The Fourth of July is about traveling with family, barbecues and, of course, fireworks. Today, the fireworks industry is a big business, with Americans spending millions of dollars on fireworks every year. Americans have celebrated Independence Day with fireworks displays since the country's first Fourth of July in 1777.
Although many cities — and their corporate sponsors — keep the cost of annual fireworks displays under wraps, the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) reported that the revenue for display fireworks in 2015 was $340 million; consumer fireworks revenue was even higher at a whopping $755 million.
When it comes to firework displays on the Fourth — it’s “go big or go home.” So, if you plan on celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks this year, you should check out the biggest, brightest and most extravagant displays in the U.S. Here’s a look at 20 of the most elaborate displays in the country, most of which are free to the public.
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1. Nashville Fireworks
Music City July 4th: Let Freedom Sing!
In 2014, the APA named the Music City July 4th fireworks display No. 2 on its list of the biggest "must see" firework displays. This year, the fireworks show will be the biggest party in Nashville.
Music City is geared up for an entire 4th of July weekend full of festivities including free concerts on two stages at Ascend Amphitheater and The Green at Riverfront Park. The major headliner at this year's Music City event is Sheryl Crow, including performances by Maddie & Tae, Erin McCarley, Andrew Combs, Ruby Amanfu and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Be sure to follow along with the official event hashtag: #NashvilleJuly4.
2. New York Fireworks
Macy's 4th of July Fireworks: 40th Anniversary Celebration
The Macy's 4th of July fireworks display in New York is arguably the most famous Independence Day celebration of the 14,000-plus shows that take place across the country every year. It is even estimated that the display uses 55 times more shells than the average U.S. show, according to USA Today.
For the 2016 display, the Macy’s fireworks spectacular will honor the American spirit with patriotic music, performances and “the largest Independence Day fireworks display in the nation,” according to their website. The 25-minute display will be fired from New York City’s East River. The event will be hosted by Willie Geist and Tamron Hall and include performances by Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Holliday and the United States Air Force Band.
Can't make it to the Big Apple on July 4? NBC will air a two-hour broadcast of the event at 8 p.m. EST.
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3. Boston Fireworks
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular
The 2016 Boston Pops Spectacular is — with the exception of maybe Philadelphia — most closely associated with American independence. In 1976, the bicentennial celebration drew crowds so large that the Guinness Book of World Records cited it as the largest audience ever assembled for a classical concert.
This year's spectacular will be produced by Fireworks by Grucci, which has the Guinness World Record for the world's largest fireworks display. The fireworks will illuminate the sky over the Charles River. The concert, featuring Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, starts at 9 p.m. EST and the fireworks are set to begin at 10:30 p.m EST, lasting until about 11 p.m EST.
If you can’t make it for this display, it will be broadcast nationally on CBS from 9 to 11 p.m EST.
4. Chicago Fireworks
Freedom Fest 2016 at the Navy Pier
Chicago’s Navy Pier fireworks are always the main event, starting at 9:30 p.m. CST. But don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the 4th of July celebration on the pier by taking the kids to the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, going on a fireworks cruise across Lake Michigan to see the sky light up or just dining on the pier at many of the restaurants.
5. San Francisco Fireworks
July 4th Celebration at the Pier
Fireworks will be shot off at 9:30 p.m. PST from two barges on PIER 39 and Aquatic Park and should last about 20 minutes. The Bay Area’s favorite cover band, Tainted Love, will play the best of the '80s live from 5 to 8 p.m. PST in the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza. Bay Area's The Purple Ones, a Prince tribute band, and The Cheeseballs, a dance party band, will both be playing between 6 and 9 p.m. at Aquatic Park.
6. Washington D.C. Fireworks
Capitol Fourth National Mall Fireworks
The National Park Service in Washington, DC, puts on an annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the National Mall. The show starts at 9:09 p.m. EST and lasts just over 17 minutes, lighting up the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial. The fireworks will be launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and can be seen from many locations in D.C. and Virginia.
Security will most likely be tight, but spectators can enter the mall through specific entry points. The show will be accompanied by live music on the U.S. Capitol's West Lawn, hosted by Tom Bergeron, including performances by Smokey Robinson, Gavin DeGraw and many more.
If you can’t make it, “A Capitol Fourth” premieres live on PBS on July 4 starting at 8 p.m. EST.
7. Las Vegas Fireworks
Las Vegas 4th of July Fireworks
The Fourth of July fireworks show in Las Vegas is unlike any other for several reasons, but the main reason: The fireworks in the sky plus the dazzling lights on the strip make Sin City even more spectacular. No matter where you are, you'll likely see multiple fireworks shows all in one night.
Some of the resorts and casinos that will be launching fireworks this year include Mandalay Bay — with performances by 311 on July 2 and 3 — and Stratosphere Tower's Fireworks Spectacular on July 3 at 9 p.m. PST. And don’t forget all the drink specials and happy hour deals all along the strip.
8. Seattle Fireworks
Seafair Summer Fourth at Gas Works Park
Celebrate our nation’s independence with Seafair at Gas Works Park, which boasts the best views of the fireworks show over Lake Union. You can enjoy the entire Fourth at Gas Works, from live entertainment to food trucks and more. The fireworks begin at 10:20 p.m. PST and last about 20 minutes.
9. Philadelphia Fireworks
Wawa Welcome America!
It is impossible to talk about the Fourth of July without including America's birthplace: Philadelphia. Leon Bridges will headline the fireworks show at Benjamin Franklin Parkway this year for one of the largest free concerts in America. Other special guests include Leslie Odom, Jr., Yazz and more.
On Fourth of July, there will be an Independence Day Parade throughout historic Philadelphia, and the Grand Finale Fireworks will take place at 10 p.m. EST. If you can't make it to the actual concert, you should at least be able to see the fireworks display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
10. Portland Fireworks
The Waterfront Blues Festival: Feel the Thunder!
The Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Ore., is one of the biggest annual events in Portland. The festival — which runs July 1 to July 4 — will feature an Independence Day fireworks show on the Fourth with headliners such as Tedeschi-Trucks Band, JJ Grey & Mofr, Maceo Parker and more.
To see the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in Oregon, you have to donate $10 that goes to the Oregon Food Bank. Produced by Western Display Fireworks, the 22-minute show will include more than 11,000 shots.
11. Houston Fireworks
Freedom Over Texas
Chosen by the APA as one of the 10 best shows in the country last year, the fireworks display in Houston takes place at Eleanor Tinsley and Sam Houston Parks. This year’s event features former Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer, now solo artist, Darius Rucker.
General admission is only $8 per person, but free for children ages 5 and under. If you wait until the last minute and buy tickets the day of the event, it will cost you $10 per person. In addition to a fireworks finale sponsored by CITGO, the event will feature a kids’ zone with free games, a beer garden and more. The celebration starts at 4 p.m. CST and ends at 10 p.m. CST.
12. Denver Fireworks
Independence Eve Fireworks at Civic Center Park
The best firework display in Denver takes place on the eve before the Fourth of July, on Sunday, July 3. This annual celebration features a concert, light show and a spectacular fireworks finale. There will be first come, first serve lawn seating available for the fireworks show beginning after dark.
13. Minneapolis Fireworks
Red, White and Boom!
The Minneapolis Red, White and Boom celebration is hosted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Each year, the event attracts more than 75,000 people to sites along the Minneapolis riverfront, and features live music, food, activities for the whole family and, of course, fireworks. The fireworks display will begin at 10 p.m. EST and will be shot from Water Power Park.
14. Atlanta Fireworks
Centennial Olympic Park’s Fourth of July Celebration
Centennial Olympic Park’s Fourth of July Celebration is said to be one of the best in the South. It offers family-friendly fun and entertainment beginning at 6 p.m. EST, including free music featuring Jorel “JFly” Flynn and the Southeast’s largest fireworks display. If you’re going to the event, try to park in the Red Deck located on Andrew Young International Boulevard, next to the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome, or take MARTA.
15. Los Angeles Fireworks
AmericaFest at Rose Bowl Stadium
This year will mark the 90th anniversary Independence Day celebration at the Rose Bowl. The price of admission starts at $13 for general admission, but includes the fireworks show and entertainment. This Pasadena, Calif. fireworks display is said to be one of the largest and best shows in Southern California. The show starts at 7 p.m. PST with the fireworks beginning after dark.
16. New Jersey Fireworks
Atlantic City Fourth of July Fireworks
Atlantic City, N.J., hosts two Independence Day fireworks displays this year: one on Friday, July 3 and another on the Fourth of July, both starting at 9:30 p.m. EST. The first show will be launched from two separate ocean barges and can be seen from the beach or the Atlantic City Boardwalk and Steel Pier.
The second show is in the Marina District and can be seen from vantage points throughout the Marina and the casino resorts. Each show is preceded by a reading of the Declaration of Independence and about 15 minutes long.
17. Lake Tahoe Fireworks
Lights on the Lake Fireworks
Lake Tahoe spans the Nevada-California border, and the Independence Day fireworks show on the California side at South Lake Tahoe is considered to be one of the premier shows in the country. You can see the show over the lake, which starts at 9:45 p.m. PST, from many different locations around town. For example, you can watch it from Nevada Beach, on board the Safari Rose yacht or even at Timber Cove Marina.
18. New Orleans Fireworks
Go Fourth on the River
The New Orleans fireworks will light up the sky over the Mississippi River on the Fourth. Rated one of the “Top Five Must-See Fireworks Displays in the U.S.” by the APA, the fireworks show is an extravagant affair to remember. The fireworks are shot from “dueling barges” anchored in the Mississippi starting at 9:00 p.m. CST. They typically last 15 to 20 minutes — then it’s time to continue the party in the French Quarter, New Orleans style.
19. St. Louis Fireworks
Fair Saint Louis at Forest Park
The park opens at 1 p.m. CST for tons of festivities including a zip line, artisan shopping at The Fairway and live entertainment featuring George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Flo Rida and more. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. CST.
20. Miami Fireworks
America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park
Although Miami offers many fireworks shows, the Bayfront Park display is always one of the biggest and best in South Florida. America’s Birthday Bash offers family-friendly fun from kids’ activities to live music and everything in between — including a beer garden for the adults. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. EST, and the fireworks start at 9 p.m. EST lasting for about 30 minutes.