Fireworks, Museums and Free Shows: What to Do in New York for the Fourth of July

Jul 3, 2019

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It’s looking like a great year to spend the Fourth of July in America’s most populated city. The weather should be mostly clear, and even beyond holiday festivities, there are plenty of great events planned across the city. Whether you’re in town for the long weekend or live here full time, consider this your definitive guide to cultural activities you can enjoy so your Independence Day weekend is a memorable one.

Related: The Nation’s Best Fourth of July Celebrations

Music and Theater

The Picnic Performances series in Bryant Park is staging a contemporary dance performance on Friday night at 6pm. Visitors are encouraged to picnic during the show, and park officials will even lend you a blanket in case you’ve forgotten yours at home. Even if dance isn’t your thing, the series promises other activities across the park’s lawn, including juggling and giant Jenga. The event is free, but food, wine and beer are available for sale at the park.

Outdoor Cinema

If you’re feeling all America’d out after the Fourth, consider checking out the French Embassy’s Films on the Green movie series. In honor of feminist filmmaker Agnès Varda, who passed away earlier this year, the embassy is highlighting a different female director each week at a free outdoor screening that runs throughout the summer. This week they will show Céline Sciamma’s “Tomboy” in Tompkins Square Park on Friday, July 5 around 8:30pm. Movies are all shown with English subtitles, and — thanks to the French connection — red, white and blue are still appropriate colors.

If you want something a bit less, er, pretentious, and are looking for plans tonight, Parklife in Brooklyn will be showing the cult-classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” after movie trivia at 8:30pm. After all, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


Channel your inner Dan Brown during “The Da Vinci Code”inspired scavenger hunt through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Watson Adventures hosts an event at the museum every two weeks, but if you have extra time on your hands, the holiday weekend could be the perfect opportunity to play detective. Tickets are $47.50 each before fees, with discounts available for seniors and college students.

Alternatively, The New York Transit Museum is a perfect destination for anyone interested in NYC’s history. Housed in a train station built in 1936, the museum explains the cultural significance New York’s transit system has had on the city since its formation. The museum also offers summer weekend events like train-driving simulations, guided tours and a “Transit Olympics” event for children and families, making it a perfect stop for a long summer weekend.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending


On the night of the Fourth, check out one of the city’s many fireworks shows. The biggest option will, of course, be the Macy’s Fourth of July Show. The fireworks will launch from the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River, but there are plenty of other options depending on your taste. Consider the fireworks on Coney Island for a more nostalgic experience, or the show in Jersey City for gorgeous views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The shows will all start after sundown, but good spots disappear fast, so it’s a good idea to find a place to watch earlier in the afternoon and hunker down.

Featured photo by Jack Cohen on Unsplash.

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