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The Best Firework Displays in America

Happy Birthday, America! Find out where to see the most incredible 4th of July fireworks across the country to celebrate Independence Day this year.

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Firework display for 4th July Independence day celebrationRaghu_Ramaswamy/Getty Images

Get ready to “Oooh!” and “Aaah!”

The 4th of July and fireworks go hand in hand, just like America and apple pie. In fact, here’s a piece of 4th of July history for you: The first 4th of July fireworks were launched in Philadelphia and Boston in 1777 in the nation’s first official celebrations of Independence Day. Ever since, you could pretty much count on seeing a spectacular fireworks display on America’s birthday.

With COVID-19 restrictions finally lifting, you might be looking for a 4th of July idea that’s extra festive to make up for last year. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 2021’s best fireworks shows across the country for the ultimate celebration on the Fourth.

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An aerial view of fireworks in Nashville, Tennessee in 2013Ifistand/Getty Images

Nashville, Tennessee

Music City is going all out this Independence Day with the Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th celebration. Located downtown, it will feature the largest fireworks display in the city’s history, accompanied by the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony. If that’s not enough, the celebration will also include a concert headlined by country music superstar Brad Paisley. And it’s free to the public! The concert stage will be located at First and Broadway, and the Nashville Symphony will perform at the Ascend Amphitheater following the concert. Please note that masks are currently required indoors and recommended outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. Consider arriving on Friday and making a full 4th of July weekend out of the trip.

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4th of July FireworksDavid Gn Photography/Getty Images

Portland, Oregon

The city of Portland, Oregon, has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the 4th of July with a case of the blues—a blues festival, that is. In 2021, Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival will take place at the Lot at Zidell Yards, Portland’s premier outdoor, socially distanced music venue. The festival takes place from July 2 to July 5 with an enormous fireworks display planned for July 4th. This is a ticketed event with both day passes and multi-day passes available. Tickets will be sold in pods, so spectators can safely enjoy themselves with a crew of their friends. Full safety protocols will be published online prior to the event. If you have a nervous pooch at home, find out why dogs are so scared of fireworks—and what you can do about it.

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Fireworks Burst Over New York City On Fourth Of July in 2009Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New York City

The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks are back! To make this year’s celebration as safe and accessible as it can be, spectators will be able to watch from special separate viewing areas designated for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The event will also be broadcast on NBC for those who prefer to watch from home. The fireworks will begin at 9:25 p.m., and there will be more than 65,000 shells fired into the air from five barges on the East River. The show will last 25 minutes, promising to be one of the largest and most exciting events in the country. So, kick back, enjoy, and peruse these 4th of July captions for your Insta-worthy fireworks pics.

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Fireworks go off over the city of Boston for the 4th of July.David Parsons Photography/Getty Images

Boston, Massachusetts

There’s nothing like celebrating this holiday in one of the most historic cities in America. While there will be some changes to Boston’s Independence Day celebration this year, it still promises to be one of the most spectacular events in the country. Among the changes, the beloved Boston Pops Independence Day Concert will be performed at Tanglewood in Lenox instead of Boston. But, as usual, the concert will be free, and it will also be live-streamed so you can watch it at home. The event also includes a free fireworks show at Boston Common, which will be part of the broadcast. No matter where you celebrate, you’ll want to check out this fascinating 4th of July trivia.

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Pink, purple, and white Fourth of July fireworksMelodie Yvonne/Getty Images

Sterling, Colorado

Colorado is famous for incredible vistas—and on the 4th of July, some of the best views in the state will be in the sky above the city of Sterling. The fireworks will take place in Pioneer Park, and the softball fields nearby are the perfect place to spread out your blanket as you “oooh” and “aaah” over the magnificent fireworks display. For a more socially distanced experience, spectators can also park in nearby retail parking lots and soak in the magic from their vehicles. The fireworks will last 30 to 45 minutes and will be preceded by live music. Hosting your own watch party? Add these 4th of July songs to your patriotic playlist.

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A couple watches fireworks from the walkway of a riveboat.JT Crawford/Getty Images

Paducah, Kentucky

This year, Paducah has planned a fireworks display that pays as much attention to health and safety as it does to spectacular pyrotechnics. On the 4th of July, fireworks will be deployed at Paxton Golf Course, and the high aerial display will be visible from different parts of the city, allowing the community to take in the moment from Paducah’s various neighborhoods and viewing spots without clustering in one place. The show will begin at 9:30 p.m. Get in the mood for the big day with these American flag photos that will make your heart burst with pride.

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Low Angle View Of Firework Display At NightLaura Munari/Getty Images

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Oklahoma will always be known as the place where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, but the state is also known for some pretty fantastic Independence Day celebrations. This year, at Tulsa’s annual Freedom Fest, the community will enjoy kids’ activities, food trucks, live performances, and the Red Bull SkyDiving Team landing at River West Festival Park. The event will be concluded by the explosion of brightly colored fireworks spraying across the night sky.

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Fireworks explode over the National Mall as the US Capitol and National Monument are seen on July 4, 2017, in Washington, DC.AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Washington, D.C.

It doesn’t get much more patriotic than celebrating the Fourth in the nation’s capital. The 17-minute display on the National Mall will start at 9:09 p.m. and be visible throughout the city. But what’s the best place to roll out your blanket and set up camp? The National Parks Service says President’s Park, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Columbia Island, Gravelly Point, and Washington Sailing Marina will all be prime viewing spots. In Northern Virginia, fireworks will also be visible along the North Potomac River. FYI, people who are not fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks if they’re viewing the fireworks in these public spaces.

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A view of fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of the Art during Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on July 4, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The United States was founded in Philadelphia, so you’ll almost feel like you’re in the room where it happened when you celebrate here. Plus, the WaWa Welcome America Fireworks Spectacular, which returns this year to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, won’t disappoint. The show starts at 9:45 p.m., and spectators are invited to gather on Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Eakins Oval to Logan Circle to revel in the colorful display. Can’t make it there? The fireworks will also be broadcast on local weather and television stations. But a free concert at Mann Center featuring Flo Rida and Bebe Rexha may motivate you to leave the house. By the way, this is the most valuable signature on the Declaration of Independence. (It’s not the one you think!)

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Orange County Fireworks in Dana PointMitch Diamond/Getty Images

Dana Point, California

The Fourth is a big deal in California’s South Orange County, and Dana Point never disappoints with its incredible aerial fireworks shows. In 2021, the organizers promise the event will be bigger and better than ever. The fireworks will be launched from a barge in the waters in front of Doheny State Beach, so visitors can watch the pyrotechnics from the shore or on the water on private boats or through ticketed cruises through Dana Wharf. Check just prior to the event for the most current information on mask requirements and COVID protocols. Hosting a barbecue? Play these 4th of July games the whole family will love.

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FireworksAlma Danison/Getty Images

Lander, Wyoming

The members of Lander, Wyoming, come together to show off their civic pride with an epic jamboree each July 4th. This year’s events include a rodeo, a host of races, a pancake breakfast, and a parade through Main Street. Top it off with a buffalo barbecue and a huge fireworks show at Lander City Park and you can see why it’s one of the most iconic small-town 4th of July celebrations in the country.

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Fireworksshaunl/Getty Images

Yorktown, Virginia

The 4th of July is an all-day event in historic Yorktown, Virginia. The day starts early with runs and walks at 8 a.m., followed by a parade along Water and Main Streets. Throughout the day, visitors are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue as they hang out on the beach, visit shops, or listen to live music. The capstone of the evening will be a concert followed by an awe-inspiring fireworks display. According to event organizers, some plans may change due to health and safety guidelines, so be sure to check the website for updates. If it rains, these 4th of July movies make for a welcome plan B.

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Medora, North Dakota

The Old West town of Medora in the North Dakota Badlands is planning a spectacular 4th of July celebration, which will include a patriotic parade and a breathtaking fireworks display. The fireworks start at 10:30 p.m. and will launch near the Medora Campground on the west side of the Missouri River. The best seats in town will be at Chimney Park, where spectators can spread out blankets and lawn chairs.

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St. Augustine FireworksBrittany Grant/Getty Images

St. Augustine, Florida

This Florida city is home to some of the most stunning historic buildings in the country, but on July 4th, all eyes will be trained on the explosions of color bursting above the waterfront. The fireworks will illuminate the sky over Matanzas Bay, in full view of the Castillos de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions. Visitors are invited to stand along the streets or the bridge to take in the fireworks show, which will be preceded by a two-hour program of live big band music played by a local orchestra. Pass the time before the start of the fireworks by telling these funny 4th of July jokes.

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Framed ExplosionAlekZotoff/Getty Images

Carmel, Indiana

Carmel is home to a two-day July 4th celebration called CarmelFest. The festival will offer live musical performances, an outdoor street fair, and a parade. The fireworks will take place on both July 4 and 5 on both the east and west sides of town. The display will be set to music, and spectators are invited to tune in on their radio when they watch the synchronized show.

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Firework explosion.AlekZotoff/Getty Images

Addison, Texas

Although the celebration takes place on July 3, the Addison Kaboom Town Independence Day celebration in Addison, Texas, located north of Dallas, still found its way onto our list. It’s one of the most iconic 4th of July fireworks displays in the country, drawing almost 400,000 annual visitors to gaze in astonishment as more than 1,500 pounds of fireworks launch a barrage of color against the dark sky. The fireworks can be watched throughout the city, including at watch parties at the area’s many fabulous restaurants. The event traditionally features a concert and air show, and this year, organizers say the air show will include flyovers across town.

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Fireworks Displaydlewis33/Getty Images

Little Rock, Arkansas

Pops on the River in Little Rock is the largest 4th of July celebration in the state of Arkansas. The free event commences at 3 p.m. in the River Market area downtown with live entertainment and food trucks. The First Security Amphitheater will present live music with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and other local entertainers. At 9:30, a dazzling display of fireworks will be launched from the Main Street Bridge. These 4th of July quotes will help put you in the right frame of mind.

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MiLB: JUL 04 Pensacola Blue Wahoos at Birmingham BaronsIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

Birmingham, Alabama

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, hosts Thunder on the Mountain, one of the best fireworks shows in the country. The park and museum close at 6 p.m., and the free program starts at 9 p.m. The fireworks will be set to a combination of popular and patriotic music, and organizers encourage revelers to practice social distancing. A photo competition is also planned. If you have little ones, these 4th of July crafts will keep them entertained and add a fun flair to your home.

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red Fireworks against a black skySergei Dubrovskii/Getty Images

Stone Mountain, Georgia

If one night of fireworks isn’t enough for you, head to Georgia for the Fantastic Fourth Celebration, which runs from July 1 through July 5. Held at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, fireworks will be launched into the sky every night at 9:30 p.m. after a dazzling laser show. Admission is required for the event, and guests who purchase an attraction pass to spend the day at the park will receive a discount. Note that reservations are required in advance for this highly anticipated event.

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Fireworks In Saint Louisginosphotos/Getty Images

Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis is home to one of the most iconic 4th of July extravaganzas in the country. The festivities were canceled last year, but Fair Saint Louis will be back on again in 2021. Expect live music, cooking demonstrations, games, an esports tournament, and of course, a spectacular burst of vivid fireworks to conclude the evening. The fireworks, which will start at 9:40 p.m., will be set off from three barges and accompanied by a patriotic soundtrack. You’ll be treated to a jaw-dropping show that illuminates the Mississippi River and the famed Gateway Arch. If you decide to stay home after all, watch one of the big shows on TV or a low-key neighborhood display from your porch while munching on these delicious 4th of July appetizers and desserts.

Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane

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