Fourth of July in Central North Carolina: Fireworks and Events

Independence Day in Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, and Chapel Hill

An aerial view of downtown Raleigh as fireworks light up the sky on July 4, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lance King / Getty Images

North Carolina cities go above and beyond the run-of-the-mill Independence Day celebrations. In addition to food and fireworks, Fourth of July revelers can attend music festivals, street fairs, and celebratory baseball games in honor of America's birthday.

The festivities typically begin the weekend before the holiday and continue through the weekend after. The Central North Carolina cities of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary are all within a 30-mile radius of each other, making it an easy road trip for locals and out-of-town visitors alike. Winston-Salem also has some fun patriotic events. 

Many of North Carolina's Independence Day gatherings have been altered or canceled in 2020. Check details below and websites of the organizers for more information.

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Fireworks and More in Raleigh

The City of Raleigh's annual fireworks display has been canceled in 2020.

As North Carolina's capital and the second biggest city in the state, Raleigh is a destination that has a lot going for it. The City of Oaks is famed for its tree-lined streets and Southern charm, but its eastern parts are home to a huge Independence Day celebration.

The event is free and open to the public, with parking available at the PNC Arena, Carter-Finley Stadium, and the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. The arena typically opens its gates at 6 p.m. and the fireworks launch around 9:30 p.m. on July 4 (or July 5, in the event of rain).

Other events traditionally held in Raleigh on the Fourth include the Keep RLGH Independent 4-Miler run at Dorothea Dix Park, the Fourth of July Celebration at the State Capitol grounds, and the all-day party in downtown Raleigh. Get more details about specific events on the Raleigh website.

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Chapel Hill's Fourth of July Festivities

These events have been canceled in 2020.

Chapel Hill is home to one of America's most beautiful campuses, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The college's many leafy quads spill out onto Franklin Street, the main artery of the city, which is dotted with quirky coffee shops, fashion boutiques, and inventive eateries. All of these perks make Chapel Hill a perfect home base for your Fourth of July stay.

You can start the holiday off in Carrboro, a small town just five minutes west of Chapel Hill, where you can watch the bike parade before heading to Kenan Memorial Stadium on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus for the evening fireworks.

The Kenan Memorial Stadium gates open at 6 p.m. and the fireworks are expected to begin at 9:30 p.m. sharp. Although free to attend, a $1 suggested donation helps keep the program alive year after year. Check the event website for more details.

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Baseball and Music in Durham

Durham's annual Festival for the Eno event has been canceled in 2020.

The city of Durham has two options for visitors to enjoy over the Independence Day holiday: sports and music. Sports fans can enjoy a day watching the Durham Bulls play their annual Fourth of July baseball game, followed by a dynamic firework show. The game will be played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, adjacent to the Durham Performing Arts Center in the heart of downtown Durham. In 2020, the Bulls will play against the Norfolk Tides. 

Meanwhile, culture vultures shouldn't miss Festival for the Eno—a music and arts event held in West Point on the Eno, a 388-acre city park just 15 minutes north of the baseball stadium. This four-day extravaganza typically features a craft fair, beer garden, and music lineup of more than 80 bands across several stages. In 2020, the in-person event was replaced by OneEno, a live and recorded version of the event with performances broadcast from the Carolina Theater in downtown Durham.

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Cary's Independence Eve and Fourth of July Celebrations

The Town of Cary has canceled its Independence Day weekend events in 2020.

Ten miles west of the capital, Cary is a central town in The Triangle, a historic region bordered by Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The charming hamlet holds an old-fashioned celebration on Independence Day Eve. Then, on July Fourth, there are fireworks and a free performance by the North Carolina Symphony at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.

The July 3 celebrations start at 6:30 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center. Musical selections are played to honor those who have served. The following morning, a fishing tournament kicks off the Olde Time Celebration at Bond Park (near the Fred G. Metro Bond Park's Boathouse) at 8 a.m. The annual parade starts at 10:30 a.m. and is immediately followed by friendly competitions such as donut eating, watermelon eating, lakeside Olympics, seed spitting, and sidewalk decorating.

From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., the July Fourth celebration occupies Koka Booth Amphitheatre, which offers kids' activities, a Ferris wheel, a Berry-Go-Round, scavenger hunt, more contests, the Cary Town Band, and the North Carolina Symphony, followed by a fireworks display over Symphony Lake.

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Cue the Music in Old Salem

This event has been canceled in 2020.

In Winston-Salem, the Salem Band performs its annual Stars & Stripes Concert in Salem Square from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on July Fourth. The band honors veterans with the music of Big Bands, Yankee Doodle, the Armed Forces songs, and rousing marches. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and settle in for the evening. Food vendors are usually on location. 

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