Thanksgiving Weekend 2013 for NYC Kids: Macy's Parade, Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train Live, 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!
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Holiday Windows Walk – Midtown East
Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, fellow Mommy Poppins blogger Raven and I and our families get together for our annual department store holiday windows walk. 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 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. Friday-Sunday. Admission is free; photo packages are $20-$60
Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train—Live – Greenwich Village
PBS Kids' popular series hits the stage in this family musical sure to wow preschool paleontologists. The show boasts some top-notch behind-the-scenes talent, notably director and cowriter John Tartaglia (of ImaginOcean, Shrek the Musical and Johnny and the Sprites fame). Plus the hybrid puppet costume characters and full-size replica of the Dinosaur Train sound pretty impressive. Friday-Sunday only. $22-$49 but you can save 25% on tickets with our discount code
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 only. $10 for adults, $7 for children under 12
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show – the Bronx
One of my family's must-do holiday events, the NYBG's 22nd annual train show features model trains whizzing by more than 140 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries and leaves. New this year: The garden has changed the layout, revamped the kids' activities and added a NYC-themed Dining Pavilion. Friday-Sunday only. Free with All-Garden Pass: $25 for adults, $15 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.
Feet Don't Fail Me Now! – Midtown West
Head to the New Victory to catch Minneapolis' Rhythmic Circus in a tap-dance spectacle featuring kooky costumes, a seven-piece brass band and some seriously athletic hoofers. My son and I went on opening night and were seriously wowed by what we saw. Friday-Sunday only. $14-$38
A Dog’s Life: A Rowlf Retrospective – Astoria
In anticipation of its upcoming gallery dedicated to Jim Henson and his Muppets, the Museum of the Moving Image screens a bunch of Rowlf the Dog's greatest media moments. Catch the furry, piano-playing puppet in appearances on The Jimmy Dean Show, commercials, variety shows including The Muppet Show and more. Friday-Sunday only. Free with admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-12
Babe – Upper West Side
Another cool kid flick: Introduce the brood to the 1995 classic Babe about an adorable sheep-herding pig at Lincoln Center. Friday-Sunday only. $7
Thursday, November 28
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.
Friday, November 29
South Street Seaport Christmas Tree Lighting – South Street Seaport
The first big outdoor tree lighting of the season! Head to the Seaport to watch the tree light up, catch live performances by Lesley Gore and other retro acts, and enjoy face time with Santa Claus and his pals Frosty, Rudolph and a few Toy Soldiers. While there, be sure to check out the brand-new ice rink opening this week. All activities are FREE except for the rink, which costs $10 for ages 6 and up
Saturday, November 30
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
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.
Sunday, December 1
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.
Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah – Flushing
Celebrate the Festival of Lights with a family show featuring award-winning storyteller Robin Bady and pop-rock violinist Deni Bonet at Flushing Town Hall. $10 for adults, $5 for children
Ben Rudnick & Friends Holiday Concert – Upper East Side
Head to the Jewish Museum for a concert by these eclectic kid rockers as they perform songs from their latest album Love is a Super Power as well as festive Hanukkah tunes. $18 for adults, $13 for children
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.
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