The best places in the US to celebrate Independence Day this weekend

Independence Day, which celebrates the establishment of the US as an independent nation, is an annual excuse for plenty of American patriotism and flag-waving. It’s also a great opportunity to hang out with friends, see millions of fireworks and enjoy a long weekend. Here are the best celebrations happening across the US this Fourth of July weekend.

Boston, Massachusetts

The New England coastal city of Boston usually pulls out all the stops when it comes to celebrating America’s independence. The annual ticketed Boston Pops Firework Spectacular regularly draws more than 1 million spectators. The event starts at 8pm on 4 July with a fighter jet military flyover, and celebrations include performances from Queen Latifah, contestants from America’s Got Talent and local resident Arlo Guthrie, son of singer-songwriter Woody. The night concludes with a 21-minute firework display and – best of all – the entire event is free.

Sixty miles south of Boston is Bristol, dubbed “America’s most patriotic town”. Independence Day celebrations have been taking place here since 1785, making it the US’s oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration. This year’s festivities have been well under way since May, but the big event is the Military, Civic, and Fireman’s Parade – the oldest annual parade in the US. The parade begins at 10.30am, while fireworks will be launched from Bristol harbour at 9.30pm on the evening of 3 July. All events are free.

New York City, New York

Of course the world’s most bombastic city celebrates Independence Day in style. This year, the 43rd annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks, an event which claims to be America’s biggest firework display, takes place on Brooklyn Bridge. The pyrotechnic extravaganza, complete with accompanying score, will last 25 minutes and start at 9.20pm on Thursday 4 July. There are a number of official viewing points, but you’ll need to get there early for the best spot. If the prospect of battling crowds fills you with horror: watch the entire event, televised live, on NBC. 

New Orleans, Louisiana

This year sees the 29th Go 4th on the River celebrations in The Big Easy. Visitors can enjoy live music from 4.30pm in Crescent Park in the French Market district, ahead of duelling barges on the Mississippi firing red, white and blue fountains to the sounds of patriotic music. The official firework display begins at 9pm along the historic New Orleans waterfront, while food stalls and music will keep attendees happy until light-up time.

Washington DC

This Fourth of July, the US capital will play host to a free concert performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. The show begins at 8pm and is followed by a fireworks finale. Earlier in the day, the National Independence Day Parade – featuring military servicemen and women, floats, drill teams, drum corps and giant balloons – will march through the capital’s streets from 11.45am. 

Los Angeles, California

On the west coast, revellers wanting to celebrate the nation’s birthday should head to LA’s Fourth of July Block Party. Taking place in Grand Park and The Music Centre in downtown LA, this free event kicks off at 3pm with a diverse range of DJs and artists lined up for a day of music and merriment. Gourmet food trucks, a 75ft ferris wheel and a zero-alcohol policy also make this a great event for families. Fireworks kick off at 9pm.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is regularly voted as the place to be for the US’s best free Fourth of July celebrations, as the city embraces its musical heritage with plenty of live music on Independence Day in an event called Let Freedom Sing. On the bill this year is the Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony, as well as acts including Brett Eldredge, Mac McAnally and Jessy Wilson. Expect food trucks serving big Tennessee portions and a huge fireworks display to drown out the music.

London, UK

Expats or European Americanophiles will find plenty to celebrate on this side of the pond, although in true British style, many of the UK events revolve around boozing. There’s an Independence Day Pub Crawl and a Jim Beam-sponsored event at late-night drinking hole The Roadhouse in Covent Garden – but true patriots can head to Benjamin Franklin House near Charing Cross for a special tour of the Founding Father’s home. Foodies will find hot wings and burritos at Dinerama in Shoreditch for a Fourth of July takeover (there’s also a wing-eating competition).

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