How to watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2020: live stream free from anywhere now

watch macy's thanksgiving day parade online free 2020
(Image credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Dating back to 1924, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of America's great annual traditions and the perfect way to kick-off the big day, starting at 9am across all time zones - just as a great many turkeys are being read their last rites. Here's how to watch a free Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live stream online in 2020, no matter where you are in the world right now.

Sadly, the pandemic means that no one will be able to attend the 94th staging of the event in person, but you can still catch all the action from the comfort of your home. The 2020 Macy's Day Parade is a three-hour event as usual, with NBC the broadcaster with rights to the spectacular and its 'Today' show anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker hosting affairs. 

Watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live

The 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City from 9am to 12pm in all US time zones and is being shown nationally by NBC. Full TV and live streaming details are below, and don't forget that you can tune in to your home coverage even if you're abroad - all you need to give thanks for is the help of a good VPN. (opens in new tab)

There will be musical performances galore, with the Roots helping to open the show with Jimmy Fallon, and Dolly Parton arguably the biggest name in a star-studded lineup that also includes Patti LaBelle, Keke Palmer, Jordin Sparks and the Radio City Rockettes.

The main change due to coronavirus restrictions is that the parade won't be marched down its usual 2.5 mile route, but instead some of its most popular aspects filmed for TV consumption before being broadcast as part of a live broadcast. Missing out are the lucky high school and college bands invited to play this year's Thanksgiving Day Parade, who will instead perform in 2021, with professional outfits like the NYPD Police Band, West Point Band and FDNY bagpipe band taking their place. 

But things will otherwise look pretty familiar to TV viewers, with the festivities centring around Macy's iconic flagship store on 34th Street and things concluding with the arrival of the one true Santa Claus, fresh out of quarantine from the North Pole!

Read on as we explain all the ways you can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade online and live stream the entire show from anywhere in the world right now.

watch macy's thanksgiving day parade live stream 2020

How to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: free online live stream in the US

NBC website (opens in new tab)

NBC is the broadcaster airing the 2020 Macy's Day Parade, and anyone with the channel as part of their cable package need only head over to the NBC website (opens in new tab) to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade online right now.

Alternatively, those without cable have a number of ways they can watch the festivities. 

Firstly, there's the option of getting NBC through an over-the-top streaming service. Of the many options, Sling TV (opens in new tab) will meet many  people's needs, as it offers NBC in most major US markets as part of its Sling Blue package. Should you decide to keep it, Sling Blue costs just $30 a month - but you can try Sling FREE first (opens in new tab), so watching the Macy's Day Parade doesn't necessarily have to cost you a penny. 

If Sling's not available where you are, then FuboTV (opens in new tab) is another service that includes NBC in its lineup of channels and also offers a free, though as it's a more fully featured cable replacement service, it'll cost more (from $59.99 a month) if you decide to keep it.

Lastly, anyone wanting to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade online will find a free live stream on YouTube (opens in new tab) courtesy of Verizon, the official partner of the 94th annual parade, as well as the telecoms giant's Twitter feed. (opens in new tab) Those streams will be hosted by Mario Lopez, aka Slater from Saved by the Bell.

Not in the US? Remember you can access all the same streaming services and content you would at home just by using a quality VPN. (opens in new tab)

How to watch a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live stream from abroad in 2020

If you find yourself stuck abroad in a country where the service you'd normally use to tune in to NBC isn't available or you can't get YouTube up and running for whatevr reason, don't worry.

Help is as readily available as cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, asdDownloading a VPN will allow you to watch the Macy's Day Parade no matter where you are, simply by changing your IP address to one that's back in your country of residence. Here's how to get started with this essential bit of streaming software.

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What's different about the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

The idea of 'Thanksgiving leftovers' incurs a whole new meaning this year, as other popular Big Apple parades cancelled because of the pandemic - the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, West Indian Day Parade, Puerto Rican Day Parade, Pride Parade and Mermaid Parade, to name but a few - get a slice of the pie at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade instead.

And in a major departure from years past, a number of performances will be recorded in advance - including those that highlight New York City's vibrant musical theater scene, with the casts of "Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” “Hamilton,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Mean Girls" among those pre-taping contributions.

All in all, organizers estimate the 2020 Macy's Day Parade will be around 75% smaller than previous years - but promise what it lacks in size, it will make up for in sparkle. 

James Laird

James is a technology journalist with nearly 10 years experience and currently Sports and TV Streaming Editor at Future, where he works across TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide. He is here to help you find the best ways to watch sports, TV shows and movies online. Previously, he was News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, Editor of Lifehacker UK, and Senior Staff Writer at ITProPortal.