Fourth of July fireworks around Chicago
Ever since the city canceled its official fireworks display in 2011, Navy Pier has been Independence Day central. A patriotic soundtrack blares as fireworks go boom overhead. Of course, you don't have to go to the pier to see the show—just find a nearby beach (or patio, or rooftop). Navy Pier. July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
The village of Itasca takes the Fourth of July very seriously, putting on one of the largest displays outside of Chicago (it's 25 minutes long). The celebration begins at 4pm with picnic dishes, beer from the Itasca Brewing Company and live music. Hamilton Lakes Office Campus (Illinois Rt 53 and Thorndale Ave, Itasca). July 4 at 9:45pm; free.
From July 3 through 7, Hoffman Estates' Northwest Fourth-Fest hosts a gigantic Independence Day celebration, complete with a parade, carnival rides, a pop-up water park, delicious food, a craft beer garden and concerts. The highlights of the event is the computerized fireworks display, which launches into the air on Thursday, July 4 and can be viewed from anywhere around the festival grounds. Sears Centre Arena (5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates). July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
Not content to present an evening of regular old fireworks, Skokie hosts a 3D Fireworks Festival, where the first 10,000 people to arrive receive special glasses that add some extra pop to the rockets bursting in midair. The celebration begins at noon with a parade on Oakton Street. The crowds move to Niles West High School at 5pm, where the Goo Roos and Mike & Joe perform live music before the aerial display. Niles West High School. July 4 at dusk; free.
Hop on the Purple Line to Evanston to hear the Palatine Concert Band perform patriotic and popular music from 7:30 to 9pm (or listen to the simulcast on 90.5 FM). The heart of this fireworks frenzy is at the Dawe Park Lagoon (near Clark Street Beach), but the city encourages attendees to park downtown and find a viewing spot along the lakefront. Dawes Park Lagoon. July 4 at 9:30 pm; free.
Beatles cover band Liverpool Legends and Top 40 country group Bella Cain headline the Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks at Deerpath Community Park, with gates opening at 5pm. After you've sung along to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," gaze upwards to see the sky fill with sparks beginning at 9:40pm. Deerpath Community Park. July 4, 9:40pm; $20, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents $15, kids 5 and under free.
You could pay to see Flo Rida headline this year's Naperville Ribfest, but the fireworks display on the Fourth of July is free to attend. General admission to the south park is free after 5pm on July 4, and the fireworks should begin at 9:30pm, after the final band performs. Knoch Park July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
Suburban Glen Ellyn begins the Fourth with a four-mile run at Glenbard West Football Field at 8am. At noon, a parade kicks off downtown before an array of family-friendly activities open up in Lake Ellyn Park from 1 to 4pm. The fireworks begin at dusk, so stake out a spot early (you can set out you blanket beginning at 6am) and settle in for a show. Lake Ellyn Park. July 4 at dusk; free.
Rosemont's Rockin in the Park summer concert series welcomes local singer Lisa McClowry, who will perform ’80s hits from the likes of Pat Benatar, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Stevie Nicks and more. Once the show is over, turn your eyes to the sky and watch the sparks begin to fly. Parkway Bank Park. July 4, 7–10pm; free.
The city of Highland Park celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, so you can expect its annual Fourth of July display to be extra festive. The day starts with a parade down St. Johns Avenue at 10am and continues with Fourth Fest in Sunset Woods Park from 11am to 2pm (come for a slice of the 150th birthday cake). The Bitter Jester Music Festival kicks off in Wolters Field at 4pm, concluding with a fireworks display at 9:30pm. Wolters Field (1080 Park Ave, Highland Park) July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
The Aurora American Legion Band and Bruce Springsteen tribute band Bruce in the USA headline the Fourth of July party at RiverEdge Park, which begins at 5pm. A fireworks display caps off the night at dusk and can also be viewed from McCullough Park. RiverEdge Park (360 N Broadway Ave, Aurora). July 4 at 9pm; free.
Oak Forest's annual Oak Fest runs from July 3 through 7, but you'll want to show up on the 4th to see the fireworks display at 9:30pm. Admission is free, gates open at 3pm and acts like Nitelife, Dave Schmidt and the Blue Snouts and the Flex Group perform throughout the day. 159th St and Central Ave. July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
The village of Lombard keeps things simple on America's birthday. There aren't any festivals or parades, just an evening fireworks display that should satisfy your appetite for things going boom. Attendees can park at nearby schools and take a shuttle to Madison Meadow Park, where they can watch the aerial show. Madison Meadow Park. July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
Downers Grove begins its Fourth of July celebration with a parade that steps off from Main and Grant Streets at 12:45pm. In the evening, the suburb teams up with the Village of Woodridge and the City of Darien to present a fireworks display. 75th Street and Lemont Road. July 4 at 9:30pm; free.
If you just want to see some fireworks and then call it a night, head to the football stadium at Morton West High School in Berwyn, where the sky will light up at 8:30pm. There's no concert, and no outside food or drink is allowed (though there will be vendors and activities for kids beginning at 7:30pm). Morton West High School. July 3 at 8:30pm; free.
Wheaton splits its Fourth of July celebration between two days, and the fireworks come first! Show up to Graf Park on July 3 for carnival rides, games, food vendors and more, all beginning at 5pm. At 9pm, settle in for an approximately 22-minute barrage of fireworks. On July 4, the Independence Day Parade steps off in downtown Wheaton at 10am. Graf Park. July 3 at 9pm; free.
Take the Green Line to Oak Park and join on the village's Independence Day Parade, which steps off from Longfellow Park at 10am. Spend the afternoon seeing some of the buildings that Frank Lloyd Wright designed throughout the neighborhood, then catch the fireworks display from football stadium of Oak Park and River Forest High School before catching a train home. Oak Park and River Forest High School. July 4 at dusk; free.
Show up at 11:20am for the Independence Day Parade down Harlem Avenue or head to Gallery Park beginning at 5pm to hear tunes spun by a DJ and stick around for twilight concert (beginning at 7pm) featuring music from the 100-piece North Shore Concert Band, followed by fireworks synchronized to a pre-recorded score. Gallery Park. July 4 at dusk; free.