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Celebrating 4th of July 2018 in NYC

June 13, 2018 - by City Guide News Desk
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In 2018 the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday and the nation’s largest patriotic pyrotechnic display will illuminate the NYC night sky once more. The main event is the Macy’s 4th of July free fireworks show, which celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year. Of course, there's plenty more to check out in New York City. Read on for the best in 4th of July hot dog eating contests, live music, and more!

4th of July New York: Fireworks

macys 4th of july 2016

The West Point Band performs a live score of patriotic favorites, refreshed with new arrangments and delivered with cinematic sound. This year’s “Golden Mile” moment and climax of the show will celebrate the 100th anniversary of “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, who grew up on New York’s Lower East Side. A soulful rendition will be performed by a special guest vocalist and accompanied by the West Point Band and the West Point Glee Club. Seven barges on the East River provide the pyrotechnical action, which is the largest Independence Day display in the nation. The fireworks begin at nightfall (9:20pm or so), but for the best views you’ll want to get situated hours in advance. Viewing information and other spectator tips are available at macys.com/fireworks or 212-494-4495. The 2018 Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular airs on NBC at 8pm. Here are some of our favorite options for viewing:

Free Fireworks Viewing Spots in NYC 

The official view spots have entries at Houston, 23rd, 34th and 42nd streets on Manhattan’s FDR Drive, starting at Houston Street and going all the way up tp Midtown East. Access will be open starting from 7pm and closed when the areas fill with people.

fireworks over brooklyn

Image: Grisha Levit/Flickr

Brooklyn

East River State Park
11-acre state park located in Williamsburg along the East River that will guarantee you a close view of the fireworks, amid a mix of Polish and artsy folks from the neighborhood.

Manhattan

East River Park
This newly reopened park on the Lower East Side runs 1 1/2 miles alongside the FDR Drive and the East River. It has become one of the go-to spots for the fireworks show.

South Street Seaport
New York City wouldn’t be the same without jazz. Head to Fulton Street to experience a live jazz festival in a free event that will take place outdoors on Fulton Street from 5:30pm to 9pm. Afterwards you can enjoy a special view of the Macy’s fireworks from this waterfront area just off the Financial District.

Queens

Gantry Plaza State Park
This 12-acre riverside oasis in Queens offers spectacular views of midtown Manhattan.

Jersey City Fireworks

Residents of the west side of Manhattan will also get some fireworks this year, thanks to Jersey City, right across the Hudson River. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has teamed up with nightlife gurus, the owners of Provocateur Michael Satsky and Brian Gefter, to bring 200,000 celebrants to the Jersey side. There will be a full-on New Year's Eve-style ball drop on the Hudson Waterfront, and live performances. The headliner? Snoop Dogg!

4th of July New York: Views

aerial view one world observatory fireworks

For a once-in-a-lifetime July 4th, head up to the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere where One World Observatory is hosting a watching party. A symbolic 1,776 feet high, One World offers 360-degree views and some great ticket packages for taking in the pyrotechnics (as you can see above, the views are off the hook). There are two options, a general admission ticket good for entry to the stunning views of the observatory, plus a two-hour beer and wine open bar and all-American fare (hot dogs, pretzels) for $250pp; and a VIP upgrade for an exclusive lounge, spirits at the bar, and additional light bites ($325pp). Doors for the watching parties open at 8pm (regular observatory tickets will be available up until 5:15pm)just in time for sunset!

For a midtown look at the show, head to the limited access observatory at the Empire State Building. Closed to the general public, ticket holders are provided VIP private access to the 86th floor Observatory with prime viewing of the East River from 7:30 through 9:0pm. You can also enjoy the 80th floor “Dare to Dream” exhibit where drinks flow from a premium open bar and gourmet food is served by STATE Grill and Bar, the signature restaurant of the Empire State Building. Following the fireworks, attendees will be invited to visit the 102nd floor Observatory to cap off their breathtaking evening ($500, advanced purchase required).

4th of July New York: Cruises

fireworks cruises nyc

The very best place to watch the show is right from the water on one of New York’s famous cruise ships. You can declare your independence from crowds aboard theCircle Line July 4th Fireworks Cruise. A July 4th-themed buffet and free beer and wine complement the action. On Spirit Cruises, choose from an afternoon NY Statue of Liberty Lunch Cruise or the open bar, three-course buffet, games, DJ, and dance floor aboard the nighttime NY 4th of July Fireworks Dinner. Manhattan’s premier all-glass, European-inspired dining cruise ship Bateaux is the most sophisticated way to watch the show. Daytime sees the Independence Day Sightseeing Lunch and night brings a five-hour Independence Day Fireworks Dinner with a plated meal and platinum open bar. (Both Spirit and Bateaux offer additional lunch and dinner cruises from June 29th through July 3rd.)

4th of July New York: History

Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). Rosie the Riveter, 1943. Oil on canvas, 52” x 40”. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1943. Collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2007.178. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved. www.curtislicensing.com

For a look at American popular culture of the pivotal 1930s and ‘40s, visit the first floor galleries at the New-York Historical Society and Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms. This new exhibition gives insight into how Rockwell’s paintings united public opinion behind President Roosevelt’s universal rights: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. On view are paintings, drawings, interactive video displays, and step-inside surrounds like a 1940s living room, complete with a radio playing one of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. In honor of the Fourth, the NYHS will be offering FREE admission to visitors 17 and under. Living history demonstrations, interactive stations, and a family friendly lunch are all on the docket. Starts at 11am. 170 Central Park W. (btw. 76th & 77th Sts.), 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

For more history, stroll the streets of the Financial District at dawn on the Fourth, when the scenery most resembles its colonial incarnation. You’ll learn about NYC’s pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, and little-known local heroes like Marinus Willet, who evolved from street brawler to prominent leader. The tour begins at 6am on July 4th.

4th of July New York: Attractions

bait ball finale ocean odyssey national geographic encounter

New Times Square attraction National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is offering a special ticket deal in honor of the Fourth. From Monday, July 2nd through Thursday, July 5th, ocean enthusiasts can get 2-for-1 tickets with the code SEASAVE. And if you can’t make it to the beach during the holiday week, join Encounter for “Sip n’ Sea,” a fun beach-themed wine night. From 4 to 9pm on Monday, July 2nd to Friday, July 8th, tickets to Encounter will include a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage.

4th of July New York: Coney Island

coney island nathan's hot dog july 4th eating competition

There’s nothing quite as patriotic as watching the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest, a July 4th tradition on Coney Island. The world’s top competitive eaters gather for the event. Pre-show festivities begin at 10am with performances by musical and dance acts. The women’s competition begins at 11am and the men’s competition starts at 12:30pm. It's free, but get there early as lots of people (some 30,000!) turn out for the event.

Last year, Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA, held onto his championship title, fending off new arch-rival Carmen Cincotti, of Newark, NJ, by consuming 72 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Many believe Cincotti will beat 10-time champion Chestnut this year. Show up to find out!

endeavor luna park coney island

The legacy of Coney Island’s legendary amusement parks lives on with Luna Park, one of the city’s biggest summertime draws. A wide variety of rides for thrills and fun await, including the newly opened Astro Tower and virtual reality-infused Cozmo Jet. Of course, there’s the classic Cyclone roller coaster, which saw its first riders in 1927, plus the new Thunderbolt, featuring a 90-degree drop(!), and the Steeplechase, where riders sit on horse-shaped seats like jockeys at a race. Thrill-seekers can also check out the gravity-defying Slingshot and giant see saw-like Zenobio. Not a fan of free-falls and loop-de-loops? Try the 1906-built B&B Carousell, the Circus Coaster, or Tea Party, perfect for younger visitors. Keeping with Coney Island tradition, Luna Park is an open-gated amusement park with no fee to enter. 1000 Surf Ave. (btw. W. 10th & W. 15th Sts.), 718-373-LUNA (5862), lunaparknyc.com

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