Do You Need Tickets for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an iconic New York City tradition that dates back to 1924. Each year on Thanksgiving morning, giant character balloons, festive floats, Broadway musicals, celebrities, marching bands, performance groups, and more make their way down the streets of Manhattan in this beloved event.

If you’re considering attending the parade in person in 2024, one question likely on your mind is – do you need tickets for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or can anyone watch for free along the parade route?

The good news is you do not need tickets to attend the Macy’s Parade! There are no bleacher seats or tickets sold to the general public. It is completely free and open to all to view the parade from any spot along the official parade route, with a few limited exceptions.

In this detailed guide, we will cover everything you need to know to attend the 2024 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, including:

When and Where the Macy’s Parade Takes Place?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place every Thanksgiving morning in New York City. The 98th annual Macy’s Parade will be held on Thursday, November 28, 2024.

The parade kicks off at 8:30 AM at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West, near the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. It proceeds south along Central Park West to Columbus Circle, then east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue.

The parade route continues down Sixth Avenue to 34th Street, where the parade concludes in front of Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square around noon.

The full parade route runs 2.5 miles through the streets of Manhattan. You do not need tickets or reserved seating to watch the parade anywhere along the official route.

The 2024 Macy’s Parade Route

The 2024 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route begins at 77th Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side.

The parade marches south down Central Park West to Columbus Circle. At Columbus Circle, it takes a left turn and heads east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue.

The parade proceeds down Sixth Avenue from 59th Street to 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan.

At 34th Street, the parade takes a final turn west and finishes in front of Macy’s Herald Square department store.

Note that viewing is extremely limited from 34th to 38th Streets on Sixth Avenue since this is the official television broadcasting area. The same goes for right on Herald Square outside Macy’s where the parade wraps up.

Best Viewing Spots Along the 2024 Parade Route

Since no tickets or bleachers are available, if you want the best view your best bet is to arrive early and find a prime viewing spot along the 2024 parade route.

Some of the most popular spots that fill up fastest include:

  • Central Park West in the 70s – Arrive by 6 AM or earlier
  • Columbus Circle – Limited street access but views from 2nd floor of Shops at Columbus Circle
  • Sixth Avenue in the 50s-30s – Get there by 7 AM
  • Near the balloon inflation event on 77th & 81st Street the evening before

Other less crowded areas are Central Park West in the 60s and Sixth Avenue in the high 40s to 50s.

Avoid 34th to 38th Streets and Herald Square itself since public viewing access is severely restricted.

What Time You Should Arrive for the 2024 Parade?

To secure front row spots with the best views, plan to arrive no later than 6 AM. Serious early birds start lining up as early as 5 AM or even the night before!

By 6 AM, prime sidewalk spots will likely be taken but you can still find standing room further back. If you don’t want to wait in the cold for hours, aim to arrive between 7-8 AM instead to find decent spots before dense crowds form.

You Do Not Need Tickets for the 2024 Macy’s Parade!

The great news is no tickets are required to attend the 2024 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! There are also no grandstand seats available to the general public.

The parade is completely free and open to anyone to watch from the streets along the official 2024 parade route. Some exceptions are the bleachers on TV are for Macy’s guests only, and some buildings sell private packages. Otherwise, no tickets needed!

Ways to See the 2024 Parade Up Close

If you want to view the giant balloons and floats more closely without fighting parade route crowds, consider:

  • Attending the balloon inflation event the evening before on the Upper West Side from 12 PM – 6 PM. You can see the balloons inflated and get photos right next to them!
  • Booking a hotel package at places like the Mandarin Oriental or Lotte Palace which offer access to VIP viewing areas on the route for guests only. These sell out extremely quickly!
  • Making a reservation at a restaurant along the route like Quality Italian for their parade brunch. You can enjoy views through the windows while dining on a holiday meal.

Parade Viewing Hotel Packages

Some top hotels sell prime parade-viewing packages and rooms including:

  • Lotte New York Palace
  • The Ritz-Carlton New York
  • Mandarin Oriental New York
  • New York Hilton Midtown
  • JW Marriott Essex House
  • The Plaza Hotel
  • 1 Hotel Central Park

Expect to pay $1000 per night for rooms overlooking the 2024 parade route. VIP packages can cost $2000+ and still sell out nearly a year in advance!

Road Closures and Transportation Tips

The NYPD shuts down the entire 2024 parade route and nearby streets to all vehicle traffic and parking. Key closures include:

  • Central Park West from 72nd to 86th Streets
  • Central Park South & Sixth Avenue from 59th to 34th Streets
  • No vehicles allowed anywhere on the 2024 parade route

Public transportation runs on a weekend schedule with some changes. Subways and buses will be jam packed so expect delays.

Walking is your best bet once in Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day 2024. Or arrive early when the trains are less crowded. Avoid driving if possible due to extensive closures.

2024 Macy’s Parade Performers

The musical acts, Broadway shows, and other performers for the 2024 Macy’s Parade will be announced closer to the event. You can expect high-profile musical guests and Broadway show numbers on floats as always!

How to Watch on TV and Online?

Can’t make it to NYC? The parade will be broadcast nationally on NBC and locally on WNBC from 9 AM to noon in all time zones.

You can also live stream the parade on NBC and Peacock. Telemundo will have Spanish language coverage.

Brief History of the Macy’s Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924 with Macy’s employees marching from 145th Street to the flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. The parade was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade.

Floats, bands, and zoo animals joined the procession in the early years. The first giant helium balloons made their debut in 1927 with Felix the Cat.

The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 due to WWII and rubber shortages. But after the war, it returned bigger and better than ever. It was first televised nationally in 1948 and continues to draw a crowd.

Top Tips for Attending the 2024 Parade In Person

Attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an unforgettable bucket list experience. Follow these tips to make the most of your 2024 visit:

  • Arrive to your viewing spot by 6 AM or earlier for front row spots with clear views. The earlier, the better!
  • Dress very warmly in layers and bring hand warmers, blankets, thermoses with hot cocoa, and snacks.
  • Be prepared for massive crowds if attending. Keep a close eye on children.
  • Use the bathroom before you arrive, as there are no public restrooms along the route.
  • Charge your phone fully since you’ll want lots of photos! But avoid bringing large bags.
  • Don’t bring folding chairs or big strollers that take up space.
  • Take the subway or walk – driving and parking is not recommended.
  • Watch the parade’s end on television to see all the Broadway performances.
  • Consider booking a hotel package on the route for access to warm indoor viewing areas.

Attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC is a memorable lifetime experience. With smart planning and early arrival, you’ll have the perfect spot to watch the larger-than-life balloons, festive floats with celebrities waving, and exciting musical performances during this iconic American tradition.

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