If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving with millions of strangers this year then join the crowds for the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a tradition dating back to 1924. With their annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns and music – it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
But, considering you will be sharing the experience with over 3.5 million people you can’t just rock up and expect an amazing view. You need a fool proof plan in place. Here are some golden nuggets of wisdom:
The night before
If you’re staying in a New York hotel the night before the parade than you should totally catch the free viewing of the balloons being blown up. There’s far less people there and you’ll get a great view of the balloons. It’s located on 77th and 81st streets between central park west and Columbus Avenue, from 3pm – 10pm.
Layers. Layers. Layers.
You can never wear too many layers when you’re in New York during the winter, and take into consideration the amount that you’ll be stood still and waiting … it makes you want to add another layer right?
Get up early
The Parade begins at 9am, but of course, people start arriving at 6am (or before) to claim their spot. So if you’re wanting the best view possible, try to arrive before 6am and don’t move from that spot until the parade finishes. PS. Wear comfortable and warm shoes.
Pack your supplies
If you want to bag yourself a great viewing spot, you need to accept that you will be standing in the same spot for a very long time. Running to grab a hot drink or some food is not worth running the risk of losing your spot. Instead pack some sandwiches and bring a flask of hot chocolate; actually maybe coffee, that will help you through the tough hours from 6am – 9am.
Familiarize yourself with the parade route
Be sure to verify the current parade route, the last few years have seen alterations in the usual route
• Parade beings at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9am
• March south on Central Park West.
• At Columbus Circle the Parade will turn EAST onto Central Park South
• When the Parade reaches 7th Avenue it turns south at the corner of Central Park and marches to 42nd Street.
• Then travels east along 42nd Street from 7th to 6th Avenues
• At 6th Avenue it veers South to 34th Street and heads west to Macy’d Herald Square
• Ends at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue at noon.
Book a table for lunch
Imagine 3.5 million people all heading for the subways and nearby restaurants at the same time – chaos. Be ahead of the game and book a table at a place nearby that is open on Thanksgiving, by the time you’ve finished your meal the streets will be far more peaceful.
Room with a view
If you’re not on a budget, it’s totally worth splurging on a parade view hotel room along the Parade route. Hotels such as Mandarin Oriental New York, The Trump International Tower and New York Hilton Midtown can all offer perfect views, just be prepared to pay for that luxury.
If you want some more Thanksgiving travel inspiration read our article: The best destinations for Thanksgiving