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Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: What you need to know

Where the parade is happening and how to watch from your sofa too

People in a parade in Chicago. The people are all dressed in outfits with black pants and red tops. Shutterstock

Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition that started back in the 1930s. Today, the spectacle includes equestrian performers, fire twirlers, dancers, giant helium balloons, decorative floats, and the fan-favorite Santa Claus.

Throughout the day performers will stop at a main stage at Washington and Randolph streets, but you’ll be able to see the action all along the parade route on State Street. But if you’d rather be cozied up on the couch watching it from your television, we get that. Whichever you prefer, here’s everything you need to know about Chicago’s 2018 Thanksgiving Day Parade.


What time does the parade start in Chicago?

It kicks off at 8 a.m. and runs until 11 a.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 22.

Where is the Thanksgiving Day parade?

This parade takes place downtown along State Street. It’ll start at Congress Parkway and travel north to Randolph Street. Expect big crowds! But if you get there early to grab a front row spot, at least the weather is forecasted to be in the 40s and sunny.

How do I get there?

The good thing is this takes place right near the Loop so you can pretty much take any L train to get close by. Get off at the Washington/Wabash or the Adams/Wabash for the Brown, Purple, Orange, Green, or Pink Lines. The Red Line’s Lake, Monroe, or Jackson station will get you close to the route and so will the Blue Line’s Monroe and Jackson stop.

Where can I watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Television: Tune into WGN for the live broadcast beginning at 8 a.m.

Livestream: Why leave your couch? WGN will be livestreaming the parade from their website.

What else can I do downtown to get in the holiday spirit?

Glad you asked! Millennium Park is near the parade route and the city’s 60-foot Christmas tree just went up last week. In Daley Plaza, about four blocks from the parade’s end, is the Chriskindlmarket with tons holiday vendors in wooden stalls. Our friends over at Eater Chicago even put together a roundup of where to eat on Thanksgiving with a few options near the parade route if you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else. On Black Friday, the CTA’s holiday train and bus begin running, check our our guide to see when you can catch the festive transit tradition.

And as always check out our seasonal pocket guide and map of things to do with kids for a handpicked list of activities across the city.

People travel with a parade float on a city street in Chicago during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Shutterstock