The best things to do on Thanksgiving

Feast your eyes on the best things to do on Thanksgiving in NYC before you eat too many rolls and go into a food coma
Macy's Parade Balloon Inflation, November 2012
Photograph: Filip Wolak
By David Goldberg and Time Out contributors |

Staying in town for this glutinous holiday is actually a smart decision. Why? Because there are many fun things to do on Thanksgiving weekend in NYC. Added bonus: You don’t have to fret about traffic or travel delays! Use the upcoming holiday weekend as your chance to visit New York’s various ice-skating venues like The Rink at Rockefeller Center. There will also be plenty of yuletide attractions as we gear up for Christmas in New York, including holiday markets at popular NYC parks and subway stations and more. Seriously, we have your agended covered with out list of the best Thanksgiving events below.

RECOMMENDED: A full guide to Thanksgiving in NYC

Best things to do on Thanksgiving

2014.11.26 Macys Inflation Event
Photograph: Courtesy Kent Miller
Things to do

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation

This pre–Turkey Day ritual, held near the American Museum of Natural History, has become almost as crowded as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we almost prefer it to the main event. Why? We like to weave through the crowds, walking past the inflation stations to see Hellow Kitty at our own pace. Inflation takes place from 3 to 10pm. Arrive later in the evening, when the gigantic characters have taken shape; the crowds are at their peak, so you can also show off the famed New York sidewalk shuffle. 

Bryant Park Winter Village
Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $20 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your time on the ice, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Public Fare. 

Girls with Brown Hair
Photograph: Courtesy Alex Schaefer
Comedy, Musical

Girls with Brown Hair: The 1947 Thanksgiving Special

icon-location-pin Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Hell's Kitchen

Join fur-clad class acts Betty Blanche and Crystal Rogers Sr. (known in modern times as dynamite sketch duo Sam Reece and Becky Chicoine) at this warped musical variety show straight out of black-and-white TV fever dream. They'll sing gibberish Thanksgiving "classics" that will make you long for a brand of Americana that never existed. 

Nutcracker Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Mark Shelby Perry
Things to do, Performances

Nutcracker Rouge

icon-location-pin Théâtre XIV, Bushwick

Sure, you can catch Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet at the theater, or even at the multiplex with Disney's new adaptation. But for a distinctly NYC take on the Christmas classic, head to Bushwick's fabulously gothic Théâtre XIV to witness a truly wild spin. You may know Company XIV as the burlesque bastion behind shows like "Ferdinand: Boylesque Bullfight," and their ribald spin on Tchaikovsky promises the same level of high-drama choreography, tassel-twirling and magnificent costumes. Met Opera choreographer and company co-founder Austin McCormick assembles a lit team of opera singers, aerialists, circus performers and burlesque artists for this year's spectacle, running through January. Beyond the dazzling show, you're sure to be awed by the baroque theater space, which looks like a set from the Phantom of the Opera, along with the cheeky cocktail menu. Just be sure to keep an eye out for whoever (and whatever) comes crawling out from under Mother Ginger’s dress.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
Photograph: MSG Entertainment
Things to do

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

You'll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which—after more than eight decades—still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, spunky Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology were introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.

Things to do, Walks and tours

Radio City Christmas Show and Double Decker Downtown Holiday Tour

icon-location-pin 777 Theater, Hell's Kitchen

If you're really feeling the holiday spirit, you'll want to opt for this combination offer that includes tickets to the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular and a festive double-decker bus tour. 'Tis the season, after all!

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Kolnik
Dance, Ballet

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), Upper West Side

This magical 1954 production, set to Tchaikovsky's incredible score, includes the full New York City Ballet company and two casts of School of American Ballet students, as well as an onstage blizzard and a Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. In the end, however, Balanchine's choreography is what holds it all together. It's enchanting.

House of Yes
Photograph: Courtesy Brendan Burke
Things to do


icon-location-pin House of Yes, Bushwick

Be the sexiest unicorn you can be at this inclusive dance party hosted by House of Yes. Unicorn costumes are encouraged, of course, but any mystical creature or silly amount of sparkles will do (be sure to hit the glitter station once you're in to zhush up your look). Music comes from Icarus and Whitney Fierce and, this being House of Yes, you can count on transfixing performances throughout the night.

Show more

In a turkey coma and need a movie?