Where to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation

Posted On Fri, November 22, 2019 By

Posted On Fri, November 22, 2019 By In Events, holidays, Upper West Side 

Image by Phil Roeder via Flickr

If you can’t get enough of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can extend the festivities by attending the yearly Balloon Inflation event that takes place the day before Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, November 27 you’ll be able to see the balloons come to life as they get filled with helium outside the Museum of Natural History. It’s the perfect opportunity to get a first glimpse of the five new balloons debuting this year, including Love Flies Up to the Sky by artist Yayoi Kusama in partnership with Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery series.


Image courtesy of Macy’s

The event takes place over a seven-hour window beginning at 1 p.m., and visitors can arrive at any time. After going through a security checkpoint at 74th Street and Columbus Avenue, you’ll enter the inflation area which runs along a designated path up to 81st Street and Central Park West.

The earlier you arrive, the less crowded it will be, but you’ll see fewer fully-inflated balloons. Macy’s recommends arriving between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to beat the crowds, but most of the balloons won’t take shape until about 5 p.m. Once a balloon is inflated it gets anchored with sandbags and covered in netting to keep it in place. The last entrance is at 8 p.m.

One million people are expected to attend the event over the course of the seven-hours, so don’t count on parking. Your best bet is to take the B or C train to 72nd Street. 

Some of the largest balloons cost up to $510,000 just to inflate! Check out more festive facts and figures about the annual parade, now celebrating its 93rd year.

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