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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018: Start time, where to watch, more

The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with all its crowds, traffic snafus and intense security, is back again with joyous celebration.

In its 92nd year, the iconic event promises tons of entertainment — from songs by Diana Ross, John Legend, Barenaked Ladies and Rita Ora, sets by dance troupes to performances by marching bands, and Santa Claus to wrap it all up in a big red bow.

There's a lot to prepare for, so we've gathered up important things to know before the festivities begin.

Basic info

What time does it start? 9 a.m. What
Photo Credit: David Handschuh

What time does it start? 9 a.m.

What time should I arrive to get a good viewing spot? Before 6 a.m.

Where are the best places to watch? Some say there are no magic spots, but the farther you are from Macy's/ Herald Square, the better. The folks at Mommy Poppins have some great ideas: the west side of Central Park West in the 60s and 70s, or enter north of 86th Street in Central Park and walk south. A hill could offer a vantage point.

What is the parade route? The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West and marches south to Columbus Circle. It then heads east on 59th Street before turning onto Sixth Avenue and heading south to 34th Street. The parade heads west on 34th Street before culminating at Macy's.

Getting there

Lots of people show up to the parade.
Photo Credit: David Handschuh

Lots of people show up to the parade. Macy's expects 3.5 million spectators! You'll need to not only get there early, but also just get there.

Expect street closures all along and around the route, so definitely take public transportation. Especially avoid: 6th Avenue between 23rd Street and 42nd Street, 7th Avenue between 34th Street and 42nd Street, 59th Street between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West, 35th-38th streets between Fifth and Eighth avenues and Broadway between 38th and 59th streets.

According to the MTA: buses and subways are operating on a Sunday schedule (less frequent service) and the Staten Island Railway is operating on a Saturday schedule.

The new balloons

Each year, Macy's introduces new giant character balloons.
Photo Credit: Getty Images for Macy's / Eugene Gologursky

Each year, Macy's introduces new giant character balloons. Last year's were Dr. Seuss' Grinch, Jett from "Super Wings," "Paw Patrol" and Olaf from Disney's "Frozen."

This year, you can expect to see "Little Cloud," a sweet 22-foot-tall smiling rain cloud by FriendsWithYou (pictured), Goku from "Dragon Ball Z," elves from Netflix's "The Christmas Chronicles," named Fleck, Bjorn and Jojo, Sunny the Snowpal by Macy's, and balloonicles by GoBowling.com and Sinclair. The balloons were tested for the parade in New Jersey on Nov. 3. See them here.

And as always, Snoopy will make an appearance, but he'll be dressed differently, as is custom.

Who's performing

Many stars will appearing onboard Macy's signature floating
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Many stars will appearing onboard Macy's signature floating stages including Barenaked Ladies, Brynn Cartelli, Jack & Jack, John Legend (pictured), Leona Lewis, Martina McBride, Rita Ora, Pentatonix, Diana Ross with her children and extended family (including Rhonda Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross, Chudney Ross, Ross Naess and Evan Ross with wife Ashlee Simpson Ross), Sugarland, Ashley Tisdale and more. This list doesn't include the multitude of marching bands, dance squads, cheerleaders, circus performers and others, so prepare yourself for a full morning of entertainment.

Where you can brunch and watch the parade indoors

Not everybody wants to stand in the cold
Photo Credit: The Wayfarer

Not everybody wants to stand in the cold to watch the parade. Some people would rather view it from a distance with good food and heat. There are many restaurants along the route that fit the bill, including Bouchon Bakery on the second floor of the Shops at Columbus Avenue/Time Warner Center and The Wayfarer (pictured) at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue, which is offering a prix-fixe menu and a la carte dining throughout the day.

If the big balloon inflation is more your scene, head out to seasonal seafood eatery Crave Fishbar (428 Amsterdam Ave.), which is offering a free chocolate chip cookie to every table that night, Italian restaurant Carmine's (2450 Broadway) or Tavern on the Green (67th Street and Central Park West) on Wednesday night for crowd-pleasing American classics.

Want to hit up the balloon inflation?

The night before the Thanksgiving Day Parade, catch
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Michael Loccisano

The night before the Thanksgiving Day Parade, catch the annual inflation festivities starting at 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue at 1 p.m. The line to see the balloons snakes up to 81st Street and Central Park West. It all concludes at 8 p.m. Word of warning: the secret is out, so expect a crowd as you shuffle around.

Learn more about the 'secrets' of the parade

Like this amazing fact: the first parade was
Photo Credit: Macy's

Like this amazing fact: the first parade was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1924 but was called the "Macy's Christmas Parade." The event was organized by a small group of Macy's employees, who, dressed in costumes, marched from 145th Street and Convent Avenue to the company's Herald Square flagship, along with a mix of entertainers, floats and -- of course -- Santa Claus. Read on for more Secrets of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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