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The 10 Biggest Fourth of July Fireworks Displays


Independence Day is just around the corner, which means cookouts and firework shows in major cities and rural backyards from sea to shining sea. If you want to see a massive fireworks display, head to one of these 10 cities.


Independence Day is just around the corner, which means cookouts and firework shows in major cities and rural backyards from sea to shining sea.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, firework retailers sold $695 worth of firecrackers, sparklers, spinners and more last year.

“If sales remain strong through July 4, consumer fireworks revenues could exceed $725 million for the 2015 fireworks season,” said Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the APA, in a press release.

While many states and local governments place restrictions on the use of fireworks, the APA said the broader trend has been to relax regulations of the devices. According to the association, 47 states now allow the sale and use of some types of consumer fireworks.

Of course, if you want to see the really big shows, you’re going to have to leave your backyard and head to one of dozens of big-city fireworks shows. Unsure where to turn? We’ve got you covered.

Below is a list of the 10 Fourth of July fireworks displays in the US, along with YouTube videos of previous years' shows.

10. July 4th Celebration at the Pier, San Francisco, CA

Fisherman’s Wharf sets the background to San Francisco’s pyrotechnic display. A Shark Week promotion and an 80’s cover band entertain those arriving early to get a good view of the fireworks. Approximately 10,000 fireworks are used in the show, which begins around 9:30 pm. For those more interested in a classical music prelude rather than Kajagoogoo, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra is performing an outdoor show followed by the spectacular display over the bay.

9. Lights on the Lake, Lake Tahoe

Also in California, and Nevada, too, is the Lights on the Lake fireworks show. The fireworks are shot off of barges in the middle of the lake, and the nearly 6,000 explosions are mirrored in the water. Lights on the Lake takes place twice a year; once on the 4th of July and once on Labor Day. Some say the best place to watch is from one of 2 paddlewheel boats that go out onto the lake during the extravaganza.

8. Let Freedom Sing, Nashville, TN

“Nashvegas” specializes in celebrations, and the 4th is no exception. In addition to a 27-minute long fireworks show set to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, country music star Martina McBride — whose 90’s hit “Independence Day” is one of her biggest singles — will perform a free show. This year, the city is adding more shows on July 3rd, just adding to the reputation of Music City.

7. Fair Saint Louis

Calling it “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” Fair Saint Louis anticipates hosting more than 250,000 visitors over the three day festival. Located at the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, Forest Park, for a second year in a row, organizers are planning to top the 15,000 pounds of explosives set off last year. This year, Kool and the Gang will be performing live before the show — indeed, “it’s a celebration.”

6. WaWa Welcome America! in Philadelphia, PA

The birthplace of America seems like a pretty good place to have a 4th of July celebration. The city closes streets and opens national museums and parks for several days in advance of the big party. This year, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Roots, Jennifer Nettles, and Miguel will perform before a huge fireworks show over the Philadelphia Museum of Art (known in pop culture as the “Rocky Steps”).

5. DO AC 4th of July Fireworks in Atlantic City, NJ

Not to be outdone by neighboring Philadelphia, Atlantic City has two different fireworks extravaganzas. On July 3rd, the show is over the boardwalk and the pier, while the display on the 4th is over the Marina. Both shows are sound-tracked by John Phillip Souza and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. If the boardwalk is too crowded, several of the casino hotels offer viewing areas.

4. Kaboom Town! In Addison, Texas

Big celebrations aren’t just for big cities; Dallas-suburb Addison is home to a 30-minute firework extravaganza. The free show is choreographed to music, available on a local radio station, and is preceded by a vintage airplane air show. Be prepared for crowds, though, as the town of less than 20,000 people swells to more than 500,000 for the event.

3. Boston Pops’ Fireworks Spectacular

The Boston Pops is not afraid to originate. In 1929, the first outdoor symphony concerts were performed by the Boston Pops, and in 1974, fireworks, howitzer cannons and church bells joined in the fun. Since then, Boston’s concert with fireworks has become a national tradition, shown on public television around the country. While it is a music-first event, the show is nothing to sneeze at — 20,000 pounds of explosives are set off.

2. National Mall Independence Day Celebration in Washington DC

Watching the fireworks on the National Mall, between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, is about as patriotic as it gets. The 17 ½ minute show is launched from the Reflecting Pool, and can be seen from as far away as some spots in Virginia. Getting to the Mall early is imperative, so bring a picnic and some games to play while waiting for the show to start.

1. Macy’s Extravaganza in New York City

It doesn’t get more extravagant than this extravaganza. More than 40,000 fireworks are launched over the course of 25 minutes from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges in the East River. In addition, nearly a half-dozen international superstars will be singing patriotic favorites and brand new material, including a new song by Gloria Estefan. In addition to the Atlantic City and San Diego shows, PyroSpectaculars by Souza, based in Rialto, California, puts together the fireworks for the New York celebration. Everyone can catch the nation’s biggest fireworks display on NBC.

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