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Fourth of July: Best Fireworks Shows

The World Cup continues without the U.S., which didn’t even qualify this time around. July 4 falls on a Wednesday this year, throwing off schedules nationwide. But there’s still plenty to celebrate this Independence Day. Cities and towns all over the country will do just that with vivid fireworks displays. Here’s a sampling of the best shows from sea to shining sea. If it's too late for this year, there's always next year!

Washington, D.C.

The backdrop of the National Mall as fireworks pop over the Lincoln Memorial and Capitol buildings is enough to inspire awe, but that is just the capper on a full day of events in the nation’s capital. The festivities include the National Independence Day Parade and a re-enactment of Frederick Douglass’ impassioned “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” speech. Before the grand finale, Jimmy Buffett, The Beach Boys and The Temptations will entertain at A Capitol Fourth.

South Lake Tahoe

Purple mountains’ majesty will be on full display surrounding Lake Tahoe and reflecting off it during the day and being lit up at night during the fireworks celebration. Spectators can watch the show from the deck of the 80-foot M.S. Dixie II paddle-wheeler or the sands of Nevada Beach. For an aerial perspective, Pacific North Helicopters will operate tours during the fireworks, and the summit of Mt. Tallac rewards intrepid hikers with bird’s-eye views.


No fewer than nine musical acts will take the Broadway Stage throughout the day, headlined by Lady Antebellum. The family fun zone opens at noon, with bounce houses, slip and slides and plenty of other activities designed to wear children out remain available throughout the day. At 9:30 p.m., the Nashville Symphony will take the stage at the Ascend Amphitheater to play as rockets’ red glare bursts overhead.


For the 90th straight year, the Boston Pops will play a July 4 concert at the DCR Hatch Shell overlooking the Charles River. The festivities begin with a 2-hour concert featuring guest artists on the night of July 3 before the main event Wednesday night featuring two and a half hours of live music followed by a spectacular pyrotechnic display over the river. Attendance has topped 500,000 people several times in the past in a city instrumental to the founding of the U.S.

San Diego

There are several ways to catch the Big Bay Boom, on water and on land. Watch from the flight deck of the USS Midway, which will feature live entertainment and flight simulators or from a dinner cruise with Hornblower Yachts. Listen to the San Diego Symphony Pops at the Embarcadero Marina Park South as the fireworks boom. There are several official watch locations around San Diego Bay, from Coronado Island to Shelter Island to North Embarcadero and even in private boats along the water.

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