Your Guide to Philly’s Thanksgiving Parade Route, Road Closures, SEPTA Detours and Weather

Heading out to catch the 100th edition of the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade? Check out this guide first.

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What to Know

  • Heading out to catch the 100th edition of the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade? Check out this guide first.
  • We have you covered for what to wear, what you will see, how to get there and the roads that will be closed for the annual turkey day trot.
  • However you spend the day, we hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

The oldest Thanksgiving parade in America is celebrating a century in Philadelphia this year.

With the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade comes plenty of entertainment on the Ben Franklin Parkway, but also road closures, detours and parking restrictions. 

What should you wear? How can you get there?

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Here is your spectator guide to answer your questions:

What Time Does the Thanksgiving Day Parade Start?

The marchers and floats in the 100th edition of the Thanksgiving Day Parade begin at 8:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving. The parade will end by noon. You may want to do Thanksgiving dinner instead of lunch to ensure you can watch the parade in person and still be home in time to get ready.

What's the Parade Route?

The parade begins at 20th and JFK streets in Center City Philadelphia. The route goes down JFK toward Love Park before turning left on 16th Street and up the south-side of the Ben Franklin Parkway. The parade goes on the south-side of Eakins Oval before finishing at the reviewing stand in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

What Are the Road Closures?

Road closures that could affect drivers trying to get into or out of Center City and the Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods go into effect already on Tuesday night. The closures remain in place until the end of the parade unless otherwise noted, the mayor’s office said.

Tuesday

6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Eakins Oval between Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive closed for street rehearsals.

Wednesday

9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Eakins Oval between Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive closed for street rehearsals.

6:30 p.m. – Eakins Oval closed for rehearsals and site build.

7 p.m. – Inbound lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 20th Street to Schuylkill Avenue.

9 p.m. – Outbound lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 20th Street to Schuylkill Avenue.

Thursday

2 a.m. – Market Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 19th Street to 20th Street.

6 a.m. – Market Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 19th Street to 22nd Street until conclusion of parade.

7:30 a.m. – Parade route (listed above) closed to vehicular traffic.

All roads are expected to be cleaned and reopened by 3 p.m. Thursday, the City said.

Expect traffic delays around the parade route throughout Thursday morning.

What Are Traffic Detours?

Philadelphia police will be detouring drivers around the parade route Thursday.

Roads will be blocked leading up to the parade route in Center City, though drivers may get chances to cross during breaks in the action.

Traffic southbound on Kelly Drive will also be detoured at Fountain Green Drive to Oxford Drive and 33rd Street from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Philadelphia police said.

To avoid the area entirely you may want to stick to the Schuylkill (Interstate 76) and Vine Street (Interstate 676) expressways and exit away from the Art Museum area.

Where Will Parking Be Restricted?

“Temporary no parking signs will be posted in connection with the closures listed above beginning on Tuesday, with parking prohibited in posted areas,” the City said in a news release. “Motorists should obey instructions on posted signs and follow directions from Philadelphia Police and parade officials. Vehicles parked in posted areas will be relocated.”

SEPTA Has Special Service Plan to Get You There, but Buses Will Be Detoured

SEPTA trains are a good option to get to and from the parade route.

SEPTA will be operating its Regional Rail, buses, trolleys and the Norristown High Speed Line on a Sunday/Holiday schedule, in part to accommodate paradegoers and early Black Friday shoppers. The special SEPTA schedule is posted on the transit agency’s website.

The transit agency will begin detouring its routes 31, 33, 38, 44, 49, 124, 125 and MFO buses starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Then, on Thanksgiving from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m., SEPTA will detour routes 2, 7, 17, 27, 31, 32, 33, 38, 43, 44, 48, 49, 124 and MFO around the Parkway.

Bus routes 204, 205, 310, 312 and 316 will not operate, SEPTA said.

What Is the Weather Forecast?

Bundle up for the parade. Temps will be in the upper 40s, but will feel chillier due to strong winds gusting at 30 to 40 mph expected during the morning. A Wind Advisory is also in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday. A cup of hot apple cider and a knit cap in the shape of a turkey could be warranted.

The Role Those Strong Winds Could Play on the Parade

Variable factors, including the wind, could put the use of floating balloon characters in question. WPVI-TV will meet with Philadelphia city officials, police and Office of Emergency Management before the parade to determine -- based on wind gusts, wind speeds, temperatures and other variables -- if the balloons will fly, a WPVI spokeswoman said. The final decision will be made around 1 a.m. Thursday.

What You Will See at the Parade

The yearly parade is always a fun-filled morning with a lot of child-friendly entertainment. It’s a great opportunity to support local talent, from school marching bands and dance troupes to Philly’s finest celebrity icons.

The arrival of Santa Clause is a highlight along with a 100th birthday cake this year. 

The parade also features national celebrities, bands from around the country, floats and balloons. Some of the highlights include appearances by original Queer Eye star Carson Kressley, the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, Flyers mascot Gritty, and many others.

What’s a good parade without floats and balloons? You can watch as iconic characters like Shrek, Thomas Tank Engine, the Grinch, Felix the Cat and many more make their way down the Parkway (wind permitting for the balloons). 

The parade also features performances by singers Macy Gray, Aloe Blacc, and Il Divo. The casts of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,’ ‘Cirque Dreams Holidaze,’ ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ ‘Shrek: The Musical’ and ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’ will also perform.

Is the Parade Free to Watch?

Yes.

I Don't Feel Like Heading to the Parkway?

Sit back and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live from New York and the National Dog Show (which was recorded in Montgomery County) right here on NBC10 on Thanksgiving day.

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