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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018: route, street closures, and more

Everything you need to know about the annual holiday spectacle

91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is happening today, and depending on your level of Grinchiness during the holidays, it’s either a festive spectacle or an epic clustermess.

This year, parade-goers also have weather to worry about: It’s going to feel very wintry in New York on Thursday, with extreme cold and wind gusts all morning. (How cold? The wind chill tomorrow morning could make it feel like it’s close to zero degrees Fahrenheit.) The city’s office of emergency management has released tips for parade spectators, and has also set up a text alert system—if you text THXGIVING18 to 692692, you’ll get updates on the weather, the parade, and more.

NBC is also airing the parade live, and a livestream is being hosted by Verizon.

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 the day before: Streets across from the American Museum of Natural History will be closed for that prep event. 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 legendary artist Diana Ross and her family, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, John Legend, and many others.

Which streets will be closed during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

The official list, courtesy of the NYPD:

Formation:

  • Columbus Avenue between 81st Street and 77th Street
  • Central Park West between 81st Street and 86th Street
  • 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
  • 77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
  • 76th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
  • 73rd Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West
  • 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

Route:

  • Central Park West between 81st Street and East Side of Columbus Circle/59th Street
  • Columbus Circle between 59th Street and Broadway
  • Broadway between 59th Street and 58th Street
  • 59th Street between Columbus Circle and 6th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 59th Street and 34th Street
  • 34th Street between 6th Avenue 7th Avenue

Dispersal:

  • 33rd Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue
  • 34th Street between 7h Avenue and 8th Avenue
  • 34th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
  • 35th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue
  • 36th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
  • 37th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
  • 38th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
  • 39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
  • 40th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
  • 7th Avenue between 33rd Street and 40th Street
  • Broadway between 45th Street and 34th Street

Miscellaneous:

  • 40th Street between 7th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 39th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
  • 38th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
  • 37th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
  • 36th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 34th Street and 33rd Street
  • 8th Avenue between 40th Street and 33rd Street

What’s happening with the Macy’s parade balloon inflation?

On Wednesday, expect many of the streets around the American Museum of Natural History—so from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, between 77th and 81st streets—to be closed to facilitate the balloon inflation. The inflation begins at 1 p.m., and spectators should enter on 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue; it’ll go until 8 p.m., with the official viewing spot on 81st and 77th streets between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.

These streets will be closed as of noon:

  • Central Park West from West 73rd to 85th Streets
  • West 74th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 75th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 76th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 77th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 78th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 80th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 81st Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 82nd Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 83rd Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 84th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • West 85th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
  • Central Park Transverse Road at Central Park West and West 81 St. (both directions)

A map of where that event will take place is below:

Courtesy of Macy’s

What about getting around Midtown?

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.

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.