America’s Top 10 July 4th Celebrations

Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, is one of the most important holidays in America. Marking the anniversary of our independence as a sovereign country, Americans across the nation gather together and show their patriotism in a wide variety of ways. Barbecue and fireworks are a common thread, there are some events that define the quintessential Fourth of July celebration and give even the smallest of small towns a unique identity. Let’s take a look at ten of the coolest Fourth of July parties across the good ol’ U S of A!

We won’t play favorites, so these are in no particular order:

1. Bristol, Rhode Island: The Bristol Fourth of July Celebration

Bristol is classic Americana, and their Independence Day celebration captures the essence of the American spirit perfectly. Established in 1785, it is the longest continuous annual celebration in the entire country. Though it kicks off on June 14th (Flag Day) and runs for the month of June with a carnival and other events, the real party happens on the July 4th with a big parade. In addition to the scope and grandeur of the parade (which thousands attend), there is a button design contest for kids, a carnival with rides and sideshow attractions, a Miss and Little Miss Fourth of July pageant, concerts, a Fourth of July Ball, foot races, field days and exhibitions, patriotic speeches, and more. And, of course, there is a huge fireworks show to top it all off.

2. Detroit, Michigan: The Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival

Since 1959, the unique and close relationship of international sister cities Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, has been celebrated through the International Freedom Festival, which includes the River Days celebration on the American side of the river and Summer Fest on the Canadian shore. The dual events draw 3.5 million visitors annually to the region to celebrate both the camaraderie between cities and the patriotic holidays of Canada Day on July 1st and Independence Day on July 4th.

The culmination of the event takes place between both holidays (usually on July 3rd), when a few barges are floated out in the Detroit River and a tremendous display of fireworks is set off for the residents of southeast Michigan and Ontario. The show is sponsored by large automotive companies and is consistently ranked among the best in the nation.

3. Telluride, Colorado: The Telluride Fourth of July Celebration

Telluride throws, in their own words, “one heck of a Fourth of July party,” which lasts the day and night of July 4th. The day starts off with the Fireman’s Parade and then the gathered crowd spends the afternoon in activities that include the quintessential community-wide cookout. Then, kids and adults alike can choose to participate in such events as potato sack races, pie-eating contests, and lots of free games and attractions.

What makes the Telluride celebration special is the scenery. The town sits in a box canyon, surrounded by mountains. The main street retains its classic 19th-century small-town look, and when evening falls, a group of firemen set off a spectacular fireworks show from a distant hillside. Because of the geography, every seat is a good seat.

4. New York, New York: Macy’s Fireworks

Macy’s annual fireworks display in New York City has been described as “the granddaddy of all fireworks shows,” as it well should be. It is the single largest fireworks show in the country, and it is seen by millions of people both in person and on national television. More than 40,000 fireworks are detonated and the show has a star-studded lineup of popular performers (this year’s show includes headliners such as Taylor Swift, Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey, Selena Gomez, and Tim McGraw). There really is no bigger and more over-the-top Fourth of July fireworks show than this one.

5. Addison, Texas: Kaboom Town!

You don’t have to go to a huge metropolis to see a huge fireworks show, as the small town of Addison, Texas (pop. 15000), proves year after year. While the population may be small, the town spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on a gigantic fireworks show. The display is not just for Addison residents, though: Kaboom Town! is attended by half a million people from Dallas and other surrounding areas. The event lasts 30 minutes and is carefully choreographed with pop music to provide an enchanting show for hundreds of thousands of patriots deep in the heart of Texas.

6. Washington, D.C.: A Capitol Fourth

It doesn’t get more patriotic than celebrating Independence Day in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. What could be more American than attending the parade, events, reenactments, and fireworks in the capital of the United States?

There are dozens of events celebrating America during the day—from music shows at the Capitol Building, to a special reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, to appearances from historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The events culminate in the iconic fireworks show over the Capitol dome.

7. Philadelphia, PA: Wawa Welcome America! Festival

Philadelphia is where it all began for the United States of America, and Philly pulls out all the stops to remember their history. The weeklong celebration includes a wide variety of events, including food festivals, all-you-can-eat ice cream, a big parade, ethnic heritage festivals, and music. The Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza is a must for residents across the region, with music, food, and fireworks on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The fireworks are not the end of the celebration, as events continue on for three more days.

8. Hawaii: Fourth of July Celebrations, Hawaiian Style

The youngest state in our union has some of the quirkiest Independence Day celebrations. Besides the traditional barbecues, parades, and fireworks, there are a lot of fun, totally unique events to celebrate, including fishing tournaments; “Turtle Independence Day,” in which juvenile captive turtles that have been raised in Mauna Lani Bay are released to their freedom; and an event that is really self-explanatory: The Great Waikoloa Rubber Duckie Race and Fourth of July Extravaganza.

9. Gatlinburg, TN: The Midnight Parade

Gatlinburg is already a unique town nestled in the Smoky Mountains, and they certainly take their uniqueness seriously when it comes to their July 4th celebrations. Every year, at exactly midnight on July 4th, Gatlinburg’s Midnight Parade begins. A hundred thousand people stay up late to enjoy the nighttime events. This special tradition began when Gatlinburg decided to lay claim to hosting the first Independence Day parade across the country each year by having it at midnight.

10. Seward, NE: America’s Small Town Fourth of July City

In 1979, an act of Congress designated Seward, Nebraska, as “America’s Official Fourth of July City—Small Town USA.” The city of Seward’s population is only about 6,000 but almost 40,000 attendees come out from the surrounding area to partake in the classic American celebration that includes parades, track and field events, parachutists, a walking tour of “Small Town USA,” a wild west shootout, and much more. If you ever wanted to experience the very essence of small town America, Seward’s celebration should be on your radar.

Whether you choose to travel to an exciting new city to check out the festivities or stay home and enjoy your own town’s celebrations, we wish you a safe and fun Fourth of July.