The 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is happening in less than a week and depending on your level of Grichiness during the holidays, it’s either a festive spectacle or an epic clustermess.
The 2018 iteration of the parade will follow the same route as in previous years: It’ll begin on the Upper West Side and wind its way along Central Park, before heading down to Midtown and finishing up in front of Macy’s Herald Square. Nearly 3.5 million people turned out for last year’s parade, and it’s expected to have about the same turnout this year, which definitely means traffic in Manhattan will be a nightmare on that day.
In addition to the actual parade day, you’ll also have to worry about the balloon inflation that happens the night before, where Macy’s welcomes people to watch. Streets are closed off for that, too, and it happens across from the American Museum of Natural History. This year, there are a few new balloons—a giant Goku character from the Dragon Ball Z series and a nutcracker balloon that is making its NYC debut—that will join the lineup, along with four new floats.
So what can you expect from this year’s parade—and how can you avoid it altogether? We’ve got you covered.
When is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
The parade kicks off at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving day—that would be November 22. It’ll broadcast live on NBC (and in Spanish on Univision), and livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page.
What is the parade route?
The route stretches for 2.5 miles, beginning at 77th Street and Central Park West, and ending in Midtown in front of Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street. Along the way, it travels down Central Park West; turns east onto Central Park South at Columbus Circle; then turns south at Sixth Avenue; and travels along that thoroughfare before turning west at 34th Street, and ending at Macy’s.
What’s new for the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
According to Macy’s, this year’s parade will feature 16 giant character balloons; nearly 30 legacy balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 16 floats; more than 1,000 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands and three performance groups.”
There have been 20 performers tapped to perform at this year’s parade, including former Fifth Harmony vocalist Ally Brooke, Toni winner Anika Noni Rose, Ashley Tisdale, and many others.
Which streets will be closed during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
While the DOT has yet to release the exact streets that will be closed off for the parade, last year’s list is a pretty good indicator of what to expect:
- 6th Avenue between 59th Street and 34th Street
- 7th Avenue between 33rd Street and 40th Street
- Columbus Avenue between 81st Street and 77th Street
- Central Park West between 86th Street and east side of Columbus Circle/59th Street
- 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- 76th Street and 77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- 71st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- 68th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- 62nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
- 59th Street between Columbus Circle and 6th Avenue
- Broadway between 59th Street and 58th Street
- 40th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
- 36th Street to 39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
- 35th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue
- 34th Street between 5th Avenue and 8th Avenue
- 33rd Street between 6th Avenue and 10th Avenue
And on Wednesday, expect many of the streets around the AMNH—so from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, between 77th and 81st streets—to be closed to facilitate the balloon inflation. We’ll update as more information becomes available.
What about getting around Midtown that day?
The MTA will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving day, and street closures will affect bus service in the neighborhoods where the parade takes place. Plan accordingly, and check the MTA’s website for updates.
For those attempting to get out of NYC on Wednesday, good luck: It’s one of the city’s official gridlock alert days, which basically means traffic is going to be more unpleasant than normal.
Commuter rail services like Metro-North and LIRR will also be adding extra trains for parade-goers; stay tuned for more details as the parade draws closer.
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