How to Spend the Fourth of July

by David Sung

The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence for the United States. Many Americans mark the occasion by viewing fireworks, watching parades, having barbecues, and attending fairs and picnics. We’ve compiled a list of family-friendly, low-cost festivities and events to help you celebrate Independence Day. Many of the events offer free admission. Always remember to review event guidelines for specific rules and regulations. And have fun, and please remember to be safe!

Boise, Idaho

The Ann Morrison Park is the hub of Idaho’s celebrations. Start the day with the Idaho Statesman Chalk Art Festival at 8 a.m. Artists ages 12 and over are invited to participate and show off their chalk-art skills. It’s free to watch, but prior registration to participate is required (please see registration costs below).

The rest of the daylight hours are filled with free activities like dodge ball, capture the flag, tag, live music, and gold panning. There will be food and drink vendors.

Fireworks start at 10:15 p.m., so grab your spot on the grass early and make sure you can view the movie screen, which will feature “Born to be Wild” at 10:45 p.m. Check out a  schedule of events to be sure you enjoy all the family fun.

Costs:  Admission is free to the festival. But there are pre-registration costs to participate in the festival’s chalk art event. See below for pre-registration costs.

Ages 18+ $15.00
Teams of 2-4 $20.00

Rockford, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois doesn’t celebrate one day of independence. The city’s Fourth of July celebration spans four days. The three days leading up to the Fourth of July are filled with events, which are all held at the Sinnissippi Band Shell outdoor venue.

July 1:  There is a patriotic concert featuring the Rockford Concert Band who will perform their tribute, “Honoring Our Country, Our Veterans, and Our Music.”

July 2:  Bring the kids to the Imagination Station performance, where music, magic, juggling, drama and comedy are sure to impress and amaze with this 45-minute show.

July 3: Harlan Jefferson presents his tribute to jazz legends. This concert will feature music by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and more.

July 4: The city’s annual parade kicks off at 7 p.m. The SkyConcert Fireworks show begins at 9:30 p.m. Tune into B103 Radio and WTVO TV, which will broadcast the show.  The Silver Creek Band will also perform at Davis Park at 7:30 p.m.

Costs:  Every event listed above is free except for the Silver Creek Band performance on July 4. Admission to the band’s performance and to view the fireworks at Davis Park is $6 per person. Children under 4 get in free.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

The city of Grand Rapids presents its Celebration on the Grand on July 4 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, where there will be live music starting at 3 p.m.

The Amway Family Fireworks event will begin at 5 p.m. July 5 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The event will include family activities, games, food trucks and vendors. Live music starts at 6 p.m. The fireworks  show kicks off at 10:30 p.m.

Costs: Both events are free and open to the public.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Every year, Albuquerque presents its Freedom Fourth at Balloon Fiesta Park. The gates open at 3 p.m. and events begin at 4 p.m. rain or shine. Fireworks start at 9:20 p.m.  The event has music, story tellers, cultural dance performances, and even an Irish jig. You won’t go hungry at this festival because there will be more than 30 food trucks and restaurants.

Costs:  Park entry is free. The event and fireworks display is free.



In Texas, everything is big, and fireworks are no exception. The 4th of July Weekend at CityCentre will span four days filled with free concerts from all genres, including rock, country, new wave, and even a little Jimmy Buffet.

The 4th of July Celebration at Bayou Bend celebrates Houston as a home for American decorative arts and paintings with performers, crafts, activities, and refreshments. Oh, did we mention everyone will be dressed as soldiers from the American Revolution? Don’t miss the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the cutting of the birthday cake for America.

Costs: Admission is free to the celebration.


The City of Dallas, Friends of Fair Park, and the State Fair of Texas have partnered to present the official Independence Day celebration, Fair Park Fourth. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. July 4.

There will be live music, rides, games, and concession stands. The afternoon’s activities include musical performances. Beginning at 6 p.m., the food trucks will start rolling in, and the 70-foot long Esplanade Fountain will begin to “dance” with its 880,000 gallons of water to patriotic music. The fireworks show begins at 9:30 p.m. and can be seen best from inside the Cotton Bowl on the State Fair of Texas Midway. But the show can be seen from anywhere throughout the Fair Park grounds.

Costs: Admission is free. Parking is $5.

San Antonio The Fourth of July will be one to remember at the Alamodome celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. Live music, food trucks, and a kid’s zone  will be featured at the event. Don’t forget to show your support and bring a canned good for “A Can for a Fan” to donate to the KENS 5’s Million Meals for Kids food drive. The best view of the fireworks show is from downtown San Antonio, but the show is viewable for miles. The fireworks begin at  9 p.m. Tune into 101.9 FM to listen to the music.

Costs: Event admission is $2.00.  Anyone with a current military active duty ID card and kids under 12 will be admitted for free.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The “biggest and best” fireworks show in Salt Lake City is the Sugar House Fireworks. Vendors open at noon to sell food and refreshments. Live entertainment will be provided beginning at 4 p.m., and the fireworks start at 10 p.m.

Costs: The live entertainment and fireworks show are free.

Madison, Wisconsin

The Rhythm and Booms annual fireworks show on the Fourth of July is considered by some to be the largest fireworks show in the Midwest. It’s a 30-minute show, attracting over 300,000 visitors every year. All activities and live music start at 2 p.m.

Costs: The best views of the fireworks are from rooftops, which can be reserved for $10.00 per person. If you won’t be viewing from a rooftop, then it’s recommended that you bring your own radio to tune in for the best synchronization of music and fireworks.

Parking can get a little tricky. The Rhythm & Booms event offers a bus ride from Alliant to the event grounds for $1.00 per person round trip. Happy Fourth of July!

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