Thanksgiving Day Parade: How to watch, when it starts, and more

NEW YORK — The 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City will return Thursday, featuring 25 balloons of all shapes and sizes, 31 floats and 18 all-star performers, including Jon Batiste and Cher. The parade will be hosted by NBC’s “TODAY” show stars Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker.

What time is the parade?

The parade kicks off at West 77th Street and Central Park West at 8:30 a.m. ET and ends outside Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street at noon. Those hoping to snag spots at the beginning of the parade may arrive as early as 6 a.m.

Where can you watch it in person?

There are 2.5 miles of public viewing this year along the parade route. Certain areas aren’t open to public viewing.

  1. Central Park West, from West 75th to West 61st streets: Early risers can watch the beginning of the parade along this stretch. Avoid the section between West 59th and West 60th streets, where there is no public viewing.
  2. Central Park South and 6th Avenue: Spectators can catch a view of the parade just after it turns at Columbus Circle onto Central Park South but before it switches onto 6th Avenue.
  3. 6th Avenue, from West 59th to West 38th streets: Viewers can get as close as possible to the end of the parade here, but avoid the area on 6th Avenue between West 34th and West 38th Street, where viewing is limited.

How can you watch it at home?

You can also watch the parade on NBC or stream it live on Peacock from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. NBC and Peacock are owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

Who is performing this year?

Eighteen performers, 29 clown crews and 11 marching bands will participate. The festivities will kick off with Batiste and end with Cher.

Other famous faces in the parade include En Vogue, ENHYPHEN, Jessie James Decker and Pentatonix. Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Chicago will appear on The Wondership, a float sponsored by Wonder Bread.

Actor and singer Ashley Park, known for her roles in “Emily in Paris” and “Joy Ride,” will appear on the 1-2-3 Sesame Street float alongside the cast of the Muppets.

Actors from several Broadway shows, including “& Juliet,” “Shucked” and “Back to the Future: The Musical,” will also perform.

What’s new this year?

Seven new character balloons will take flight this year, alongside 18 others that have flown through the streets of Manhattan before. There will also be six “Balloonicles,” smaller balloons that will wheel down the route attached to cycles.

For an early preview of the balloons, head to West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue on Wednesday. The balloons will be inflated outside the Museum of Natural History from noon to 6 p.m. ET.

New balloons this year include a five-story-tall Pillsbury Doughboy, “One Piece” character Monkey D. Luffy and Po from “Kung Fu Panda” doing a flying kick. Fan favorites like Smokey Bear, Grogu from “The Mandalorian” and SpongeBob SquarePants will be returning.

This year’s parade will also feature four new floats, including a replica of Willy Wonka’s candy shop, a cityscape from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” a 30-foot-tall gingerbread house and a replica of an outdoor campsite — sponsored by Snoop Dogg brand partner Solo Stove.

What are the security concerns?

Amid increased security tensions over the Israel-Gaza conflict, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said law enforcement is on high alert. She told reporters Tuesday that no credible threats have been made to the parade. Organizers advised spectators to avoid bringing large bags, umbrellas, backpacks and strollers.