If you only see fireworks one day this year (and let’s face it, you might), you should obviously make it the Fourth of July. That’s a no-brainer, considering that no day in America has more colorful sky spectaculars than Independence Day. A few shows in this list fall on July 3, but unless otherwise noted, you can assume the event is on the Fourth.
What, however, constitutes the best fireworks show? To us, it includes four factors: the length, the number of shells, the music, and the popularity. A few minutes of rockets can be amusing, but it doesn’t make for a very good experience overall, and it doesn’t really qualify as a show if it’s that brief. Likewise, a long show is of no use if there’s not a lot of frequent firepower. And as much as the booms and bang above are plenty loud, a showcase accompanied by music always makes things better. The final variable, popularity, isn’t so much a necessary ingredient for a show, but rather a sign that something is working. Many of these events have been around for decades, and there’s clearly a reason for their staying power.
We explored America from sea to shining sea for the biggest, brightest, and most bumping fireworks shows around, and combined all the details (including tips on the best views, when available) into one handy guide. Happy Birthday, America! We’re throwing you a whole bunch of parties.