America's 10 Best 4th of July Fireworks Shows (Slideshow)
June 21, 2016
There’s no shortage of firework shows on 4th of July weekend, but here are the absolute best places to watch the sky ignite
A Capitol Fourth
Celebrate America’s birthday in its birthplace, Washington, D.C., for one of the biggest Independence Day events in the country. A Capitol Fourth isn’t just about fireworks, but also includes the annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” by the National Symphony Orchestra (complete with cannon fire), renditions of John Philip Sousa’s best marches, and performances from numerous musical guests. This year’s lineup will feature Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, Gavin DeGraw, Cassadee Pope, and more.
Best Views: If possible, set up a blanket on a grassy spot on the National Mall or take a seat on the steps of the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorials. You can also opt for booking a river cruise or a hotel with a view, like the historic Hay-Adams hotel. If all else fails, it will air live on PBS at 8 p.m.
Big Bay Boom, San Diego
Billing itself as the largest fireworks show on the West Coast, the Big Bay Boom in San Diego draws 500,000 visitors every year. No surprise, considering the enormous show utilizes four barges to launch all 10,000 fireworks over the course of 18 minutes. Proceeds from the event benefit the Armed Forces YMCA.
Best Views: The four barges are spaced far enough apart (and the show is so large) that you can see it from almost anywhere in San Diego. Shelter and Harbor Islands, North Embarcadero, the Marina District, the Seaport Village, and the Coronado Ferry Landing are popular spots, as are a number of local hotels and restaurants. If all else fails, the show will also be broadcast on TV in both San Diego and Los Angeles.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, Boston
Boston’s Fourth of July party, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, is so huge that it needs two days — July 3 and 4 — to contain all the festivities. The whole thing kicks off with a concert on Independence Eve, with a second concert the following night at 8:30 p.m., and the fireworks at 10:30. Boston also includes the “1812 Overture” with cannon fire, but with the addition of church bells that ring citywide as well. Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Little Big Town are on tap to perform this year.
Best Views: The fireworks come from seven barges on the Charles River, so anywhere with water views is best. Try the Harvard or Longfellow Bridges, or anywhere along the three-mile-long Esplanade.
DO A.C. July 4th Fireworks, Atlantic City
As if Atlantic City isn’t already popular enough during the summer, about 250,000 visitors flock there every year for the Fourth of July. The annual fireworks show runs for about 18 minutes, and the launching point — a platform in the Marina District — was selected to provide optimal viewing for all. The show is consistently named as one of the top events in the country year after year.
Best Views: Hopeful spectators can attend one of many beach bar parties or viewing events in the area, or set up shop on the Steel Pier, along the world famous Boardwalk, or at a nearby restaurant, hotel, resort, or casino.
Fair Saint Louis, St. Louis
Billed as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park is three days of food, music, and entertainment. Now in its 36th year, the fair has brought names like Eddie Money, Sammy Hagar, Flo Rida, and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic onboard for the spectacular, which also includes beer and burger tastings, water ski demonstrations, and an awe-inspiring nightly fireworks show. The event is free, with the schedule very similar on each of the three days, save for the musical guests.
Go 4th on the River, New Orleans
Besides having the best name pun of any fireworks show, New Orleans’ Go 4th on the River also has one of the best concepts: dueling barges. Fireworks are launched from two ships, both in unison and alternating, to create a beautifully-balanced 20-minute spectacle in the sky. This is now the 26th year for Go 4th, which was ranked fifth on the American Pyrotechnic Association’s most-recent list of “must see” fireworks displays in the U.S.
Best Views: The show can be seen from either side of the Mississippi River. On the French Quarter side, check out Woldenberg Park between the Governor Nicholls Street Wharf and Spanish Plaza. Alternately, watching from the levee in Algiers Point will provide a city backdrop.
Kaboom Town, Addison, Texas
The Addison Kaboom Town! fireworks show is big. As Johnny Carson might have said, “How… big… is it?” It’s so big that it requires 3,500 pounds of explosives. It’s so big that it takes 30 minutes to exhaust the entire stockpile. And it’s so big that it turns the sleepy little town of Addison, Texas (population: 19,000), just north of Dallas, into a bustling, bumping, and blast-filled city of 500,000 over Fourth of July weekend. The show itself, by the way, is on July 3 this year.
Best Views: Like we said, Addison is small, so we’d recommend grabbing an outside seat at any of the numerous bars and restaurants in town. You’ll be fine almost anywhere.
Let Freedom Sing!, Nashville
Freedom isn’t free, but the annual Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4 party is! The new location for 2016 incorporates two stages at the Ascend Amphitheater and The Green at Riverfront Park in Nashville for music, with a lineup that includes Sheryl Crow, Maddie & Tae, Erin McCarley, and the GRAMMY-award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra will provide the soundtrack for the 31-minute firework display that uses more than 55,000 shells.
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, New York City
No other display gets more attention than Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in New York City — and this year happens to be the 40th anniversary. In addition to about 50,000 effects in 25 minutes, there will be music performances by Kenny Chesney, Meghan Trainor, and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Best Views: Grab a spot anywhere with open views of the East River, like the South Street Seaport, along FDR Drive, in Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, or along Long Island City’s waterfront.
Wawa Welcome America, Philadelphia
The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, and now, exactly 240 years later, over 500,000 people are expected to attend the annual Wawa Welcome America festival in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s all going down on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with a free concert (featuring Leslie Odom, Jr., Yazz the Greatest, Leon Bridges, The O’Jays, DJ Biz Markie, and more), a performance by the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra, and a 15-minute, 15,000-shell spectacular.
Best Views: No tips here, other than remembering to stake out a spot on the Parkway, where both the concert and fireworks will take place.