Everything You Need to Know About Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Including route information, star-studded performances, and how to watch from home.

More than a century old, the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade was the first to take place in the nation, thank you very much. This year’s festivities, billed as a Party For The Holidays, pulls out all the stops: floats, balloons, musical performances, dancers, marching bands, and A-list guests. Whether you’re watching at home or witnessing the magic on the Parkway in person, here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.

What time does it start?

The parade kicks off on November 24 at 8:30 am. Revelers seeking the best views will start lining the route in advance of the official start time—if that’s you, be sure to bring blankets and folding chairs.

What is the parade route?

The 1.4-mile route starts at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard, then heads east on JFK to 16th Street, up 16th and onto the Benjamin Franklin Parkway all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Thanksgiving Day parade
Thanksgiving Day parade | George Sheldon/Shutterstock

What can we expect to see and who will be performing?

The processional will feature hundreds of marchers; dozens of giant balloons like Mr. Potato Head, Bugs Bunny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and Strawberry Shortcake; extravagant floats, including one that looks like a gingerbread house; and a host of special guests.

In addition to the usual inflated characters, expect appearances from musical acts Smokey Robinson, C+C Music Factory, Debbie Gibson, DaVonda Simmons, TV personality Carson Kressley, Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph, Blue Man Group, and Billy Flanigan, among many others. Plus, it wouldn’t be a Philly parade without some exuberance from mascots Swoop and Fang. Of course, you’ll be graced with a visit from the big man in red—yes, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance, too.

The standout performances don’t stop at the A-listers. The Kingsway Regional High School Band, West Chester University Color Guard, Kangaroo Kids Jump Rope Team, Jane Baron’s Academy of Dance, Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Broadway tours of Jagged Little Pill and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, among many others will also show off their stuff. Finally, there are parade mainstays like Jerry Blavat to energize the crowd.

What are the best viewing spots?

At Eakins Oval, just in front of the art museum, there’ll be a parade watch zone complete with free Dunkin’ coffee, a photo booth, food trucks, and more. Other hotspots include the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, Logan Circle, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences, The Barnes Foundation, Sister Cities Park, and LOVE Park.

Be aware that road closures will prevent you from driving too close to the parade route, but it’s easily accessible on foot from City Hall and Suburban Station. On the plus side, if you are driving, metered street parking is free on Thanksgiving.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Where can I get some good food and warm up during the parade?

If you need a break from the morning chill, there are a number of spots to grab a coffee and a bagel (and a bathroom break) right off of the parade route:

  • Wawa, 1707 Arch Street: Perfect for grab-and-go goodies on your way to the main event or for a quick Shorti to hold you over until dinner.
  • Christmas Village, LOVE Park: pick up some mulled wine and German bratwurst (it’s never too early) during this market’s opening day. It opens at 11 am.
  • La Colombe, 1414 S. Penn Square: Philly’s favorite roaster offers specialty coffee drinks or latte cans to go.
  • Rothman Orthopaedics Cabin, 1 S. 15th Street: Drink spiked hot chocolate and enjoy comfort food by the ice rink at City Hall.
  • Capriccio Cafe and Bar, 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: If you’re looking for something a little heartier, snag a breakfast burrito or sandwich here.
  • Con Murphy’s Irish Pub, 1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Grab breakfast or come back later for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Assembly Rooftop Lounge, 1840 Benjamin Franklin Parkway: The ninth floor of the Logan Hotel offers some pretty nice views of the parade, plus brunch and cocktails.
  • Whole Foods, 2101 Pennsylvania Avenue: While all the restaurants in this massive Whole Foods will be closed on Thanksgiving day, you can swing by after the parade for some last-minute shopping.

How can I watch live from home?

If, for some reason, you’re against attending the parade in person, there are a few ways of doing it. You can tune into WPVI on your TV to watch the broadcast from your living room, or, if you’re a millennial cord-cutter, you can watch the live stream online via the 6abc website, Apple TV, ROKU, FireTV, and GoogleTV.

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.