Holiday Fun

Full of Hot Air: Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation!

The real fun of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade happens the night before! Find out how to escape the crowds and get a prime view.

Hello Kitty at Macy's Balloon Inflation

New York families are careful to stay clear of the crowds on Sixth Avenue and the entire parade path on Thanksgiving Day. The only time to see the swollen Pillsbury Doughboy, the behemoth Charlie Brown, and the colossal Hello Kitty, everyone knows, is the night before when Macy’s offers New Yorkers a one-of-a-kind sneak peek at these friendly giants as they inflate from mere floppy fabric to their gloriously bloated forms.

But that beloved Upper West Side event has become frightfully crowded, too. It can be impossible to meet up with friends; you have to jockey for good views; and there’s only so long you can carry your 6-year-old on your shoulders. Thankfully, there’s a better way.

macys balloon inflation
Pillsbury Doughboy at Macy’s Balloon Inflation

Every year, the New-York Historical Society invites members to its Thanksgiving Eve Family Celebration, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the balloons along with festive snacks and Turkey Day activities for all ages. The museum’s prime space along Central Park West allows families to stroll leisurely, pose for photos without a million strangers in the shot, and sip complementary hot cocoa to stay warm. The yearly splurge for a family membership is well worth it for this opportunity alone (but if you’ve never been, the NYHS is an incredible—and manageable!—museum for both kids and adults).

Why You Should Go: Kids and kids at heart will marvel at seeing the enormous floatables up close—without having to fight for space—at this exclusive experience. 

Thanksgiving Eve Family Celebration
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), Upper West Side
Wednesday, November 22
3–10 p.m.
Free with annual family membership ($150)

It’s a fully loaded Thanksgiving Eve on the Upper West Side. Here’s how you should spend it (or we can customize a festive day for you and the fam).