Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Guide 2014

A Paddington Bear balloon will join this year’s festivities. Photo courtesy of Macy’s.

This year, more than 8,000 participants will march down the West Side in the 88th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From where to watch to the scoop on new balloons and this year’s performers, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know for the parade.

The Night Before

Seeing the massive helium balloons get inflated on the eve of the parade is always a special experience. The afternoon and evening before the parade–Wednesday, November 26–you can see the balloons come to life between 77th Street and 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Enter at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue, and walk south toward 77th street along the perimeter of the American Museum of Natural History to see balloons like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hello Kitty, and Snoopy and Woodstock come to life. 3-10pm, 77th Street and 81st Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue

Note: There is no public viewing on the south side of 77th Street, or on the north side of 81st Street.

Where to Watch

If you decide to watch this year’s 2.5-mile procession  from the streets, you’d better plan to get up early. Though the parade doesn’t  kick off from 77th Street and Central Park West until 9am, eager spectators start camping out at 6am along the west side of Central Park West from 75th-59th Streets to see the procession go by from 9-10:30am. The parade then turns at Columbus Circle onto Central Park South, before moving on to Sixth Avenue.  If you’d rather watch from somewhere warm, the Shops at Columbus Circle  are open on Thanksgiving and provide views of the parade coming down Central Park West. Plus, you can take in the Holiday Under the Stars light display. If you’d like to catch a few more z’s, you can meet the parade as it moves down 6th Avenue, starting around 9:30am. Or, just tune into NBC starting at 9am from the comfort of your couch.

The opening of the Parade. Photo courtesy of Macy’s.

Note: Because of the national television broadcast, there is no access on 6th Avenue from 34th street to 38th street; or on 34th street between Broadway and 7th Avenue. There is limited public access on the south side of 34th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.

New Balloons on the Block

This year’s lineup features 16 giant character balloons along with 33 novelty character balloons, balloonicles (a hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle), balloonheads and trycaloons (a combination balloon and tandem tricycle, of course.) This year’s parade marks the largest debut of new giant character balloons, including Eruptor from Skylanders, Paddington Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.

Other Notable Guests & Performances

You’ll see performances from the Big Apple Circus, Cirque due Soleil, and the cast and muppets of Sesame Street, as well as the Pentatonix, Becky G., Nick Jonas, and Idina Menzel (the voice of “Frozen’s” Elsa). New floats include The Girl-Powered Spinning Machine from Glodie Blox and a Treasure Hunt by Pirate’s Booty.