New York

Everything You Need to Know About the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's, Inc.
Macy’s, Inc.
Macy’s, Inc.

There are plenty of things to be thankful for in NYC this time of year, and living in a mecca of holiday cheer ranks high among them. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is right in our own backyard, after all. The parade’s first iteration in 1924 was staged as a Christmas celebration, started farther uptown, featured live animals in lieu of the eventual world famous balloons, and drew about 10,000 observers. This year, about 3.5 million people are expected to attend.

So how’s a New Yorker supposed to navigate the hordes of frenzied tourists, street closures, and subway service changes? We’ve got you covered right here, with everything you need to know to join the hoi polloi and enjoy the extravaganza. Count it as one more little thing to be thankful for.

The route

The parade kicks off at 9am from 77th Street and proceeds down Central Park West, wraps around Central Park South and passes Columbus Circle. It continues down Sixth Avenue, snakes around the corner of 34th Street and finishes at Herald Square at noon.

dnaveh/Shutterstock
dnaveh/Shutterstock
dnaveh/Shutterstock

Where to watch

The early bird — ahem, turkey — catches the views. Spectators stake out spots along the first leg of the parade on Central Park West from 75th to 59th Street as early as 6am. Type Bs/normal humans can arrive later and watch from farther down Sixth Avenue. Don’t even think about watching on Sixth Avenue between 34th and 38th Streets or in front of Macy’s Herald Square — the national broadcast will preclude your view.

For slightly thinner crowds with all the helium-fueled airborne pageantry of the main event, watch the balloons get inflated outside the Museum of Natural History on Wednesday. Enter at West 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue from 1-8pm on Thanksgiving Eve to see a 37-foot Grinch, 46-foot Charlie Brown, and 60-foot Olaf come to life.

How to get there

First, plan to meet up with your friends before heading to the route to avoid chaos. Although the subway will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, it’s still your best bet. Anticipate entrance and exit closures along the parade route, and avoid seemingly convenient stops along Central Park West and at Herald Square and Columbus Circle. Play it safe and take the 1, 2, or 3 train to 72nd and Broadway, the E train to 50th and Eighth Avenue, or the N train to 49th Street and Seventh Avenue. You’ll walk a little farther, but you’ll get there. Always check the MTA’s service status updates online and via Twitter before you board. And forget about taxis, Uber, and the bus; due to street closures, road travel is not recommended.

What to wear and how to prepare

The Thanksgiving Day forecast predicts sunny skies and a high of 29-degrees, so dig out those scarves, hats, and mittens, and be sure to bundle up. Wear layers you can easily remove in the unlikely event it warms up.

Indulge in the breakfast of your choice before you go; even the hot dog vendors will be swarmed after Santa passes you by. And go easy on the coffee or cocoa — that swarm warning goes double for nearby bathrooms.

Macy's, Inc.
Macy’s, Inc.
Macy’s, Inc.

The performers, floats, and a new balloon

This year’s parade includes 25 giant balloons, seven balloonicles (aka balloon vehicles), 31 floats, 20 performers (including John Legend, Martina McBride, and Diana Ross), and 12 marching bands.

Attendees can expect Tom Turkey to steal some thunder from the parade’s perennial grand finale star, Santa Claus. The parade’s oldest float has had the same look since 1971, and this year he’ll emerge to ring in Thanksgiving Day and usher in the procession with an updated look and some new technology. You’ll see him flap his mechanical feathers and bob his head a safe distance from your dinner plate.

“This year we’re updating him. We’re giving him more of a spotlight,” says Rick Pomer, VP creative director for Macy’s Entertainment. He has been involved in the production of the parade for 30 years. “We’re building lots of spectacle around him with dancers and confetti and pyro. There will be so much pomp and circumstance around him like never before.”

Also new for 2018: An exciting act will transform the whole street into a bowling alley, complete with a 12-foot diameter bowling ball and 16-foot tall pins. A delicious new float will fulfill your food fantasies — it’s a chocolate factory on wheels topped with a performing Ashley Tisdale. A first time showstopper float, Splashing Safari Adventure, recreates a tranquil wildlife landscape with shimmering blue water, a puppeteer-driven confetti shooting elephant and sky-high giraffe on a mobile stage of vibrant flora and fauna. And Pomer says to keep an eye out for a beautiful new balloon called Little Cloud. The cheeky, smiling cloud balloon stands for light, tranquility, and unconditional love.

littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock
littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock
littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock

What to do after

Treat yourself to a cornucopia of goodies with a reservation at one of our recommended Thanksgiving Day restaurants. Tear into a fried turkey leg at Ferris, indulge your carb cravings with mushroom stuffing at Left Bank, or gnaw on a leg of lamb at 21 Club. Kick off the holiday spirit by gliding right into winter fun — ice skating at Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center — or catch a classic NYC winter show like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. If you didn’t already get your Macy’s fix at the parade, stroll by their holiday window display or catch the creations at Bloomingdales or Saks Fifth Avenue.

Or disregard this whole thing and watch on TV instead

NBC will broadcast the parade from 9am-noon in all timezones.Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Alex Erdekian is an editorial assistant at Thrillist. She is thankful for the couch she will be sitting on while the parade is happening.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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