4th of July fireworks: Where to watch fireworks in Chicago

Where to watch 4th of July fireworks in Chicago, from Navy Pier to the surrounding suburbs including Lake Forest.

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  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Navy Pier:One of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Navy Pier:One of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Navy Pier:One of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.

Photograph: Max Herman

4th of July fireworks: Navy Pier is one of the best places to watch fireworks.


When it comes to 4th of July fireworks, Chicago has no shortage of unsanctioned displays. From a rooftop perch, you can get a nonstop show—particularly, we've found, if the building is in Pilsen or Humboldt Park. The downside: You might get a bottle rocket in the eye. Lower-risk fun can be had at scores of authorized fireworks displays. The only proper shows in Chicago are at Navy Pier on July 3, 4 and 6. Nearby suburbs, though, offer lots of bang for your travel buck.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of 4th of July events

Navy Pier The city canceled its fireworks show in 2011, and Navy Pier has been Independence Day central since. A patriotic soundtrack blares as fireworks go boom overhead. For a completely unobstructed view, pony up some cash to board one of several boats—the more expensive options are dinner cruises—that depart from the Pier and head out onto Lake Michigan. Register at entertainmentcruises.com. Navy Pier. July 3 and July 4, 9:30pm; Jul 6, 10:15pm.

Arlington Heights The post-race fireworks display starts at dusk, but you can arrive anytime after 1pm—and hurry, the first 5,000 people get a secret gift and 1,000 kids get a free Firecracker popsicle. Horse races start at 3pm. Arlington Park Racetrack (2200 Euclid Ave, Arlington Heights, 847-385-7500, arlingtonpark.com/4thofJuly). July 4 at dusk. $12. 


Aurora The day begins with the Posting of the Colors by Veterans of the Korean War and a performance by the Legacy Girls singing the National Anthem, followed by food, drinks, family friendly festivities and concerts. A fireworks display caps off the night. RiverEdge Park (360 N Broadway Ave, Aurora; 630-264-3370; aurora-il.org) or Wilder Promenade (350 N River St, Aurora) or McCullough Park (Illinois Ave and Lake St, Aurora). July 4 at 9:30pm. Free.
 
Downers Grove Come with friends and family to the Village of Downers Grove and Village of Woodridge Independence Day parade. You could even bring your dog, but he will have a special section and must be leashed. The night ends with a fireworks display. Downers Grove (75th St and Lemont Rd, 630-434-5559, events.downers.us). July 4 at 9:30pm. Free.

Eyes to the Skies Festival From July 3–7, this festival and carnival will have you looking up in the sky all day and night with balloon launches and fireworks extravaganzas. Lisle Junior High School (5207 Centre Ave, 630-541-6095, eyestotheskies.org). July 4 at 9:45pm. Free.

Evanston The Palatine Concert Band pipes out patriotic and popular music from 7:30–9pm. Not close enough to hear the music live? It will be simulcast on 90.5 FM, so pack a portable radio. The focal point of this firework frenzy is at Clark Street Beach, but Evanston encourages people to park downtown and stake out a viewing spot along the lakefront. Clark Street Beach (1811 Sheridan Rd, 847-492-7082, evanston4th.org). July 4 at 9:15 p.m. Free.

Glen Ellyn Independence Day festivities begin with a parade at noon, carnival games from 1–4pm and fireworks at dusk. The fest also includes live music, concessions and face painting. Lake Ellyn Park (645 Lenox Rd, 630-469-5000, glenellyn4thofjuly.org). July 4 at dusk. Free.

Glenview The 48th annual Glenview Independence Day Celebration begins with a bike parade, then a main parade. A twilight concert and fireworks follow. Glenview Park Golf Club (800 Shermer Rd, 847-724-5670, glenviewparks.org). July 4 at 7:30pm. Free.  

Highland Park A children’s bike and pet parade are part of the main Independence Day procession of floats, marching bands and novelty groups. The fest has carnival rides, a petting zoo and pony rides, followed by a concert and fireworks. Highland Park (1707 St. Johns Ave, 847-926-1033, cityhpil.com) July4, 6pm. Free.    

Hoffman Estates From July 3–7, this northwest festival contains family friendly activities such as arts and crafts fair, parades, concerts and something called the Bubble Wonders Show. There will be a big fireworks display on the Fourth. Sears Centre Arena (5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, 847-882-9100, hoffmanestates.org). July 4 at 9:30pm. Free.

Itasca Along with food, drinks and booze, the United States Army will be present at this Memorial Day event with various displays and interactive exhibits. Pat McKillen and Maggie Speaks will be performing before the firework show. Hamilton Lakes Office Campus (Illinois Rt 53 and Thorndale Ave, 630-773-0835, itasca.com). July 4, 9:45pm. Free.

Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung headlines the suburban fireworks fest. After “Mr. Roboto,” watch the bombs burst in air. Deerpath Park (Deerpath Rd at Hastings Rd, 773-868-3010, friendslfpr.org). July 4, 6–10pm. $15, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents $10, kids 5 and under free.

Plainfield Park District Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks Before the fireworks, check out the inflatable obstacle course, face painting, crafts and games at this family-friendly fest. There will also be a kids patriotic parade held for the first time this year. Plainfield Central High School (24120 W Fort Beggs Dr, Plainfield, 815-436-8812) July 3, dusk. Free.

Naperville Ribfest Fireworks The 30-minute display is part of Naperville’s Ribfest, celebrating finger-lickin’ fare from around the country. Fireworks viewing is good from anywhere in the park. The event will be simulcast with music and broadcasted on FM 95.9 The River. Knoch Park (700 S West St, 630-259-1129, ribfest.net). July 4, 9:30pm. After 7:30pm free.

Rockford The fireworks show isn’t the only reason to head out to Rockford. Preceding the display are a motorcycle parade and a Fourth of July parade. David Park (211 N. Main St, 815-494-2569, rockfordfireandice.com). July 4 at dusk. $6–$20.

Skokie Park District Fireworks The show gets some extra spark with “3-D fireworks.” Special glasses add color to the aerial display, making them really pop. Skokie Park District will give away free glasses to the first 10,000 people starting at 5pm. Niles West High School (5701 Oakton St, Skokie, 847-674-1500, skokieparks.org). July 4 at dusk. Free.

Taste of Lombard Fireworks You can bet Gianorio's—the beloved pizzeria owned by Lombard's new village prez, Keith Giagnorio—will be slinging slices per usual. Madison Meadow Park (630-375-7474, tasteoflombard.org). July 4 at dusk. $3, children 9 and under free.


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