I’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. I’ve watched it on TV countless times but I’ve never been brave enough to battle the crowds and elements to actually get there. I’m hoping to change this fact as my kids get older but for now, I feel really lucky to have a pretty awesome alternative nearby.
Each November, Downtown Stamford, CT transforms into a beautiful celebration of the upcoming holiday season by putting on one of the largest helium balloon parades in the entire country. And that’s only a part of what happens.
Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular
The Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular, presented by the Stamford Advocate, will begin at noon on Sunday, November 18th. The parade route starts on Summer Street and continues onto Broad and Atlantic Streets. There will be all kinds of balloons and floats and characters and local marching bands. There are also vendors selling parade merch and plenty of restaurants nearby to eat at. It’s a ton of fun!
Finding parking that day can be tricky so do plan to get to the area earlier than noon to secure a spot. The crowds along the parade route will be big, but nothing compared to what it would be like at the Macy’s Parade.
Giant Balloon Inflation Party
If crowds and parades give you anxiety, consider instead the pre-party the night before. On Saturday, November 17th from 3pm until 6pm, head to where Hoyt Street meets Summer Street in Downtown Stamford for the Giant Balloon Inflation Party. Watch in awe as your favorite balloon floats get blown up. There will also be performers and characters at this event, as well as a visit from Santa. The event is entirely free.
New Bonus Event for This Year
As if these two above events weren’t already enough for one weekend in Stamford, also on Saturday, November 17th, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Skating Center will open for the first time at Mill River Park! Yes, what began this summer as a beautiful fountain will now be transformed into an ice skating rink for the winter months.
The Skating Center will feature a 9,000 square feet outdoor skating rink and a Lodge to stay warm. The area will remain a skating rink through March 15th. The rink will be open daily 4pm-9pm Monday - Thursday, 4pm-10pm on Friday, 11am-10pm on Saturday and 11am to 9pm on Sundays. I am particularly excited for a night visit- I cannot wait to skate under the stars. Skating admission will cost $10 per adult and $8 per child. Skates will be available for rent for $4 a pair.
After your skate, walk on over to Lorca for some delicious hot cocoa or coffee to warm up.
There’s no better place to be in the area the weekend of November 17-18 than Stamford, CT. This year, my husband will be away that weekend but I’m still aiming to hit the events solo with my girls - wish me luck!