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With so many Independence Day celebrations to choose from, there’s no need to travel far from home to find a barbeque or catch a good show. For those who would like to see some of the best entertainment the country has to offer, however, a visit to one of these patriotic birthday bashes may be well worth the journey.
Following are some of the country’s most impressive fireworks displays, plus great ways to spend the day before the radiant demonstrations kick off.
Washington, D.C.: A Capitol FourthFourth of July festivities in the nation’s capital ramp up with America’s National Independence Day parade, which features marching bands and performers from each of the 50 states every year. Later in the day, head to the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn to catch “A Capitol Fourth,” a 90-minute musical extravaganza from the National Symphony Orchestra. The performance starts at 8:00 p.m. and features live cannon fire from the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery. At 9:00 p.m., the orchestra provides background music for the city’s fireworks display, which culminates in an exciting rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
Philadelphia: Fourth of July Jam Concert and Grand Finale FireworksPhiladelphia’s Party on the Parkway marks the beginning of patriotic celebrations in Philadelphia, a historic city often called the “Birthplace of America.” At noon, partygoers gather to enjoy food and live entertainment on the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Fourth of July Jam Concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and around 10:30 p.m., the Grand Finale Fireworks show lights up the sky over the museum.
Can’t wait until the fourth to celebrate? Check out more of Philly’s concerts, fireworks shows and other performances in the lineup for the Wawa Welcome America! festival leading up to Independence Day, starting on June 28.
The National Mall in Washington, D.C., provides a stunning backdrop for the city’s fireworks show, A Capitol Fourth. // © 2014 Destination DC
The Grand Finale Fireworks show lights up the sky over the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the “Birthplace of America.” // © 2014 Philadelphia Office of the City Representative
The Hatch Shell concert venue on the Charles River Esplanade hosts Boston’s biggest fireworks show, the Boston Pops Firework Spectacular. // © 2014 Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show lights up the New York City skyline. // © 2014 Macy’s
America’s Birthday Bash in Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park provides one of South Florida’s largest fireworks displays. // © 2014 Bayfront Park Management Trust
The annual fireworks display in the small town of Addison, Texas, packs a punch. // © 2014 Town of Addison
The festivities at Addison’s Kaboom Town! Independence Day celebration include the Addison Airport Air Show. // © 2014 Town of Addison
The Big Bay Boom July Fourth Fireworks Show in San Diego provides stunning views across the bay. // © 2014 Hornblower Cruises and Events
Boston: Boston Pops Firework SpectacularThis Independence Day bash begins early in Boston with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Plaza at 9:00 a.m. From there, a parade marches to the Granary Burying Ground, where wreaths are laid at the burial sites of leading American revolutionaries, and continues to the Old State House, where parade-goers can relive history as Boston’s first public reading of the Declaration of Independence is reenacted from the building’s balcony.
Later that evening, the Hatch Shell concert venue on the Charles River Esplanade hosts the city’s biggest fireworks show — the Boston Pops Firework Spectacular — which begins with a performance from the Boston Pops Orchestra at 7:30 p.m.
New York City: Macy’s 4th of July FireworksFor an even earlier start to the festivities, visitors to the Big Apple can set out on the Revolutionary War New York Nighttime Walking Tour at 3:00 a.m. on July Fourth and visit historic sites in Lower Manhattan, finishing with sunrise at Trinity Church.
The city offers plenty of activities during the day — from Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island to the Hot Jazz Cool / Garden Summer concert at the Louis Armstrong House Museum — before settling down at night for one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays: Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. With thousands of shells being launched from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges on the East River, this year’s show is sure to impress.
Miami: America’s Birthday BashBayfront Park in Downtown Miami hosts this Independence Day party each year, bringing families together for a full day of activities. The park is open all day and admission is free. Children can enjoy the complimentary kids’ zone from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., as well as pony rides and a petting zoo. There is even a family contra dance set to live music by the rock ‘n’ roll band Dirty Dollars. At 9:00 p.m., find a seat and enjoy one of largest fireworks displays in South Florida.
Chicago: Navy Pier FireworksVisitors to Chicago don’t have to wait for July Fourth to enjoy fireworks displays, since the iconic Navy Pier hosts shows twice a week, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, plus a few other shows throughout the year. Given the destination’s experience with pyrotechnics, viewers can expect to be extra dazzled on Independence Day as they watch the fireworks set to patriotic score.
Show up early to claim a spot on Navy Pier’s dock, board an evening cruise to see the display from Lake Michigan or head up to 360 Chicago (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) for a stunning view of the fireworks from 1,000 feet above the city.
Addison, Texas: Kaboom Town!This small Dallas-area town of approximately 19,000 people stakes its claim to fame each year with Kaboom Town! — one of the nation’s largest and most widely acclaimed fireworks shows. More than half a million guests come to Addison every year to celebrate Independence Day and enjoy the display, which incorporates the Addison Airport Air Show with flyovers, skydivers, pyrotechnic effects and aerobatic maneuvers performed by stunt pilots. Since Addison hosts this massive event ever year a day early on July 3, visitors can even catch another local show on Independence Day.
San Diego: Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks ShowWith fireworks launched simultaneously from four barges spread out across San Diego Bay, it’s not difficult to find a spot where visitors can get a satisfactory view of the show. This year, more than 850,000 people are expected to head to the waterfront for Big Bay Boom, which is San Diego’s largest fireworks display. Pick a spot along the water — either at Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Embarcadero, Seaport Village or Coronado — and watch this 17-minute extravaganza light up the bay, starting at 9 p.m.