By Monica Poling
Let Freedom Sing
Why: Enjoy two days of free music at Nashville’s Let Freedom Sing Fourth of July event. Held on the scenic Lawn at Riverfront Park, the event stars The Band Perry, and culminates in a display of more than 22,000 fireworks with live accompaniment by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Don’t miss: Adventure Science Center includes unobstructed views from the rooftop, dinner, drinks and a musical simulcast while the education staff demonstrates the science of “things that go boom.” (musiccityjuly4th.com)
Essence Music Festival
Why: New Orleans’ Essence Music Festival is the country’s largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture. Held throughout the July 4 weekend every year, the event includes a dazzling fireworks display over the Mississippi River.
Don’t miss: The all-star musical cast includes headliners Beyonce, Brandy, Jody Watley, LL Cool J and New Edition performing. The festival also offers a celebrity lineup of motivational seminars. (essence.com/festival)
New York City
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
Why: The annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks event fires more than 40,000 pyrotechnic shells, making it the nation’s largest fireworks display. Set off from barges along the Hudson River, the show lights up New York City’s famed skyline.
Don’t miss: Celebrate in the shadow of those who fought to preserve the nation’s independence. The flight deck of the USS Intrepid, which battled in the Pacific during World War II, holds a VIP celebration with unobstructed views of the fireworks show. (nycgo.com/events)
Party on the Parkway
Why: Celebrate independence in America’s birthplace. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway is jampacked with food vendors, and three performance stages feature free concerts all day, culminating in a fireworks display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Don’t miss: Trace the history of Independence Day at the National Constitution Center. From parades to protests, cannons to flag waving, explosive words to fiery demonstrations, the interactive Fourth of July show explores how the holiday evolved over time. (discoverphl.com)
Big Bay Boom
Why: The 18-minute show, set off from five locations, is witnessed by some 500,000 spectators around the San Diego Bay, making it one of the largest Independence Day fireworks shows in the nation.
Don’t miss: Across the bay from San Diego, small-town America comes alive in quaint Coronado. Enjoy the city’s 65th annual Independence Day Parade, as well as afternoon concerts in the park, followed by plenty of waterfront viewing locations for the fireworks extravaganza. (bigbayboom.com)
A Capitol Fourth
Why: Celebrate Independence Day in the nation’s capital. A Capitol Fourth, starring the National Symphony Orchestra, is a 90-minute free musical performance, culminating with the “1812 Overture,” complete with live cannon fire and followed by a fireworks spectacular on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
Don’t miss: America’s National Independence Day Parade stars marching bands from around the country, including military units, drum and fife corps, patriotic floats and equestrian units.