Thanksgiving Weekend 2014 for NYC Kids: Macy's Parade, Holiday Train Show
The big to-do in New York City this holiday is, of course, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you plan on taking your kids to see it or the awesome Balloon Inflation the night before, we've got tips on how to scope out the best spots and other useful info about these must-see spectacles.
This weekend officially kicks off the holiday season and there are plenty of ways for families to get into the spirit (besides hitting a Black Friday sale). The New York Botanical Garden's beautiful Holiday Train Show is up and running, Santa is setting up shop at Macy's and other spots starting on Friday, and the big department stores have all unveiled their over-the-top holiday windows.
There is non-holiday fun, too, like a live stage version of Jim Henson's popular Dinosaur Train show, a mini Muppets film fest at the Museum of the Moving Image and retro rides on the MTA's Holiday Season Nostalgia Trains.
These are just a few of the great things going on this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Read on for all of our picks and remember, you can find additional options in our Event Calendar, and our Thanksgiving and Holiday Fun Guides. We wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!
Holiday Windows Walk – Midtown East
This year we actually got a peak at Macy's Holiday Windows before our annual department store holiday windows walk and we loved Macy's space-themed Christmas Adventure. All of the major displays (Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, etc.) are up by the week of Thanksgiving, and the crowds are surprisingly sparse, especially compared to later in the season. While our annual holiday windows walk post won't go up until early December (check out our slide shows from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009!), Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to go. You may even run into us! FREE
Santaland at Macy's Herald Square – Midtown West
Santa Claus flies in to the famed department store on the heels of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy's mounts an entire North Pole village with live elves, an enchanted forest featuring animatronic toys and a train display. Even if you do end up on a long line, there's so much to gawk at the kids don't mind the wait (much). And the lines tend to be shorter the earlier you go in the season. There have been a efw changes so be sure to read out post on the subject before heading out. Friday-Sunday. Admission is free; photo packages are $20-$60
The Three Bears Holiday Bash – Upper West Side
Hit Central Park's Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre for its annual seasonal show featuring the three bears and all of their fairy-tale friends. This spirited puppet performance celebrates all of the holidays: Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. Friday-Sunday. $10 for adults, $7 for children under 12
Mummenschanz – Greenwich Village
Another November Go List pick: The inventive Swiss mime troupe returns to the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for a 10-day run. For four decades, the talented performers have used wire, fabric, giant inflatables and puppetry to enhance their wacky pantomimes. Their funny and fast routines, like using toilet paper for eyes or molding clay masks into hilarious expressions, are better seen than described so thank goodness for YouTube. While the 80-minute show is appropriate for all ages, it is completely silent so it really is best for older children who can stay quiet. $49-$85 but save on select performances at BroadwayBox.com.
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas – Upper West Side
Vital Children's Theatre did a stupendous job of musicalizing the first Fancy Nancy book, so we have high hopes for this tale of Christmas gone awry for the glamor-loving gal. A no-brainer for fans of Jane O'Connor's popular picture book series. Friday-Sunday. $39.50
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show – the Bronx
One of my family's must-do holiday events, the NYBG's 23rd annual train show features model trains whizzing by more than 140 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries and leaves. Friday-Sunday. Free with All-Garden Pass: $28 for adults, $16 for children ages 2-12
Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal – Midtown East
A more low-key and less expensive holiday train show can be found in the New York Transit Museum gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal. It's a modest display but my son loves it, plus it's FREE. Friday-Sunday only.
360 Allstars– Midtown West
A November Go List pick: Hit the New Victory Theater to catch this one-of-a-kind stage spectacle. Marvel at the mad skills of a championship basketball player, a BMX biker, an acrobat and a pair of battling break-dancers, set to the pulsating rhythms of a live beat boxer. My 9 year old really loved the show, especially the comical Basketball Man. Friday-Sunday $15-$38
Big apple Circus
Thursday, November 27
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade – Upper West Side to Midtown West
I doubt I need to sell you on this iconic NYC tradition. The only thing that isn't family-friendly about this procession of pop-culture-inspired floats and giant balloons is the fact that you need to arrive around 6am to stake out your spot! Be sure to read our tips about the best places to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. FREE
Also take note: Most Black Friday sales now start on Thursday evening, in case you're looking to take advantage of the deals.
Check out our post about what's open on Thanksgiving in NYC for more ideas about what to do with your downtime between the parade and turkey.
See all Thursday events.
Friday, November 28
See all Friday events.
Saturday, November 29
The Red Balloon & White Mane – Fort Greene
Head to BAM for a pair of French director Albert Lamorisse's famous shorts for kids: the enchanting fantasy The Red Balloon and the award-winning fable White Mane. $9 for adults, $7 for children under age 13 Sound of Music
Holiday Tree Lighting – Park Slope
Celebrate the holidays and Small Business Saturday by watching the tree light up at local cafe S'Nice. Families can also hang with Santa; catch performances by Puppetry Arts, Brooklyn family band Rolie Polie Guacamole and the Middle School 51 chorus; and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and candy canes.
See all Saturday events.
Sunday, November 30
Winter on a Flatbush Farm – Prospect Heights
Find out how 19th-century NYC families prepared for winter at Prospect Park's Lefferts Historic House. Kids can try quilting and spinning, enjoy period treats made on an open hearth, and get up close and personal with Old Saint Nick, who'll pop by to say hello (make that, ho-ho-ho). $3 suggested donation
MTA Holiday Season Nostalgia Trains – Long Island City to the Lower East Side
For your regular fare, you can enjoy a classic ride on vintage R1/9 subway trains that date from the 1930s through the 1970s. These special trains run on the Sixth Avenue line between Queens Plaza and Second Avenue stations on four consecutive Sundays beginning December 1. Old-school advertisements, from quaint to downright funny, and overhead displays have all been maintained and refurbished by the New York Transit Museum.
See all Sunday events.
Don't forget: There's lots more fun in our Event Calendar and our Thanksgiving and Holiday Guides. Before heading out on your adventures, be sure to download our FREE Mommy Poppins Kids on the Go app so you can find the best family destinations wherever you happen to be in NYC.
- This Week: Behind the Scenes at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday Shows for NYC Kids, Best Holiday Light Displays in the Tri-State Area
- Weekend Fun for NYC Kids: Fancy Nancy Xmas Show, Early Holiday Fun, Mummenschanz, Mommy Poppins Night at the New Vic November 22-23
- This Week: November Travel Deals, Turkey Farms Near NYC, Mommy Poppins Night at the New Victory Theater
- Weekend Fun for NYC Kids: Holiday Train Shows, GingerBread Lane, Battle of Fort Washington, Awesome Family Theater November 15-16