travel to new york cityWho doesn’t love a parade? And in November,  the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Big Apple is as much a holiday tradition as turkey with all the trimmings.

Started in 1924 by department store employees, using animals from the Central Park Zoo, the parade has grown into a 2½-mile procession of giant balloons, colorful floats and marching bands from around the country. Except for a brief hiatus during World War II, it’s become an annual event.

The 88th parade steps off at 9 a.m. Nov. 27 at 77th Street and Central Park West, ending at noon in front of Macy’s in Herald Square, at 34th Street. Approximately 3.5 million spectators will line the route. For the best viewing, head to the beginning.

To get a behind-the-scenes look, watch the helium-filled balloons being inflated from 3 to 10 p.m. the day before near the Museum of Natural History. This year’s balloons include Snoopy, who’s appeared in 33 parades, more than any other character.

But that’s just the start of festivities in New York over Thanksgiving weekend and beyond. It’s a magical time, a chance to see the city all decked out in its finery.

Since 1931, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been part of New York’s holiday celebration.

In early November, the tree arrives on an oversized flatbed truck, with a New York Police Department escort, and is lifted into place by a giant crane. (Last year’s tree was a 76-foot Norway spruce donated by a Connecticut family.)

rockefeller center christmas treeThe lighting ceremony takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3. While you can see the tree day or night, it’s best viewed in the evening, when the 45,000 lights and Swarovski crystal star on top truly shine. The Christmas tree remains up through the first week in January.

Rockefeller Center isn’t the only place to see New York City sparkle.

Department stores, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, unveil their window displays in November, and they often have playful, seasonal themes, such as letters to Santa.

Also by November, Manhattan’s holiday markets will be open. At Bryant Park, on 42nd Street, you can watch ice skaters and sip hot chocolate while browsing through more than 125 shops selling unique gifts, including clothing, jewelry, decorative items and more.

No visit to New York is complete without a taste of the city’s cultural offerings.

Late November is a perfect time to take in two holiday attractions: the high-kicking Rockettes in the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” and the graceful dancers of the New York City Ballet in “The Nutcracker.” In addition, many Broadway shows have special Friday matinees the day after Thanksgiving.

For a different track, try the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, a 20-minute ride from Grand Central Station. Running from Nov. 15 to Jan. 19, it features model trains winding their way past more than 150 miniature New York City landmarks.

To learn more about what New York City has to offer at Thanksgiving, contact your Chesterfield travel agent at 636.778.1081.  Travel Leaders Chesterfield serving Wildwood, Town & Country, Ellisville, Eureka, Ballwin, Manchester, Des Peres and the Greater St. Louis area.