Playbill’s Guide to the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Special Features   Playbill’s Guide to the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
 
Whether you’re attending or watching from your couch, here are the tips, tricks, and must-knows for Thanksgiving 2019.
Thanksgiving Day Parade Guide_Graphic_HR.jpg

November 28 marks the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, kicking off at 9 AM ET.

From celebrity sightings to stories-high balloons to Broadway performances, the annual holiday tradition marches through the streets of Manhattan and is broadcast nationwide on NBC and CBS. Hosted on NBC by the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker, the Parade lands in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street.

Want to watch it live and in person—the way theatre fans like it? Here’s what you need to know about scouting out the best location and tips for attending. Don’t forget to follow Playbill on Instagram, with a takeover by Beetlejuice star Sophia Anne Caruso as she brings us backstage at the Parade!

PRE-PARADE FUN

  • Crowds pack it in around the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History (mainly lining 77th and 81st Streets) 1–8 PM November 27 to see the balloon inflation up close.
  • The viewing loop around the museum takes at least 45 minutes to complete.
  • Here’s a hack: Visit the Museum during the day so that upon your exit you can view the balloons—taking you on a different path than other visitors, with an edge on timing.

ROUTE

  • The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West. (There is no public viewing at this intersection. See below for tips on viewing spots.)
  • The parade stretches for 2.5 miles from 77th Street to Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street, going down Central Park West until it reaches Columbus Circle at 59th Street, where it will turn east.
  • The parade marches on 59th Street/Central Park South from Eighth Avenue towards Sixth Avenue and then turns south on Sixth.
  • It continues down Sixth Avenue until it hits 34th Street, where it turns west and walks one avenue.
  • The parade finishes at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Route 2018

WATCH IN PERSON

  • If you plan to watch in person you must arrive early. Reportedly, people start camping out at prime spots along Central Park West at 6AM. The parade begins marching at 9AM.
  • Great views can be had on Central Park West between 75th and 59th Streets.
  • There is no viewing along Central Park South.
  • If you wish to arrive later, we recommend watching on Sixth Avenue between 59th and 38th Streets. These streets tend to be less crowded and boast wider sidewalks.
  • Know parade entrances. Many streets will be closed off. This is last year’s list of street closures from the New York Department of Transportation, which will likely be similar for this year.
  • 38th Street to 34th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues are restricted areas due to filming. You will not be able to enter.
  • Avoid the 34th Street Herald Square and Penn Station subway stations.
  • For spectators with special needs, check out the Young Adult Institute website. While tickets are sold out for the designated viewing area, you can join a waitlist for tickets and check out helpful FAQs.
  • Grandstand tickets for access to the bleachers for stage viewing in front of Macy’s—like the Broadway shows—are not available for the general public.

LINEUP
Broadway Shows Slated to Perform
These performances take place in front of Macy’s in the restricted viewing area. You will not be able to see them on the parade route. They air in the 9 AM hour (in all time zones) on the national broadcast.

Celebrity Sightings
Performers set to appear on the 26 floats include:

  • Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner Billy Porter atop Rexy in the City float from COACH
  • Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas on the NHL Most Valuable Hockey Mom float from MassMutual/NHL
  • Grammy Hall of Famers Chicago (the band) will ride the Heartwarming Holiday Countdown float from Hallmark Channel
  • American Country Music Award winner Chris Janson will enter aboard the Harvest in the Valley float from Green Giant
  • Country music star Chris Young will be seen on Mount Rushmore's American Pride float from South Dakota Department of Tourism
  • Grammy winner Ciara will sing aboard the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float from Nickelodeon
  • Pop star and Broadway alum Debbie Gibson will perform aboard Shimmer and Shine from Nickelodeon
  • Former NASA astronauts Dr. Janet L. Kavandi and Kay Hire will be featured on Snoopy’s Doghouse from Peanuts Worldwide
  • Tony Award winner Idina Menzel returns to the parade, this time on the Deck the Halls float from Balsam Hill
  • Nickelodeon star Josh Dela Cruz appears on the Blues Clues & You! float from Nickelodeon
  • Grammy winner Kelly Rowland rolls in on Toy House of Marvelous Milestones from New York Life
  • Broadway and Glee alum Lea Michele takes her spot on the Central Park float from Macy’s
  • Grammy nominee Natasha Bedingfield appears on the Fantasy Chocolate Factory float from Kinder
  • K-pop phenomenon NCT 127 enters aboard The Brick-Changer from The LEGO Group
  • Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin greets viewers atop the Big City Cheer! float from Spirit of America Productions
  • Billboard Latin Music Award winner Ozuna will sing from the Parade Day Mischief float from Sour Patch Kids Candy
  • Country singer-songwriter Tenille Townes performs from the Home Sweet Home float from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
  • 12-year-old rapper That Girl Lay Lay takes her spot aboard the Universal Playground from Universal Kids
  • Best-selling American girl group of all time TLC performs from Splashing Safari Adventure from Kalahar Resorts and Conventions

New Balloons

  • Snoopy gets a makeover for 2019 as he debuts as Astronaut Snoopy. He measures up at 49 feet tall, 43 feet long, and 29 feet wide.
  • In honor of Netflix’s new show, Green Eggs and Ham, gets a float this year, featuring Guy, Sam, and the titular dish.
  • From artist Yayoi Kusama, the new float Love Flies Up to the Sky debuts in this year’s parade.
  • Making his first appearance since 1993, Smokey Bear returns to the Parade to celebrate his 75th birthday.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants and Gary appear in a newly designed float commemorating the character’s 20th birthday.

GENERAL TIPS FOR ATTENDING THE PARADE

  • Public transportation is your best bet to navigate the city, as Thanksgiving Day is marked as a gridlock alert day in New York City. The MTA will follow a Sunday schedule, and bus service may be affected by street closures. Be sure to plan your route in advance and check the MTA website for closures and delays. For folks coming from just outside the city, Metro North and LIRR add extra trains.
  • Scout places nearby your “campsite” to grab food or coffee or go to the bathroom, but be aware that many establishments won’t allow you to run in and use the bathroom—you’ll have to sit down and eat. The Macy’s website has a handy coffee, food, and restroom feature on its interactive map.
  • Bring snacks! Load up on water, bars, and whatever else you’ll need to be comfortable for a few hours before Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Bundle up. It gets cold in New York in November, and you don’t want to be stuck freezing. Bring a hat, scarf, and gloves just in case, and be sure to check the weather the day before in case you need rain gear.
  • Bring a portable phone charger and any cell phone accessories you’ll want to document the day and communicate with your party.
  • Have a meet-up plan. In case you and your party get separated, make sure you all know where you're headed so you can find each other.
  • Rest assured there will be lots of security at the parade to ensure everyone has a safe experience. Look out for directions from volunteers and security and expect some security checks.

WATCH ON TV

  • The official Parade broadcast begins at 9 AM in all time zones Thanksgiving Day on NBC, and will be available in Spanish on Univision. You can also stream the feed on NBC.com and the NBC mobile app. Or, watch on the NBC channel via Hulu+ Live TV, YouTube TV, and FuboTV.
  • Terry Crews and Lilly Singh host the exclusive Verizon 360 Livestream, featuring views from 360 cameras places at multiple points along the parade route. Access the 360 Livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page beginning 8:30AM ET.
  • CBS will host its own broadcast, The Thanksgiving Day Parade, beginning at 9 AM. Featuring specially taped performances from Broadway shows, the broadcast will be hosted by Entertainment Tonight host Kevin Frazier and correspondent (and former Radio City Rockette) Keltie Knight. The CBS broadcast will feature an exclusive performance by Miranda Lambert. The CBS broadcast will include a pre-recorded performance from the cast of Mean Girls.
  • The CBS version is also streamable via CBS All Access or the CBS channel on Hulu+ Live TV, YouTube TV, and FuboTV.
  • Stay tuned to Playbill as we will post videos of the performances after they air on television.

Bookmark this article! Playbill will update with additions and announcements to ensure a smooth Parade day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Also be sure to check out Playbill's Thanksgiving Week Broadway Show Schedule.

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