How to watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021
(Image credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a beloved holiday tradition, kind of an unofficial start to the jolliest time of the year. So, once again, viewers across the country can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade starting at 9 am in all time zones on both broadcast TV and streaming.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the marquee TV events on Thanksgiving (though there are some great Thanksgiving TV alternatives if you’re looking to fill your day), with a great lineup of performers, floats and balloons of popular TV and movie characters.

NBC's Today anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker serve as the emcees for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

So, if you want to start your holiday off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, here is everything you need to know to watch it.

How to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

As it has since 1953, NBC is the official broadcast home of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Starting at 9 am no matter where you are in the US, local NBC stations are airing the parade for viewers. This means that anyone with a traditional cable/satellite pay-TV subscription or a TV antenna that receives local TV station signals can watch the broadcast. In addition, subscribers to live TV streaming services like FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV also have live NBC coverage as part of their service. 

Telemundo will simulcast a Spanish-language broadcast of the parade in all time zones starting as well. Check local listings to see if and where Telemundo is located in your channel lineup, or visit www.telemundo.com (opens in new tab)

While NBC is the official broadcast network for the parade, CBS also gets in on the action; they just don’t call it the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Officially billed as The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS, the network’s coverage is also available on traditional pay-TV services, with TV antennas and on select live TV streaming services, including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

Viewers can also stream the Thanksgiving Day Parade. For NBC's coverage, viewers looking to live stream the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade must be signed up for Peacock Premium. Similarly, if you want to stream CBS' coverage, viewers need access to Paramount Plus Premium, which offers access to the subscriber’s local CBS station.

What if you're abroad this Thanksgiving and without easy access to these broadcast or streaming options? Well, that's where a virtual private network, or VPN, can come in handy. If you're outside the US — for whatever reason — and want to access your usual channels you won't be able to due to the content being geo-blocked. However, log onto your VPN, choose a server based in the US and stream the show just like you would back home. We've long been fans of ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) — it's fast, safe, easy to use and offers a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee. 

ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)

ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it has a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee.

And it's a great way to keep up with the action from anywhere in the world.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performers, balloons and floats

Now that we've gone over the how for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, here is all of the fun stuff that viewers are going to see as part of the parade.

Performers
All of these performers are paired with a float throughout the parade. Visit Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade webpage (opens in new tab) to see what floats they are on. You can also check out all the marching bands (opens in new tab) that are performing during the parade.

In addition, with Broadway reopening in New York, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature casts from a number of Broadway musicals performing, including Six the Musical, Moulin Rouge! and Wicked. There will also be a performance from the cast of Annie Live!, which airs on NBC Dec. 2.

There will also be special performances from Ballet Hispánico, Big Apple Circus, Jumpers United for Macy’s Parade (JUMP), Spirit of America Dance Stars, Spirit of America Cheer and, as per tradition, the Rockettes.

  • Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg from Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin
  • Ballet Hispanico
  • A Beautiful Noise Broadway cast
  • Betty Who
  • Big Apple Circus
  • Big Time Rush
  • Blanco Brown
  • Boss Kids
  • Cam
  • Dionne Warwick
  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Funny Girl Broadway cast
  • Fusion Winter Guard
  • Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan
  • Jordin Sparks
  • Joss Stone
  • Kilgore College Rangerettes
  • Kirk Franklin
  • The Lion King Broadway cast
  • Miss America Emma Broyles
  • Paula Abdul
  • Phantom Limb Company
  • Sean Paul
  • The Sigma Gamma Rho Centennial Steppers
  • Some Like It Hot Broadway cast
  • Spirit of America Dance Stars
  • Spirit of America Cheer
  • St. John's Dance Group
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
  • Ziggy Marley

Balloons
There are 27 balloons, including four brand new balloons, in this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, depicting many popular characters from TV and movies. See the full list on Macy's parade webpage (opens in new tab), but here are some of the highlights.

  • Bluey
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Sinclair's Dino
  • Stuart the Minion
  • Ada Twist, Scientist
  • Astronaut Snoopy
  • Baby Yoda
  • Paw Patrol
  • Pikachu & Eevee
  • Red Titan from Ryan's World
  • SpongeBob Squarepants

Floats
While the balloons take up the air, the floats on the ground are intricate and beautiful to look at. There are 31 floats in total as part of the parade, closing out, as always, with Santa's Sleigh. See the full lineup of floats on Macy's parade webpage (opens in new tab), but here’s some of the new floats for this year:

  • Toys 'R' Us Geoffrey's Dazzling Dance Party
  • Macy's People of First Light
  • Pinkfong Baby Shark
  • Netflix's Supersized Slumber
  • Wonder's The Wondership

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).