On July 4, cities and towns across the United States will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with a host of festivities, from parades to concerts to massive fireworks displays. Here's where to enjoy some of the most star-spangled shows of them all. Better yet, viewing is free.
Fireworks for the Fourth are a classy affair in Austin, where the Austin Symphony performs before any flares start shooting across the sky. The downtown event opens at 4 p.m., when vendors begin hawking food and drinks. The symphony chimes in at 8 p.m. and the fireworks rocket off at 9:30 for a final 30 minutes of patriotic revelry.
There are plenty of July 4 fireworks around Atlanta, but one of the best shows is the Star Spangled Fourth at the Mall of Georgia. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. with family-friendly activities, including carnival games for kids, live music, a movie screening, and, of course, exciting fireworks after the sky has darkened. This year’s film is "The Lego Batman Movie."
The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is famous for a reason: free live music and a spectacular fireworks show. A rehearsal concert without the explosive sparklers on July 3 is a warm-up to the main event the next day, when a second performance by the Boston Pops on the Esplanade begins at 8:30 p.m., followed by fireworks at 10:30. This year’s event features Andy Grammer, Melissa Etheridge, and Leslie Odom Jr. The event is so popular that Bostonians who eschew crowds can celebrate from the comfort of home: The show will broadcast on local TV and radio, and also stream live.
The absolute best place to see fireworks in Chicago is Navy Pier, where Lake Michigan provides a serene and scenic backdrop. Already a favorite spot for tourists who descend in droves on the city during the summer, Navy Pier stages a July 4 show with fireworks set to music. The whole shebang is visible from many points throughout the city, including from a boat on the lake.
The Mile-High City’s big Independence Day show blasts off on Monday, July 3 at 8 p.m. at Civic Center Park, where attendees will be treated to more than booming, colorful sparklers. Live music and a light show will precede the pyrotechnics and vendors will be on hand with tasty food, as well.
America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park features live music beginning at 2 p.m., a beer garden, and a kids’ zone in the heart of downtown. Fireworks light up the skies starting at 9 p.m.
The Minneapolis Red White and Boom Fourth of July fireworks are always a hit with locals, and one reason is the number of excellent viewing spots around the city. Enthusiasts head to their favorite location well in advance of the 10 p.m. show, which originates in the Riverfront District. Preferred viewing sites include Gold Medal Park, the Stone Arch Bridge, and Lake Calhoun.
If an event is in Nashville, you can count on a lot of great music. This year's free Music City July 4th celebration features Chris Young, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jonny P, and The Sisterhood. The fireworks display here is synchronized the live music of the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony.
Cleverly titled Go Fourth on the River, the festivities start early in the Big Easy with music from the Marine Corps Band and fireworks on Monday, July 3. On July 4, a fireworks show launches at 9 p.m. from barges anchored in the Mississippi River. Three hot spots for gazing are Woldenberg Park in the French Quarter, the levee in Algiers Point, and Crescent Park at the edge of the of Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods.
NEW YORK CITY
There’s no shortage of hoopla in New York on national holidays, and July Fourth is no exception. The Independence Day spectacle is every bit as huge and exciting as the city itself. The fireworks blast off from barges in the East River, and the city skyline sets a beautiful frame for selfie opportunities.
The city where American democracy took shape boasts at least two major July 4 displays. The six-day Wawa Welcome America festival in the City of Brotherly Love closes with a concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway featuring hip-hop queen Mary J. Blige and a fireworks show that starts at 9:30 p.m. Another fireworks show is slated for 9:30 p.m. at the Delaware River waterfront.
Enjoying a California summer means hanging at the beach as much as possible. The San Diego Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza is the perfect way to combine beach time with good old-fashioned Independence Day partying. The show commences at 9 p.m. with discharges from barges located near islands in the Bay. Watch from almost anywhere.
A July Fourth event dubbed America’s Biggest Birthday Party runs over four days this year, with a huge concert and fireworks rounding things out at the end of the long weekend. Jake Owen headlines the final event at Forest Park, followed by eye-popping fireworks over the Grand Basin at 9:30 p.m.
For folks who are deep into Independence Day, there’s no beating Fourth of July 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”?