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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. 

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.

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

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

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.

Turkey Trot
Things to do

Prospect Park Track Club Turkey Trot

Preemptively burn off a few pounds (just as you're about bound to gain some extra weight) by running through the verdant foliage of Prospect Park. If you can race to be the top of the pack at this 5K, you win a "great winter hat" as well as a pie! What more incentive does a runner need on Thanksgiving Day? Oh, you want more food? There will be a nice spread of bagels, fruit and hot chocolate waiting for you once you pass the finish line. 

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