Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021: How to watch and stream, when it starts

The party is back in-person.

The 95th-annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a return to normalcy after last year’s spectacle which went on with some radical social-distancing-related alterations.

While the 2020 parade was tailored exclusively to those watching from home, the 2021 parade is once again a public affair in the streets — with TV viewing options available too, of course.

Some coronavirus-related changes remain in place, however. Most notably, children younger than 12 will only be allowed to be spectators rather than participants.

“We had to make some decisions well in advance of our parade day to ensure that the health and safety of all participants was delivered upon,” the event’s executive producer, Will Coss, told the New York Times. Referring to the 200-some Macy’s employees-connected kids who have participated in years past, he added, “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to have that specific contingent of young children.” 

For those 12 and older, though, this year’s celebration of helium balloons, turkey and wholesome family fun should feel like a breath of fresh, post-pandemic air. Here’s a guide to who will be in it and how to enjoy it.  

macys thanksgiving day parade 2021
Macy’s previewed the new giant character balloons for the 95th-annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® on Nov. 13, 2021, in New York City.
Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.

When is this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

This year’s parade will air on NBC on Thursday, Nov. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon EST.

How can I watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and is it available to stream?

In addition to the NBC broadcast, for the first time, viewers can also watch the fun via livestream on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, beginning at 9 a.m. across time zones as well as on Fubo.

macys thanksgiving day parade 2021
Ronald McDonald will float again this year.
Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.

Where can I watch it in person?

Macy’s has created a helpful map for determining the best viewpoints for those looking to see the celebration from the street. There are very limited public-viewing spots where the parade kicks off at West 77th Street and Central Park West, but early risers (starting at 6 a.m.) can find great views along the stretch of Central Park from West 75th to West 61st streets. There’s no public viewing at Columbus Circle, where the parade turns onto Central Park South, nor at its final turn at Macy’s Herald Square, but views can be found from West 59th to West 38th. 

Macy’s warns that fans “avoid watching” on Sixth Avenue between West 34th and West 38th streets, as well as on West 34th between Sixth and Seventh avenues due to the national television broadcast limiting viewing at those locations. 

macys thanksgiving day parade 2021
A behind-the-scenes glimpse of part of the “Birds of a Feather Stream Together” fleet, to be presented by Peacock at this year’s parade.
Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.

What’s different about the 2021 parade?

The lack of children under age 12 on floats is a big change for the parade. While only 200 or so young kids usually participate, their absence will likely alter the tone of the youthful floats significantly. Additionally, everyone participating in the parade will be vaccinated, although there is no such requirement for spectators, according to the Times. 

Parade staff insists that the experience will be just as young at heart, though.

“That same youthful spirit is still very much a part of this year’s show,” the parade’s creative producer, Wesley Whatley, told the Times. 

macys thanksgiving day parade 2021
The “Wicked” cast rehearses at Herald Square in preparation for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.

Who are the notable participants?

This year’s star-studded parade will feature Carrie Underwood, Kristin Chenoweth, Jon Batiste, Nelly and Mickey Guyton — all of whom will remain masked unless singing. The Rockettes will also perform, as will a group of competitive jump ropers, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance. 

As for notables among the 28 balloons, get ready for newcomers including Baby Yoda from “The Mandalorian” along with Ada Twist, the scientist from the animated children’s Netflix series and familiar faces including Papa Smurf and Snoopy. Also, get ready for a Disney cruise ship and a New Orleans-inspired alligator, NBC reported.

macys thanksgiving day parade 2021
The “Colossal Wave of Wonder” float presented by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions.
Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.