Independence Day is one of the most festive holidays in the United States, and as such, it's a great time for traveling. Cities all over the country celebrate by having large Fourth of July fireworks displays, patriotic parades, and street parties.
In New York City, the fireworks are set over the Brooklyn Bridge and in Washington, D.C., the skies above the Capitol Building are ablaze with patriotic color. But you don't have to be in a big city to enjoy the holiday, as some of the best festivities are in small New England towns or metropolitan suburbs. Regardless of where you are, there's always some thrilling way to celebrate America's birthday.
Many Independence Day events are either canceled or modified in 2020, so always check official event websites to confirm information.
An Independence Day highlight in New York City is Macy's stupendous Fourth of July fireworks, exploding in the skies over the Brooklyn Bridge. Fireworks are set off from barges close to Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport and smaller fireworks will be shot from the bridge itself. This pyrotechnic spectacular is billed as the largest fireworks event in the U.S. on July 4.
While you can normally see the fireworks from anywhere near New York's most famous bridge, public viewing areas for the 2020 event will be closed down. If you're staying in an apartment or hotel near the water in Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan, you may be able to see the live show right from your accommodations. Otherwise, it will air on NBC across the country to be enjoyed from the comfort of your own living room, starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT or 7 p.m. CT/MT.
The historic towns and cities scattered across New England played a big role in America's independence, so it's no surprise that they go all out for Fourth of July with parades, family-friendly events, and lavish fireworks displays. Many of the largest events—such as those held in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and Bristol, Rhode Island—have been canceled in 2020.
At least one event that is still planned to take place, albeit with modifications, is the Fourth of July parade in Bar Harbor, Maine. On July 4, 2020, the city will host a "reverse parade," where businesses decorate their shopfronts so spectators can walk around and enjoy the displays instead of all congregating in one place.
Beantown is famous for its fireworks display accompanied live by the world-famous Boston Pops Orchestra, which always ends the night with Tchaikovsky’s iconic "1812 Overture," complete with cannon fire. Fireworks blast off from seven barges along the Charles River while fans watch from the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade or along the Longfellow Bridges.
The 2020 event is called "Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes," and it pays tribute to frontline workers and healthcare employees. There won't be a fireworks display this year nor a live show, but instead, America's Orchestra will play the regular patriotic classics to be enjoyed from home via television or radio. It starts at 8 p.m. EDT on July 4, 2020, so tune in to accompany your at-home festivities with this New England classic.
Colonial Williamsburg Fourth of July celebrations are canceled in 2020.
Colonial Williamsburg is living history—real-life actors take over the historic houses and bring to life the days before the American Revolution. You'll have a chance to ask a Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry replica a few history questions.
Fireworks are launched at 9:20 p.m. from behind the Governor's Palace. Arrive early enough to find a seat in the Palace Green for viewing and listen to the concerts.
The National Independence Day Parade and fireworks show are canceled in 2020.
Nothing tops the afternoon National Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue. Then, at the U.S. Capitol, sit on the lawn and enjoy "A Capitol Fourth" concert which begins at 8 p.m. and features noted musicians and a performance of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" by the National Symphony Orchestra. The day in Washington, D.C., is topped off with a massive fireworks display over the National Mall.
Virginia Beach's Stars & Stripes Explosion is canceled in 2020.
Virginia Beach puts on its annual Stars & Stripes Explosion for the Fourth of July. Thousands of visitors flock to the waterfront stages to see marching bands, tribute bands, and local entertainers followed by spectacular fireworks over the ocean in this free patriotic celebration.
The Navy Pier Fourth of July celebration is canceled in 2020.
Navy Pier has firework shows all summer, but on July 4 the iconic downtown Chicago destination puts on a special red, white, and blue fireworks display. On the Fourth of July, Navy Pier is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Organizers expect large crowds filling parking garages and the pier itself so it's wise to go early and spend time there in advance of the evening celebrations.
It actually gets so crowded that they may close the pier and grounds, allowing entry only to people with approved advance tickets or official reservations.
The Dallas suburb of Addison has a population of only 19,000 residents, but every year on July 3, the town swells to a staggering half-million people as visitors flow in for one of the nation's greatest firework displays. Kaboom Town, as the event is called, is a 30-minute show and not one to miss, as 3,500 pounds of fireworks light up the sky.
Kaboom Town is held on the day before the Fourth of July each year. For the July 3, 2020, event, this legendary fireworks show will go on at 9:30 p.m. but without the traditional daytime festivities around the city, including the Watch Party in Addison Circle Park. The show can be viewed from virtually anywhere in the city with an unobstructed view, so hang out on the patio of a nearby restaurant, at your Addison hotel, or in your parked car. If you're out of the area but want to see this famous show, you can watch Kaboom Town from home by streaming it live.
Fourth of July celebrations in Nashville are canceled in 2020. A scaled-down fireworks show will air at 9 p.m. on local television.
Music City hosts one of the biggest fireworks shows in the country along the Cumberland waterfront. Accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the fireworks and music start at 9:30 p.m. on July 4, 2019, and are the finale of a jam-packed day of entertainment and music.
The main concert stage is located at Fifth Avenue and Broadway and the celebration includes a DJ and live music starting at noon.
In the heart of downtown Houston, the annual Freedom Over Texas event is celebrated each year on July 4 with a festival and massive fireworks display at Eleanor Tinsley Park. In 2020, the park will be closed and the outdoor festival is canceled, but spectators can still enjoy the annual fireworks show and a performance by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, both of which will be broadcast live on television and online.
If you're around the Houston area, there are no public places open to gather and watch the fireworks. However, you could always enjoy it from the safety of your car by parking near the park and seeing the show live.
Go 4th on the River in New Orleans is canceled in 2020.
Ring in America's birthday in New Orleans style at the Go 4th on the River bash, which features vintage victory bands and the "Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza" over the riverfront. The fireworks begin at 9 p.m. after the music which starts at 5:30 p.m.
On the banks of the Mississippi River, Fair St. Louis is a massive Fourth of July event that spans an entire weekend and usually culminates with a show consisting of over 15,000 pounds of fireworks. However, the in-person festivities are canceled in 2020 and instead will be moved to a fully virtual event that can be accessed from the event Facebook page. Tune in from home to see musical acts, a variety show, and a patriotic salute to the nation and frontline workers. The show begins at 10 a.m. on July 4, 2020.
There are Fourth of July festivals to celebrate all over Southern California, from Grand Park in downtown L.A. to AmericaFest in the Rose Bowl of Pasadena. Many of the most iconic events in the area, such as AmericaFest, Disneyland fireworks, and KABOOM in Pomona, are canceled in 2020.
One large event still taking place is the Grand Park Block Party, although the entire show will be held virtually and streamed online. Grand Park will be closed to spectators, but check out the official event web page for updates on how to tune in from home.
Lights on the Lake is canceled in 2020.
The fireworks reflecting on the calm waters of Lake Tahoe, with the gorgeous Sierra Nevada mountains in the background, really make this one of the most scenic celebrations. The 25-minute "Lights on the Lake" show attracts some 125,000 people to the area.
Head to the south end of the lake, in areas like El Dorado Beach, Nevada Beach, and Timber Cove Marina for the best views.
The Park City fireworks show may be canceled in 2020. Check local news for the most up-to-date information.
Salt Lake City celebrates Independence Day in western style, with rodeos, live country music, horse races, and more. Don't miss Park City's fireworks displays, which are the largest in the area.
Park City, located 32 miles from central Salt Lake City, is a historic mining town and ski area. The parade there begins at 11 a.m. on Main Street. Starting at 3 p.m., musicians play on the Green until the fireworks light the skies at dusk.