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Photograph: Courtesy Kelly Lee Barrett/Cinespia

The best 4th of July events in L.A.

From patriotic parades to oceanfront fireworks, these are the best 4th of July events in Los Angeles

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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Looking for 4th of July events or things to do with the family? Spend Independence Day hanging out at one of the best beaches in L.A., eating the city’s best BBQ, cooling with with classic frozen desserts and having fun at these celebratory, neighborhood events. The best part about some of these 4th of July events? You can end the evening with a patriotic bang of dazzling fireworks in the night sky.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to 4th of July in L.A.

4th of July events in Los Angeles

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Pasadena

AmericaFest at the Rose Bowl is an explosive celebration of all things red, white and blue—and easily the biggest show in L.A. The fireworks typically don’t shoot off until 9pm, but the Rose Bowl opens its gates hours earlier on Independence Day, usually starting with kid-friendly carnival fun, followed by an in-stadium stunt-filled program. Parking for the event will cost a whopping $45, but you can make it worth your while with an afternoon of tailgaiting outside the stadium.

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  • Movies
  • Hollywood

It isn’t summer in L.A. until the first cemetery screening brings hoards of movie-lovers to Hollywood Forever, toting folding chairs, picnic blankets, snack spreads and lots of booze. For the weekend of the Fourth, Cinespia is screening The Fast and the Furious (July 2), Purple Rain (July 3) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (July 4), each one with a fireworks finale.

  • Things to do
  • Marina del Rey

There’s something about watching fireworks over the ocean. Every year in Marina del Rey, fireworks explode over the marina channel and spectators gather all over to watch: at Burton Chace Park or Fisherman’s Village as well as from Marina “Mother’s” Beach, waterfront hotels and restaurants, and on boats. Fireworks start at 9pm and usually last for about 20 minutes. Arrive early to the area’s county lots.

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  • Movies
  • Los Angeles

True to its name, Boat Cinema will present movie screenings literally on Castaic Lake every Friday, Saturday and Sunday this summer. You can rent an electric mini boat that seats up to five people or watch from the shore. Either way, over the holiday weekend you can watch Jaws (July 1 and 2) and Top Gun (July 3).

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  • Things to do
  • Downtown

If you’re on the hunt for a cheap, lively way to celebrate Uncle Sam, shake it over to Grand Park, and watch Downtown L.A. light up for free. This Fourth of July, Grand Park hosts a unique block party, featuring scrumptious food truck fare, live music and more. The music begins while the sun is still high in the sky, so bring yourself an all-day picnic—no booze allowed, only empty water bottles—and relax. Best of all, the event is Metro accessible. Look out for the fireworks after 9pm on the north side of the park, above the Music Center Plaza.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Pacific Palisades

Cruise on up to the Palisades for a beachy Independence Day extravaganza. Things kick off in the afternoon with a 2pm WWII fighter plane flyover to herald the start of the parade. The baton twirlers and marching trombonists will begin their promenade on Sunset Boulevard, between Via de la Paz and Drummond. There’s usually a late-afternoon concert, followed by a 9pm fireworks show at Palisades Charter High School (tickets required).

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • South Park

The annual Anime Expo takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center for four days of panels, special events and plenty of cosplay. Thousands of fans come to celebrate the quirky art and culture of anime as figureheads and stars of the industry visit to speak and sign autographs. Plus, a massive wing of the convention is set aside specifically for gaming—both electronic and card-based.

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  • Things to do
  • Fireworks
  • Universal City

For just the third time, the storied movie studio and theme park will fire off a Fourth of July pyro extravaganza with fireworks synchronized to both Universal-themed music and patriotic standards. And this time around, Universal Studios has expanded its fireworks show to three straight nights around 9pm (July 2, 3 and 4). You’ll be able to view the fireworks from the Universal Plaza in the upper lot as well as near the Transformers ride on the lower lot (if you were thinking of getting away with watching from CityWalk, Universal says you should expect limited to no visibility from the shopping district).

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  • Things to do
  • Huntington Beach

Make your Fourth of July an all-day blowout by heading down to this legendary, long-running fest at the Huntington Beach Pier. The festivities kick off with a 5K run and fitness expo. Walk the parade route to the beach and then put on your Uncle Sam hat for the four-day Pier Plaza Festival, where you’ll find live entertainment, family activities and all-American eats. Scope out a spot or grab a VIP seat for the fireworks display at 9pm, which ends in an epic 500-round finale.

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  • Theater
  • Shakespeare
  • Griffith Park

Each summer, Bard fanatics watch their favorite works come to life at the historic Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Independent Shakespeare Co. puts on a series of lively productions each week, inviting audiences to take a seat on the grass (read: bring a picnic blanket) and enjoy performances like this season’s headliners: Knight of the Burning Pestle (July 2–31) and Macbeth (Aug 6–Sept 4).

  • Things to do
  • Long Beach

The Queen Mary isn’t quite ready to partake in a fireworks show again, but the rest of Long Beach sure is. This Fourth of July, you’ll find pyro over Queensway Bay around 9pm for a free show easily viewable from most of the Long Beach waterfront’s attractions. If you’d rather watch from the water, Harbor Breeze Cruises has two different boats departing from Rainbow Harbor ($75) on the Fourth, as well as a July 3rd cruise ($40) for a 9pm show on the eastern edge of the city over Alamitos Bay.

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  • Things to do
  • Burbank

Burbank’s Starlight Bowl is putting together a whole day of 4th of July festivities, starting with a flyover, a color guard presentation and then performances by the Company Men and the Soul of Broadway. Then it’s on to the fireworks show around 9pm. If you’re not really into the programming but still want to see some pyro, we’d suggest scoping out Castaway just across the canyon, which typically offers fireworks seating and some pretty killer views of the Valley.

  • Things to do
  • Arcadia

The midnight snacker’s greatest fantasy is just a car ride away. One of America’s largest Asian food markets spans the course of Santa Anita Park’s front Paddock Gardens during the summer. Come hungry and come caffeinated—this lively market, complete with over 250 Asian street food and booze peddlers, live music, artists, games, and beyond, won’t put itself to bed until midnight.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • USC/Exposition Park

If you’re sick of First Fridays only offering a high density of food trucks and lines at your favorite dive bars, check out something old—in a good way, we promise—at the Natural History Museum, where First Fridays offer dinosaurs and DJs. The first Friday of every month from March through July plays host to a KCRW-presented evening of music, allowing visitors to stay late for a night at the museum.

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Looking for fireworks?

  • Things to do

4th of July in L.A. isn’t complete without loud, colorful explosions in the night sky. After a day at the beach, cooling off with the city’s best ice cream and grilling with friends and family, cap off Independence Day with fireworks shows all over the Los Angeles region, from the Long Beach waterfront to high above Hollywood.

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