As people across the country gather with friends and families to celebrate Independence Day with food, fanfare and fireworks, EF Explore America student groups are getting ready to witness firsthand some of America’s best and biggest birthday celebrations.
Whether you’re ramping up for a fireworks show this week or looking forward to celebrating on a student trip next year, the question is up for debate: which U.S. city puts on the best 4th of July fireworks display? Here’s a list of some top contenders:
Okay, I admit it, I put Boston first because it’s home to EF Explore America’s main office! Hometown favoritism aside, the Boston celebration is probably the most well-known 4th of July fireworks show in the country. With the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra providing the musical backdrop, more than 20,000 pounds of fireworks are set off over the Charles River during a 21-minute show. The event draws up to 500,000 spectators, and that doesn’t even count the thousands more on rooftops and other viewpoints in Boston and across the river in Cambridge.
2. New York City
New York’s show, put on by Macy’s, is the largest 4th of July fireworks show in the country. More than 75,000 pounds of fireworks shoot up from six barges along the Hudson River, and all told about two million people gather to “ohh” and “ahh” (those people are spread out over a very large area, so it’s not too crowded in any one spot). The fireworks display is nicely accompanied by the New York Pops Orchestra and Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
3. San Francisco
The West Coast is well-represented by the Fisherman’s Wharf Fireworks Extravaganza in San Francisco. This 21-minute show draws around 600,000 people every year to watch fireworks launched from the end of Municipal Pier and off barges out in the San Francisco Bay. Before and after the show, live entertainment around Fisherman’s Wharf keeps everyone in the celebratory mood.
4. Washington, D.C.
Our nation’s capital is an appropriate place to honor America’s birthday, and there is certainly plenty of patriotism in the air. The big 20-minute show features 66,000 pounds of fireworks launched from the National Mall. Around 500,000 people come to watch the fireworks and listen to the National Symphony Orchestra, all in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building.
Last but not least is the city where the Second Continental Congress made America’s birth official in July of 1776. Philadelphia puts on a whole week of Independence Day celebrations, culminating on the 4th with a 15-minute fireworks show launched over the Museum of Art. Live music starts early in the evening, providing the perfect soundtrack during the hours leading up to the main pyrotechnic event.
Truly, when it comes to 4th of July fireworks, you can’t go wrong. Experiencing Independence Day on a student trip to one of America’s most historic cities—whether it’s Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York, or San Francisco—adds an exciting extra dimension to the celebration of our country’s birth.