Did you know that on Thanksgiving Eve in New York you can get a sneak peak of what’s to come in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by viewing the balloon inflation? And though there are still crowds, you don’t have to contend with the 3.5 million people that flock to the parade route (or wake up before 6am on your day off). I just went today – read on to learn about the experience, plus photos of the new 2019 balloons.
A quick plug for upcoming events: Follow my Instagram to see exclusive photos and stories of my recent trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and my upcoming trip to Cape Town, South Africa! I’ll be traveling a lot between now and the end of the year, so expect upcoming posts to be more travel-focused than recipe-focused.
- The balloon inflation is free!
- You can view from 1pm to 8pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
- It took about 1.5 hours start to finish to enter the viewing area and see the balloons. I arrived around 5.
- Most of the time was spent moving slowly towards the security check (on Columbus at 75), a total bottleneck. Once you pass security you can move much more freely and quickly.
- Enter at Columbus Ave and 73rd Street. Once you enter it’s almost impossible to leave, so prepare accordingly.
- I recommend getting off the subway at the 72nd street 1-2-3. It was really easy to move from the subway stop into line within a block.
- There are limited bathrooms on the route (I only saw Porta Potties at the end).
- You are outside in an uncovered area the whole time, so check the weather.
- Due to high winds tomorrow, the balloons might not fly. With the largest being 50-60 feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds, they can be dangerous in challenging weather.
They play holiday music and overall the event was really fun! Great for kids too. Although there was a crowd, it was one of the less painful crowded NYC events I’ve attended over the years.
They are also introducing some new balloons into the parade this year – check them out below!
New in 2019
Will they fly tomorrow? Only time will tell. Can’t wait to see their national debut!