Balloons, Marching Bands & More: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the most quintessential New York City event of the season, if not the entire year. Since the first parade in 1924, this immensely popular holiday tradition has delighted locals and visitors of all ages who wake up early on Thanksgiving morning to see the massive balloons, elaborate floats, and talented performers make their way down Central Park West to Herald Square. The Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side offers convenient access to this famed parade route, making it a top choice for a memorable Thanksgiving stay in Manhattan.

The day before the main event, crowds gather in the afternoon and evening to witness the balloon inflation on 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. This unique Thanksgiving Eve activity has become a beloved local attraction in its own right and allows visitors to get a more up-close look at the balloons against a backdrop of The American Museum of Natural History. Onlookers hope to catch a glimpse of a larger-than-life Pikachu, Elf on the Shelf, Hello Kitty, and any number of other iconic characters. The inflations begin at around 1pm and the area is officially open to the public at 3pm, with the impressive balloons remaining on display well into the evening.

Starting before dawn on Thanksgiving Day, eager spectators begin to stake out the best standing room near the parade route. Anywhere south of 70th Street along Central Park West is great for catching the beginning of the parade, which starts at 9am; however, you can also attempt to find a spot at Columbus Circle or further south along Sixth Avenue. The viewing space becomes more limited south of 38th Street and the route is completely closed to the public along 34th Street in Herald Square, where television crews setup their equipment near the entrance of Macy’s massive flagship store. Regardless of where you find a spot during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can enjoy musical performances, marching bands, and other live performances—in addition to the classic balloons and floats that have made the parade iconic.

The Lucerne is ideally located just a few blocks from the starting point of the Macy’s parade route, making it the perfect place to stay during this whimsical Thanksgiving celebration. Guests can take advantage of our luxury accommodations, modern amenities, and welcoming service before and after this free event. Join us this November and enjoy the delight of a completely unforgettable holiday experience in the heart of New York City.

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