Every year, millions of spectators gather along the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route in New York City to view the airborne giant helium-filled balloons and balloonicles, spectacular floats, clowns, marching bands, performance groups and celebrity performers.
The 92nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 22, 2018, from 9 AM to Noon ET. Take a spot along the 2.5 miles of public viewing along the route and watch more than 8,000 Parade participants set off down the streets of Manhattan or join a nationwide television audience of over 50 million viewers and watch the Parade on NBC.
But you can also extend your Parade experience by attending the yearly Balloon Inflation event that takes place the day before the Parade and get a ‘sneak preview’ of the giant balloons as they are being filled with helium. Many families mark the start of the holiday season by watching their favorite characters come to life at the Balloon Inflation event.
The 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons
This year, the balloons promise to be more spectacular than ever! The Parade’s novelty and giant balloons will include:
- Americana spheres
- Peanuts’ Charlie Brown
- Flying Fish
- Greg Heffley from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series
- Illumination Presents Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and his loyal dog Max
- Jett by Superwings
- The Nutcracker
- Olaf, the snowman
- Paw Patrol--Chase
- Pillsbury Doughboy
- Red “Believe” Stars and other stars in Blue & White and Yellow
- Red & Gold Macy’s Snowflakes
- Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger
- Ronald McDonald
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- The Elf on the Shelf
- Toothless From How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Where You Can See the Balloons Being Inflated
See the balloons up close as they are being filled with helium outside Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History from 1–8 pm on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 (the day before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.) The balloon inflation path winds around the museum beginning at the public entrance on 74th Street and Columbus Avenue. Spectators will go through a security checkpoint and then enter the inflation area at 74th Street and Central Park West; and exit at 81st Street and Central Park West.
This event draws about 1 million people over the course of the seven-hour window, all captivated by the opportunity to see the giant balloons take shape and come to life. Sandbags and netting are used to anchor the balloons in place.
Tips for Making the Most of the Giant Balloon Inflation
- Try to arrive at the viewing area early as this is a less crowded time. The balloons begin taking shape around 1pm-3pm, so this is a good time to visit. If you show up later in the evening, the crowds will be much larger though there will be more fully inflated balloons to see.
- Admission to the viewing area ceases at 8:00 PM, so get your spot before then.
- It’s best to take public transportation to the balloon inflation area—the crowds make parking nearby and access to the area by car difficult. The subway trains serving the balloon inflation area are the B or C trains to 72nd Street.
- Given the size of the crowd, keep a close eye on children attending with you.
- All spectators are subject to search by the NYPD.
Super Fun Facts About the 2018 Balloons
- The Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger is the longest balloon in the Parade; one of his arms is the length of a standard school bus at 45 feet.
- The original DINO balloon was inducted as an honorary member of the Museum of Natural History in 1975, and the balloon returned to the Macy’s Parade in 2015, after nearly 40 years.
- Illimination's The Grinch and Max are only the fourth-ever giant balloons to take flight as a duo in the Parade’s history.
- Jett is the widest balloon in the Parade and his wingspan is equal to the size of an actual Learjet.
- If the Olaf balloon were made of actual snow, it would be enough to cover the surface of the Matterhorn Bobsleds mountain at Disneyland Resort.
- It would take more than four million Pillsbury Crescent Rolls to create a dough-sized version of the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon.
To learn much more about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, check out the Balloons section of the official Parade site.