Let’s talk about one of the most iconic events in New York City: the parades on 5th Avenue. No matter your interests, a parade on 5th Avenue will surely capture your attention. With so many parades to choose from, you can experience the rich diversity and culture of New York City firsthand. So why not start planning your next adventure today?
If you’ve never been to one, you’re missing out on an authentic New York experience. The energy, music, costumes, floats, and crowds all come together to create an unforgettable atmosphere you’ll want to experience again and again.
The parades on 5th Avenue are a quintessential New York experience that everyone should try at least once. From Macy’s Thanksgiving Day to African American Day, there’s something for everyone. So grab your friends and family, follow these tips, and get ready to join the fun. Trust me; you won’t regret it!
But with so many parades happening on 5th Avenue every year, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to attend.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a must-see for those who love animals.
Let’s start with the biggest and most famous parade of them all: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, millions of people tune in to watch this parade on TV, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. Giant balloons, marching bands, and floats all make their way down 5th Avenue, bringing the holiday spirit to life. And if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot close to Herald Square, you might even catch a glimpse of some celebrity performers.
This parade takes place every Thanksgiving and features giant helium balloons in the shape of popular cartoon characters, floats, marching bands, and celebrity performances. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season and get into the festive spirit.
St. Patrick’s Day
But Macy’s isn’t the only one worth attending. If you’re a St. Patrick’s Day fan, you’ll want to check out the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This has been a tradition in New York since 1762 and is one of the oldest parades in the world. It features bagpipes, dancers, and plenty of green attire and is a must-see for anyone who wants to celebrate Irish heritage. Surprisingly, there are no floats.
Personally, I have never seen so many people in uniform or marching school bands!
Easter is another occasion that is celebrated with a parade on 5th Avenue. The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival takes place every Easter Sunday and is a beloved tradition that dates back to the mid-1800s.
The Easter Parade is not your typical parade with floats and marching bands. Instead, it’s a parade of people walking up and down 5th Avenue in their Sunday best, showing off their elaborate hats and bonnets. You’ll see a wide variety of hats, from classic to outrageous, adorned with everything from flowers to feathers to stuffed animals.
In addition to the hat parade, many street performers, musicians, and vendors sell Easter-themed treats and souvenirs. You can even participate in a hat contest to showcase your unique creation and compete for prizes.
The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival is a fun and lighthearted event that celebrates spring and the renewal of life. It’s a great way to get into the Easter spirit and enjoy the beauty of the season. So, if you’re in New York City during Easter, check out this unique and festive parade.
It was both amazing and overwhelming at times. Be careful not to lose one another (or your wallet) in the crowds.
Pride March takes place every June during LGBTQ+ Pride Month. This parade celebrates love and equality with rainbow flags, vibrant costumes, and powerful messages of acceptance and inclusivity. It’s a truly joyful event that brings together people of all genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds.
If you’re a fan of classic cars, you’ll love the New York City Veterans Day Parade. This parade takes place every November and features vintage military vehicles, marching bands, and veterans. It’s a great way to honour those who have served our country and learn more about the history of the armed forces.
Finally, the Columbus Day Parade occurs every October and celebrates Italian-American culture and heritage. You’ll see plenty of red, white, and green decorations, marching bands, traditional Italian music, and delicious Italian food.
Puerto Rican Day
For those who prefer a little spice, the Puerto Rican Day Parade is the place to be. This celebrates the culture and heritage of Puerto Rico and is known for its vibrant costumes and music. You’ll see salsa dancers, hear salsa music, and taste delicious Puerto Rican food from street vendors.
African American Day
The African American Day Parade is a must-see if you’re a history buff. This celebrates the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. You’ll see marching bands, floats, and performances that highlight the cultural impact of African Americans in New York and beyond.
Dates and Times of Major Parades on 5th Avenue
The times and locations of the parades vary depending on the event. However, here’s a general idea of what to expect:
- The St. Patrick’s Day Parade usually starts at 11 am on March 17th and runs from 44th Street to 79th Street.
- The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival usually starts around 10 am on Easter Sunday and runs from 49th Street to 57th Street.
- The Pride March takes place on the last Sunday in June and typically starts at noon, running from 26th Street to 5th Avenue and up to 23rd Street.
- The New York City Veterans Day Parade typically starts at 11:11 am on November 11th (Veterans Day) and runs from 26th Street to 52nd Street.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade typically starts at 9 am on Thanksgiving morning and runs from 77th Street to 34th Street.
It’s important to note that these times and locations are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check the official parade websites for the most up-to-date information.
With so many people attending these parades, it’s essential to plan. If you plan on attending a major event, arriving early to secure a good viewing spot is also a good idea. The areas closest to the start of the route tend to fill quickly, so plan accordingly. And don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather, as parades can last several hours and be chilly, even in warmer months.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your parade experience:
- Arrive early: The best spots fill up fast, so arrive at least an hour before the parade starts. Bring a folding chair or blanket, and be prepared to wait.
- Dress appropriately: New York weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before you head out. Wear comfortable shoes and bring layers in case it gets chilly.
- Bring snacks and water: Many street vendors sell food and drinks, but the lines can be long and the prices high. Bring your snacks and water to save time and money.
- Use public transportation: Driving in New York City can be a nightmare, especially on parade days. Take advantage of the city’s excellent public transportation system instead.
- Be respectful: These parades are celebrations of culture and heritage, so respect the performers and fellow spectators. Don’t block anyone’s view or disrupt the parade.
- Beware of Pickpocketers: I am sad to have to remind you of this but take a few items with you as possible and keep your valuables out to reach.
No matter which parades you choose to attend, you’re sure to have a great time. Just remember to plan, dress appropriately, and be respectful of your fellow parade-goers. With these tips, you will have an unforgettable experience at one of New York City’s most beloved traditions.
And as a bonus, here are two other great parades in NYC but not on 5th Avenue.
Another parade that celebrates diversity is the Lunar New Year Parade. This parade occurs in Chinatown every February and is a colourful and lively celebration of the Lunar New Year. You’ll see lion and dragon dancers and plenty of red and gold decorations. It’s a great way to learn about Chinese culture and traditions.
For those who love music, the Village Halloween Parade is a must-see. It takes place every Halloween and features costumes, puppets, and live music from all genres. It starts in the West Village and ends in the East Village, so you’ll get to see some of the city’s most eclectic neighbourhoods along the way.