The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a New York City tradition that’s been happening for 94 years. Is it cancelled for 2020? No, but, thanks to Covid-19, it’s different this year. (You know, like everything else.) Here’s what you can expect from The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2020: when it is, how you can see it, who’s performing, and what floats and balloons will be flying high. (Still looking for the best Thanksgiving food in NYC? We found it right here!) Happy Thanksgiving!

photo: iStock

When It Is & How to Watch

For the first time in its history, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be a televised event exclusively, with no public spectators. 

It will air nationwide on NBC-TV, Thursday, November 26, from 9 a.m. to Noon, in all time zones. 

On hand to host will be familiar NBC personalities Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker.

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Changes To the Parade in 2020

Necessary changes have been made to keep everyone safe. 

The parade will not cover the traditional 2.5-mile parade route; instead the action will be focused solely in and around the Herald Square area of Midtown Manhattan, where Macy's flagship is located. 

You won't see the armies of balloon handlers and staff, as the overall number of participants has been reduced by approximately 75 percent. No kids under 18 this year, either, and of course masks and social distancing will be in play. 

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Will the Balloons Fly This Year?

Yes! But those signature character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80-100 handlers as in previous years. Instead, the parade will employ five rigged specialty vehicles to help them achieve lift-off. 

photo: Macy's

New Balloons

It's a big day for YouTubers and ambitious infants. Two new balloons are joining the parade lineup this year. "Red Titan", the character inspired by YouTube personality Ryan of Ryan’s World is the first balloon based on a YouTuber creation to be part of the parade.

Also debuting is Boss Baby, based on the opinionated animated character from film and tv. 

And, getting the chance to take fly again (after some damage last year) is artist Yayoi Kusama's balloon "Love Flies Up To The Sky," pictured here. 

photo: Macy's/Olay

And Four New Floats!

New floats joining the lineup include a green and gold turkey from Jennie-O, a Christmas in Town Square from Lifetime, a Black woman astronaut from Olay and a madcap scene featuring cat and mouse Tom & Jerry. 

Celebrity Appearances, Musical Performances & Santa

The stars will still come out to shine and perform this year. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs like Dolly Parton, Leslie Odom Jr., Patti Labelle, the New York City Ballet, Bebe Rexha and Noah Cyrus. (Plus many more!) 

And yes, the finale of Santa's arrival will mark the official start of the holiday season! 

Broadway Performances & The Rockettes

The razzle dazzle of Broadway shows will still take place, with performances from the casts of Hamilton, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls and Ain't Too Proud. Plus, the Rockettes will rock it as always. 

What About the Marching Bands?

The bad news: previously-selected regional High School and College Marching Bands performances will be deferred to the 2021 Macy’s Parade.

The good: locally-based professional marching and musical ensembles will step in to provide some rousing tunes.

Can We Attend the Balloon Inflation?

Sadly, no: Macy’s traditional giant balloon inflation public event, traditionally held the night before the parade, will not take place.

But! Macy's has created "Parade 101", a guide to the parade with S.T.E.A.M.-inspired videos and activities, including "The Fundamentals of Inflation!" Check it out here! 

—Mimi O’Connor


Deck the (Food) Halls! NYC Restaurants with Amazing Christmas Decorations

Chow, Baby! Our NYC Thanksgiving Dinner Guide

Chop Shop: Where to Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Near NYC