The Playbill Guide to the 2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Special Features   The Playbill Guide to the 2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
 
Here are tips, tricks, and must-knows for Thanksgiving 2021—whether you’re attending or watching from home.
Thanksgiving Day Parade Guide_Graphic_HR.jpg

November 25 marks the 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, kicking off at 9 AM ET. After last year's limit on spectators, the holiday favorite is returning in full force.

Once again, the parade marches through the streets of Manhattan and is broadcast nationwide on NBC and CBS. Hosted on NBC by the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker, the Parade lands in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street, and offers Broadway performances, celebrity sightings, and the famous stories-high balloons.

Want to watch it live and in person—the way theatre fans like it? Here’s what you need to know about scouting out the best location and tips for attending. Don’t forget to follow Playbill on Instagram, for takeovers by Six star Adrianna Hicks and Wicked star Jennifer DiNoia as they brings us backstage at the Parade!

PRE-PARADE FUN

  • Crowds enter at West 72nd and Columbus Avenue between Noon–6 PM November 24 to see the balloon inflation up close.
  • Viewers must show proof of vaccination along with an official photo ID as they pass through security. A negative test will not be accepted in lieu of vaccinated status. Children under the age of 12 who are not eligible to receive vaccinations may be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
  • Balloons are inflated near the Museum of Natural History, between 77th and 81 Streets on Columbus Avenue. Attendees are encouraged to social distance and masks will be required at all times.


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Route 2018

ROUTE

  • The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West. (There is no public viewing at this intersection. See below for tips on viewing spots.)
  • The parade stretches for 2.5 miles from 77th Street to Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street, going down Central Park West until it reaches Columbus Circle at 59th Street, where it will turn east.
  • The parade marches on 59th Street/Central Park South from Eighth Avenue towards Sixth Avenue and then turns south on Sixth.
  • It continues down Sixth Avenue until it hits 34th Street, where it turns west and walks one avenue.
  • The parade finishes at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.


WATCH IN PERSON

  • If you plan to watch in person you must arrive early. Macy's recommends people begin grabbing a spot along Central Park West at 6AM. The parade begins marching at 9AM.
  • Masks are required to be worn at all times along the route and social distancing is required. There is no vaccine requirement to attend the parade.
  • Great views can be had on Central Park West between 75th and 61st Streets.
  • There is no viewing along Central Park South.
  • If you wish to arrive later, parade goers can watch on Sixth Avenue between 59th and 38th Streets. These streets tend to be less crowded and boast wider sidewalks.
  • Know parade entrances. Many streets will be closed off. AM NY has a list of street closures from the New York Department of Transportation.
  • 38th Street to 34th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues are restricted areas due to filming. People will not be able to enter.
  • Due to crowding, avoid the 34th Street Herald Square and Penn Station subway stations.
  • Grandstand tickets for access to the bleachers for stage viewing in front of Macy’s—like the Broadway shows—are not available for the general public.


LINEUP

Broadway Shows Slated to Perform
These performances take place in front of Macy’s in the restricted viewing area. You will not be able to see them on the parade route. They air in the 9 AM hour (in all time zones) on the national broadcast.

  • The cast of NBC's Annie Live!
  • Moulin Rouge!
  • Six
  • Wicked
  • Also performing: Radio City Rockettes


Celebrity Sightings

  • Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth
  • Emmy winner and Broadway alum Darren Criss
  • Returning Dear Evan Hansen star Jordan Fisher
  • The cast of Peacock’s Girls5eva (Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps)
  • Destiny's Child member and Grammy winner Kelly Rowland
  • The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street
  • Oscar-winning composer Jon Batiste (Soul)
  • Also scheduled are Nelly, Kim Petras, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood, Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Chris Lane, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier, Tai Verdes, Zoe Wees, and Tauren Wells, Jimmie Allen, Foreigner, Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz and the former hosts of Blue’s Clues Steve Burns and Donovan Patton. Plus, Santa Claus makes his way to Macy's once again.


GENERAL TIPS FOR ATTENDING THE PARADE

  • Public transportation is your best bet to navigate the city, as Thanksgiving Day can be gridlocked in New York City. Be sure to plan your route in advance and check the MTA website for closures and delays. For folks coming from just outside the city, Metro North and LIRR is a good option.
  • Scout places nearby your “campsite” to grab food or coffee or go to the bathroom, but be aware that many establishments won’t allow you to run in and use the bathroom—you’ll have to sit down and eat. The Macy’s website has a handy coffee, food, and restroom feature on its interactive map.
  • Bring snacks! Load up on water, bars, and whatever else you’ll need to be comfortable for a few hours before Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Bundle up. It gets cold in New York in November, and you don’t want to be stuck freezing. Bring a hat, scarf, and gloves just in case, and be sure to check the weather the day before in case you need rain gear.
  • Bring a portable phone charger and any cell phone accessories you’ll want to document the day and communicate with your party.
  • Have a meet-up plan. In case you and your party get separated, make sure you all know where you're headed so you can find each other.
  • Rest assured there will be lots of security at the parade to ensure everyone has a safe experience. Look out for directions from volunteers and security and expect some security checks.


WATCH ON TV

  • The official Parade broadcast begins at 9 AM in all time zones Thanksgiving Day on NBC, and will be available in Spanish on Univision. You can also stream the feed on NBC.com and the NBC mobile app. Or, watch on the NBC channel via streaming subscription service like Hulu+ Live TV, YouTube TV, or FuboTV.
  • CBS will host its own broadcast, The Thanksgiving Day Parade, beginning at 9 AM. The casts of Waitress and Chicago are set to perform. The CBS version is also streamable via CBS All Access or the CBS channel via streaming TV service.
  • Stay tuned to Playbill as we will post videos of the performances after they air on television.
  • Playbill will also be offering a behind-the-scenes look at the event, with Adrianna Hicks (Six) and Jennifer Dinoia (Wicked) taking over @Playbill on Instagram.

Bookmark this article! Playbill will update with additions and announcements to ensure a smooth Parade day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Also be sure to check out Playbill's Thanksgiving Week Broadway show schedule.

Portions of this piece have been retained from a 2019 article written by Ruthie Fierberg, Playbill's former executive editor of features and branded content. She is also a freelance writer, moderator, and podcaster. Find more at RuthieFierberg.com.

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