Macy’s Balloonfest 2016 is 3 PM to 10 PM on Wednesday, Nov. 23rd, on the streets around the American Museum of Natural History, from 77th to 81st Streets, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
See Kermit the Frog, Charlie Brown, Sonic the Hedgehog, Buzz Lightyear, and more come alive, one leg, one arm at a time.
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The only place to enter the roped off area and get up close and personal with the balloons is at 79th St. and Columbus Avenue. And expect tight security, including bomb-sniffing dogs.
Join the procession to follow the barricaded route two blocks south on Columbus to 77th St., east on 77th for one block to Central Park West, north on CPW to 81st St., to the exit at 81st and Columbus.
NY Insider’s guide to Balloonfest 2016:
Admission is only from 79th St. and Columbus Avenue
Balloons begin taking shape around 5 p.m., making that a great time to visit, especially for very young children.
Arrive early to beat the crowds. By 5pm most of the balloons have begun to take shape, and by 9pm all are usually inflated. Balloons are kept earthbound by giant nets.
Leave the stroller at home. Crowds make it nearly impossible to negotiate a stroller, and the young passenger’s view will be blocked by barricades and the crowd.
Don’t try to meet up with friends at the Balloonfest. Either arrive as a group or meet a few blocks away.
Last admission is 9:15 p.m.
Take public transportation. Take the C to 72nd or 81st Street and Central Park West, the 2 or 3 to 72nd St. and Broadway or the 1 to 79th St. and Broadway.
Top tip to beat the line: Visit the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday afternoon, before the start of the balloon inflation. Hang out with the dinosaurs and giant whale. The museum is open until 5:45pm on Thanksgiving Eve, and you can exit right onto the loop.
You can also visit Macy’s dedicated Thanksgiving Day Parade website page, but only if you have oodles of time, since it is ridiculously overloaded wth dancing snowflakes and other “stuff” and takes forever to load while it eats up your device memory.
This post published first in November 2012 and is updated annually.