The world's largest parade of the holiday season is back in New York City after having to downsize to a broadcast-only event in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade made plenty of adjustments by not including college and high school marching bands, prohibiting any participants under 18 years old, and having the iconic, giant balloons tied to specialty vehicles rather than carried by handlers to maintain social distancing. But on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the highly-anticipated event is expected to happen in full swing in resident Manhattan, resuming its usual traditions and drawing in its usual crowds.
Although visitors will be allowed to see the balloons inflated the day before this year's parade, they will have to show proof of vaccination in order to do so. In addition, children under 12 years old will have to be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
How to Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
The 95th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will air on NBC from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in all time zones, and an encore will air on the channel from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST -- Telemundo also streams the parade in Spanish. You can catch a livestream of the parade on Peacock, or through Hulu+ Live TV and Youtube TV on NBC or Telemundo. If you livestream the event through NBC's website or app, you'll need a TV provider to gain access.
What Balloons Are Flying in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?
If you're watching the parade, you can expect to see 15 giant character balloons, along with 36 inflatables, 28 floats, 800+ clowns, 10 marching bands, and nine performance groups. This year's new balloons include Ada Twist, Scientist by Netflix, Baby Yoda (also known as Grogu) as inspired by Funko Pop!, Ronald McDonald, and Pikachu and Eevee from Pokémon. Veteran balloons include Snoopy, Boss Baby, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Chase from Paw Patrol, along with many others.
Performances at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
Although the lineup is subject to change, NBC announced a plethora a big names the audience can look forward to. Along with good ol' Santa Claus, the event will feature performances by Jimmie Allen, Jon Batiste, Darren Criss, Kristin Chenoweth, Foreigner, Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Chris Lane, Nelly, Kim Petras, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas, Tai Verdes, Zoe Wees, and Tauren Wells. Other stars include the K-pop group Aespa, the hosts of Blues Clues, the cast of Sesame Street, Miss America Camille Schier, and the cast of Peacock's Girls5eva which includes Sara Bareilles, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps.
Broadway will also bring the casts of Six, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, and Wicked, along with appearances from the Rockettes and the cast of the upcoming NBC live production of Annie. And finally, the special performance will be done by Carrie Underwood, who will perform her album My Gift (Special Edition). Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker will host the NBC broadcast of the event, and the Telemundo broadcast will be hosted by En Casa con Telemundo's Ana Jurka and Carlos Adyan, along with Freddy Lomelí. There will also be a special appearance by Miss Universe Andrea Meza.
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Route
If you're planning to watch the event on site, then make sure you're ready to arrive a few hours earlier than the parade's start time. According to the Macy's website, you'll want to set up on the west side of Central Park West from West 75th Street to West 79th Street to secure a good spot to watch. The route officially begins at West 77th Street and Central Park West at 9:00am, where there will be little to no public viewing available. It will continue to Columbus Circle before turning onto Central Park South, where viewing is still unavailable to the public.
But as the parade comes down West 59th Street, there will be some quality viewing spots until it reaches Sixth Avenue and heads south to West 38th Street. For the grand finale, the parade will turn on West 34th Street and Sixth Avenue, where it will then stop in front of Macy's Herald Square.
Have you ever been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade? Share your experience with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!