America’s Top 12 Thanksgiving Parades

Bust out the gravy, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and cider–Thanksgiving is around the corner! Did you know that there’s more than just the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade out there in the United States? There are plenty of fantastic parades held around the country each year, so we’re bringing you the Top 12 Thanksgiving Parades in the United States. Belly up to this feast.

All of these parades are free to attend; however, tickets for purchase are available for grandstand or reserved seating when applicable.

1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – New York, NY

Thursday, November 24 at 9 am EST

This year’s highlights: Tim Burton’s B. balloon; Daniel Radcliffe on the Herald Square stage in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Macy’s Day Parade is the biggest Thanksgiving parade celebration in the United States. Immortalized in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, the parade is broadcast across the country on NBC affiliates at 9 am EST and PST. Celebrating its 85th year, expect 15 giant character balloons, marching bands, 27 floats, 800 clowns, performances from major Broadway shows and countless TV/movie/recording celebrities.

2. McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade – Chicago, IL

Thursday, November 24 at 8 am CET

Don’t eat: adorable mascot Teddy Turkey.

Walking down Chicago’s State Street, the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade has been going strong since 1934 and is the most popular Thanksgiving celebration in the Midwest. The three-hour parade features giant balloons galore, marching bands, celebrities, floats and more. Spectators from around the country can tune into this parade on WGN America at 7 am EST/4 am PST.

McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade. Photo courtesy of Chicago Festival Association.

3. 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade – Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, November 24 at 8:30 am EST

Don’t miss: FanTAPulous – some of the East Coast’s best dancers.

Macy’s isn’t the only big show! The 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade actually began before Macy’s New York parade and has been delighting Philadelphia’s young and old since 1920. The three-and-a-half-hour parade has a new sponsor this year with Dunkin’ Donuts, but you can still count on the balloons, floats and marching bands to entertain the throngs of spectators.

4. H-E-B Holiday Parade – Houston, TX

Thursday, November 24 at 9 am CET

Most likely to morph into a werewolf and burst into song: Twilight‘s Boo Boo Stewart.

Now in its 62nd year, the H-E-B Holiday Parade in Downtown Houston is a strong Thanksgiving Day tradition in Texas with about 400,000 spectators spread over 20 blocks and two million viewers on CBS affiliates. This parade includes giant helium balloons, such as Frosty the Snowman, Papa Smurf and the brand new, 55-foot Nutcracker. Ticket proceeds from the grandstand seating areas benefit educational programs in public schools.

H-E-B Holiday Parade. Photo courtesy of Houston Festival Association.

5. America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade – Plymouth, MA

Saturday, November 19 at 10:30 am EST

Catch up on your: Pilgrim history

The birthplace of Thanksgiving best have its own parade! The America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade is traditionally held the Saturday before Thanksgiving as part of a three-day Thanksgiving festival of food and music, and this special event should not be missed! Plymouth’s parade tries to educate the visitors as well with a history of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. During the parade there is a 36-foot long float that collects non-perishable food items for the needy, so bring along some canned goods to cheer up someone’s Thanksgiving.

6. America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Detroit, MI

Thursday, November 24 at 9:20 am EST

Prepare yourself for: The Distinguished Clown Corps and the Junior Jesters.

Tied with Macy’s as the second-oldest parade, America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade  has been put on by Detroit’s Parade Company since 1924. The theme for 2011 is “So Much To Believe In.” The parade follows a route along Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit and features a large collection of papier-mâché heads (The Big Head Corps) who walk along the route.

7. The Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade – Charlotte, NC

Thursday, November 24 at 10 am EST

Move to the beat of: Step and drill squad performances.

Charlotte’s Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade has been held since 1947 as one of the premier Thanksgiving events in the South. With about 100,000 spectators on the ground and nearly 200,000 tuning in on the local CBS affiliate (WBTV), this is the fourth largest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. Enjoy the music of some of the region’s best marching bands, check out some amazing floats and don’t forget about Santa and Mrs. Claus at the end of the parade!

The Belk Carolinas' Carrousel Parade. Photo by Lenn Long Photography.

8. My Macy’s Holiday Parade – Pittsburgh, PA

Saturday, November 26 at 9 am EST

Most likely to morph into a werewolf: True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello.

Held annually since 1980, My Macy’s Holiday Parade is the perfect pick-me-up for the Thanksgiving food coma victims and the early-rising Black Friday doorbuster shoppers. For two hours on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, the parade along 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh is one of the biggest highlights of the holiday season with giant balloons, bands, live music and appearances from local and national celebrities.

9. Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade – St. Louis, MO

Thursday, November 24 at 8:45 am CET

Rock out to: Battle of the Bands contest.

The holiday season in St. Louis begins with the Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade, which began back in 1984. This youngster on the Thanksgiving parade list has become a welcome addition to the holiday traditions in the area. Festivities begin on Friday, November 18 with the Macy’s Holiday Festival of Lights, which features musical performances, fireworks and the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. The parade features floats, helium balloons and plenty of live entertainment for children of all ages.

Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo courtesy of Christmas in St. Louis.

10. WinterNational Thanksgiving Parade – North Miami, FL

Thursday, November 24 at 10 am EST

Most likely to start melting in the heat: parade mascot  I.C. Snowden.

Ringing in the holiday spirit in the Miami Metro area might seem a bit strange, but the tradition of the WinterNational Thanksgiving Parade has been going strong for 37 years. Spectators enjoy seeing the floats and marching bands at this annual festivity where the real hero of the day is the melting mascot I.C. Snowden, who rings in the start of cooler weather in southern Florida.

11. UBS  Parade Spectacular – Stamford, CT

Sunday, November 20 at 12 pm EST

Be on the lookout for: Grand Marshall Laura Linney and the cast of Showtime’s The Big C.

An hour’s train ride from New York City, this local parade is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving as to not interfere with the hubbub of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The UBS Parade Spectacular in Stamford is a popular family-friendly event with massive helium balloons of children’s favorite TV characters. 2011 will see the arrival of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar balloon.

12. Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Parade – Fountain Hills, AZ

Thursday, November 24 at 9 am MST

Be on your best behavior for: Santa Claus.

Fountain Hills is located less than an hour’s drive from Phoenix and Scottsdale, and is home to one of the finest small Thanksgiving parades in the West: the Fountain Hills Parade. For two hours on Thanksgiving morning, crowds gather to see a cavalcade of floats, marching bands and cheerleaders.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

H-E-B Holiday Parade

Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade

America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade

Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Thanksgiving at

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving parade? Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to give us a shout. You can also stay on top of exciting events from around the world by downloading the eventseekr app for Android, iPhone or Ovi.

About Jules Miller
From the gloriously spooky world of New England, Jules originally pursued a career as a professional study abroad student from 1998 to 2007. A passport full of visas and a couple Master's degrees later, she moved to San Francisco and began working with Wcities as the Language Content Manager. After griping about the absence of Dunkin' Donuts in California, Jules moved back to Connecticut in 2011 and is still scoping out the world's paranormal hotspots and rooting for the UConn Huskies.

2 Responses to America’s Top 12 Thanksgiving Parades

  1. Pingback: Charlotte has the Nation's 4th largest Thanksgiving Day Parade!!! - City-Data Forum

  2. My favorite part about parades are the adorable baton twirling groups full of uncoordinated toddlers. But they always look so freezing cold in their little sequined leotards!

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