Parades, parties, picnics and pyrotechnics epitomise Independence day in the USA and you can join in the celebrations almost anywhere across this great country.

What is Independence Day?

One of the most recognised national holidays in the world, Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Declaring that the then 13 nations were no longer beholden to British rule (then King George III), the 4th July is celebrated as the day America earnt its freedom and set in stone its rules as a sovereign nation.

Signed in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress meeting in 1776, the declaration marked the beginning of a new United States of America. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document sets out the reasons for the break from the British Empire following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775.

Happy 4th of July

Today, Independence Day is celebrated with patriotic displays and summer-themed events. One of the nation’s federal holidays, it’s celebrated by people across the country with parties, picnics and barbecues. Friends and families gather amid a flurry of red, white and blue, waving flags and setting off fireworks to a chorus of The Star Spangled Banner. At military bases across the country, a gun for each of the United States is fired at noon.

With everywhere and almost everyone participating in some kind of celebration, it’s pretty hard to be in the states and not take part in the holiday.

The Main Event

Bristol, Rhode Island

This was the first place in the country to have a parade to mark the 4th July. Dating back to 1785, when veteran of the Revolutionary War Reverend Henry Wight led the procession, it’s one of the oldest celebrations in the country. Starting on Flag Day (14th June), the events, including a series on concerts, fireworks, shows and even a 4th of July Ball centre on the Military, Civic and Fireman’s Parade.

Rhode Island Parade

Washington, D.C.

As the nation’s capital and the home of politicians readying for elections, the city is awash in red, white and blue in the lead up to Independence Day. Children fill the streets dressed as Benjamin Franklin, the founding fathers and other great Americas throughout history, and you can’t round a corner without coming face to face with a flag. The military is very much a pillar-stone of the National Independence Day Parade here, with marching bands, drum corps, floats and political figure-heads streaming from Constitution Avenue and 7th Street past the Smithsonian to 17th Street.

Washington DC Parade

Philadelphia

The home of the Declaration of Independence, it’s unsurprising that the city goes all-out for the occasion. You can enjoy concerts, fireworks, street parties, movie screenings and even the odd free history lesson or two. The week’s events culminate in the Fourth of July Jam and Grand Fireworks Finale, one of the nation’s largest free outdoor concerts, and the impressive firework display over the iconic art museum.

Philadelphia Fireworks

Los Angeles

It’s not just the eastern states that know how to celebrate in style. LA puts on a great show. From delicious American cuisine to motorcycle stunts and, of course, a huge fireworks display, Americafest at the Rose Bowl is a great option, with plenty of family-friendly fun including inflatable rides, games and crafts. If you want to spend the day by the beach, head to Pacific Palisades and watch the parade pass by. Hollywood Bowl, Marina del Rey, Long Beach and Studio City also celebrate the day in their own unique way.

AmericaFest Los Angeles

New York City

You’ll struggle to find a bigger or better pyrotechnic display in the entire country than Macy’s 4th of July fireworks. Last year saw the launch of over 50,000 shells, filling the sky with a burst of colour from barges lined along the East River. If you’re looking for the best spot to enjoy these from, we recommend the Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which let you see the show to the backdrop of the country’s most iconic skyline.

Macy's Fourth of July

Where else can I celebrate Independence Day?

There’s something to enjoy no matter where you are in the country. If you’re after a quieter California experience, head for Lake Tahoe where you can enjoy Tahoe South’s Lights on the Lake, named by the American Pyrotechnics Association as the best 4th of July celebration in the country.

If you’re more of a musical soul, Nashville plays host to superstars at its Let Freedom Sing celebration, headed by Sheryl Crowe in 2016. Other highlights include Addison’s Kaboom Town, New Orleans’ Go Fourth on the River and Turtle Independence Day on Hawaii Island.

Inspired?


If you’ve been inspired to experience the Fourth of July for yourself, get in touch with our North America experts to plan your celebratory trip.

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Canada & USA 2019/20