrations. The parade is recognized worldwide and is recreated in multiple countries, movies, and occasions.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has 2.5 miles of public viewing along the NYC route in 2021. The parade starts at West 77th Street & Central Park West at 9 am ET. This is one of the places, where you’ll have a limited view at best (and no view in the worst case). The parade marches on to Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Streets, through the Columbus Circle, 6th Avenue, and to its final destination at Macy’s Herald Square.
Viewing Along Central Park
- No (or limited) public viewing at 77th Street.
- Great views can be found along the west side of Central Park West from 75th to 61st Street. Early birds typically arrive starting at 6:00 AM.
- The route turns east on Central Park South, but there will be no public viewing along this cross-town street before it turns south onto 6th Avenue.
- Plenty of viewing can be had on 6th Avenue, from 59th to 38th Street.
- Once the parade turns west on 34th towards Macy's, the viewing is strictly limited by the television broadcast.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade happened in 1924 and it was so far away from what we know today. The store’s employees marched to the flagship store on 24th street in colorful dresses. They had floats, performers, and even animals from the Central Park Zoo. Then, in front of more than 250.000 people, they welcomed Santa Claus on Herald Square
Almost a century ago, the parade was far from what we know and love today. On that day, a tradition was born, and it was so impactful that it totally overshadowed Ragamuffin Day.
Through the years
For nearly 100 years, the parade has grown and changed. The introduction of balloons was probably the most significant addition. They replaced the zoo animals in 1928. Pop-culture influence was almost instant. The parade presented balloons in the shapes of Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Donald Duck, Baby Yoda, Pokemon, Goku, and Olaf.
Inflating the balloons
Watching the balloons getting inflated is an event on its own. You can enter the designated viewing area at West 72nd Street and Central Park West and exit at West 81st Street and Central Park West. The event will take place on November 24th, around 6:00 PM.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, 2021
Ada of Netflix’s Ada Twist will be the star of this year’s parade. She’ll be tall as a 4 story building (51 feet), long as 7 bicycles (41 feet), and 29 feet wide, just as 6 taxi cabs. She’ll be accompanied by 15 giant balloons and 28 floats, including Baby Yoda once again, Pikachu, and Ronald McDonald.
Announced performing stars include Carrie Underwood, Kelly Rowland, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Grammer, the cast of "Girls5eva".
The 95th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will air on Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. on NBC and Peacock. Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker will serve as hosts.
As the saying goes – Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is all fun and games until one of the balloons goes down. And a few accidents happened throughout the years.
One of the very first balloons – Felix the Cat, that graced the sky in 1927, wasn’t deflated. So it just went into the sky and popped on the sun. In 1956, the Mighty Mouse lost a fight with a street sign. Then in 1957, Popeye the Sailor poured some rainwater from his hat on bystanders.
The biggest accident was in 1997 when The Cat in the Hat took down a lamp post on a bystander. Luckily, the woman survived, but that accident led to a change requirements for the balloons.
Thanksgiving is one of the favorite holidays of everyone in the US, but few celebrations can match the one in New York. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade might be the famous one, but other events are also worth visiting. So, take advantage of the easier measures and the nice weather and go out for a day of celebrations.