Independence Day in Virgin Atlantic Cities

By: Maxine Sheppard

July 3, 2012

The Fourth of July – it’s the biggest, brightest, most celebrated day of the summer, so if you’re in one of Virgin Atlantic’s nine USA destinations this week here’s a rundown of the best Independence Day festivities to enjoy…


New York City


Every year, Macy’s puts on the biggest fireworks display in the United States, with some six barges on the Hudson being used as launches. The best viewing spot is probably from a harbour cruise, but if you’ve left it too late to get a ticket, follow the crowds to Manhattan’s West Side between 20th and 59th streets, or get yourself across the other side of the river and watch the action from Hoboken or Weehawken, New Jersey. The extravaganza kicks off at 9.20pm.


San Francisco


San Francisco’s fireworks erupt from the end of the Municipal Pier and from barges to the north of Pier 39. This year, for the first time, spectators are being permitted to watch the event from Angel Island with a ferry leaving at 5.40pm and arriving back at 11pm. Other great viewing points include Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower and various points along Fishermen’s Wharf. Earlier celebrations at the pier include a 6pm show by 80’s popsters Tainted Love, and the Air Force band Mobility at 2pm.




The famous Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular takes place on the banks of the Charles River and is attended by a half million souls from across New England. The main event kicks off with a rendition of the 1812 Overture at 9.30pm but the daytime celebrations begin much earlier, so get to the Oval before 2pm if you want to be sure of getting a wristband.


Boston Pops Orchestra July Fourth Concert © sapienssolutions Boston Pops Orchestra July Fourth Concert © sapienssolutions

Los Angeles

As you’d expect, a city the size of Los Angeles is hosting a number of full-scale Fourth of July events. For a more off-the-wall event, join in the celebration of the body beautiful and head to Venice Beach for the Mr & Mrs Muscle Beach body building pageant. For a more traditional parade, head to Pacific Palisades where the old-fashioned Palisades Parade will march its way down Sunset Boulevard at 2pm. End the day at Americafest 2012, another huge fireworks bonanza at the giant Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.




Chicago will stage a fireworks display along the downtown lakefront at Navy Pier, and the Grant Park Music Festival will also be putting on its annual Independence Day Celebration concert in Millenium Park. Both events are free, as is the Happy Fourth of July annual event at the Chicago History Museum; a children’s costume parade on Uihlein Plaza, led by the World’s Tallest Uncle Sam.


Navy Pier fireworks, Chicago © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar Navy Pier fireworks, Chicago © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Las Vegas


Every day is a party in Las Vegas, and rather than large scale city-wide Independence Day events, there will be dozens of individual daytime pool parties and special concerts hosted by individual Strip hotels. However, with most of Vegas’s visitors coming for the weekends, not all the major events will be on July 4th itself this year. Station Casinos – a group of off-strip resorts – will be firing colourful rockets into the night from five of its properties on the night itself, but the annual Caesar’s Palace fireworks display won’t see lift off until Saturday 7th.




Key Biscayne will play host to a traditional patriotic parade of floats, baton-twirling majorettes and marching bands, culminating in a beachside barbeque between 7 – 11pm. If you’re after fireworks there are two major options. America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park is a family-friendly event, with a free kids-zone from 3-7pm. Right on Miami Beach (at 8th Street by Lummus Park) is the more adult-oriented Fire on the Fourth, with DJs kicking off the festivities at noon.



Most of the major theme parks will be pushing the boat out on Independence Day, so you’re guaranteed a spectacular show wherever you end up. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will all be putting on no-expense-spared concerts and displays between 9 and 10pm. At Universal Studios, a high-tech Cinesphere Spectacular will light up the sky over the lagoon with fireworks, lasers and enormous projected scenes from famous Universal Pictures films. Outside of the theme parks, the best display is Fireworks at the Fountain in downtown Orlando which kicks off at 4pm in Lake Eola Park.


Washington DC


Set against a backdrop of the U.S Capitol and all the magnificent monuments and memorials along the National Mall, Washington DC’s Fourth of July celebrations are always among the most patriotic in the country. The day begins with a parade along Constitution Avenue, with an extensive lineup of marching bands, military units and floats watched by throngs of cheering red, white and blue flag-waving spectators. Later on at 8pm, the Capitol Fourth Concert takes place on the Capitol grounds, before fireworks over the Washington Monument.


Marine Corps Marching Band in Washington DC © C.E. Kent Marine Corps Marching Band in Washington DC © C.E. Kent

Virgin Atlantic operate direct, daily flights to all our US cities.

Thanks to Flickr photographers HPUPhotogStudent (header shot), Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar, C.E. Kent, sapienssolutions.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.