The Fourth of July is well known for many time-honored traditions like family barbecues, parades and the raising of Old Glory. Yet nothing may be more popular than ending the day by watching the evening sky fill up with brightly colored fireworks and listening to inspiring patriotic songs. In celebration of Independence Day, several cities across the nation are hosting fun-filled activities by day and then concluding with spectacular pyrotechnic shows that can be viewed from miles away. Here are five of the best places in America to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular
DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell
47 David G. Mugar Way
Boston, MA 02108
Celebrate the Fourth of July in the city where many of the most important events occurred leading up to the Declaration of Independence. The Boston Pops returns for its 41st year to perform its Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell on the banks of the Charles River, not far from the Boston Common. Over 500,000 visitors are expected to attend the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on both sides of the famous river and like previous years, the performance will be televised to a national audience. The Boston Pops Orchestra, led by conductor Keith Lockhart, is expected to perform many patriotic compositions, such as the “Stars Spangled Banner,” “Stars and Stripes” and the traditional grand finale, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with live cannon shots. Earlier in the day, a great event to attend is Boston Harborfest, where visitors can watch the Flag Raising Ceremony and Parade, explore the historic USS Constitution, hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Old North Church and many more events.
Chicago Fourth of July at Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Chicago’s Navy Pier doesn’t just have fireworks for Independence Day, it has fireworks twice weekly beginning Memorial Day weekend and going through Labor Day. Opened in 1916, the 3,300-foot-long pier draws 8.3 million visitors annually, making it the most visited attraction in Chicago and the Midwest. Fireworks accompanied by rousing patriotic music begins at 9:30 p.m. But the pier will host crowd-pleasing activities all day, including cruises, rides on the spectacular 150-foot-high Ferris Wheel, special programming at the Chicago Children’s Museum and three live performances from Cirque Shanghai at the Pepsi Skyline Stage. Because large crowds are expected on the pier for the Fourth of July, the pyrotechnics show can be viewed at other locations along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Spots where you can take in all the fireworks include the Lakefront Trail, Northerly Island and Grant Park, the location for the world’s largest food festival, the Taste of Chicago, from July 9-13.
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
New York, NY 11201
Macy’s will host the 38th Annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks as it returns to the East River to light up the New York City skyline in the nation’s largest Independence Day pyrotechnic display. More than 40,000 fireworks will be launched from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and from barges positioned on the lower East River, from the Manhattan Bridge to the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The City of New York is anticipating more than three million spectators and millions more watching the live telecast. The decision to move the event back to the East River allows for more residents in Queens and Brooklyn to view the dazzling 25-minute fireworks show than in previous years was held at New York Harbor. Several world famous entertainers will appear at the show, with an announcement of the complete lineup forthcoming in June. Earlier in the day, New York will hold several popular events, particularly the crowd-pleasing Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island.
National Mall Independence Day Celebration
Washington, DC 20050
One of the largest and most spectacular Independence Day fireworks displays it held in the nation’s capital. Held on the 146-acre National Mall, spectators will be treated to live performances from many top musical artists on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol prior to the fireworks show, with the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and other national monuments serving as a stunning backdrop. Earlier in the day, hundreds of thousands of people will line Constitution Avenue to enjoy the National Independence Day Parade filled with marching bands, patriotic floats, giant balloons, drum and bugle corps and much more. Later on, visitors might want to visit the free national museums, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to view the actual Star Spangled Banner and the National Archives, to view the authentic Declaration of Independence.
Philadelphia Fourth of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
There aren’t many things better than celebrating the Fourth of July in America’s birthplace. The City of Brotherly Love plans to host a number of events all day, including reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade, the traditional tapping of the Liberty Bell, the ceremonial ringing of the bells at Christ Church and the Fourth of July fireworks at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Prior to the fireworks, the Wawa Welcome America celebration, described as the largest free concert in the country, will be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Among high profile pop stars scheduled to perform are three-time Grammy Award nominee Ed Sheeran, rising pop star Ariana Grande, Academy Award winner and “American Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson, former “American Idol” judge and four-time Billboard Music Award winner Nicki Minaj and Philadelphia’s popular Grammy Award-winning band, The Roots.
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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.