Philadelphia
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31 Spectacular Free Fireworks Shows for Fourth of July

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Philadelphia
Courtesy of visitphilly.com

Bursting in Air

Fourth of July festivities include concerts, parades, and other patriotic displays, but Independence Day is a dull cookout if there aren't any fireworks. Those fireworks are at their best when you don't have to pay admission to see them, which is why we looked around the country and found the most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks displays that your money doesn't have to buy.

Boston
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Boston

The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular would be a draw even if it was just the Pops performing some contemporary tunes and patriotic favorites. Anyone who's ever set up a chair near the Hatch Shell or along the Esplanade at 11 a.m. knows that the main reason to stake out a spot is to get a good view of performers including Queen Latifah, Arlo Guthrie, and "America's Got Talent" contestant Amanda Mena. We recommend catching the July 3 rehearsal show if you don't want to stake out a seat all day, but the Fourth of July fireworks are just as visible across the Charles River in Cambridge as they are from the Boston side of the water.

Austin, Texas
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Austin, Texas

The Austin Symphony provides the score for the city's annual concert and fireworks. Vendors start selling food and drinks at 4 p.m. July 4, and spectators have about four hours to set up camp before the symphony goes on at 8 p.m. The fireworks go off at 9:30 and light up the sky for 30 minutes before everybody catches a late ride home from Capital Metro.

Edmond, Oklahoma
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Edmond, Oklahoma

Central Oklahoma hosts one of the biggest, most lauded fireworks displays in the country, and it's synced to a radio music broadcast. Liberty Fest is all fairly low-tech, but you don't need much more when you just keep getting it right. If the 9:30 p.m. fireworks aren't enough, just keep in mind that they're part of more than a week's worth of events that include a rodeo, carnival, pageant, parade, road rally, and car show.

Seattle
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Seattle

The Seafair Summer Fourth launches Independence Day fireworks over Lake Union, but not before plying visitors to Gas Works Park and South Lake Union Park with plenty food, music, games, and two beer gardens. There is reserved seating you can buy for $20 to $30, but general admission is still free. Considering that much of the city is on hillsides with a decent view of the water below, don't get too concerned about finding a place to watch the festivities.

Minneapolis
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Minneapolis

If you want to watch the Red, White, and Boom fireworks from the Stone Arch Bridge, Lake Calhoun, Gold Medal Park, or other points in the city, you and about 75,000 other people can enjoy the show relatively hassle-free. If you simply need to get down to the riverfront either for the half-marathon, relay, and 5K — or for the vendors and activities — it's best to show up well in advance of the 10 p.m. fireworks.

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
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Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

As Yankee summer celebrations go, the Fourth of July along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee lives up to its billing. It's a fairly serene day on the lake, largely because the bright bombast of holiday fireworks takes place the night before. The show kicks off at 11:59 p.m. on July 3, making the Lake Winnipesaukee show traditionally the earliest Fourth of July fireworks display in the state. While you can crowd in with everyone else to watch the fireworks on Weirs Beach or the boardwalk, finding a private boat and getting a view from the lake is a better bet.

Atlanta
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Atlanta

After the Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta has Fourth of July fireworks all over the city. Perhaps the most family-friendly event is the Star Spangled Fourth at the Mall of Georgia. Starting at 3 p.m. with carnival games for kids and live music, with fireworks starting after the sky goes dark. The capper on all of it is a post-fireworks movie. This year's feature is "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part."

Chicago
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Chicago

There are plenty of places for locals to catch fireworks, but if you're coming in for just the fireworks, be a good tourist and go down to Navy Pier. The shopping and entertainment district already hosts fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night during the summer, and the music-set show July 3 will be no different.

Washington, D.C.
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Washington, D.C.

For folks who are deep into Independence Day, there's no beating the Fourth of July and its fireworks in the nation's capital. On that special day the District holds a parade in the afternoon and a fireworks display in the evening. Visible from numerous vantage points, the sparklers decorate the night sky and cast glowing light on monuments and historic buildings. The most hopping place to catch the show is the National Mall, which will be teeming with people. But what's a fireworks display without thousands of "oohs" and "aahs"?

Provo, Utah
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Provo, Utah

Come for the naming convention, stay for the explosions. The America's Freedom Festival features a carnival, fine arts show, balloon festival, parade, 5K and 10K runs, military village, and the "Stadium of Fires" at Brigham Young University's LaVell Edwards Stadium. Now, you can take in the festival events and watch the fireworks, from outside the stadium for free, or you can pay $35 to $250 to watch a full Keith Urban show — with an appearance by Chuck Norris.

Burlington, Vermont
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Burlington, Vermont

Vermont's largest fireworks show isn't on the Fourth, but the Third. Burlington's annual July 3 Independence Day celebration unleashes its pyrotechnic bounty over Lake Champlain at 9:30 p.m., though food vendors and activities get started closer to 5.

Denver
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Denver

While it isn't great that the city's only Fourth of July fireworks take place at a theme park, Denver makes up for it by offering free fireworks July 3 at Civic Center Park. The "Independence Eve" event starts at 4 p.m. and includes music from Chris Daniels & The Kings along with the Colorado Symphony, cuisine from various food trucks, and wine and craft beer from a number of bar areas.

Philadelphia
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Philadelphia

The home of Independence Hall, the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed, doesn't take the Fourth of July lightly. It hosts Free Museum Days all week, a concert and fireworks June 29, a free showing of "Rocky" on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on June 30, another concert and round of fireworks July 1, Wawa Hoagie Day on July 2, the Pops free at Independence Hall on July 3, and the Welcome America concert and fireworks on July 4. The whole thing closes out with free performances by Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Houston
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Houston

Really riding the "Everything is bigger in Texas" cliché, Houston claims to have the largest land-based fireworks show in the U.S., the Citgo Freedom Over Texas. The fireworks that light the sky over Eleanor Tinsley Park are impressive and visible from various portions of the city, but seeing music acts Jake Owen and Kellie Pickler will cost you $8 in advance, or $10 the day of the show.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor isn't just a great place to watch fireworks: It's a Fourth of July factory. The town packs Independence Day with a pancake breakfast, a relay race, a craft fair, a nonprofit raffle, a parade, a seafood festival, lobster races, and live music all before the first fuse is lit. The Bar Harbor Town Band goes on at 7:30 p.m. and plays the crowd into the fireworks display over Frenchman Bay at about 9:15.

Nashville
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Nashville

Of course Music City is going to have music before its fireworks. This year's free Music City July 4th celebration features Brett Eldredge, Mac McAnally, Jessy Wilson, and Dylan Scott. The Nashville Symphony takes over during the fireworks display, which is visible from just outside the music venues on closed-off Broadway.

Columbus, Ohio
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Columbus, Ohio

Downtown Columbus' Red, White and Boom — obviously not the only event with that name on this list — brings in more than 400,000 people for its July 3 festivities. A parade and street festival precede the pyrotechnics, with people covering three miles of downtown event spaces and viewing areas along the Scioto River.

San Diego
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San Diego

The Big Bay Boom has taken place every year since 2001 and features fireworks launched at 9 p.m. July 4 from barges near various islands on the San Diego Bay. You can watch the show from just about anywhere in the area, but the San Diego Symphony Pops play at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, and various museums and cruise ships offer a better view from the bay itself.

New Orleans
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New Orleans

The Fourth of July is a big deal for all of the usual reasons in New Orleans, but also happens to fall on the same week as the Essence Festival — which means a ton of celebrities and musicians are going to be in town for various events anyway. It takes something really special to impress holiday revelers under those circumstances, so New Orleans' "Go 4th on the River" parks two barges on the Mississippi River and has them perform dueling displays. Whether you watch them from Woldenberg Park in the French Quarter, the levee in Algiers Point, or Crescent Park at the edge of the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, they serve as a colorful backdrop to a holiday that's already fairly vibrant in this city.

New York City
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New York City

For 43 years, Macy's has held its Fourth of July Fireworks show and left city dwellers wondering where they should catch the show. Some years it's on the Hudson River, some years it's launched from barges on the East River near Midtown, other years they launch from Lower Manhattan. This year gives New Yorkers the best possible scenario: fireworks launched from the Brooklyn Bridge and the lower East River, making them accessible for much of the city.

Lambertville, New Jersey/New Hope, Pennsylvania
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Lambertville, New Jersey/New Hope, Pennsylvania

Lambertville was an outpost for George Washington and his army, which camped in an orchard at Bridge and Union streets, and New Hope is where Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at Trenton — enough to warrant a reenactment during the Delaware Canal Festival in June and July. The fireworks don't go off until July 5, but that's because Lambertville and New Hope host fireworks on the first Friday of every summer month.

Bristol, Rhode Island
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Bristol, Rhode Island

Dating back to 1785, Bristol's celebrations start in earnest June 14 — Flag Day — and of course include a parade, concerts, drum corps show, and fireworks over Bristol Harbor on July 3. Grab a spot at Independence Park, enjoy the concert and get ready for fireworks at around 9:30 p.m., a good cap to the orange-crate races, ball (June 21) and the Miss Fourth of July pageant as well.

St. Louis
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St. Louis

This July Fourth event Fair Saint Louis considers itself America's biggest birthday party and runs for three days at Gateway Arch National Park. There's a festival, a science and technology expo, an air show, a parade, fireworks over the Grand Basin at 9:35 p.m. from July 3-5, and — depending on the year — a big headlining musical act. This year, The Flaming Lips plays before the final day's fireworks.

San Antonio, Texas
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San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio isn't just the Alamo and the Missions. It's home to Lackland Air Force Base, Brooke Army Medical Center, Randolph Air Force Base, and Fort Sam Houston, which means it can't skimp on the Fourth of July festivities. A carnival, tons of food trucks, and live music featuring Air Force bands and DJs (with a "how to DJ" workshop for kids) at Woodlawn Lake Park all lead up to a grand fireworks display at the end.

Boulder, Colorado
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Boulder, Colorado

Ralphie's Independence Day Blast, named after Colorado University's mascot and held at its stadium, has been the fireworks show of note in this town since 1941. This being Boulder, though, and Boulder being a bit quirkier than most towns, the roughly 9:30 p.m. fireworks on the Fourth rank somewhere beneath the Dead & Company shows, the women's softball tournament, the farmer's market, and the multiple free concerts as the most interesting activities of Independence Day week.

Whitefish, Montgomery, Montana
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Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish Lake is Montana's Fourth of July epicenter, with vendors and live music along its banks, a holiday boat parade on its waters, and free fireworks in the night sky above to close out Independence Day. The festivities coincide with the Whitefish Arts Festival, which turns downtown Whitefish into an open gallery for artists and artisans.

Melaleuca, Idaho
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Melaleuca, Idaho

The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration pays tribute to those who perished while defending the freedom of the citizens of the U.S. It is one of the largest fireworks shows west of the Mississippi — exploding more than 17,550 shells in a stunning half-hour identified as starting at precisely 10:03 p.m.

Key West, Florida
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Key West, Florida

The fireworks are just a portion of the The Key Lime Festival, which includes a pie-eating contest, "Hooker Pie" cooking class, cocktail course, distillery tour, scavenger hunt, pie drop, pub crawl, and more. The four-day event includes a fireworks show over the Casa Marina Resort at around 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July.

New Britain, Connecticut
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New Britain, Connecticut

For more than 25 years, New Britain's Great American Boom has been drawing more than 30,000 people to Stanley Quarter Park for games, rides, music, and fireworks. Traditionally, a $5 wristband gives unlimited access to all the attractions starting at 5 p.m.; Latanya Farrell plays from 6 to 9 p.m.; the fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

There are no fewer than four fireworks displays in Myrtle Beach on the Fourth of July, making it difficult to not catch a display from anywhere on or near the boardwalk. A boat parade along Murrells Inlet, a golf cart parade on Pawley's Island, road races, live entertainment, and a military flyover supplement the pyrotechnic sounds and sparkle. Can't be there July 4? There are also fireworks June 28 and July 2.

Galeton, Pennsylvania
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Galeton, Pennsylvania

This town nestled in Pennsylvania's northern mountains sits at the bottom of a natural amphitheater that gets awfully loud once the fireworks start exploding overhead. You'll have to wait until July 6 for the fireworks this year, but they cap a two-day Red Suspenders Weekend featuring a parade, rides, food, and a 5K run. The little town swells from 1,000-plus people to 15,000 to 20,000 people during the event, so you'll have plenty of company while watching the fireworks reflected in the town's central mirror lake.